NFL free agency begins in less than five weeks, and with the salary cap expected to rise to around $190 million, there will be more money than ever for teams to distribute. Here are the top 50 free agents, ranked in terms of both ability and expected contract value, and predictions on where they will land.
Thanks to holding an NFL-high $109 million in cap space, the Colts are in a rare position to outgun competitors on this market. That has not been general manager Chris Ballard's style, but he will have the chance to add several pieces come March. Despite the Colts' rebuild advancing rapidly to the playoffs, they did not have much receiving depth. The Buccaneers are retooling under Bruce Arians and may let Humphries, 26, walk after a 76-catch, 816-yard, five-touchdown season on a team with a loaded pass-catching corps. Andrew Luck could use a third reliable target.
A disastrous year for Taylor's stock leads him squarely into the bridge-quarterback zone, and there are not many teams searching for such candidates this year. The Redskins fit this description; so do the Dolphins. Miami is moving on from Ryan Tannehill and, apparently, is not too interested in winning in 2019. While Taylor, 29, has his detractors, he is a three-year starter and would be a quality mentor to whomever the Dolphins select in the 2020 first round.
Injuries decimated the Chargers' linebacking corps last season. Malady-plagued middle man Denzel Perryman is a free agent, as is hybrid performer Adrian Phillips. Bolts general manager Tom Telesco said linebacker will be a priority this offseason. Wright played well in the Seahawks' playoff loss to the Cowboys but battled a knee injury most of last season. Bobby Wagner's longtime sidekick is not yet 30 and began his career playing under Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Wright is unlikely to return to Seattle and may help the Bolts as a veteran stopgap.
This may be too obvious for Panthers East, but the Bills are desperate for receiving assistance. Josh Allen has no reliable wideout or tight end with whom to work. Not that Funchess is especially reliable, following his strong 2017 with a middling contract year, but he would help provide a big target for a young quarterback with accuracy concerns. Funchess, 24, racked up 840 receiving yards and eight touchdowns from another inaccuracy-prone passer in '17, and Bills general manager Brandon Beane played a part in drafting him in 2015. Buffalo needs more than just Funchess, but this is a start.
An inconsistent threat, Moncrief produced 668 receiving yards with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler targeting him last season. As a result of his Jaguars work, Moncrief should be able to convince another team to give him a shot — perhaps on a multiyear deal. Assuming the Panthers do not pick up Torrey Smith's $5 million option, they have room for a veteran wideout contract on their payroll. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Moncrief, still just 25, makes sense as a Cam Newton target.
This is a good year to need a safety. It is by far the deepest position on the true market (non-franchise tag division). Yet Clinton-Dix may not be too comfortable considering what happened to safety value last year. The Packers traded their 2014 first-round pick to the Redskins, who do not have much of anything at safety. Washington has bigger issues, quarterback chief among them, and may not be able to afford the 26-year-old defender. Still, it is not a stretch to envision the safety market, especially given the names added to it this year, generating a few bargains.
Rodney Gunter is a free agent, and Robert Nkemdiche has not worked out like the team hoped. Arizona needs help at many spots but could use a younger presence at defensive end. Traded from the Colts to the Jets for a modest seventh-round pick, Anderson racked up a career-high seven sacks and 48 pressures — the latter figure 12th-best for interior defenders in 2018. Anderson, 27, is a proven starter as a 3-4 end and would help with the Cardinals' transition back to a 3-4 look.
Amos' asking price may be too much for the Bears to stomach, especially with All-Pro Eddie Jackson's payday coming, and the Colts have money to spread around. Amos, 25, would be a big upgrade on Clayton Geathers at strong safety in Indianapolis and would bring a dynamic presence to a team with Malik Hooker. Two dominant years should make Amos an in-demand commodity, regardless of how suspiciously teams handled free-agent safeties last year.
