Broncos should look harder at Jordan Phillips than D.J. Reader
In less than one week, the frenzy of the NFL’s free-agent signing period gets underway.
The Denver Broncos should be in the market for multiple defensive linemen with the likes of Shelby Harris, Derek Wolfe and Adam Gotsis all hitting free agency.
There are some solid, though expensive, options to be had on the open market and many Broncos fans are standing on their soapbox for the team to D.J. Reader of the Houston Texans.
Reader is coming off a career year with the Texans in which he registered 52 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He is a durable player who has only missed a handful of games in his career and a force in the middle of the defense.
The Broncos could absolutely use a player like Reader, who Spotrac estimates has a market value of nearly $12 million per season.
The Broncos will entertain the idea of bringing Reader in, but another free agent, Jordan Phillips of the Buffalo Bills, warrants the same amount of attention and praise.
While Reader is coming off a big season, Phillips was an absolute animal for the Bills in 2019.
Phillips is a former second-round pick of the Miami Dolphins. He floundered in Miami before the team gave up on him about halfway through the 2018 season, leading to the Bills claiming him off waivers.
He played sparingly for the Bills in 2018 before breaking out last year, getting to the quarterback 9.5 times. That’s a big number for a defensive tackle. He probably should have been selected to the Pro Bowl, but was snubbed when rosters were announced.
Phillips has only had one good season in the league and his detractors will quickly point to that, but he could also be a cheaper option. Spotrac estimates his market value at just over $6 million per season.
The Broncos could give him that kind of money and still have room to sign an additional defensive lineman since there is a great chance that Harris, Wolfe and Gotsis will all be somewhere else next season.
But it’s not just the money that makes Phillips a more attractive option. He might be the better overall player as well.
While Reader is a force against the run and a space-eater who can command a double team, Phillips can do those things while offering more athleticism as a pass rusher. A defensive tackle who can put up nearly 10 sacks in a season is nothing to sneeze at.
Phillips is also good at batting the ball down at the line of scrimmage, something the Broncos would miss if Harris joins a new team. But Phillips has 14 pass knockdowns in his career and could replace some of what Harris does in that aspect.
Should the Broncos sign Reader, it would be a good move. But if the team could get Phillips for around his estimated market value, it would be a much better move.
Was Phillips’ 2019 season an aberration or something he can build upon and post similar numbers and a similar level of play? It would be worth it to find out.