The top 25 NFL free agents of 2023 are headlined by quarterbacks and running backs. Underdog Fantasy's Sosa Kremenjas grades the top available players with notes.
1. QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
There should be no player that's more sought after than Jackson, though he is not going to reach the market as the Ravens will at least place the franchise tag on him. Jackson has surpassed a combined 16,000 yards from scrimmage since entering the NFL and is one of the league's bright young stars. The Ravens aren't going to allow this type of talent to reach the market.
2. DT Javon Hargrave, Philadelphia Eagles
Hargrave was truly dominant this past season, racking up the third-most pressures (66) among all interior defensive lineman throughout the regular and postseason. The stud defensive tackle scooped up 12 sacks in the process and is the top-ranked defender on the list now that Daron Payne was franchise tagged.
3. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Barkley hasn't had the type of career that was expected after being drafted No. 2 overall by the Giants (mostly because of injuries) but was able to get back on track this past season with a combined 1,650 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns. He wasn't able to play 16 games in any season between 2019-2021 because of injury and he appeared in just a combined 28 of 49 games during that time frame. Regardless, we're still talking about a dual threat out of the backfield and one of the game's most explosive home-run threats with a high draft pedigree.
4. RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
No running back had more rushing yards (1,653) or missed tackles forced (90) than Jacobs this season according to PFF. The former first-round pick showed out in a big way after having his fifth-year option declined and has now positioned himself to secure a massive deal via free agency. While Jacobs is likely to be franchise tagged, he could find enough leverage to secure a long-term deal with the same team that drafted him.
5. QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Like all of the offensive players listed before him, Smith is unlikely to reach the open market and is expected to at least receive the franchise tag. Smith is one of this season's revelations, leading all quarterbacks in completion percentage (69.8%) while also ranking inside the top seven in passing yards and fourth in passing touchdowns (min. 100 dropbacks). The veteran put together one of the all-time great random one-off performances.
6. S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles
After being traded for a day-three draft pick, Gardner-Johnson proved his worth to his new team and positioned himself as one of the top players available in free agency. The versatile defender was able to line up in various roles including free safety, in the box, and as a nickel cornerback. Gardner-Johnson allowed just 288 receiving yards during the regular season.
7. S Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals
Bates and Gardner-Johnson are a true coin flip to determine who the top safety is on the market. With that being said, Bates moonlights as more of a rangy free safety, and those players are typically paid more handsomely. The veteran has a combined 14 career interceptions and 28 pass deflections. While Bates could be franchise tagged for a second straight offseason, it doesn't appear very likely.
8. LT Orlando Brown Jr., Kansas City Chiefs
Brown is not coming off his best season after allowing a career-high 47 pressures in pass protection but he is a mainstay and has registered over 1,000 snaps in each of the past four seasons, both at right and left tackle. The veteran tackle has positioned himself to break the bank this offseason and may be a candidate for a second consecutive franchise tag from the Chiefs. With that being said, Brown is a reliable blindside player who has yet to allow more than four sacks in any single season and has been incredibly consistent over the past four seasons.
9. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
A former first-round draft pick, Edmunds is scheduled to reach the market at just 25 years old. The stud linebacker allowed just 296 yards in his coverage this past season and just one touchdown on 56 targets. Edmunds has some inconsistencies in his performances, but his size and talent are two reasons why he is another franchise tag candidate.
10. LB Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There may not be a single player more undervalued in the league than David, even though he's now 33 years old. The veteran has amassed 100-plus tackles four times in his career and enters the market as a three-time All-Pro and one-time pro bowler. David may not have the gaudy numbers he once did, but the veteran is as sound as ever, boasting a borderline elite 84.1 PFF grade this season.
11. C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Despite being 35 years old and mulling retirement, Kelce is still one of the top two or three players in his position. There's likely no chance he reaches the open market and is much more likely to either re-sign with the Eagles or retire. With that being said, the vet has played fewer than 1,000 snaps just three times in his career and is a five-time First-Team All-Pro and a six-time pro bowler.
12. QB Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Carr left something to be desired this season and is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, though the veteran has a more decorated past. The former Raiders signal-caller topped 4,000 passing yards in four of his past five seasons while throwing 114 touchdowns to just 55 interceptions over the same span of time. A fresh start could help extract some more above-average play out of Carr, particularly if he goes to a decent offense.
13. LB Bobby Wagner, Los Angeles Rams
Even though Wagner isn't the same player he once was, he was still PFF's highest-graded linebacker boasting an elite 90.7 overall defensive grade. His lack of speed is definitely something to note at this point in time, but Wagner still impressed in coverage and had a fantastic average depth of tackle (2.8 yards) metric in the run game.
