Friday, April 19, 2024

2024 NFL free agent rankings: Top 50 players available include Danielle Hunter, Calvin Ridley


Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings QB

He’s aging, returning from injury and still lacks a defining postseason run. But even consistent quarterback play is tough to find, and Cousins is still a borderline top-10 pocket passer with an eye for the big play. (SIGNING with Falcons)

Danielle Hunter Minnesota Vikings LB

Back in full form after a couple of injury-riddled seasons, Hunter remains one of the most productive and physically imposing defenders in the game. He’s got nearly as many sacks (87.5) as starts (90).

Christian Wilkins Miami Dolphins DT

Williams was more solid than special as a pass rusher until his contract year, but he’s been rock-steady as an interior gap-plugger since entering the NFL. He’s about as reliable a run defender as they come. (SIGNING with Raiders)

Patrick Queen Baltimore Ravens LB

He didn’t necessarily live up to expectations until Roquan Smith’s arrival, but Queen’s also got the size, speed and physicality to remain a sideline-to-sideline difference-maker after a star turn for an elite defense.

Calvin Ridley Jacksonville Jaguars WR

He looked rusty at times in his Jaguars debut, showing iffy chemistry with Trevor Lawrence. But even at 29, Ridley boasts electric speed and big-play experience, making him a higher-level downfield threat.

Saquon Barkley New York Giants RB

Running backs are more replaceable than ever, and he’s had a few sluggish stretches marred by injury. Barkley is still just 27, though, and has unteachable dual-threat dynamism when healthy. (SIGNING with Eagles)

Leonard Williams Seattle Seahawks DE

Moved by the New York Giants midway through 2023, Williams has now fared well for three different teams/systems in his career. Even his down years have been solid as a versatile interior man.

Justin Simmons Denver Broncos FS

A cap casualty in Denver, Simmons is no spring chicken going on 31, battling injuries the last two years. But few defensive backs have been better leaders or ballhawks (30 career interceptions) since he arrived.

Bryce Huff New York Jets DE

One of the biggest projections of this year’s free agent class, Huff has started just seven games in four years. But the stout, explosive rotational man has been ultra-efficient when deployed, fresh off a 10-sack breakout. (SIGNING with Eagles)

Xavier McKinney New York Giants FS

Availability was an occasional issue in New York due to on- and off-field injuries, but the Alabama product has been rangy and impactful whenever he’s healthy. Going on 25, he profiles as a potential long-term difference-maker.

Jonathan Greenard Houston Texans DE

He’s missed extended time in two of his four NFL seasons, but when active, his pass-rushing impact has been steady. Will Anderson Jr. drew the headlines in Houston in 2023, but he led DeMeco Ryans ‘ front in sacks and tackles for loss. (SIGNING with Vikings)

Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans RB

Henry’s not destined for big bucks due to age (30) and wear and tear (2,030 career carries) at a devalued position. But his reliability hasn’t faded with time, and his supersized frame should help him remain a bludgeon for a contender.

Tyron Smith Dallas Cowboys OT

He hasn’t played a full season in close to a decade, which means he’ll require legit insurance up front. But Smith is an upper-tier left tackle even at 33, and a road-grading blind-side blocker is always a premium find.

Josh Jacobs Las Vegas Raiders RB

All the worries about Derrick Henry should probably be applied to Jacobs, whose rugged physicality has lent itself to bumps, bruises and sluggish stretches. But his highs are high as a do-it-all workhorse, and he only just turned 26. (SIGNING with Packers)

Marquise Brown Arizona Cardinals WR

It’s quite clear after stops in Baltimore and Arizona that Brown is best served as more of a No. 2 type, but he’s only going on 27 with proven deep-ball speed. Put him opposite a legit wideout, and he’ll help take the top off a defense.

Leonard Floyd Buffalo Bills DE

There might not be a more underrated free agent in recent memory. While Floyd has never wowed with truly gaudy numbers, he ranks 10th in total sacks since 2020 (39.5). He’s the definition of a safe bet at the position.

Kamren Curl Washington Commanders SAF

Like Kendall Fuller, his resume bears the scars of simply suiting up for a bad Washington defense. But he’s offset an abundance of splash plays with a reputation for general reliability, racking up 385 tackles in four years.

Frankie Luvu Carolina Panthers LB

After a quiet start to his career with the Jets, Luvu has come on in recent years as a ferocious, downhill-charging sack artist for the Panthers. He’s an off-ball linebacker by trade, but he’s got a nose for getting after the pocket.

Za’Darius Smith Cleveland Browns DE

One of several mercenary edge rushers on the market, Smith will be 32 when the new season begins, but he’s about as persistent as they come, eclipsing 20 quarterback hits in five of his last six seasons.

Gabe Davis Buffalo Bills WR

Notice a theme with these top free agent wideouts? Not so unlike Calvin Ridley and Marquise Brown, Davis hasn’t been a beacon of consistency, but boy can he fly. His elite burst should last, too, considering he’s only going on 25. (SIGNING with Jaguars)

Kendall Fuller Washington Commanders CB

Typically you don’t want to be poaching starters from an atrocious defense, but Fuller has been a relatively stable perimeter man for both the Chiefs and Commanders now. You could do worse at such an important spot.