The extensions for Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones and, in 2020, Patrick Mahomes are going to limit the Chiefs' ability to keep other talent. Morse looks like one of the players set to depart. The Bills' once-stable offensive line was a wreck in 2018, with Eric Wood's retirement, in particular, hurting the team. Buffalo holds the NFL's fourth-most cap space at nearly $80 million and could easily afford a higher-end deal for Morse, a four-year Chiefs starter. One of the best pass-protecting centers in the game, the 26-year-old Morse would be an instant upgrade.
It is hard to overstate how bad the Raiders' pass rush was in 2018. The post-Khalil Mack troops totaled 13 sacks. Illustrating how grim things got, the Giants' 30 sacks ranked 31st last season. Oakland's total was the NFL's worst since the 2008 Chiefs, whose Jared Allen trade gutted their sack capabilities. Ansah may be the highest-variance free agent. He missed most of last season and struggled to stay healthy in previous years, too. But he's of Jon Gruden age (30 in May, perhaps older) and has two 12-sack seasons. The rebuilding Raiders can afford to take this gamble.
Vital to the Colts' surprising run to the divisional playoffs, the journeyman cornerback is in position to secure a bigger financial commitment this year. The Colts let Rashaan Melvin walk with a similar profile, but Desir was a Chris Ballard-era waiver claim. This front office brought him to Indianapolis, and the team — not that its $100 million-plus in cap space requires it — could have a potentially promising corner for a midlevel price come March. Desir, 28, may soon have a chance to continue his growth with the Colts.
When Hicks has been healthy, he has performed like one of the NFL's better non-rush linebackers. Of course, Hicks missed 21 games with the Eagles — including their Super Bowl LII run. Philadelphia's middle linebacker, though, should intrigue teams as a buy-medium option. Hicks, 26, did play 14 games last season and was Pro Football Focus' No. 10 overall linebacker. The Steelers have missed Ryan Shazier's range considerably. It would be interesting if they found a reclamation project to fill the void, one they neglected last offseason.
Barrett said he wants to be a starter, making him a good bet to depart Denver. Buried behind Von Miller and now Bradley Chubb, Barrett is one of the NFL's most underrated outside linebackers. The former undrafted free agent is a plus run defender, has forced seven fumbles and collected 14 sacks. He may have an ideal avenue to become a starter. The Cardinals, who now employ former Broncos coach Vance Joseph as their defensive coordinator, may need a Chandler Jones sidekick with Markus Golden a free agent. Barrett, 26, fits this job description perfectly.
In ending the Josh Gordon era, the Browns traded one of the greatest talents in the history of the wide receiver position. They still received decent contributions from Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway. Brown brings a different dimension. After his would-be 1,000-yard season bottomed out when Lamar Jackson took the Ravens' reins, Brown, 28, should be looking for, in addition to money, a stable quarterback situation. After nearly 20 years of chaos, Cleveland has that. One of the NFL's premier deep threats would be a luxury for Baker Mayfield.
Intermittently delivering strong seasons in Houston, Jackson completed his latest at the right time. The Texans do not have much in the way of cornerback security. They are probably set to cut 2015 first-rounder Kevin Johnson, and Johnathan Joseph will be 35 this year. Jackson will be 31 and was incredibly versatile for Romeo Crennel's defense this season, moving from cornerback to safety and back to corner. Should the Texans retain Jackson on a third contract, he will likely stay at corner.
There are not many solidified positions on the Giants' defense. Janoris Jenkins is a potential cut candidate or possibly in his final year in New York. The Giants, who traded Eli Apple, have little else at cornerback. Apple's ex-Ohio State teammate, Roby, saw his stock take a tumble in 2018. The formerly well-regarded Broncos nickel man did not show much consistency as a starter. The 26-year-old boundary corner would, however, be an upgrade in New York and offer the Giants a possible veteran solution after Jenkins' departure.
The parties' timelines might not match up, a rebuilding team and a guard nearing 31, but Arizona is desperate up front. The Cardinals could make this work in multiple ways, either cutting the now-injury-prone Mike Iupati or keeping him and sliding well-paid guard Justin Pugh to right tackle — which happened multiple times in New York. Saffold has been durable lately, starting every game he was asked to over the past two seasons (35). The nine-year Ram was key to the Sean McVay dominant offenses but will have better offers elsewhere.
