2022 NFL Free Agent Top 100 Rankings | 11-25
Who is on the next batch of top NFL free agents?
11) C Ryan Jensen
Update 3/14/2022: The Buccaneers started the party with Jensen before re-signing Davis. Jensen’s deal is for three years, $39 million with $23 million guaranteed.
I’m not sure there is a center in the NFL that actively looks for work quite like Ryan Jensen. When he’s not occupied in pass protection, he’s always giving a side a hand and keeping his eyes peeled so he can peel off and search for a nice breakfast spot that serves pancakes.
The best ability is availability, and nobody has been more available at the position since 2017. Jensen hasn’t missed a game in that time, and he played through what looked to be a pretty significant ankle injury in the playoffs this season.
The NFL undervalues the position — both in the NFL Draft and when contract extensions become available — so Jensen will cost probably half what Armstead would on the market.
12) EDGE Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney is an enigma. Somehow, the 28-year-old former No. 1 pick has become a hired assassin for teams. He’s played on four teams in four years despite relatively good play throughout his career when healthy. Sometimes he looks like he could still be a top-five defensive player in the NFL, but those flashes come few and far between.
Still, whatever team ends up with Clowney will have a few givens. First, he’ll be a standout run defender off the edge. Second, they’ll be receiving an elite athlete with ridiculous explosion for a 265-pound pass rusher. It’s the athletic flashes when he’s able to win on an inside rush, or crash as the unblocked player on the backside of a run, that leaves me in wonderment.
Unfortunately, Clowney has never really put it together consistently as a pass rusher. But when he does win a rep, it truly is magnificent. After having arguably his best season as a pro, it might be time for the hired gun to settle down somewhere for a while. After all, he’s almost to that 30-year-old mark. Maybe it’s time to get married.
Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $51.1 million
13) EDGE Randy Gregory
Update 3/15/2022: After initially agreeing to stay with the Cowboys, Gregory flipped his commitment and will be a Denver Bronco in 2022 and the future. The Cowboys attempted to add additional language to Gregory’s contract after the agreement, which caused him to change his commitment.
Not many NFL players have walked the kind of path Randy Gregory has to get on the field consistently. He’s been suspended for 52 games since entering the league in 2015. He easily could have ended up like Delonte West, who spent plenty of time on the streets of Dallas without a home.
But after years of struggling mentally, Gregory turned the corner, and his game took the next step. He added a bit of strength between 2020 and 2021 but kept his insane first step and equally silly bend. But there was more power in his hands. He found the power element his game was lacking. That also extended to the run game. Gregory was much more stout on the edge than he had been previously.
He most likely remains with Dallas. They’ve stuck by his side through everything. But he is also worth a handsome pay raise, so they must also be willing to open their wallet a bit to compensate the 29-year-old pass rusher.
14) WR Mike Williams
Update: 03/08/2022: The Los Angeles Chargers and Williams inked a deal for three-years, $60 million with $40 million of that guaranteed.
Mike Evans is under contract until after 2023, so why not get the store brand version of Evans in Mike Williams? Williams probably won’t be leaving Los Angeles. But if somebody wants a big, physical downfield threat, Williams could be the answer should he be willing to move on from the Chargers.
As long as the NFL allows receivers to bully defensive backs without penalty, Williams will be effective. His best ability comes once the offense gets into the red zone. He may never be a high-efficiency target, but his over-the-rim ability is a massive mismatch in a league that’s continuously gone smaller and shiftier at cornerback.
If the Chargers can lock him in at market value, they’ll be keeping a homegrown talent for less than Kenny Golladay received in free agency from the New York Giants. After Williams became a higher volume target in Year 5, it’s clear his rapport with Justin Herbert would be difficult to replace.
Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $67 million
15) OT Orlando Brown
Update 03/07/2022: According to a report by Adam Schefter, Orlando Brown will be franchise tagged by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ever since I was a kid playing “Need for Speed: Underground,” I’ve loved widebody vehicles when done tastefully. As an adult covering the NFL Draft, not much has changed. I fought tooth and nail when Orlando Brown was coming out of Oklahoma, despite his historically bad day at the NFL Combine.
Now, he’s a successful LT blocking for the single most important asset in football, Patrick Mahomes. So, how does he do it while effectively being a V8 running on just four cylinders? Well, because he’s a modern vehicle. On the highway, he’ll run on four to conserve fuel. In short, there are movements so ingrained into his being that they’re second nature. Others are more foreign for the behemoth.
