2012 NFL Free Agents: Terrell Thomas and the Best Defensive Re-Signings so Far
Let's take a break from all the Peyton Manning discussions and focus on what wins championships—defense.
And to this point, there have been some teams who re-signed important players. After all, it's retaining chemistry and depth to increase reliability in a pass-happy league.
To that end, here are the best defensive free agent re-signings so far.
Terrell Thomas: CB, Giants
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The 27-year-old cornerback, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, has re-signed with the Giants just hours before he would've been an unrestricted free agent. The move was confirmed by Thomas on his Twitter account Tuesday morning when he joyfully Tweeted: "It's a GREAT day to be a NEW YORK GIANT!"
All things considered, this may be the best move for the Giants this offseason. Yes, they did win the Super Bowl without Thomas, but now the Big Blue's defense is even more poised for a run in 2012.
In 2010, Thomas was arguably the Giants best defender with 101 tackles, five picks, four forced fumbles and 21 passes defended.
Those numbers can be argued for first-team All-Pro consideration and although Thomas wasn't, it's clear the Giants know the complete skill set he brings to the defense.
Thomas is a great edge run defender, reliable in man or zone coverage and a sure tackler.
Plus, he knows how to make plays and cause turnovers. On a defense that specializes in applying quarterback pressure, Thomas's return is a big boost to the pass defense.
Rashean Mathis: CB, Jaguars
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Much like Terrell Thomas, Rashean Mathis was injured in 2011, however, it did not happen until mid-season.
Still, Mathis missed the final seven games for the Jaguars and it was uncertain if the underrated corner was going to return to Jacksonville.
Well, according to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network last week, Mathis is back:
The Jaguars and CB Rashean Mathis have agreed on a one-year, $5 million contract, league sources said Wednesday.
Yes, it may be old news despite happening just last week, but nonetheless, important news for Jacksonville fans. Last season the Jags were ranked No. 8 against the pass, No. 9 against the run and No. 6 in total defense.
Heading into 2012, the Jaguars and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker needed to retain Mathis for experience, leadership and depth purposes.
After recording 34 tackles and one pick through nine games, it's clear that despite his age (31, but will be 32 before 2012 begins), Mathis proved to get the job done.
With a top-10 draft selection and positioned well in regards to salary cap space, Jacksonville has the opportunity to really make some noise in 2012.
For Mathis's sake, let's hope he can return to his 2006 form (All Pro that year).
D'Qwell Jackson: LB, Browns
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Back in February the Cleveland Browns re-signed D'Qwell Jackson, but it was Jackson's appreciation that makes this huge for the Browns.
In the article on ESPN that included information from Adam Schefter and Jamison Hensley, Jackson was emotional:
"You can't think about it," he said, his voice choked with emotion. "You have to think about getting healthy. You don't think about, 'OK, well am I going to be back to this form?' When you've been broken down like I have, you build yourself back up. When I was building myself back up, hey, I was just wishing for an opportunity."
Jackson, of course, is referring to the 2009 and 2010 seasons where he dealt with career-threatening injuries. In '09, Jackson played in just six games and then proceeded to miss the entire 2010 campaign.
Still, Jackson displayed his ability to overcome adversity by recording career-highs in 2011 with 158 tackles (116 solo), as well as 3.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
Not only was this a smart move by the Browns, but they now have their front-seven leader.
Provided that Cleveland can upgrade via the draft or free agency on defense, Jackson's production will only continue to improve.
Lest we forget—before his injuries, Jackson had collected 101 tackles in 2007 and 154 tackles in 2008.
Sione Pouha: DT, Jets
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Along the New York Jets defensive front, the big man in the middle, Sione Pouha, can be credited with holding everything together.
And it was important for Gang Green to retain him, which they did.
The Daily News has learned that nose tackle Sione Pouha's three-year deal is worth $15 million with $9.5 million in guarantees. The deal includes a $3.5 million signing bonus.
The Jets came to an agreement on the new contract on Monday.
Definitely one of the most crucial moves by the Jets, Pouha recorded 58 tackles, one sack, recovered two fumbles and defended three passes last season.
For a defensive tackle, that's damn impressive.
Even more, though, is his consistency.
In 2009, Pouha recorded 45 tackles then 59 tackles in 2010. He also added two sacks and recovered three fumbles in 2010.
If there's one player who has assisted the Jets outstanding secondary and pass defense in recent years, it's been Sione Pouha. Simply, because the man can control the line of scrimmage and increases the Jets' odds at winning the battle up front to force many passing situations.
John Rozum on Twitter.