10. LB Kyle Van Noy
The Dolphins made the curious decision to release Kyle Van Noy one year after signing him to a four-year deal worth $51 million. His release wasn’t performance-based. It was all about generating cap space, but it still didn’t make sense.
Van Noy had 69 tackles and six sacks for the Dolphins last year and he broke up six passes on the season, the best mark of his career. He played well in every facet of the game and was especially good as a pass rusher.
As our own Jonathan Eig outlined in a recent piece, Van Noy’s skill set should intrigue Washington because of how he’d pair with what the team has at the position already.
"Van Noy has the athletic tools needed for a classic 4-3 middle linebacker, but he has never really played that role. I suspect he could make the adjustment, but if Washington decides to pursue him, it should not be with the expectation that he would take over in the middle. That is a fundamental free agency error – assuming a player can be productive in a new position. Despite his size, Van Noy would be best suited to take over the off-ball linebacker role that Kevin Pierre-Louis played in 2020. Pierre-Louis is a free agent and Washington may want to hold onto him. He excels in coverage. But Van Noy is a more versatile player and, were he able to heal up and play at his 2019 level, he would constitute an upgrade. He could also take Cole Holcomb’s strong side role if Washington wanted to experiment with Holcomb in the middle. That is a very appealing scenario, pairing two athletic, young vets with either Pierre-Louis or perhaps a young speedy LB from this year’s draft."
I love the idea of signing Van Noy to play the SAM spot and letting Holcomb have a shot at the middle, or at least compete for it. Van Noy could be a nice pass-rushing complement to Montez Sweat and Chase Young, especially with Ryan Kerrigan set to leave the team in free agency.
Van Noy would be a nice mentor to have around, too. Like Wright, he has been on Super Bowl-winning teams and knows how locker rooms need to come together to make that happen. Rivera could value his character and may at least consider bringing him on board as a result.