1. Kick the tires on Olivier Vernon
Let’s clarify things from the beginning: this is about just kicking the tires. It’s making a phone call. It’s keeping tabs on a guy who could be a guy unless he’s no longer a guy. You get my drift.
Olivier Vernon is at the sort of crossroads from which many veteran players never return. He’s a 30-year-old edge rusher whose most productive days on the field are behind him now trying to get healthy from a nasty Achilles injury suffered in the final game of last season.
Instead of resting up and looking forward to another year after finding a new home in free agency, Vernon has been forced to recover on his own from the sort of injury that can take players out—a clear line marking the before and after effects to a man’s athleticism. Given his age and the timing of the injury that kept the recovery last into a new season, it’s not a surprise that Vernon is still a free agent.
However, the last time we saw Olivier Vernon on the field, he was still a force to be reckoned with. Just last season, he started 13 games for the Cleveland Browns and had 28 pressures and 9 sacks. Those totals are higher than Frank Clark in either category. In addition, Vernon is already familiar with Steve Spagnuolo given their two-year overlap (in 2016-17) with the New York Giants.
Given the way the pass rush has failed to produce any meaningful pressure on opposing quarterbacks through the first two weeks, it’s gotta be worth a call to Vernon’s camp to check in on how he’s doing. Is he healthy? If not, when will he be? What’s his interest in returning? He’s the kind of veteran who could provide a very real boost if he’s ready, healthy, and open to it.