The rich continue to get richer, at least according to the most recent Talk of Fame Network poll.
We asked our listeners and readers to vote on which NFL team got the best deal on a defensive linemen this offseason and the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles won with their acquisition of edge rusher Michael Bennett from the Seattle Seahawks.
The Eagles sent a fifth-round draft pick and wide receiver Marcus Johnson to the Seahawks for Bennett, who has gone to the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons. His best season was 10 sacks in 2015 but he turns 33 in November. The Eagles employ a quantity pass rusher under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, rotating fresh legs into the game. They generated 38 sacks a year ago.
As usual, the Talk of Fame Network hosts disagreed with the poll. Both Ron Borges and Rick Gosselin voted Ndamukong Suh, who signed with the Miami Dolphins, and Clark Judge went with tackle Star Lotulelei, who left the Carolina Panthers for the Buffalo Bills. Bennett received 30.6 percent of the vote, followed by Jason Pierre-Paul (Tampa Bay) at 24.2 percent and both Suh and Robert Quinn (Dolphins) at 17.7 percent. Lotulelei (Bills) rounded out the ballot with 9.7 percent of the vote.
“They are probably all overrated,” Borges said, “but I’ll give the nod to Suh only because he steps into a loaded system where he should benefit from the players around him and not carry the whole load.”
Suh became the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history when he signed a $115 million contract with the Dolphins in 2015. But in his first three years in Miami the Dolphins lost (26) more games than they won (22) and Suh never managed more than six sacks in any season. So he became a salary-cap casualty and the Rams jumped at the chance to sign the five-time Pro Bowler.
Pierre-Paul collected 58 ½ sacks in his first eight years with the New York Giants, highlighted by a 16 ½ season in 2011. When the 3-13 Giants designed to purge their roster this offseason, the Buccaneers acquired Pierre-Paul for a third-round draft pick and a swap of fours. Tampa Bay finished last in the NFL with a paltry 22 sacks last season.
The Panthers selected Lotulelei with the 14th overall pick of the 2013 draft and he supplied inside bulk that helped Carolina finish in the Top 10 in run defense in four of his five seasons. He provides instant credibility for a Buffalo defense that finished 29th in the NFL against the run last season.
“Lotulelei gives the Bills another wide body in the middle to pair with Kyle Williams,” Judge said. “He’s young and he didn’t break the bank.”