The legal tampering period will produce its own fireworks, but there may be no shortage of actual, legitimate NFL free agency signings before Wednesday. Free agency begins on the first day of the new league year. That is when the player’s contracts from the previous season expire, making those free agents official.
What Are NFL Street Free Agents?
On the other hand, players who were not under contract a season ago or were released are free to sign with teams before the madness officially kicks off at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday. Those players are called street free agents, and there are more than a few Super Bowl champions among that group — and a few Hall of Famers to boot.
Top 25 Street Free Agents Available
1) LB Eric Kendricks
Eric Kendricks still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Arguably only Fred Warner has outshined Kendricks as a coverage linebacker over the past half-decade, and Kendricks has long been one of the most consistent all-around second-level defenders in the NFL.
He’s also played at least 750 defensive snaps in each season since 2015, an ode to his reliability. But that reliability also can come at the cost of being worn down by the constant hits one takes, and that toll at linebacker is high. Kendricks has lost a step, but he remains a high-level player because of his mental capacity for the position.
2) WR Adam Thielen
Two Minnesota Vikings at the top is an interesting development for a team that just won the division in a division that might finally be relieved of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers after THIRTY seasons. However, it shows that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is not taking a short-term look at Minnesota’s situation.
Adam Thielen has been one of the more reliable red-zone weapons in the league since 2020, and he can still contribute as a No. 2 receiver on a team with a young star on the opposite side of him. Thielen is a technician with good size, physicality, and feel for getting open against zone coverage.
3) DE Frank Clark
If you’re a team needing a defensive end, Frank Clark isn’t a bad place to look. Except if you’re not a legitimate contender for a long playoff run, he shouldn’t even be a consideration. Clark is a good player, but he practically hibernates until January arrives.
Clark had six sacks during the regular season, and most of his pressures came after the Kansas City Chiefs’ bye week. He posted three sacks in three playoff games, placing him third on the NFL’s list of playoff sacks. In just 17 playoff games, Clark has 13.5 sacks. Contending teams should feel comfortable paying the 29-year-old for what they’ll receive during the playoff run.
4) LB Bobby Wagner
Bobby Wagner is coming off an All-Pro season with a Los Angeles Rams team with almost nothing to cheer about in 2022. Yet, he lands fourth on the list and behind Kendricks?
Well, after a season or two of slight decline, 2021 was more significant. Last season felt like the last gasp of adrenaline coursing through the veins of a dying man. Obviously, that doesn’t mean Wagner will look completely cooked in 2023. But we should expect his impact to look far more similar to 2021 than it was in 2022. A team with young linebackers should consider signing Wagner as a starter and mentor the younger guys on the team.
5) OLB Leonard Floyd
The Rams are officially blowing things up. Trading Jalen Ramsey was the shining light on that. Before that move, it was simply a retooling for 2023. But it appears the Rams are trying to finally think a bit further into the future than just tomorrow.
Leonard Floyd never lived up to his lofty draft expectations, but he’s been a solid, if inconsistent, player for LA over the past three seasons. Floyd won’t make a consistent impact on the defensive side of the ball, but in a Robert Quinn-like fashion, when he shows up, he blows up.
6) OT Donovan Smith
Donovan Smith has definitely seen a decline in his play. Nevertheless, he remains a starting-caliber left tackle in the NFL. On a pass-heavy team, Smith is actually a decent option because his flaws are pretty easy to see. He struggles against speed, so getting him help against the more explosive, bendy pass rushers is something teams can game plan against.
7) CB Shaquill Griffin
Shaquill Griffin was not good when he was on the field a season ago, but he gutted out snaps with a back injury until the Jacksonville Jaguars eventually were forced to place him on injured reserve. If he’s 100%, Griffin is a starting outside cornerback in the NFL, and there’s a very good chance he’s still a plus addition as a No. 2 guy on the roster.
8) WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Last time we saw Odell Beckham Jr. play, it was on the cheap for the Super Bowl-winning Rams. A torn ACL won’t help his market, and neither will not playing a down in 2022. If Beckham’s realistic about his value, he could make a decent difference on a few contending teams that could look to upgrade their No. 2 WR potential.
We don’t know exactly what we’ll get from him at this point, but there is an upside in adding Beckham that doesn’t exist with much of the rest of the free agency group.
9) OLB Markus Golden
He shouldn’t be a starter anymore, but Markus Golden was forced into the role in Arizona because… well… Arizona. Along with many of the upcoming free agents, the 32-year-old could be a nice rotational option for many teams around the league. Golden’s best bet might be to sign before Wednesday commences to maximize his value on the market.
10) C Ben Jones
If Ben Jones wants to keep playing, he absolutely can. There isn’t a massive need for centers around the league, but there are a few openings he could consider should the 11-year vet want to continue on.
Jones is still a good player on the interior, but he’ll be 34 before the start of next season, and while the wall can come at different times for all linemen, he’s certainly approaching it.
Top 25 Street Free Agents 11-25
11) RB Chase Edmonds
After two decent seasons in Arizona and a trade to the Miami Dolphins, we thought maybe Mike McDaniel was about to fully unlock Chase Edmonds. We were incorrect.
