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What we learned in Week 5: Get ready for a defensive spending spree

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A funny thing happened here Sunday night. Two NFL teams — the Cowboys and the Texans — played a game and neither one of them scored 20 points. Not even with the help of an overtime period. Yes, even in the high-flying NFL of 2018, you still can find some pockets of defense being played here and there.replica nfl jerseys wholesale

Now, what, you’re going to come at me with a list of bad coaching decisions and the fact that the Cowboys don’t have any reliable receivers, and you’re right about all of that. But plays were being made on defense in this game. Houston bottled up Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas hit Deshaun Watson over and over again. You’re still allowed to make plays that stop the other team, even as the rules make it harder and harder.2

But the real reasons Dallas-Houston was an important game to watch from a defensive perspective were a couple of star pass-rushers in each team’s front seven. The Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence and the Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney are both in contract years and project to be among the jewels of a 2019 free-agent class that’s going to be all about defense.

Remember how we just finished with the year of the free-agent quarterback? Next year looks like the year of the defensive player. Lawrence will be coming off a franchise-player season in which the Cowboys paid him $17.143 million. Clowney is making $12.306 million in the fifth-year-option season of his rookie contract. Assuming health and continued productivity, these two guys are set to cash in on a market that went through the roof about six weeks ago when Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack signed their record-setting deals.nfl replica jerseys wholesale

They aren’t alone. Next spring’s free-agent pass-rusher market could include Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah (like Lawrence, a franchise player who can’t negotiate a new deal until after the season), Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham, Seattle’s Frank Clark, New England’s Trey Flowers and Kansas City’s Dee Ford, to name a few. Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue is signed through 2019 but could be in line next offseason for a contract extension that helps set the floor for some of those other deals.

And it’s not just the pass-rushers. We could be looking at a free-agent safety class that includes Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Lamarcus Joyner, Tyrann Mathieu and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Potential free-agent cornerbacks include Bradley Roby and Ronald Darby. This market could feature linebackers such as Anthony Barr and Vince Williams and defensive tackles such as Grady Jarrett, Ndamukong Suh and Sheldon Richardson.

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