Thomas Dimitroff said last year that extending the Coleman-Devonta Freeman tandem was not unrealistic, but it does seem like a waste of resources. The DeAngelo Williams-Jonathan Stewart Panthers ran into trouble on that front. The Colts or Raiders could be Coleman suitors, and the Buccaneers just drafted Ronald Jones in Round 2. He rushed for 44 yards as a rookie. Bruce Arians was not part of that decision and may want a backfield weapon to supplement his deep receiving corps. Coleman, 25, could be a poor man's David Johnson for Arians in Tampa.
Beyond Richard Sherman, not much is settled in the San Francisco secondary. The 49ers ranked 27th in pass-defense DVOA last season and have needs at both spots. A former cornerback, Joyner would qualify as possible help in both places. Joyner, 28, became a key part of the Rams' defensive backfield as a safety, but Los Angeles has to let some starters walk to make its cap math work — especially as Jared Goff's extension looms either this year or next. The 49ers do not have that problem, holding more than $60 million in cap space, and need more talent to challenge the Rams and Seahawks.
John Dorsey brought Nelson to Kansas City via a third-round pick. The general manager's new team has a need opposite Denzel Ward. The Chiefs deployed Nelson as a slot corner earlier in his career but used him as a boundary defender last season. He was arguably Kansas City's top secondary performer, intercepting four passes (the first picks of his four-year career) and earning a top-35 Pro Football Focus grade. The Browns have cap space and could position the 26-year-old Nelson alongside Ward and slot corner T.J. Carrie.
After nine seasons with the Eagles, the Detroit native and former Michigan Wolverine could well have a chance to go home. The Lions are in dire need of pass-rush aid, and while the 30-year-old Graham is not a pure sack artist or entering his prime, he remains one of the NFL's best all-around defensive ends. Having played on a team-friendly contract for years, Graham will want more money than the Eagles (currently over the cap) can give him. The Lions should address defensive end in the draft, but they could use veteran help, too, after Ziggy Ansah's impending exit.
Tate signed a Lions deal that quickly became outdated, and Detroit management insisted its slot target play it out — as inferior wideouts landed contracts well north of his $6.2 million-per-year accord. An Eagles rental, the 30-year-old receiver has one more chance at a lucrative commitment. The Titans do not have a veteran wideout contract on their books, and Marcus Mariota needs a non-Corey Davis weapon badly — especially with Delanie Walker's future uncertain. Tate totaled three 1,000-yard seasons in Detroit and probably has multiple good years left for his to-be-determined fourth team.
An emerging slot cornerback, Callahan will have options in March. The Jets have more money than almost anyone and just saw slot corner Buster Skrine's four-year deal come off their books. New York can afford Callahan, 27, to complement Trumaine Johnson. A Callahan investment would go a long way toward improving the Jets' perennially shaky aerial defense. Surely Vic Fangio will be tempted to bring his former slot stopper to the corner-needy Broncos, but Callahan's former coach needs a boundary corner more.
This will depend on where the bidding goes, with the Broncos a middle-class team in cap space. But their acclaimed cornerback troika of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby broke up, Talib being traded and Roby almost certainly out the door. Darby's price tag is hard to peg, the former second-rounder having torn his ACL in November. It is possible Denver could acquire Darby at a slight discount, but the Broncos should be prepared to go deep into the bidding. Harris is their only reliable corner, and Darby, 25, has been fairly consistent despite playing for two teams.
Reuben Foster's ugly exit stripped the 49ers of a potential impact player. Alexander is not a middle linebacker, but with teams' nickel groups essentially base sets, they need to have two three-down players here. Alexander qualifies. Although an October ACL tear ended his season, Alexander should be ready to go by training camp. He was a sideline-to-sideline maven, working with the already well-paid Lavonte David. The Bucs' cap status and new scheme may prevent Alexander, 24, from staying. But the 49ers use a 4-3 look and have plenty of cash to spend.
