The problem is that the FA DT class really drops off after Corey Simon. Simon is the perfect guy for us (I still think he would have been our #1 pick in 2000 if we hadn't traded it away for Reggie Kelly), but he's going to be pretty expensive. I suspect his signing bonus will likely be around $12 million.
After Simon, the strength of the class is in run stoppers like Pat Williams, Chris Hovan, Seth Payne, and Jason Ferguson. It would not surprise me at all if all 4 of those players land as nose tackles on 3-4 teams in 2005. Hovan's play has slipped in recent years, Williams lacks the same kind of quickness he had a few years back at age 32. Payne and Ferguson are solid players but are mostly complementary run stoppers.
Tony Williams is the 2nd best pass rusher besides Simon in the class. But he's 30, and will be coming off injury (torn ACL on the infamous chop block by George Foster).
Luther Elliss is a quality pass rusher as well, but he too is old (32) and injuries have pretty much cost him his career in the past 2-3 years. Josh Evans is a solid pass rusher, but he is a off-field liability.
The rest of the pass rushers: Chatric Darby, Chris Cooper, all share similarities with Rod Coleman and are young, but right now a bit too undersized to be anything more than reliable #3 DTs.
becuase of the lack of quality in veteran DTs, it will likely push the price tags for a guy like Williams up to possibly over $5 million in signing bonus.
I like the possibility of adding a big DE to try and fill the void. Marques Douglas (6-2/290) won't return to Baltimore if they move to the 4-3, and he's a pretty good pass rusher. He's a better fit as a 3-4 DE, but often these guys make a pretty solid transition to 4-3 DT. Est. SB = $4-5 million for a guy that has 10 combined sacks in the past 2 years.
Brandon Mitchell (6-3/290), Carl Powell (6-2/285), and Chidi Ahanotu (6-2/285) all are possibilities as DE converts, but all are elder and on the downsides of their career. They would all be better as #3s than #2s.
A big time sleeper is Rodney Bailey (6-3/305). He shined in spot duty for the Steelers early in his career, but sat out this past year with injury. If he's 100%, he could be a really big find.
Also Kevin Carter and Bryant Young are possibilities to be cut this off-season, and despite their ages (31 and 33, respectively), both would be outstanding additions in the middle. I still think YOung is arguably still a top 10 DT in the league.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.