A closer look at Shaun Rogers

Defensive lineman Shaun Rogers is in a unique position as one of a handful of players who are currently true free agents and able to sign with any team before the current CBA expires on March 3. As expected, he’s getting plenty of attention. NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported more than one-third of the league had contacted the 10-year veteran.

Rogers has already visited the Redskins, and reportedly is scheduled to visit the Chiefs Tuesday.

A combination of age (Rogers is 31), cost (he was due $6 million in 2011) and reputation (GM Tom Heckert questioned his attitude and practice habits) made Rogers expendable as the Browns build a young defense.

But “Playbook” analyst Brian Baldinger suggests that Rogers biggest problem was playing out of position in the Browns’ 3-4 defense. The 6-foot-4 Rodgers is not built in the mold of the more stout nose tackles like Vince Wilfork or Casey Hampton, making it difficult for him to play inside:

“He’s not a nose tackle. His strength is that as a player who at 350 pounds looks like he should be a nose tackle, is extremely light on his feet and is very athletic. He’s never really learned the nose tackle position. He’s a 4-3 defensive tackle, much like Albert Haynesworth, and that’s really where he’s more effective. Plus, he’s a good pass rusher. His effectiveness is negated at nose tackle. I still think he has some football left in him. He’s never been an every-down player, and most guys his size aren’t. He is what he is, but he’ll give you 30 good plays a game and is still a good player. I think he’ll be a valuable pickup for a lot of teams.”

A three-time Pro Bowler, Rogers played in a 4-3 scheme during his seven seasons in Detroit (2001-07), building a reputation a disruptive interior pass rusher who could penetrate gaps as a three-technique tackle. But many consider his best season to be 2008, when he registered 76 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his first season in Cleveland playing for Romeo Crennel, who currently runs the 3-4 defense in Kansas City.

Rogers may no longer be a player you build a defense around, but there’s little doubt teams will be tempted by his combination of size, talent and athleticism. There’s no shortage of contending 4-3 teams who could use an interior player like Rodgers, who many like Baldinger believe can still be a force.

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