When the Panthers and Williams previously negotiated, they were far apart in extension talks. Then Williams missed 15 games with multiple knee injuries. The right tackle was headed toward a big payday after a strong 2017. While settling for a one-year deal is possible, teams' annual need for veteran blockers probably earns Williams, 26, a multiyear pact. Former Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman now runs the Giants and has made no secret of attempts to improve up front. He tried to sign Andrew Norwell last year. The bet will be Gettleman can land Williams, whom he drafted in the 2015 fourth round.
Not as many teams are in the market for veteran quarterbacks this year. Bridgewater profiles as a stopgap with a dash of long-term upside. He played well enough last preseason to fetch the Jets a third-round pick. Washington needs a 2019 starter, and Philadelphia will not send Nick Foles to another NFC East team. With a low number of buyers, the Redskins may be able to land the 26-year-old Bridgewater at a reasonable rate (vital due to Alex Smith's contract). The former first-rounder could use 2019 as another audition year, in the event Smith can return.
While Pro Football Focus is not high on the Buccaneers' four-year left tackle, the Bucs' front office is. Tampa Bay already has three linemen on veteran contracts — Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Demar Dotson — but the 25-year-old Smith, who has never missed a game, may take Dotson's place as the third veteran deal soon. Dotson is 33. Cutting the 10-year right tackle would save the Bucs nearly $5 million. Is Tampa Bay ready to pay top dollar for Smith? Probably not. The Bucs are near the salary cap, but on a reasonable veteran contract, Smith is a candidate to remain in south Florida.
The Raiders' wide receiver corps looks bleak. Headed into his age-34 season, Jordy Nelson leads the group. As they transition to their Las Vegas years, the Silver and Black need help in free agency and the draft. Williams, 26, faced the Raiders on several occasions and has a 1,000-yard season to his credit. The past two years, the mid- and long-range threat was an auxiliary Chargers weapon. It would not be surprising to see a team bet, via contract north of $10 million per year, that the former undrafted free agent can be a long-term starter.
Brian Gutekunst showed last year he was more willing to spend in March than Ted Thompson. While the new general manager's investments — Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson — sputtered, the Packers need to catch up on modern roster-building practices. Gutekunst brought in longtime friend Milt Hendrickson over from the Ravens to be a key executive; that could help zeroing in on Smith. A contract-year wonder, the 26-year-old outside linebacker carries a buyer-beware label, but he notched 8.5 sacks, 25 quarterback hits and 60 pressures in 2018. Set to move on from Clay Matthews, the Packers need help here.
Chris Ballard's past spending habits have not been indicative of a general manager intent on spending his league-most cap space wildly. However, the Colts need help on the edge. Smith has two eight-sack seasons, and despite being a 3-4 outside linebacker in Washington, he has experience as a 4-3 defensive end — at Mississippi State, where he was Chris Jones' linemate. Smith, 26, is a well-rounded edge rusher, grading well against the run and in coverage last season, who would give the Colts young defense a proven defender.
With Tom Brady entering his age-42 season, where there is no track record of above-average quarterback play, the Patriots should fcous on veteran talent. Bill Belichick coaxes high-end play out of seemingly average cogs but has added elite talent and potential character risks in the past. The Pats may lose Danny Shelton and Malcolm Brown (and possibly Trey Flowers); an upper-middle-class deal for Richardson would add up. With few other needs and a Brady extension on tap, New England can afford this. Richardson, 28, will likely want a multiyear pact after his one-season Vikings stay.
The Rams defense's underachieving regular season turned into a strong playoff showing, Super Bowl LIII being the unit's peak. Wade Phillips will probably battle to keep one of his linchpin performers around for at least one more year. Suh, 32, played well alongside Aaron Donald, particularly in the NFC playoffs, and remains a durable dynamo. It will likely still cost north of $10 million a year to sign Suh, and this may be a one- or two-year deal. The Rams will have to choose which free agents to keep. Suh is one of them.
