NFL Free Agency 2022: Seven valuable under-the-radar options that can help your team

When NFL free agency begins Monday, the top names will get top dollar. But there are plenty of valuable under-the-radar options available.

For weeks, we here at Pro Football Network have been obsessed with the top end of the 2022 NFL free agency class, ranking them according to position and overall. But the best value in free agency usually comes in the second and even third waves. In that spirit, here’s a new list: seven under-the-radar 2022 free agents that can help your team without breaking the bank.

Seven valuable under-the-radar free agents in 2022

This, to be sure, is not an exhaustive list. We could have included San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis, Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Dennis Kelly, or New York Jets wide receiver Keelan Cole, among many others. But the list had to end somewhere, and we ended it at seven.

James Daniels, G, Chicago Bears

It’s easy to overlook most offensive players who suited up for Matt Nagy’s Bears last year. But that would be a disservice to James Daniels, a steady right guard who logged all 1,122 offensive snaps in 2021 and allowed just 3 sacks.

Daniels, a former second-round pick, outperformed his rookie contract. But the days of playing on the cheap are over. Spotrac calculates Daniels’ market value at four years, $29.5 million. That $7.3 million AAV would rank 16th among all guards.

Folorunso Fatukasi, DT, New York Jets

If you’re looking for a pass-rushing defensive tackle, Folorunso Fatukasi isn’t your guy. He has just 3 sacks in 45 career games. But if you’re looking for a space-eating, play-disrupting run stopper, you could do a whole lot worse than Fatukasi, who had 5 tackles for loss in 2021.

PFN’s Dalton Miller put it best: “The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder shocks blockers with his explosiveness off the snap, and his length is jarring to see on tape.”

Alexander Johnson, LB, Denver Broncos

A torn pec ended Alexander Johnson’s contract year after just six seasons, but his 2020 tape should be enough to convince teams that — even on the wrong side of 30 — he has plenty left in the tank. Johnson is a bit of an unknown nationally, considering how little he’s played.

He was accused but later acquitted of rape as a senior at Tennessee. The ordeal delayed his NFL career by four years. Since entering the league as a 26-year-old undrafted rookie in 2018, Johnson has appeared in 38 games, starting 34, with 249 tackles and 4.5 sacks.

Ted Karras, G/C, New England Patriots

Ted Karras is a versatile, durable interior lineman who can play all three interior spots if needed. But he’s best suited at center, where he started 16 games for the Dolphins in 2020 before returning to New England on a one-year deal.

On a $3 million pact, Karras was excellent value for the Patriots, but he should make more than that in the open market. He earned $8.7 million in six NFL seasons and will likely never be the best offensive lineman on an NFL roster, but he will never be the worst, either.

Foyesade Oluokun, LB, Atlanta Falcons

The answer to the trivia question, “Who led the NFL in tackles in 2021,” is a Yale-educated son of Nigerian immigrants who was the 200th player selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Foyesade Oluokun was a lonely bright spot on an otherwise bad Falcons defense in 2021. He followed up a breakout 2020 season by leading all NFL players with 192 tackles, including 4 for loss, in 2021.

While Oluokun does tend to struggle in coverage (he has allowed 81.1% of passes thrown in his coverage area to be completed in his career), he has surrendered just 6 touchdowns in 196 targets.

Tracy Walker, S, Detroit Lions

The Lions are in no position to let talent walk out the door. But that’s exactly what could happen with Tracy Walker, who was a misfit as a box safety under Matt Patricia but has thrived when used as a deep safety.

Walker, who started all but two games in 2021, limited opposing quarterbacks to 62.5% completions when they targeted him. He allowed only 2 touchdowns in 48 targets. The former third-round pick has earned just $5.3 million in his career. He should double that in 2022 alone.

Charvarius Ward, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

Charvarius Ward is proof that in the NFL, where you’re drafted matters a lot less than what happens once you’re drafted. He wasn’t one of the 28 cornerbacks selected in 2018 but signed on with the Cowboys and did enough that the Chiefs traded for him late in the preseason.

Ward rewarded the Chiefs with 41 starts between 2019 and 2021 and is coming off perhaps his best season. He gave up completions on just 51.4% of the targets he saw and allowed 6.7 yards per target.

Spotrac calculates Ward’s market value at $9.9 million per year, with would rank 17th among all corners.

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