NFL Free Agent Rankings 2022: PFN’s Top 100 from J.C. Jackson to Allen Lazard

Here are Pro Football Network's Top 100 NFL Free Agent Rankings for 2022. Who are the top players your favorite franchise could sign?

2022 NFL Free Agent Top 100 Rankings | 26-40

The top 25 free agents aren’t the only talented players hitting the market.

26) CB Casey Hayward Jr.

Casey Hayward Jr. played well in 2021 as one of Vegas’ outside cornerbacks. The 32-year-old veteran had no issues operating in Cover 3, which had him playing with soft, over-the-top, and outside leverage. His route recognition made him a menace in jumping stop routes.

His free-agency projection is difficult. How would Hayward handle a more man or quarters-heavy system at his age? In his infrequent departure from a deep third, he still appeared nimble enough to mirror and match guys in off coverage. In press, he appeared to still have the long speed to carry vertically.

Teams looking for an inexpensive short-term option at cornerback should consider Hayward.

27) G Laken Tomlinson

Update 03/15/2022: Tomlinson agreed to terms with the New York Jets on the first day of the legal tampering period window. The guard will make $40 million over his three-year deal, with $27 million being guaranteed.

Laken Tomlinson was an outstanding scheme fit for the 49ers. Despite his poor testing numbers coming out of Duke, Tomlinson is great in the open field. He’s a fluid mover at the second level who displays loose hips to square up defenders in space.

The 29-year-old left guard shouldn’t be short of a market in the offseason. The league is short of quality linemen and having one come off a season allowing just 2 sacks and 24 total pressures feels like a good investment.

28) WR Michael Gallup

Update 03/13/2022: The Cowboys and Gallup have agreed to a five-year contract worth $62.5 million.

Coming out of Colorado State, Michael Gallup was an all-around playmaker, but he posted mediocre testing numbers. The Cowboys were able to draft him midway through Round 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Despite his lackluster testing numbers, there aren’t many receivers in the NFL that separate better downfield than Gallup. His nuance as a vertical route runner allows him to pace himself and explode late, creating separation downfield. But he’s more than just a downfield threat. There also aren’t many who consistently put up toe-drag swag highlights like Gallup. He has a natural feel for the sideline that others simply don’t.

So, why is he down at No. 27 on the free agent list? Well, he’s better suited as a WR2 than a WR1. Gallup’s not someone who will consistently create separation throughout the route tree, making him more QB-dependent than most receivers. But if he goes to a situation with a veteran QB who can work passes into tight windows, he could find production as he had in 2019.

Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $47.5 million

29) TE David Njoku

Update 03/08/2022: The Browns franchise-tagged the five-year veteran tight end they originally spent the 29th overall pick on.

Things never really clicked for David Njoku in Cleveland. Although he was a pretty efficient weapon for the Browns in 2021, he wasn’t heavily used in the passing attack. Still, Njoku showed flashes in the Chargers game that he could have a big day when used as a focal point in an offense.

Njoku’s good with the ball in his hands for the position, and he’s been decently sure-handed throughout his first five NFL seasons. But Njoku must be used in a very specific role as a move tight end. He’s not a blocker. He can survive against linebackers and members of the secondary, but he won’t and can’t hold his own physically against defensive linemen.

That wasn’t a great matchup for the Browns’ offense. But a more pass-heavy team should jump on the potential that the 25-year-old can bring, especially if Njoku’s projected market price is accurate.

Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $27.7 million

30) EDGE Haason Reddick

Update 3/15/2022: The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with Reddick on a three-year, $45 million deal.

Haason Reddick has to be one of the most unique pass rushers in the NFL. At 6’1″ and under 240 pounds, there aren’t many defenders in the league built like him. For years in Arizona, he played more as a linebacker. That changed in 2020 when Chandler Jones was injured.

Reddick’s game is as unique as his frame. He might be physically unable to be a plus-run defender on the edge, but his movement skills allow him to be a menace if blockers can’t find a clean target. His lateral mobility is that of a cat, and his hands act like claws. He’s a unique defensive weapon that can play a hybrid role, but his speed as a pass rusher makes him a great option on the edge when he pins his ears back.

Spotrac Market Value: 5 years, $76.8 million

31) EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah

Update 3/15/2022: The Dolphins re-signed Ogbah on a four-year, $65 million deal with $32 million of that contract guaranteed.

In 2020, Emmanuel Ogbah finally found a productive home in Miami. Their defense suited him, and his game took the necessary steps to make some money in the 2022 free agency cycle.

Ogbah’s best attribute is his alignment versatility. He possesses a frame built to withstand the rigors of interior work against the run, even though he’ll only be aligned there on obvious passing downs.

Ogbah’s ridiculous wingspan comes into play often. He could stand to develop a few counters as a pass rusher, but his ability to keep his distance and see through the trash is a plus attribute for him as a run defender.

Spotrac Market Value: 3 years, $30.5 million

32) WR Allen Robinson

Robinson took a back seat to teammate Darnell Mooney in 2021. Robinson took a three-year, $42 million deal a few years back and was franchised last season. After taking the money on his second deal, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t take a slightly smaller deal to play with a contender, as Amari Cooper did for the Cowboys after they hilariously let him hit the open market.

Robinson is still a big, physical freak who wins in contested situations and has the explosion to separate in short areas. He’s not going to run by anybody, but in the right situation, he could return to his 1,000-yard form.

