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Plenty of inside linebackers are waiting for free-agent opportunities

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Mike Florio and Peter King hand out superlatives from the first week of free agency in the NFL, discussing who's been working the hardest and who's been slow to act.

The first wave of free agency has ended, and plenty of players are waiting to get paid. At one specific position, plenty of players have been waiting.

As one league source actively involved in the process explained it to PFT on Saturday, free-agent inside linebackers aren’t drawing a lot of interest.

Currently available inside linebackers include Bobby Wagner, Joe Schobert, Anthony Hitchens, Dont’a Hightower, Danny Trevathan, Nick Kwiatkowski, Kyle Van Noy, Jarrad Davis, Jayon Brown, Kwon Alexander, and Reggie Ragland.

Those who have hit the market haven’t gotten gigantic money. Yes, De’Vondre Campbell secured a major contract to stay with the Packers, a five-year $50 million deal (but with only $15 million of it fully guaranteed at signing). Obviously, however, he never became a free agent.

Jordan Hicks, who instantly becomes a starting inside linebacker in Minnesota’s new 3-4 system, signed a two-year, $10 million contract, with $4.45 million fully guaranteed at signing. The deal ties $1 million to per-game roster bonuses. If he plays in 34 games over two seasons, he gets an average of $5 million.

Myles Jack, cut by the Jaguars, signed an impressive two-year, $16 million deal with the Steelers. It has a guarantee of $6.5 million, with $8 million this year and $8 million next year.

Other inside linebackers who have signed in recent days include Christian Kirksey of the Texans (two years, $10 million), Alex Anzalone of the Lions (one year, $2.25 million), Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell (two years, $11 million), and Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin (three years, $10 million).

They’re the lucky ones, relatively speaking. As the days pass and the money dries up, it will be harder and harder for the remaining free agents at the position to get lucrative paydays. Some may have to simply wait for other players to get injured before landing a minimum-salary opportunity.

Wagner likely will be the exception. But if the money he had hoped to make was there, he’d have a deal by now. At this point, his best play will be to wait. Wait for other rosters to take shape. Wait to see which teams look like true contenders, and which don’t.

He has the luxury of deliberately waiting. Others will be waiting not because they want to, but because they don’t have much of a choice.