With a high number of edge rushers likely set to be taken off the market via the franchise tag, Fowler's demand will rise. His career numbers (16 sacks) would make the presumptive eight-figure-per-year deal an overpay, but he did fare well as a Rams outside linebacker. The Jets are converting to a 4-3 scheme; Fowler played two-plus years in the Jaguars' four-linemen alignment. Desperate for edge rushers, New York — which made a substantial Khalil Mack offer last summer — inquired about Fowler twice in 2018 and is expected to show interest in the former No. 3 overall pick who is not yet 25.
While the Honey Badger's previous NFL coach now has another gig, the Texans received a solid season on a midlevel Mathieu deal and can easily outmuscle Bruce Arians' Buccaneers in a bidding war. Houston wants to re-sign Mathieu, a former All-Pro safety/slot cornerback who is just 26 despite playing six NFL seasons, and it will then have a safety surplus — Mathieu, Andre Hal, Justin Reid — to help cover up for a thinner cornerback situation.
Reggie McKenzie did not allocate many resources to linebackers. Last year showing how different his managerial philosophy is from his predecessor's, Jon Gruden needs more talent on defense. Barr could be an interesting addition. Their Khalil Mack trade butchered the pass-rushing corps, and the franchise has been undermanned at linebacker for years. Barr, 26, was inconsistent with the Vikings, who used him off the ball. New Raiders general manager Mike Mayock once likened Barr to Jason Taylor as a pass rusher (24.5 sacks at UCLA). The former first-rounder could help address two problems.
After five years in Miami, the upper-echelon right tackle will likely depart. The Broncos agreed to trade C.J. Anderson for James in 2018, but the Dolphins nixed the deal. Denver has trotted out a different Week 1 right tackle for the past six seasons, and the most recent, Jared Veldheer, is a free agent. The Broncos have sufficient funds to add at least one piece up front, and James, 26, may be the best right tackle on this year's market.
Denver's iron-man center played through hip injuries and was on the field for every snap prior to his 2018 broken fibula. The Broncos engaged the former sixth-round pick in extension talks last summer but are in a tricky spot. With all offensive linemen grouped together under the franchise tag, tagging Paradis would cost $14 million. No center has been tagged since 2011. Denver could use the transition tag (an estimated $11.1M), because Paradis wants to test the market. If he does, the center-needy Jets ($95M in cap space) could swoop in. Though Paradis will be 30 this year, he would leave a void in Denver.
The Ravens often let talent walk in free agency to collect compensatory picks, but Mosley likely resides in the Ray Lewis-Terrell Suggs-Ed Reed-Brandon Williams group of cornerstones the franchise usually retains. New general manager Eric DeCosta wants to keep the 26-year-old inside 'backer. The franchise tag will be in play, but with all linebackers sharing a tag salary, it will cost $14 million-plus. Nevertheless, this process probably ends with the four-time Pro Bowler being the rare off-ball linebacker to sign for at least $11M per year.
Although the Cowboys have to navigate a complex offseason regarding extensions for their own young talent — Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and Leighton Vander Esch — this connection makes too much sense. Dallas still needs a safety and offered a second-round pick for the 29-year-old All-Pro last year. A Texas native, Thomas campaigned to get to Dallas and will have a chance as a free agent. The Cowboys will not be the only bidders, but they could have more than $60 million in cap space. One outside expense would work while they decide which players of their own to pay.
A quandary faces the Giants. They have many needs but not much money. Safety is an easier position to replace than most other spots, particularly a box safety like Collins. But if Collins is allowed to leave, Big Blue has no foundation pieces in the secondary. Collins, 25, has suffered injuries in each of the past two seasons and is currently rehabbing a labrum tear. A safety franchise tag will cost upward of $11 million, but that is where this appears to be headed.
The Patriots employed the same left tackle starter from 2012-17, but they let Nate Solder walk for a mammoth Giants offer. Brown does not have Solder's track record, but the former 49ers right tackle played a key role for the Super Bowl champions this season — especially in the playoffs when he won matchups with Pro Bowl edge rushers. That likely will price Brown, 25, out of Foxborough. The Texans would be gambling on the Dante Scarnecchia pupil helping their abysmal offensive line. Houston could have north of $80 million in cap space, and former Bill Belichick assistant Bill O'Brien should consider Brown.
