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Top three 2024 NFL free agents at every offensive position: Tyler Boyd, J.K. Dobbins among best options left

NFL free agency has passed its second wave as the top players have already signed, and the next crop of free agents have found a home for 2024. There are still some good players available, but the market has significantly dried up over the past few weeks. 

Teams are focusing on the draft before free agency ramps up in its third wave, when compensatory picks no longer factor into the equation. Players who should be rostered are still available for the taking, if any team can’t wait until after the draft. 

These are the top three free agents available at every position. 

Quarterback

The best of the free agent quarterbacks remaining, Tannehill is likely awaiting an opportunity compete for a starting job given his resume. Tannehill has 151 career starts in his 12-year career (81-70 record), throwing for 34,881 yards and 216 touchdowns with a 91.2 rating. 

The 35-year-old Tannehill likely will have to wait until after the draft to sign with a team, as his veteran presence as a starter and a backup makes a quarterback room better. Tannehill can still compete for a starting job, even after his benching in Tennessee last season. 

Hoyer actually made a start with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, as the 38-year-old quarterback has 41 starts to his resume. A prototypical backup quarterback at this stage of his career, it remains to be seen if Hoyer wants to continue playing after 15 seasons. 

Las Vegas released Hoyer last month. If Hoyer wants to continue playing, he’ll likely end up as quarterback depth somewhere. 

Gabbert’s days in Kansas City appear over after Carson Wentz signed in Kansas City, so the former first-round pick is likely looking for a new team. The 34-year old Gabbert has started 49 games in his career, but only one over the last four seasons (Week 18 game last season in which he completed 50% of his passes and threw three interceptions). 

A veteran of 13 seasons, Gabbert is one of the most experienced backup quarterbacks remaining. 

Running back

Injuries have certainly limited Dobbins, or else he would have been signed by now.  Prior to tearing his Achilles in Week 1, Dobbins averaged 5.7 yards per carry the previous season (92 carries, 520 yards, two touchdowns), this after a brutal knee injury that cost him the 2021 season. 

Dobbins was dominant in his rookie season (2020), leading all NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.0) while setting a Ravens‘ rookie record with nine rushing touchdowns (third amongst all NFL rookies). His 805 rushing yards were also third among rookie running backs as Dobbins finished with a Ravens’ franchise-record seven consecutive games with a rushing touchdown. 

If healthy, Dobbins is tremendous value for the team that signs him. 

His best days may be behind him, yet Elliott is still a threat in the end zone. Elliott rushed for 642 yards and three touchdowns last season, averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry. A No. 2 running back at this stage, Elliott is an excellent fit in red zone packages — even if he’s turning 29 in July. 

Hunt was a red zone force as a No. 2 running back in Cleveland last season, scoring nine touchdowns in 15 games. He rushed for 411 yards and averaged just 3.0 yards per carry, but still adds value to a running back room in short-yardage situations. 

Wide receiver 

A two-time 1,000-yard receiver in Cincinnati, Boyd was a valuable third option next to Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. He finished with 67 catches for 667 yards and two touchdowns (10.0 yards per catch), but the 29-year-old wideout would be more productive with more targets. 

Boyd has 6,000 career receiving yards and 31 touchdowns. He’ll find a slot on a receiver-needy team. 

One of the top options on a bad Carolina team last season, Chark had 35 catches for 525 yards and five touchdowns (15.0 yards per catch). The former Pro Bowl and 1,000-yard receiver can still stretch a defense and open things up for other wideouts. 

Beckham wasn’t worth the salary he received in Baltimore last season. He still was productive in an offense that spread the ball around, having 35 catches for 565 yards and three touchdowns (16.1 yards per catch). 

Still productive as a deep-ball receiver, Beckham should have suitors amongst the contending teams. 

Tight end

A poor Washington offensive limited Thomas to 55 catches for 496 yards and four touchdowns (9.0 yards per catch). Thomas isn’t a good separator, but the 32-year-old Thomas is a reliable pass catcher as a No. 2 tight end.

Tonyan had 11 touchdown catches in 2020, but has just four touchdowns since (including zero last year). He played in every game for Chicago, but had 11 catches for 112 yards last season. In Tonyan’s last season with Green Bay (2022), he had 53 catches for 470 yards and two touchdowns. 

Tonyan isn’t a good blocker, but is a good pass-catching tight end in the right offense. 

Slim pickings for the rest of the free agent tight end pool, as the former playoff standout for Cincinnati had just eight catches for 58 yards for New York last season. At this stage of his career, Uzomah is good tight end depth. 

Tackle

One of the best tackles in the game when healthy, Bakhtiari has missed 38 games over the last three seasons. A First Team All-Pro in 2020, Bakhtiari made five straight All-Pro teams prior to injuries catching up to him. He allowed just one sack and 10 pressures in 11 games in 2022.

The former first-round pick badly needs a change of scenery, allowing 12 sacks and 47 pressures in 613 pass-blocking snaps last season. Becton isn’t even 25 yet (his birthday is this month), and last season was his first one back after missing 33 straight games due to right knee issues. If Becton has the knee issues beside him, he’s worth taking a flyer with the right coach to develop him. 

A veteran starter in the league, Smith allowed two sacks and 36 pressures in 476 pass-blocking snaps last season (7.6% pressure rate). Smith has started all 136 games he’s played in the league, all at left tackle. 

Guard

Peat can play left tackle, but his best position is guard. He allowed three sacks and 11 pressures with a 4.2% pressure rate in 310 pass-blocking snaps in his last season as guard (2022). Peat started 12 games and allowed two sacks and 30 pressures (6.5% pressure rate) at left tackle in 2023. Peat’s versatility is valuable. 

Risner didn’t allow a sack in 459 pass-blocking snaps last season, but allowed a 6.3% pressure rate and started 11 games for Minnesota. Perhaps a better situation would salvage Risner’s career as a starter, as he’s started 73 games in the league.

Perhaps not having Zack Wilson under center will help the 32-year-old Tomlinson, who allowed seven sacks and 47 pressures in 695 pass-blocking snaps at left guard last season (6.8% pressure rate). Tomlinson allowed just one sack the previous season, so 2023 may be the outlier instead of the norm. 

Center

Another interior lineman who can play guard and center, Williams is arguably the best center left in free agency. The 26-year-old Williams allowed just one sack and six pressures in nine games last season with a 2.9% pressure rate. 

A center for Chicago last season, Patrick allowed zero sacks and 23 pressures in 539 pass-blocking snaps last season (4.3% pressure rate). Patrick has also played left guard, having versatility on the interior of the offensive line. Patrick is still primarily a center and a better player there, evidenced by his 3.3% pressure rate allowed in Green Bay in 2021. 

The former starting center for Los Angeles hasn’t been right since knee and thumb injuries limited him to five games in 2022. Coleman Shelton beat out Allen for the starting center job in 2023, and Allen was relegated to backup duties. 

Allen started in 32 of 50 regular-season games with Los Angeles, but allowed nine sacks in his last 23 games started. There are still starting jobs available for Allen. 

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