If you watch him in pass protection, you’d never know he posted a 0.72 RAS. He’s fluid, and dare I even say twitchy, sometimes. Brown doesn’t have the cleanest hands, but his 350-pound frame is effectively impenetrable, even when at a complete disadvantage technically and from a leverage perspective. If you want to win against Brown, you’re forced to go around him. With his outstanding length and solid agility moving in reverse, that’s easier said than done.
Spotrac Market Value: 5 years, $116.6 million
16) LB De’Vondre Campbell
Update 3/14/2022: De’Vondre Campbell agreed to a five-year, $50 million deal.
It’s incredibly difficult to play linebacker in the NFL. You’re somewhat dependent on the product in front of you, but playmaking ability is still coveted. It’s why Fred Warner is the best LB in the league.
Yet, in 2021, De’Vondre Campbell played at an All-Pro level and was far more consistent in coverage than most are willing to give him credit for. The former fourth-round pick finally exploded in the final year of his rookie deal. With the Packers’ financial situation in a slight state of disarray, it’s unlikely they spend significant money on an off-ball linebacker.
Despite only providing one year of high-level production, there’s reason to believe it wasn’t a fluke. First, Campbell is a good athlete for the position, which allows him to carry RBs out of the backfield in man coverage. He also has the speed to carry tight ends up the seam and survive against slot receivers doing the same.
Campbell has outstanding length, which consistently showed on his 2021 tape. His hands remained active, and he used that length well to keep his distance and see through the trash in pursuit of the ball carrier. Campbell is patient reading a back’s intentions but explodes well toward the line of scrimmage to make stops.
Campbell was a true three-down LB, but if he’s only going to cost around $6 million AAV, he’s worth the gamble that he’ll have a career arc akin to Demario Davis.
Spotrac Market Value: 3 years, $18.9 million
17) G Brandon Scherff
Update 3/14/2022:The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to terms with Scherff. Details about the contract have yet to circulate.
When healthy, Brandon Scherff is still one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. At age 30, he shouldn’t be standing on the edge of the performance cliff, either. Unfortunately, he’s played in more than 11 games just once since 2018 and hasn’t played a full season since 2016.
Scherff’s ridiculous athleticism is on full display in Washington’s rushing attack. They get him on the move a lot, pulling in either direction to lead on the perimeter or bury an end man on the line. Additionally, not many in the league have a better feel for climbing to the second level. Although he’d be scheme versatile, Scherff’s a better fit for a downhill gap scheme.
If Scherff somehow can find health (unlikely), he’s an absolute steal at his projected market value.
Spotrac Market Value: 3 years, $39 million
18) LB Bobby Wagner
Wagner wasn’t the same All-Pro talent in 2021 that he’d shown consistently over his previous nine NFL seasons, but he hasn’t fallen off a cliff either. He’s still one of the better linebackers in the game today. His mental trigger against the run remains ridiculous, and he’s an intelligent coverage player as well.
The Seahawks couldn’t justify paying him the third-highest salary of all linebackers in the league, and after the Russell Wilson trade, it is clear that Seattle is in full rebuild mode. Now, the future Hall of Famer gets to choose his next destination. He may never make a seventh First-Team All-Pro squad, but he can still bring a lot to a franchise competing for a championship.
19) CB Stephon Gilmore
Stephon Gilmore made a name for himself a few years back as the league’s premier man coverage cornerback. After New England decided not to pay him after 2020, they traded him to Carolina. Following a quadriceps tear that ended his career in New England, we waited with bated breath to see if Gilmore still had the juice at 31 to dominate on the outside.
He was still quite good in 2021, despite being asked to wear a bunch of different hats defensively. Although he still played a good amount of press man, Gilmore often played in off man and a cornucopia of zone assignments, including some inverted Cover 2. For coming off a serious injury with no training camp, he fared quite well.
However, age might be showing in other ways. Gilmore strained his groin in Week 16, ending his season with just eight games and seeing over 300 defensive snaps. He can still be a CB1 if he can remain healthy and do so in any defensive scheme imaginable.
Spotrac Market Value: 2 years, $28.3 million
20) WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. may not be the same player we saw break records in his first two seasons as an NFL player, but he’s also not the negative he was painted as in Cleveland. He was a scapegoat.
OBJ is not a true WR1 anymore. However, he can still provide high-end reps as a team’s second option. He struggles at times to play through physicality, but he’s still silky as ever against off coverage. His ability to attack blind spots and change direction when unimpeded is special. He also excels at attacking open spots in zone coverage.
