The first wave of free agents is coming to an end, as many of the top free agents leave the board, sign new contracts with other teams, or return to their current franchise. The first few days were a frenzy, but the market has dried up as the second wave is about to take place.
Either way, there are plenty of good players available. It is the best who remain in each position.
While Jackson has the non-exclusive franchise tag on him and the Baltimore Ravens can match any offer, he is available for any team to negotiate a contract with. Jackson is the best remaining free agent in the league.
The Ravens are 45-16 in Jackson’s 61 starts since entering the league in 2018. They average 28.0 points per game when Jackson is on the field, compared to 20.0 when Jackson misses games . Jackson is one of six players in NFL history to have 100+ touchdowns and 4,000+ career rushing yards, and the fastest to score in 31 games. The Ravens are averaging 184.8 rushing yards per game with Jackson as a starter in his career — the most by any starting quarterback since the 1970 merger.
Former MVPs at 26 don’t hit very often in free agency.
To come back
This shows how much the running backs market has thinned over the past few days as all top runners are off the board. Elliott is the best remaining player in a dry market.
Elliott was arguably the worst starting running back in the league last season, finishing last in the NFL in yards per carry (3.8), tackles avoided (32) and percentage of carries that went over 10 yards (7.4 %). His rushing yards per game have declined each season due to the number of touches accumulated during his career, averaging 58.4 rushing yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry in 2022.
The wide receiver market is thinning, but teams can get a good wide receiver in Thielen. Always productive on the outside and in the slot, Thielen finished with 70 catches for 716 yards and six touchdowns last season.
The two-time Pro Bowler has 30 touchdowns over his past three seasons — and he’s only 32.
Easily the best tight end available, specifically based on his ability to catch passes. Schultz has 135 catches (fourth among tight ends), 1,385 receiving yards (sixth) and 13 receiving touchdowns (fifth) over the past two years – showing how good he has been as a pass receiver among peers.
With Mike Gesicki off the board, the market is now looking to Schultz.
Lewan has had his fair share of injuries over the years but is still a good player when he’s on the pitch. Allowing four sacks and 22 pressures in his last full season (2021). Lewan can hold the fort at left tackle – in a league that doesn’t have many good ones.
It’s surprising that Seumalo has been around for almost a week in free agency. A younger and more versatile option at guard, Seumalo can play left guard, right guard and center (he even started a game at right tackle in his career).
Protection on any offensive line would improve with Seuamlo (who allowed just one sack and 17 pressures last season at right guard).
Hudson played just four games last season, but allowed just two pressures and a 1.1% pressure percentage on his 284 snaps. He’s worth the contract for a team that needs a center and provides excellent value for an offensive line.
Still one of football’s best rushers, Clark’s 13.5 sacks in the playoffs are the third-highest in NFL history. Clark had just five sacks last season, but had 45 pressures and 13 quarterback hits. Clark has hit double figures in sacks twice and made the Pro Bowl in three of the past four seasons (and is just 29).
Surprising Gaines is still in the market as the second wave of free agency approaches. Gaines had 16 pressures and four sacks last season in 12 starts. A solid starter, Gaines is mostly on the ground against the run.
The linebacker market was strong in free agency, so Morrow might be ready to cash in. Morrow finished with a career-high 116 tackles while playing in all 17 games for the Chicago Bears last season.
At just 27, 13.9% of Morrow’s saves against the run have resulted in a tackle. The 13 missed tackles are concerning.
Wagner is still one of the best players available and still incredibly productive for his age (32). With a career-high six sacks, Wagner had 140 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended to earn All-Pro honors (first or second team) for the ninth consecutive year.
Wagner finished with over 100 tackles in his 11 seasons. He will be a great find for the team that gets him.
One of the game’s fine corners, Ya-Sin allowed a 63.2 passer rating when opposing quarterbacks targeted him last season. He only allowed 51.7% of passes thrown his way to be caught with no touchdowns allowed.
For teams looking for a reliable corner, Ya-Sin offers excellent value for money. It’s a great find in the second wave of free will.
Gardner-Johnson is the best free agent safety left, even if his market isn’t what he thought it was going to be. Gardner-Johnson is tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions last season despite playing just 12 games. Only Trevon Diggs and Justin Simmons have more interceptions than Gardner-Johnson over the past two seasons.
The Philadelphia Eagles are still trying hard to keep Gardner-Johnson. Opposing quarterbacks only had a 63.8 passer rating targeting Gardner-Johnson last season, who can play both safety and cornerback.
Even at 40, Gould is still one of the best kickers in the game. Gould made 27 of 34 field goal attempts last season (84.4%) and 50 of 51 extra-point attempts (98.0 %). He still hasn’t missed a kick in the playoffs — as Gould is 29 of 29 on field goals and 39 of 39 on extra points.
Bailey is looking for a career resurgence after the worst season of his four-year career, in which he averaged just 42.1 yards per punt and had just 32.9% of his shots kick inside the 20 yard line. The 35.1 net yards per punt is also a major concern.
Bailey was an All-Pro just two seasons ago. Maybe he can turn things around with a new team.