This seems like a mistake waiting to happen, but a general manager will authorize a big contract for Bell. Enough signs point to Mike Maccagnan being that executive. The Jets again are loaded with cap space, Sam Darnold does not have much weaponry and Maccagnan — ironically after doling out a few bad contracts — is on the hot seat. This is Bell's best chance to land the $15 million-plus-AAV deal he covets. Seeing how James Conner fared this season, teams should be nervous about what a soon-to-be 27-year-old back with 1,500-plus touches will bring to the table.
It would be a failure if the Falcons turned a fifth-round pick into an impact player and let him leave after his rookie contract expired. General manager Thomas Dimitroff does not look intent on letting that happen. Either via the franchise tag or long-term deal, the defensive tackle, who dominated the Patriots in Super Bowl LI (three sacks), is likely to stay in Atlanta. A tag will cost the Falcons approximately $13.9 million, and Jarrett will surely target a deal north of Fletcher Cox's 2016 extension ($17.1M per year). Though Jarrett, 25, has not made a Pro Bowl, he is a vital interior force for the Falcons.
This is a deceiving free-agent market. On the surface, rare edge talent is available, but higher-end outside rushers do not hit free agency. Ford, 27, is one of a few impact pass rushers without a contract, but the Chiefs are not letting him go. A rumored franchise tag candidate for months, the Chiefs' 2014 first-round pick probably ends up with the $14.9 million placeholder. Notwithstanding his historic playoff gaffe, Ford delivered in his contract year (13 sacks). He has little history of reliability, making the tag arrangement sensible for Kansas City.
Although the Eagles are expected to use their franchise tag on Foles, he is currently unattached after this week's sequence of events. The Jaguars have a few reasons to be the team that trades for the Super Bowl LII MVP. Their defense remains a top-shelf unit, but the soon-exiting Blake Bortles — a gigantic 2018 offseason misstep — held it back. Former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo is now the Jags' offensive coordinator, and Philadelphia would surely prefer Foles in the AFC. This is the most logical bidder for the 30-year-old Philly icon.
The Patriots are not big on paying big money to defensive linemen, but their situation should call for an exception. The longest championship window in NFL history is closing. New England also probably does not win its past two Super Bowls without Flowers, who sacked Matt Ryan 2.5 times in Super Bowl LI and recorded two sacks and six quarterback hits in the 2018 playoffs. Flowers, 25, does not have flashy stats, but he would be an in-demand presence in free agency. The Pats have not franchise-tagged a position player in seven years (Wes Welker); they should halt that streak for Flowers.
Playing behind Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, Clark showed for years he was a burgeoning star defensive end. That did not change when the Seahawks in 2018 turned to him as their centerpiece lineman. Clark racked up 13 sacks — following 10- and nine-sack seasons, respectively — and showed he should be one of the cornerstones of the next Seahawks era. Although Seattle jettisoned many defensive stalwarts last year, it would be borderline stunning to see the Seahawks let this 25-year-old sack artist walk
The Cowboys have a few weeks left to work out a Lawrence extension, or it will be another franchise tag — at a more expensive rate (roughly $20.5 million). After renting Lawrence in 2018, Jerry Jones said he was more comfortable signing the 26-year-old defensive end to a long-term deal than he was last year. The former second-round pick shook off injury concerns, playing in 16 games for a second straight season, and he now has 25 sacks over the past two years. The Cowboys will need to work out a deal, however, with that tag salary set to prevent them from extending other in-house talent.
An anticlimactic end, sure, but we should see some megadeals commence this year. Clowney is the best bet to end the offseason as this free-agent pass rusher group's highest-paid player. The Texans are ready for the tag-and-negotiate routine with the former No. 1 overall pick. A three-time Pro Bowler before age 26, Clowney (18.5 sacks the past two, along with a dominant 2018 run-defense showing) can push to join Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack in the $23 million-per-year club. This would likely mean the Texans have to address J.J. Watt's $16M-AAV deal, but that partnership will continue.