Baker Mayfield Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB

Did he light the world on fire with the Buccaneers? No. But he still exceeded expectations, providing impressive gusto and improved ball control to lead a playoff bid. Call him a scrappy if unspectacular QB1, which is still very valuable. (RE-SIGNING with Buccaneers)

Connor Williams Miami Dolphins OG

Three times in his career, he’s missed multiple games due to injury. But the former Cowboys guard has graded out well when active, including as the anchor of Miami’s line. If he can stay on the field, he’s still got Pro Bowl potential.

Robert Hunt Miami Dolphins OG

Like basically every other lineman for the Dolphins in 2023, Hunt succumbed to injuries. But he had been progressing as a top interior man before that, helping pave the way for Mike McDaniel’s explosive run game. (SIGNING with Panthers)

Mike Onwenu New England Patriots OG

It’s difficult to shower praise upon anyone who “headlined” New England’s shoddy front in recent years, but Onwenu is well-regarded for his versatility and has flashed as a legit tackle. He could conceivably start at any spot up front.

Chase Young San Francisco 49ers DE

This is a case of upside over resume. Young’s once-promising career has mostly been sidelined due to injury, but with freakish physical gifts and youth on his side (he’ll be 25), he remains an intriguing bet for the long term.

D’Andre Swift Philadelphia Eagles RB

Running backs, we know. But Swift finally reached full form in Philadelphia, showcasing an aggressive burst every time he touched the ball. He may still benefit from a pitch count, but at 25, he may also just be hitting his prime. (SIGNING with Bears)

Lavonte David Tampa Bay Buccaneers OLB

Age is just a number to David, whose instincts and sheer tenacity helped power the Buccaneers’ late-year playoff push. He may never leave Tampa Bay, and he’s clearly a short-term play at 34, but his feel for the game remains top-notch.

Sheldon Rankins Houston Texans DT

Rankins has rarely been described as a fearsome interior man, but he’s now had back-to-back reliable campaigns for a pair of playoff-caliber defenses. You know what you’re getting here: a steady, gap-plugging presence.

Kevin Zeitler Baltimore Ravens OG

At 34, coming off his 12th season, Zeitler is surely more of a rental for whichever team lures him next. But he was a key piece of Lamar Jackson’s MVP season up front, earning his first career Pro Bowl nod.

Azeez Al-Shaair Tennessee Titans LB

A third wheel of sorts with the San Francisco 49ers, Al-Shaair fully emerged from the shadow of Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw in Tennessee. His best work has come near the line, making him a potential tackle-for-loss machine.

Stephon Gilmore Dallas Cowboys CB

He’s getting up there, but the former star cover man had a few vintage outings for America’s Team in 2023.

Geno Stone Baltimore Ravens SAF

He’s never been more than a rotational contributor, but it’s hard to deny the ball skills after a seven-pick breakout.

Graham Glasgow Detroit Lions OG

The Lions‘ offensive line was an integral part of Detroit’s Cinderella run. Glasgow had a big hand in that on the interior. (RE-SIGNING with Lions)

Jadeveon Clowney Baltimore Ravens OLB

Myles Garrett’s presence probably helped in Cleveland. But he can still be a monster to block off the edge.

Jonah Williams Cincinnati Bengals OT

Despite an awkward change of position in Cincinnati, there may not be a safer bet at right tackle on this market.

Xavien Howard Miami Dolphins CB

Age and availability are concerns after his release from Miami. But he’s got the track record of a top-flight playmaker.

Bobby Wagner Seattle Seahawks MLB

Like Lavonte David, he’s approaching retirement. Until then, he keeps using smarts to offset any loss of athleticism.

Steven Nelson Houston Texans CB

Cornerback is a volatile position, but Nelson’s been fairly resilient for all four teams that have deployed him.

Tony Pollard Dallas Cowboys RB

Finally given a workhorse role in 2023, Pollard was just OK. As a change-of-pace speedster, he’s got more value. (SIGNING with Titans)

Jerome Baker Miami Dolphins OLB

Another cap casualty in Miami, Baker has done it all as a trusty defensive lynchpin. Can he stay healthy?

Fletcher Cox Philadelphia Eagles DT

He enjoyed a personal resurgence in 2023 despite the Eagles‘ collapse. But he may end up hanging up the cleats. (RETIRING)

Jordyn Brooks Seattle Seahawks LB

Brooks hasn’t often been a highlight-reel star, but his consistency and durability stood out in Seattle.

Dalton Risner Minnesota Vikings OG

After several solid seasons with the Broncos, Risner fared well as a last-minute addition to Minnesota’s own interior.

Curtis Samuel Washington Commanders WR

He’s clearly cut out for more of a gadget role, but his shifty versatility still gives him value as a No. 3-type wideout.

D.J. Reader Cincinnati Bengals DE

The medical track record is a concern, but Reader has the size, skills and experience of a trench tone-setter.

Jordan Whitehead New York Jets FS

An underrated back-end leader for a tough Jets defense, Whitehead also made plays for the title-winning 2020 Bucs.
He’s struggled to stay on the field the last two years, but the always-feisty center fielder has a knack for timely plays.

Jordan Fuller Los Angeles Rams FS

He’s now been a part of multiple inspiring Rams playoff runs, offering range and strong tackling marks on the back end.

Josey Jewell Denver Broncos ILB

He’s older, sure, but he’s also battle-tested as a smart, instinctive leader of a linebacker corps.

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