Free agency is slow right now, but it’s certainly not over. Plenty of impactful players are there for the taking, and they should all be signed once they find the right fit and acceptable contracts. I thought we’d reassess the free agency landscape and see who’s still out there. You’ll notice several RBs on this list. That’s not an accident. The position is so valued that high-quality players are still waiting for teams to come calling. Now then; here are the best NFL free agents that are still available as of 7/10/2023!
WR DeAndre Hopkins
Arguably the best WR in the NFL when healthy, Hopkins is still without a team by choice. He doesn’t want to sign before training camp, but he certainly has offers. Arizona badly misplayed his contract situation and had to cut him for cap reasons. Tennessee and New England want him badly, and for good reason. Hopkins had 717 receiving yards last year in just 9 games. Despite playing with Kyler Murray, he earned almost 80 yards per game. He proved the same thing in Houston: he’s QB-proof. Line him up and watch him produce. He may not get $20M per season at this point, but he’d be worth it.
DE Jadeveon Clowney
Since entering the league as the #1 overall pick in 2014, Clowney has underwhelmed as a sack artist. He has, however, been a very stout run defender while pushing the pocket at a moderate level. Clowney has had a few productive sack seasons, most recently in 2021 with Cleveland (9 sacks). 2022 was very underwhelming though, as his numbers were down while playing through injury. As has been the case for several years, Clowney will need to take a 1-year prove-it deal. That should come in a little under $10M. A contender with weakness against the run should sign him and then hope for the best in the passing game.
RB Dalvin Cook
Cook supposedly wants a big contract, somewhere around the $10M per year he was scheduled to make with Minnesota. Massive RB contracts have almost all failed, with Derrick Henry as the lone exception. Cook is a very good player; he has topped 1000 yards rushing and 200 yards receiving in each of the past 4 seasons. His release came down to his cap hit and his injury history. 2022 was the first season in which Cook played every game. He has been very productive in spit of that though. If he accepts a realistic offer, Miami is his best fit. That backfield has plenty of available touches and also provides the opportunity to win.
CB Marcus Peters
The mercurial Peters, already having played for 3 teams despite his 32 career regular-season INTs, is now looking for his 4th. His personality is his biggest issue, as he can be a bit volatile. Some teams will be fine with that particular brand of competitive fire though, and he’s not a bad guy. Peters will also be a better player this season now that he’s another year removed from his ACL tear in 2021. He is a willing tackler, but his form causes him to miss a few. Peters is also prone to the occasional blown coverage when guessing wrong. A 1- or 2-year deal with incentives feels like a good idea here.
DE Yannick Ngakoue
This one confuses me. You’d think a guy with 9.5 and 10 sacks in the past two seasons would have a home by now. Admittedly, Ngakoue is a bit of a liability against the run, but run stuffers are easy to find. Elite edge rushers are not. He has never had a season with less than 8 sacks, yet he’s looking for his 6th team since 2019. Ngakoue didn’t fit will at all in Baltimore, so he needed to rebuild his value. He certainly did so with Las Vegas and Indianapolis though, so I’m surprised that nobody has offered him something like a 3-year, $45M contract. Some team (likely a contender) is going to get a great bargain.
C Ben Jones
Few positions are flashier than center. Maybe they should be though. No other player touches the ball on every single play; even on direct snaps to RBs, the center handles the ball first. Then he must quickly enter a blocking stance. Jones has been an above-average player at the position for a decade. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2022, but he became a cap casualty shortly thereafter. On an injured Titans line, Jones was the stabilizing force for Derrick Henry. Clearly an excellent run blocker but also competent against the pass, Jones should find a new team soon after training camp.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
If you talk to Dallas fans, you’d think that Elliott became completely worthless last season. That’s simply not the case. Though he’s definitely no longer in his prime, his work as a short-yardage back last year was superb. Elliott can’t be your workhorse any longer, and his yards per carry were down to 3.8 in 2022, a career low. With limited touches though, he still shows some burst on tape, and he can at least wear down a defense and pass protect. To me, his best fit is…Dallas. Tony Pollard is coming off a broken ankle and probably won’t be ready week 1, so Dallas needs help. At a lower price tag, why not feed Zeke some more?
RB Leonard Fournette
Don’t let Fournette’s struggles last year in Tampa fool you. Nobody succeeded behind that injured and ineffective offensive line. Even Tom Brady looked somewhat human. $7M for an RB was just too much of a luxury for a Bucs team facing Brady’s massive dead cap hit. A key cog in 2020’s Super Bowl-winning squad, Fournette remade himself into a stellar receiving back with Brady throwing him the ball, earning 450+ yards through the air in each of the past 2 years. Combined with his bruising running style and solid pass protection, Fournette is a 3-down starter. He’ll probably be locked in a platoon on a cheap deal though.
OLB Kyle Van Noy
This guy gets overlooked every season. As steady a player as you can find, Van Noy has earned between 5 and 7 sacks each of the past 4 seasons. He has also never posted fewer than 46 tackles in a season since becoming a starter. Trained by Bill Belichick, Van Noy is also a leader on defense, making sure guys are in the right position on every play. To top it off, he’s a solid coverage LB with 13 PBUs across 2021 and 2022. Supposedly there was a personality issue in Miami, but that appears to be more of a Brian Flores problem. I think Van Noy is just underappreciated, and hopefully he ends up in a Patriot outpost (maybe Vegas?).
QB Carson Wentz
Now for what will likely be my most controversial pick. Wentz has had a few good seasons, but he has never come close to matching his magical run in 2017. His worst stretch came in 2020 when he poorly handled the drafting of Jalen Hurts. Wentz had an underrated campaign with the Colts before posting a mediocre season in 2020 with Washington. I think it’s safe to close the book on the idea of Wentz as a franchise QB. A low-end starter or high-end backup feels like his ceiling, but that’s worth a lot in the NFL. He’d get hurt less often as a reserve, and I can see him fetching a $5M deal for one season.