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Could Colts Luck Into Haason Reddick?

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Hunch: if the Cardinals do not re-sign Haason Reddick, then the Indianapolis Colts sign him to a 4 year $54M contract with $20M guaranteed.

(Note: I am trying my best to avoid thinking about Haason taking K.J. Wright’s OLB spot on the Seahawks or Leonard Floyd’s OLB spot on the Rams or Kwon Alexander’s OLB spot on the 49ers) Thankfully the Colts have way more cap space and the fit seems so nifty, I am going to run with them.

The Colts play a 4-3 defense, but they use their SAM OLB much in the same way Vance Joseph does by employing him as an edge rusher, a contain man and a key component in their coverage packages.

Imagine the Colts’ defense with DeForest Buckner and Anthony Walker in the middle with Haason Reddick at SAM opposite Darius Leonard at WILL. Wow.

Today’s NFL defenses are predicated on generating as much power up front and as much speed to the football from the second and third levels.

This is why Haason Reddick’s market value is a good deal higher than some people might think.

Speedy, versatile linebackers who can rush the passer, cover RBs and TEs and can consistently finish as a tackler are the vogue defenders that every team is looking for.

Determining Haason Reddick’s Market Value:

Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic has 7 edge players ranked in the top 30 of available UFAs. Here they are in order, with relevant 2020 stats and PFF grades, plus salary projections.

4 —- Shaq Barrett (TB, 28): 57 tackles, 8 sacks, 74.7 PFF grade, $18M per

8 —- Yannick Ngakoue (BAL, 25): 23 tackles, 8 sacks, 69.3 PFF grade, $17.5M per

11 —- Bud Dupree (PIT, 28): 31 tackles, 8 sacks, 60.3 PFF grade, $15M per

12 —- Matthew Judon (BAL, 28): 50 tackles, 6 sacks, 66.0 PFF grade, $17M per

19 —- Leonard Floyd (LAR, 28): 55 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 69.5 PFF grade, $13.3M per

27 —- Trey Hendrickson (NO, 26): 25 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 70.9 PFF grade, $12M per

28 —- Haason Reddick (ARI, 26): 63 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 72.8 PFF grade, $ ????

What Reddick has going for him:—-

  • highest number of 2020 tackles in this group
  • 2nd highest number of sacks in this group
  • 2nd highest PFF grade in this group
  • Plus, by far, the highest tackling grade in this group

PFF 2020 tackling grades:

Barrett —- 54.5

Ngakoue —- 34.7

Dupree —- 48.1

Judon —- 58.3

Floyd —- 50.8

Hendrickson —- 56.1

Reddick —- 77.6

The disparity here is noteworthy. I talked yesterday about Haason Reddick’s tackling technique and his textbook pursuit angles. Defense is a game about finishing. Technique matters. A lot.

When teams analyze Haason Reddick’s abilities, because of the strength of his game tapes over the last 20 games, they will not discount him for being miscast as a 34 ILB.

Haason has removed all doubt that he is a proto-typical SAM OLB, weather it be in a 34 or a 43. The way a number of 43 teams use the OLBs to rush the edge, it’s basically sliding into a hybrid version of the 34.

Haason Reddick checks all of the SAM OLB boxes:

  • Can he contain QBs and RBs? —- X
  • Is he a good, fundamentally sound tackler? —- X
  • Can he generate a prolific pass rush? —- X
  • Can he cover RBs and TEs? —- X
  • Does he play with grit and hustle? —- X

Because Haason Reddick is a young, rising player, he doesn’t as yet warrant the same kind of yearly salary that Shaq Barrett deserves, but I think that a fair market value on him is about what OLB Anthony Barr makes, which is $13.5M per. That’s how I arrived at $54M for 4 years.

Ask yourself this: what OLB would you rather have: Haason Reddick or Anthony Barr?

The $13.5M figure is essentially what the transition tag figure is for outside linebackers. That is why I was hoping the Cardinals would place the t-tag on Reddick so that they could at least have the right of first refusal for the contract offers he is ultimately going to receive.

If the player doesn’t sign the t-tag and I would fully expect Hasson Reddick would want to see what offers he can get, then the Cardinals could lift the tag at any time, if say the market for Reddick isn’t as high as he expects.

It’s been very difficult to comprehend how Vance Joseph (the one coach who finally got it right with Reddick) could call Haason Reddick his idea of the “perfect 34 OLB” and yet not at the very least protect him with the t-tag.

I am extremely happy that for the first time since the Cardinals have employed the 34 defense, I was able to see a SAM OLB play the position the way it is supposed to be played. For decades the Cardinals have been getting the 34 defense wrong, because they have been getting the linebacker proto-types wrong, as clearly evidenced by what Haason Reddick had to go through having been miscast as a 34 WILB. It was enlightening to hear Vance Jospeh say over the past year that you can’t just throw a novice in at 34 ILB and expect him to be instinctive and play with certainty and confidence.

As John Venerable astutely pointed out about the preponderance of good players the Cardinals have allowed to test free agency who subsequently left for greener pastures, the odds would appear very high that Haason Reddick will no longer be a Cardinal in 2021 and beyond.

If that turns out to be the case, then:

This stings.

But, imo, the thought of losing Haason Reddick stings the most.

Obviously, we have to wait and see what the Cardinals’ plan is if they are indeed moving on from Reddick.

The one player on the current roster who has the athleticism to pick up and proceed where Haason Reddick left off at SAM OLB is Isaiah Simmons. This could perhaps make one wonder whether the Cardinals’ plan may be to move Simmons to SAM and to re-sign De’Vondre Campbell to keep playing WILL.

What was encouraging about Campbell’s play this past season is that he showed early promise in pass coverage, especially versus TEs, and then after a bit of a slow start on run defense, he improved his tackling efficiency to the point of finishing the season with one of the highest tackling grades on the team at 76.4.

Perhaps in a second year, Campbell could achieve the kind of consistency and overall production the coaches are looking for.

Hopefully the Cardinals’ ILBs in 2021 will run downhill to the football and finish their tackles the way Tanner Vallejo and Isaiah Simmons did during their brief stints. They looked better at it and more eager to make the big stops than Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell.

Honestly, I would be very happy to see a LB crew of Reddick —- Vallejo —- Simmons —- Jones. Plus, I would love to see the Cardinals select one of the very good ILBers in this draft. Nick Bolton in Cardinals’ red has me salivating, for example.

If the coaches do not intend to re-sign Haason Reddick and De’Vondre Campbell and are intent on starting Isaiah Simmons at WILL, then one has to wonder how they will address the SAM position.

Perhaps Dennis Gardeck (assuming the Cardinals protect him) could be a natural there, but it’s unclear at this point when he will be ready to strap on the pads again. Devon Kennard is very solid versus the run (69.8 in run defense), and he had 22 QB pressures and 3 sacks, but his $7M salary and 26.5 pass coverage grade might be causes for concern.

However, there is still a week for the Cardinals and Haason Reddick to agree to terms.

“Hope is a good thing, Red.”

“Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.