NFL Free Agency: Is Jarret Johnson The Pass Rusher The Cardinals Are Looking For?

Most recently in the free agency series, we looked at Atlanta Falcons defensive end, John Abraham. Due to his age (34) and the money he is going to ask for once free agency begins ($12 million/year), 75% of the voters said no thanks to Mr. Abraham. Also, he would need to make a transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker, a position he has never had to play in his NFL career.

The player we will look at today is a true outside linebacker. Jarret Johnson has played for the Baltimore Ravens since coming into the league out of Alabama in 2003. At the age of 31, Johnson has shown that although he may not be the most feared or talented linebacker on that team (Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs take on those roles), he is steady and he just gets the job done. Is he the type of player that the Arizona Cardinals have been looking for?

Although Johnson has played in a case 3-4 system in Baltimore, Pro Football Focus makes the case that he may be better suited in a 4-3 scheme.

The prototypical strongside linebacker probably sets the edge better any other player in the game and has the instincts to thrive in both man and zone coverage-prospective new teams need not fear lining him up against the top tight ends.

In a 4-3, much of the pass rush comes from the defensive linemen, allowing the linebackers to play in coverage more often. PFF gave Johnson a +1.0 grade last season for his play in pass coverage.

As a run stopper, Johnson may be the best outside linebacker in the game. PFF gave him a +22.8 grade in that department. After seeing the Ravens play on national television a few times during the regular season and twice in the playoffs, I can certainly attest to his run stopping capabilities.

The problem is, the Cardinals need a pass rusher. That just so happens to be the area where Johnson struggles the most. He registered a -6.6 grade as a pass rusher. He attempted to get pressure on the QB 223 times and only managed 3 sacks, 7 QB hits and 5 pressures.

Although the Cardinals' run defense would definitely see improvement with Johnson's presence, their pass rushing would not. There are just too many options out there that would do a better job of getting to the opposing quarterback, which is what the Cardinals truly need from their outside linebackers.

What do you think? Should the Arizona Cardinals pursue Jarret Johnson in free agency? Tell us what you think in the comments below and vote in the poll.

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