What Will Micah Parsons' Role be in 2022?

Dallas LB Micah Parsons
Dallas LB Micah Parsons
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - For this May round of Four Downs, we will be looking at each team's biggest remaining need as well as notable undrafted free agents who will be going to camp with each franchise.

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Defensive Line

The Cowboys drafted Sam Williams in the second round to help replace the departed Randy Gregory, but the Ole Miss product has an off-field past that includes a sexual battery arrest. The in-house replacement appears to be Dante Fowler, and while the Cowboys by no means have a bad line on paper—they're pretty strong on paper as a whole—we can envision a scenario where DeMarcus Lawrence is hurt or unproductive and the Cowboys ask a lot of Micah Parsons again. In that scenario, it's a big ask for Williams and Fowler to contribute meaningful pass rush.

Fifth-rounder John Ridgeway (Arkansas) was a stab at fixing the interior run defense. The Cowboys don't have a lot of interior production between Carlos Watkins on run downs and Trysten Hill on passing downs. It would be a big boon if someone on the line took a big step forward to help settle the interior. Larry Ogunjobi, who lost a big contract with the Bears on account of a failed physical, could be an interesting fit.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

The Cowboys again paid up big in undrafted free agency, coming away with Boston College offensive lineman Alec Lindstrom, Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot, and a couple of potential safety options in Florida A&M's Markquese Bell and Georgia Tech's Juanyeh Thomas. Lindstrom, the brother of Falcons lineman Chris, could be an interior line fit and help out of if first-rounder Tyler Smith (Tulsa) plays as up-and-down as he did in college. Lindstrom was a top 100 player on Sports Info Solutions' Big Board.

New York Giants

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Cornerback

Well, the rumored trade-then-trade-then-trade-then-finally-cut of James Bradberry opens up a pretty sizable hole for the Giants. The Giants needed to cut Bradberry to find the cap space to sign their rookie class, but he leaves big shoes to fill. Third-rounder Cordale Flott (LSU) and 2021 third-rounder Aaron Robinson are both better-sized for the slot, which is a position that Darnay Holmes manned last season.

While the free-agent market is still bustling for this time of the season, the cornerback supply is relatively barren. Jackrabbit Jenkins, Joe Haden, and Kyle Fuller could all be potential adds if they're willing to sign on to what looks like a rebuild season. They'd also have to, as mentioned earlier, be willing to sign on for a pretty meager sum.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

The Giants have a surprisingly stark depth chart at safety behind Julian Love and Xavier McKinney, and one beneficiary of that could be Kentucky's Yusuf Corker. Corker finished with a team-high eight pass breakups in 2021 and played in the Senior Bowl. Another intersection of rough depth chart and solid UDFA signing? Nebraska tight end Austin Allen. Allen ran a 4.83s 40-yard dash at the combine and caught 38 passes for 602 yards on a team with a rough passing profile. The Giants drafted a tight end ahead of him (San Diego State's Daniel Bellinger in the fourth round), but they're doing things like Literally Starting Ricky Seals-Jones. Opportunity abounds.

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Cornerback

And who becomes an almost-immediate player for James Bradberry? How about the Eagles? They didn't draft a player at cornerback, signing only a trio of UDFAs. Darius Slay is, of course, a star. But outside of that they have Avonte Maddox at slot corner and a camp battle between Zech McPhearson, Kary Vincent Jr., Mac McCain, and Tay Gowan on tap to play outside. Bradberry would immediately come in and settle that down. The Eagles don't have a ton of cap space, but they might be able to offer Bradberry the idea of winning.

If not, well, the same guys we just mentioned for the Giants would also all be in play for Philadelphia. Steven Nelson is off the board this time after signing with Houston. We'll throw in Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes as other thoughts for the position that might fit a more zone-heavy team with former Vikings assistant Jonathan Gannon as defensive coordinator.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

Carson Strong was likely the most well-known player on any draft board that didn't actually get drafted, as the medical questions about his knee scared teams off. But he got $320,000 in guaranteed money from the Eagles, who figure to have some quarterback upheaval if Jalen Hurts doesn't improve this offseason. Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks was highly thought of by former FO staffer Matt Waldman, and enters a depth chart that always seems to have to turn to Jordan Howard by Week 13. Brooks has some fantasy sleeper appeal. The Eagles also signed San Diego State guard William Dunkle, to which we add: William Dunkle.

