Top three 2024 NFL free agents at every defensive position: Justin Simmons, Stephon Gilmore, best available


A month into NFL free agency has passed as the league has passed its second wave of offseason signings. THE the best players have already signedand the next generation of free agents has found a home for 2024. There are still a few good players available, but the market has dried up considerably in recent weeks.

Teams focus on the draft before free agency expands into its third wave, when compensatory picks are no longer factored into the equation. Players expected to make the roster are still available, if a team can’t wait until after the draft.

These are the top three free agents available at each position on defense. To see the best offensive players still available, Click here.

Edge rusher

Best passer available, Ngakoue has just had a difficult season by his standards. He finished with career lows in sacks (4.0), pressures (34) and pressure rate (8.7%), ending a streak of seven consecutive seasons with 8+ sacks.

Ngakoue signed later last summer, so perhaps signing early could allow him to return to his 2016-2022 form.

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Ogbah had just 19 pressures and 5.0 sacks last season, but the numbers were deceptive as he had a pressure rate of 13.9%. He’s only played 240 snaps in 15 games and can still get to the quarterback as a rotational passer.

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An Achilles tear limited Lawson’s productivity in New York in terms of games played, but he rebounded with 49 pressures and 7.0 sacks in 2022 (11.9% pressure rate). The Jets essentially relegated Lawson to a backup role after a back injury last August, as he didn’t record a sack and played just 98 snaps.

A healthy Lawson would be a nice find for a team in need of rushing help.

Interior defensive lineman

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While Campbell lines up on the edge and inside, the 37-year-old’s ability to play both makes him the best interior defender in a thin crop of remaining free agents. Campbell had 42 pressures and 6.5 sacks last season with a 10.8% pressure rate, playing most of his snaps on the sidelines.

Always strong against the run, this is where Campbell makes his presence in the A and B gaps.

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A former starter in San Francisco, Ridgeway played only three games in Houston before a torn Achilles ended his season. Ridgeway suffered a calf injury before the torn Achilles, having just one pressure in 27 snaps played.

If healthy, Ridgeway offers valuable interior depth.

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Mone missed the entire 2023 season with a knee injury, and Seattle released him in March. He is more than a year removed from tearing his ACL, suffered after a 2022 season in which he started three games.

If healthy, Mone is worth taking a flyer. He is still only 28 years old.

Off-ball linebacker

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Cunningham was a surprise as Philadelphia’s linebacker last season after signing in August, finishing with 85 tackles and four passes defensed in 13 games (10 starts). Still a starter in the league at 29, Cunningham’s biggest problem is staying on the field.

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The former Pro Bowl linebacker played in just nine games for Pittsburgh last season, making 41 tackles (five for loss) and one sack as the No. 3 linebacker. Alexander is a solid backup Mike linebacker at this point if he can stay on the field.

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Woods started seven games for Arizona last season and made 61 tackles, showing he is more than just a good special teams player. While Woods provides excellent play on special teams, he has also shown he can get consistent snaps on a defense.


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Howard isn’t the cornerback who threw 23 interceptions over a four-year span between 2018 and 2021, but the 30-year-old has allowed just two passing touchdowns and a passer rating of 64.2 on the cover last season.

Still a starter in the league, Howard can still line up against the best players in the game.

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Gilmore, 33, had another good season in coverage, allowing just four touchdown passes and a 60.3 rating while picking up two interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks had just a 49% completion rate targeting Gilmore.

Gilmore has been on four teams in three years, but he’s still a starter.

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Nelson had his best season in coverage in 2023, the perfect time to hit free agency. He allowed just one passing touchdown and a passer rating of 40.4 when targeted, while getting four interceptions.

Being 31 years old could be a reason why Nelson hasn’t signed with a team yet. He could wait until after the draft.


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The best free agent still on the market, Simmons, 30, is coming off a season that he finished with 70 tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defended. He earned his third straight second-team All-Pro selection when opposing quarterbacks targeting Simmons had just a 58.4 passer rating.

Simmons is the best safety among a wide variety of free agents at the position.

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Hyde’s coverage skills have declined over the past two seasons (87.2 rating), but the 33-year-old has started 128 games in 11 seasons. A neck injury limited Hyde in 2022, but he returned with 54 tackles and two interceptions in 14 games.

Hyde is still a good starter in the league and a natural leader on defense.

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At just 28 years old, Adams has only played in 10 games over the past two seasons, thanks to a torn quad tendon and ongoing knee issues. Adams had 48 tackles in nine games last season, playing primarily as a strong safety.

Injuries have significantly limited Adams, who can still attack the run. He also hasn’t been sacked in three years after setting a record for defensive backs in 2020 (9.5).


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