The 25 best players on the market and signing updates

The NFL’s free agency isn’t the frenzy it’s made out to be. Teams typically don’t give their elite players free rein, tie them up to renewals beforehand, or use the franchise tag.

But there are key players changing teams this month. Free Agency officially begins Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. There isn’t a Superstar who hasn’t earned a franchise tag in this free agency class, but there are quality veterans who can fill needs.

In our ranking of the top 25 free agents, we won’t include the franchise-tagged players – Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, Cowboys RB Tony Pollard, Jaguars TE Evan Engram, Commanders DT Daron Payne, Raiders RB Josh Jacobs, Giants RB Saquon Barkley – although Jackson did would obviously be number 1 on this year’s list and probably every other list for decades.

Here are the 25 best free agents for this year and updates when they sign:

Brown didn’t get a second straight franchise tag from the Chiefs. He’s 26 and a very good left tackle. It’s rare to see a good left tackle on the market at that age.

Orlando Brown Jr. has reportedly signed a 4-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals after spending two successful years playing left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Orlando Brown Jr. has reportedly signed a 4-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals after spending two successful years playing left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Hargrave had three fantastic seasons with the Eagles after the Steelers failed to keep him. Hargrave had 11.5 sacks last season, a great record for a centre-back. He just turned 30.

Bates wasn’t happy getting the franchise tag from the Bengals last season, but he didn’t get a second one and left Cincinnati. He’s a versatile safety who just turned 26.

Bradberry became a household name for that Super Bowl holding call that will forever be debated. It’s unfortunate because he’s a damn good player in a prime position. He signed a one-year contract with the Eagles last year and will probably get more than that this time.

Allen, 25, was a solid third-round draft pick for the Cardinals in 2019. He developed into a starter and a plus defender against the run and pass.

Dean was a solid starting cornerback for the Buccaneers and is only 26 years old, and that has value. He may never be a Pro Bowler, but the Bucs made a point of keeping the veteran cornerback.

McGlinchey has draft pedigree as a former 10th overall pick and has been a good starter for the 49ers for five seasons.

8. Kill CB Darius

Early reports that the Eagles intended to release Slay proved premature as it was reported on the first day of the new league year that the star was cornerback expected to stay in Philadelphia. The five-time Pro Bowler may have a deal in the works to return to the NFC Champions.

If you need a receiver, there’s bad news. This is a shockingly weak free agent class. Meyers was in the right place at exactly the right time. Meyers never had more than 866 yards in a season for the Patriots.

10. S. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

It was surprising how cheaply the Eagles got Gardner-Johnson in a trade with the Saints (it was Gardner-Johnson and a seventh-round pick for a fifth and a sixth), and then he had a good season for the NFC Champion. There are some injury concerns, but he’s the kind of playmaker, all-round safety that’s very valuable in the modern NFL.

Jones was a good, solid player for the Broncos who was probably overpaid due to not having many stars available. Jones is 26 and can be an above-average starter for the Seahawks defensive line.

Poyer turns 32 before the start of next season, so he’s not a long-term option. But he’s had a fantastic six-year run with the Bills and should still have a good season or two left.

Edmunds is a two-time Pro Bowler who has recorded 100+ tackles in each of his five NFL seasons with the Bills. The former first-round draft pick hasn’t made many big plays, but he’s a good option as an offball linebacker for the Bears, who are looking to fill in Roquan Smith’s absence after trading him.

Taylor is a former second-round draft pick who has never missed a start for the Jaguars. He is only 25 years old. Taylor isn’t a great right tackle, but he’ll still be an upgrade for KC and is in his prime.

Tight end has become a thin position in the NFL. Schultz’s numbers were down from a 2021 808-yard eight-touchdown campaign with the Cowboys, but he’s still a good pass catcher and many teams need an upgrade at the position.

16. WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham would be the top receiver out there if there weren’t any health issues. Beckham never signed last season after tearing his cruciate ligament in the Super Bowl 13 months ago. Beckham has done enough with the Rams after one midseason trade to prove he’s still a top talent at the position. It just depends on which team wants to play.

Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the few potential impact receivers available in free agency.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the few potential impact receivers available in free agency. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Clark and the Chiefs couldn’t agree on a new contract, so it was cut. He could return to Kansas City. If not, teams will be interested in a strong pass rusher with a great post-season resume.

wagner will be cut from the Rams after one season there, but he still played at a high level for a bad team last season. Wagner will be 33 before Week 1, but a short-term deal could work well for a team looking to improve as a linebacker.

Tomlinson won’t give you much interior pass frenzy, but the Browns found a quick fix on their run defense with the 325-pound tackle. Tomlinson had two productive seasons for the Vikings.

Let’s play a game called supply and demand. There are more teams that need a quarterback than there are starting players available. Garoppolo may not be great, but he’s been functional for the 49ers and has a lot of experience. The Raiders realized the QB music chairs game was up and they had to overpay for Garoppolo rather than wade into the unknown.

McGary has had a good season for the Falcons, ranking fourth in Pro Football Focus’s offensive tackle rankings, and the former first-round pick is just 28 years old. There’s never a ton of great offensive line options available in the free hand, and McGary will be a good addition for right tackle.

With Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard tagged, Sanders is probably the best running back available. A second contract for a running back is always risky, but a team that needs help from veterans (Dolphins?) can convince itself that Sanders’ versatility is an asset. Sanders had 1,347 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage for the Eagles last season.

Teams don’t value off-ball linebackers like they used to. And David is 33. But he’s also one of the elite players in his position, strong against passing and running. David has had a great 11-year run for the Buccaneers and probably has a good year or two left.

Gesicki didn’t sit well with Mike McDaniel’s offense at the Dolphins. Another team could see a sporting talent who was productive from 2019-2021 and is just 27 years old. For a team that knows Gesicki is basically a tall receiver and not an inline tight end, it could be a nice addition.

Davenport is a former first-round draft pick for the Saints, is 26 years old and had nine sacks two seasons ago. Overall, Davenport has been disappointing (21.5 sacks in five seasons), but the Vikings will test his potential.

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