Washington Commanders

Biggest Post-Draft Need: Linebacker

We would also be telling the truth if we listed quarterback as Washington's biggest need, but Sam Howell's a decent-enough prospect to wander out of this draft with, and how many more times do you need to read about Carson Wentz's limitations? Commanders linebacker Jamin Davis was rough in his rookie season, allowing 91.7% of his coverage targets to be completed per Sports Info Solutions while adding 13 broken or missed tackles. While Cole Holcomb was better than that, he has hardly made himself a mainstay at this point.

The Commanders would absolutely make sense for a run-stuffing linebacker such as Joe Schobert or Dont'a Hightower. In theory, Davis is going to develop into a better coverage player than he has been based on his raw attributes. But Washington needs a little help here because the defensive line can't do it all alone.

Notable Undrafted Free Agents

The Commanders also took a shot at an undrafted quarterback by picking up Glennon-sized Cole Kelley out of Southeast Louisiana. Kelley completed 73.6% of his passes for 5,124 passing yards in his final season, and also is 6-foot-7, 260 pounds. Tall Beeftank? Tall Beeftank. Bowling Green cornerback Devin Taylor could be a player to watch on the tail end of Washington's depth chart. Taylor finished his final season with eight pass breakups and two interceptions. He fell out of the draft due to poor testing numbers (mainly a 4.64s 40-yard dash at 5-foot-11, 191 pounds), but when all you really have to do is beat out Corn Elder for a roster spot, that's not the worst situation for an UDFA.

Portions of this article previously appeared on ESPN+.

Comments

9 comments, Last at 20 May 2022, 12:54pm

1 SIS Big board

is really clean looking! 👌 

Also Burks top 11 validation and WR1.  Hallelujah 🙌 

Oh Olave WR6 tho...

2 Poor Micah Parsons might…

Poor Micah Parsons might have to play a sexier, higher-paying position than his nominal ILB spot. The humanity!

7 There's a separate franchise…

There's a separate franchise tag for LB and DE. But because 3-4 OLBs are actually pass rushers, the DE/LB franchise tag isn't that different. In '22 the LB franchise tag is actually higher! Although typically the LB tag is like ~$2M/yr less (10% or so).

Still waaay less than the typical ILB pay vs DE pay.

3 Easy Answer

“how many more times do you need to read about Carson Wentz's limitations?”

Tanier: Every week.

4 If the Eagles sign Bradberry…

If the Eagles sign Bradberry I'll be sooo much more positive about this season. I just can't understand how they currently have the secondary they have. I mean, it's *already* not great, but as soon as a corner goes down... geh. It'd make me long for the "can anyone play corner??" year where they just signed a guy and started him next week.

5 Update: I am, in fact, sooo…

Update: I am, in fact, sooo much more positive. Not super-happy - a two or three year deal would've made me happier, since as bad as this year looks, next year looks worse. But from a "this year only" perspective Bradberry helps.

Still feels like they're going all in with a pair of aces. Not the worst bet, but certainly not a great one.

8 I'm with ya Pat.  With…

I'm with ya Pat.  With Bradberry joining, it feels like the Eagles don't have a lot of holes on the roster.  But do they have enough game-changers?  That's what worries me.  Hargrave, Cox, AJ Brown, D.Smith, Mailata, L.Johnson, Goedert, Slay and Kelce are all good players (and hopefully Dickerson and Jordan Davis soon too), but the other starters are just OK in my humble view.

9  But do they have enough…

 But do they have enough game-changers?  That's what worries me. 

I mean... you just listed 40% of the starting roster as good players, which is a high damn bar, and you left off Reddick. Reddick's got 2 seasons of double-digit sacks, he definitely falls on the "good player" side.

But to rephrase it differently, I think I kindof agree with the sentiment. I think there's a very low chance of the Eagles totally collapsing, but a pretty good chance of them being just "good," like 8-9 or 9-8.  Cox, Kelce, Slay, and Johnson are all very on the far end of their careers, for instance, and if Hurts declines from last year, I don't think there's necessarily enough talent to make that up.

I'm still not necessarily bullish on the future because of the defensive issues and the uncertainty at OL/QB. Signing Brown puts a ton on Hurts. The idea that they can just burn next year's firsts if he doesn't work out completely ignores the fact that next year they will desperately need additional edge rushers (holy crap do they need edge rushers) and secondary help and they absolutely can't do it in free agency. Burning even 1 of the firsts next year on a QB would leave them really struggling on defense.

The defense in '23 is really, really concerning. If Jordan Davis doesn't come in and make an immediate impact, they won't really have any likely high-impact players on defense other than Reddick (assuming Slay at 32 declines a bit).