14. RB Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
There aren't many more electric players in the league than Pollard. The dual-threat running back ranked 12th in receiving yards and 15th in rushing yards, despite being just a "part-time player". Pollard is likely going to be franchise tagged, but he should be able to inherit a majority share in whichever backfield he plays in this season. He has elite potential and is already one of the most productive running backs in the league in per-touch efficiency.
15. QB Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Jones is coming off a career-best season where he set highs in passing yards, passing yards per attempt, and rushing yards. Of course, the bar was quite low but Jones likely displayed enough this past season to secure a long-term deal from the Giants. It remains to be seen if he'll be franchise tagged instead, but either way, Jones is just 25 years old and has the mobility required to play in the NFL today. He is one of the more risky options on this list.
16. CB Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dean is one of the big-ticket free agents because of his age (26) and his position. The former third-round pick allowed just 50% of his targets to be completed this season for a career-high 412 yards and five touchdowns. The numbers aren't outstanding on the surface, but Dean set a career-high in snaps, has the size teams covet, and plays a premium position on the boundary. He is going to get paid a lot of money.
17. WR Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots
Even though he wasn't drafted, Meyers has positioned himself nicely as the top receiver option on this list. The slot receiver has yet to break 1,000 yards receiving in a single season but he's topped 700 yards in each of his past three, while also totaling eight touchdowns. Meyers doesn't have the upside some others possess — like JuJu Smith-Schuster — but he is more reliable, despite playing most of his snaps in the slot.
18. LB David Long, Tennessee Titans
Despite allowing 85.5% of his targets to be complete this past season, Long didn't allow a single touchdown while grabbing two interceptions. No linebacker had a better average depth of tackle (1.1) than Long this season (min. 100 run defense snaps). He set the standard for run defense and was above and beyond his peers in this metric.
19. S Jordan Poyer, Buffalo Bills
Poyer has been a mainstay for the backend of the Bills' defense since 2017. Over that span of time, the veteran has allowed 11 touchdowns but secured 22 interceptions to combat. Poyer had some injury issues this past season but brings toughness, veteran leadership, and the ability to contribute both as a run defender and coverage defender to whichever team signs him. In fact, he hasn't allowed more than 293 receiving yards in any season to date.
20. RT Jawaan Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars
Despite playing over 1,000 total snaps and 675 pass-blocking snaps this season, Taylor allowed just 16 (!) total quarterback pressures. That ranked 65th among all tackles this season. While Taylor has work to do in the running game, his ability to pass block consistently will get him paid handsomely.
21. RT Mike McGlinchey, San Francisco 49ers
Like Taylor, McGlinchey is another very good right tackle option for needy teams. McGlinchey allowed just 27 pressures this season and has never allowed more than 39 in any of his five NFL seasons. Of course, the 49ers placed more of an emphasis on their run blocking and McGlinchey has been able to do that at a high level throughout his career.
22. CB James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
Bradberry has had an interesting career but is coming off a great rebound season in 2022. The veteran cornerback had the fourth-highest coverage snaps per reception figure (16.1) among all cornerbacks with at least 100 coverage snaps this season. Bradberry's 54.2 NFL passer rating when targeted was also the fourth-lowest figure among all players at the position.
23. TE Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
Over the past three seasons, Schultz has developed into one of the most dependable tight ends in the league. Schultz has the ability to line up in the slot, out-wide, or in-line as a traditional tight end and has done all three to some extent. He's been able to amass a combined 2,000 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns over the past three seasons. He isn't the most exciting player, but he is a very consistent and flexible one.
24. DT Dre'Mont Jones, Denver Broncos
Quietly, Jones has developed into one of the best pass-rushing 3-techniques in the league. Even though he's undersized, Jones was able to leverage that into 45 pressures this season (11th among interior defensive lineman). Jones has topped 40 pressures twice in the past two years and has 30 or more pressures in each of the last three years. He isn't a plus run defender, but he is a very dangerous pass-rushing threat from the interior.
25. iDL Zach Allen, Arizona Cardinals
While Allen may not be as accomplished as some of the other names listed, he is just 25 years old and has steadily improved in each of his past four seasons. Allen set career-highs in both pressures (35) and sacks (six), ranking 20th among all interior defensive lineman in pressures. The one thing Allen brings to the table that is different from a lot of his counterparts is the versatility to line up at defensive tackle or on the edge.