He’s best used as an intermediate weapon that can use his frame, agility, and understanding of leverage to separate on the horizontal plane. Deep outs, comebacks, and in-breaking intermediate routes are his go-to. He also provides a tight end-like frame on slants, which could be useful for RPO-heavy teams.

Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $65.5 million

33) WR Christian Kirk

Update 3/15/2022: In one of the biggest surprised of free agency through the first day, Kirk and the Jaguars agreed to a five-year, $72 million deal with a maximum value of $84 million. The receiver is guaranteed $37 million.

Christian Kirk has a jitterbug style in the way that he moves. He stands at 5’10”, but he’s one of the few receivers that plays a bit smaller than his listed size. His catch radius is limited, and his hands are just serviceable. That doesn’t mean he drops passes at some ridiculous rate, however. Kirk simply won’t go outside his frame often or finish in contested situations.

What he brings is becoming increasingly more valuable in the league. With the emergence of match-based zone coverage schemes, deep over routes from the opposite slot are becoming more prevalent. Those crossing patterns are where Kirk feasts. But he’s no slouch as a route runner, either. He’s improved his footwork over the years and has become more consistent in his ability to gather and drive for separation.

Kirk also gives great effort on the outside as a blocker, and his compact frame allows him to hold up physically against most defensive backs.

Spotrac Market Value: 4 years, $47.6 million

34) OT Duane Brown

Duane Brown is a 36-year-old LT who started the season by playing poorly. He’d been one of the most consistent pass protectors in the NFL over the past few seasons. But minor injuries and technical issues hindered his performance early on.

Things got better after the Seahawks’ bye week, but he’s still heading into his age-37 season. Brown is still a starting left tackle in the league. However, it’s difficult to figure out the value of a tackle that old, even if he’s remained relatively healthy over the years.

35) TE Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski still has flashes of absolute brilliance. In 2021, he had three 100-yard games and three multi-score outings. But health — which has plagued him throughout most of his career — hasn’t magically gone away as he’s gotten older. With Tom Brady’s retirement, I almost expect Gronkowski to follow his buddy into country clubs and commercial deals, just like he followed him to Tampa Bay after retiring for a season.

Gronk is still one of the most well-rounded tight ends in the league. He remains a physical force in-line as a blocker, and can still produce monster games as a receiver on occasion.

Spotrac Market Value: 1 year, $8.4 million

36) DT D.J. Jones

Update: The Broncos replaced Shelby Harris with Jones, who had a massive season for the San Francisco 49ers. He will receive $30 million over his three-year deal, with $20 million guaranteed.

D.J. Jones is a trash can full of dirt. The fifth-year player out of Ole Miss has improved every season in San Francisco, and he really turned it on toward the end of the 2021 regular season and into the postseason.

Only the Saints were better against the run than the 49ers, and a big reason for the 49ers’ success was Jones. Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, and Fred Warner make a fine group of stud names, but Jones’ ability to clog the middle of an offensive line against the run makes everything easier at the second level.

37) EDGE Justin Houston

Justin Houston sets up the outside pass rush well. He uses a controlled one and two-armed speed-to-power move a few times before jabbing inside, extending his left arm, and winning up the arc. The 33-year-old won’t compete for 10-sack seasons anymore, but he can be used rotationally.

Houston is still a freak athlete. He’s a shorter pass rusher, but with incredibly long arms, which means he can obtain natural leverage easily. It’s impressive to see just how low Houston plays to the ground at times.

Competing teams looking to add a part-time pass rusher should give Houston a call. He’s still productive enough to start but could be even more efficient in a limited role.

38) EDGE Jerry Hughes

Jerry Hughes is in a great spot with Buffalo should he continue to play. He played just over 50% of the defensive snaps in 2021, which is a good number given his age and current ability. Buffalo rotates between A.J. Epenesa, Mario Addison, Gregory Rousseau, and Hughes often, keeping them fresh.

The 33-year-old is still flexible and sudden as a pass rusher, and flashes consistently violent hands. But he plays with a ton of controlled aggression, keeping everything in front of him. You’ll hardly see Hughes shoved out of position when rushing the pass. He’s sufficient as a run defender, which is all he’s needed to be since he’s surrounded by talent in Buffalo.

Spotrac Market Value: 2 years, $6.6 million

39) DL Akiem Hicks

If you’re a team looking for an interior defender who probably can’t give you 16 games but brings a pop to offensive linemen like few in the NFL can, Akiem Hicks is your guy for 2022.

Hicks’ Week 15 game against Minnesota was a vintage performance from the long-legged veteran. Multiple times he was in the backfield greeting Kirk Cousins. Hicks won with a quick cross of the face and arm over, and by going straight through.

Hicks can’t give that effort on every down. He’s a 33-year-old 330-pounder at this point. But if you’re playing a wide-zone team, you want him crossing guards’ faces and bubbling them back a few yards. Hopefully, Hicks can land with a contender and ring chase late in his career.

Spotrac Market Value: 2 years, $11.2 million

40) QB Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston only had about a third of the gradable plays Aaron Rodgers had this season, but he finished second only to the Green Bay QB in adjusted expected points added (EPA) per play. In the seven games Winston started for the Saints in 2021, they were 5-2. Among those five wins were games against the Packers, Patriots, and Buccaneers.

Although it seemed as though Sean Payton was trying to hide Winston by giving him few attempts in a run-first offense, Winston finished with the highest TD% of his career along with his lowest INT%.

Winston looked more controlled outside of Bruce Arians’ system. He had arguably his most efficient season throwing to players like Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, and Deonte Harris. Any team looking for a wild card on a one-year deal should take a serious look at the former No. 1 overall pick.

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