Edmonds is a fun player, but with a million names available in free agency and another million good-looking NFL draft running back prospects in 2023, there likely won’t be a heavy market for Edmonds this offseason.
12) WR Chosen Anderson
After producing his first 1,000-yard season in 2020 with the Carolina Panthers in a new role, we thought maybe we’d seen the next step in Robbie –now Chosen — Anderson’s evolution as a receiver. Anderson certainly has been a character at times at the NFL level, but even through declining production, he has something many NFL teams need at the position.
Length and speed.
13) OLB Carlos Dunlap
There are so many veteran pass rushers who can still provide value in a rotational role hitting the market. Carlos Dunlap has been a bit of a mercenary over the past few seasons, and he could be used in a similar manner in 2023. The veteran EDGE can still bring a defense 30+ snaps a game and provide value both as a pass rusher and run defender.
14) LB Zach Cunningham
Zach Cunningham was hampered by a lingering elbow injury that kept him out of the lineup at times for Tennessee and rendered him an incomplete player other times when trying to gut it out on the field.
While Cunningham has never been a plus coverage defender, he’s a very good run defender. At both Houston and Tennessee, he proved he can come downhill and make plays. Cunningham could be a decently inexpensive option in a loaded linebacker free agency class.
15) OLB Bud Dupree
There are many reasons why former Titans GM Jon Robinson lost his job, and Bud Dupree’s contract couldn’t have helped. It seemed patently ridiculous at the time and remains ridiculous years later following Tennessee’s release of the much-maligned player.
Dupree has good size for the position, and he can hold his own as a run defender. However, he’s best fit in a rotational role at this point. He hasn’t been productive recently, and using him more sparingly may allow him to unleash his raw athleticism more often.
16) CB Ronald Darby
Some players are snake-bitten by the injury bug for the majority of their careers, and Ronald Darby has been one of those players. He’s played over 12 games just once since 2016 and has only managed 16 games total over the past two seasons.
Darby was still a starter at the time of his injuries, but there is already a flat-faced cliff at the end of most cornerback’s careers around 30, and few have fought through injuries the way he has. If he’s healthy, Darby could be a decent player, but that’s asking a lot of him at this point.
17) OT Taylor Lewan
If you can’t tell, we’re to the point of the list where we are desperately grasping at straws. Taylor Lewan was a good player until his injury in 2020, and after a disastrous start to 2021, he turned things around slowly as the season progressed. But between another injury in 2022 and an obvious desire to stick his foot into the content creator field, it’s difficult to know for sure if he has anything left in the tank.
18) C Graham Glasgow
Graham Glasgow may be able to latch onto a team as a low-end starting option at this point, but the 30-year-old would be a nice fit as depth on the offensive interior. He’s played all three interior spots over the years, and as recently as last season played over 300 snaps at both center and right guard.
19) QB Carson Wentz
The Carson Wentz documentary is going to go so hard one day, should someone find a way to make it happen. His fall from grace was as sharp as anyone in this millennium. At this point, the high-risk, high-reward play has teetered toward incomprehensible delusion on the field, resulting in the Washington Commanders losing what was a must-win game for them late in 2022.
But if he’s open to a backup role, there could be a Ryan Fitzpatrick arc in store for Wentz, but only if he really focuses on improving mentally.
20) S Bobby McCain
Bobby McCain has started for a long time between Miami and Washington, but his days as a starter should be numbered. The free safety is better suited for a rotational role as a backup at this point, but his experience could be useful on a contending team with a downed starter.
21) CB William Jackson III
William Jackson III looked like a nice high-upside starter when he left Cincinnati for Washington. However, he’s been anything but in his time with Washington. Oftentimes, he was the biggest reason why the Commanders’ defense was struggling in the secondary. He was traded to Pittsburgh but never played a snap for the Steelers, and now looks like he might be on his last legs in the league.
22) G Gabe Jackson
Gabe Jackson was the perfect offensive guard. A third-round pick who tested poorly and ended up having a decade-long NFL career as a starter is a massive win. But those days are over for him. Jackson’s time in Seattle has not been very pretty, and he’d be better as a depth piece at this point if he wants to continue his NFL career.
23) DT Michael Brockers
Michael Brockers was a decently productive player for the Rams, but in a similar move to Jackson, hasn’t been able to produce at all in his two seasons with his new team. The Lions completely whiffed on Brockers, who managed only eight pressures in over 350 pass-rushing snaps while being a liability against the run.
24) LB Damien Wilson
Damien Wilson has never necessarily been a starting-caliber player at the NFL level, but he has started in Kansas City and Carolina over the past four seasons. He’s not an awful option as a depth piece because he’ll be inexpensive, particularly in a loaded market. However, anything more than the vet minimum would be too much for Wilson at this point.
25) DE Al-Quadin Muhammad
After having a career year in 2021 with the Indianapolis Colts, Al-Quadin Muhammad’s production slipped with the Bears in 2022. Muhammad can be a rotational piece for a defense, but he doesn’t bring much consistency as a pass rusher.