If his market is inexpensive, Beckham will be the best bang-for-buck receiver in free agency. The 29-year-old still has a lot of football left in him. Any contending team looking to add a threat on the outside should consider calling his agent.
Spotrac Market Value: 2 years, $11.3 million
21) CB Darious Williams
The first thing I notice when watching Darious Williams is just how sturdy he is. Although he’s often hilariously undersized on the outside, standing under 5’10”, his densely packed frame allows him to be physical against opposing receivers, particularly at the catch point.
The second thing that stands out is his explosion. The undrafted free agent from UAB ran a 4.44 at his pro day and posted a 39-inch vertical. He doesn’t contest passes like Trevon Diggs, but he has the ability to climb the ladder against much larger receivers with his quick twitch and immediate explosion.
Williams is better suited as a CB2 due to his size, but he’s a scheme-versatile cornerback with great route recognition and ability to mirror in man coverage.
Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $58.4 million
22) EDGE Harold Landry III
Update 03/08/2022: Landry and the Tennessee Titans agree on a five-year, $87.5 million. Total guarantees add up to $52.5 million.
Harold Landry III was a favorite of many draft analysts coming out of Boston College, but the pass rusher ended up going in Round 2 at No. 41 overall. In 2021, Landry put together a career year, notching a career-high 12 sacks. In fact, there was an eight-game stretch where he posted at least half a sack in each contest.
And that’s what Landry is. He’s a pass rusher. He’s quick, explosive, and flexible enough to be a nuisance as an arc rusher consistently. However, we’re going into Year 5, and there still isn’t much of a power element to his game. Stronger, more refined tackles tend to gobble him up like a Thanksgiving turkey, and he struggles against the run.
But Landry won’t be paid to defend the run. He won’t be paid to walk tackles into the lap of their quarterback. He’ll be paid because the explosion in his game means even if he doesn’t consistently finish at the quarterback, he’ll always be a gnat in the pocket.
Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $68.4 million
23) TE Mike Gesicki
Update 03/08/2022: The Miami Dolphins decided to franchise tag the slot tight end. In a league that continues to spread out wider, he would have been highly sought after on the open market.
The former Penn State Nittany Lion set the world on fire when he posted one of the best Combine performances ever for a tight end. He’s seen a rise in both overall production and efficiency in every season. But what’s most impressive about him as a player are his hands.
Mike Gesicki didn’t drop a single pass in his direction all season in 2021 and owns an incredibly low drop percentage for his career. The ball simply disappears into his 10.25-inch hands.
However, Gesicki’s market could be pretty thin because of his usage. Although he’s listed as a tight end, it was clear the Miami Dolphins didn’t want to count on him as a blocker during the season. They used him more as a blocker as the year progressed, but that was probably only a tendency buster because his splits were so stark early on in the season.
Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $44 million
24) TE Dalton Schultz
Update 03/13/2022: The Dallas Cowboys are working on a long-term deal for Schultz, but couldn’t ink a deal before the franchise tag deadline. For the fifth straight season, the Cowboys take advantage of the tag.
Dalton Schultz has made a name for himself as one of Dak Prescott’s most reliable targets over the past two seasons when Dak’s been healthy. In 2021, Schultz caught 78 passes for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Like any Stanford tight end, Schultz possesses great height for the position. But he was billed more as a blocker coming out of school rather than a receiving threat. He was never an extremely physical blocker, but he was technically refined in school. That script has flipped at the NFL level, and it will get him paid this offseason.
Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $50.7 million
25) S Quandre Diggs
Update 3/14/2022: The Seattle Seahawks re-signed Diggs to a three-year, $40 million deal on the first day of the legal tampering period.
The 2021 season was an even wider departure from the old Seattle single-high Cover 3. Quandre Diggs played about double the snaps as a half-field safety as a single-high player. Over the past two seasons, Diggs has been the Seahawks’ best defensive player on a unit that boasts both Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams.
Diggs tragically broke his fibula and dislocated his ankle in the final game of the season against Arizona. Broken bones have become less of an issue as medical advancements should have him back by the start of the 2022 regular season, as he seemed to avoid any ligament damage in his ankle.
Diggs’ 5 interceptions are undoubtedly valuable to the Seahawks’ defense, but his down-to-down consistency in any coverage is what makes him so dangerous. Safeties are often thrown by the wayside in terms of monetary value, but Diggs should make a pretty penny if his rehab goes well leading into free agency.
Spotrac Market Value: 3 years, $36.5 million
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