NFL free agency 2022: Ranking top 50 free agents, best players by position, tracking signings

There’s a huge event that determines the short-term fates all 32 teams, including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft. In recent seasons, NFL free agency has become an increasingly important open market. You can look at the success story of the Rams or Bengals to see the proof.

Cincinnati was aggressive last season and acquired Trey Hendrickson as defensive difference-maker. This came after a New Orleans record-breaking pass-rushing year. Los Angeles has been all about veterans, whether it’s blockbuster trades (see Matthew Stafford), or key signings throughout the season (see Odellbeckham Jr.).

Some teams are more active than others due to promising salary-cap situations. Others will need to be more selective about who to bring back and who to get outside help.

If all teams look at the top unrestricted NFL Free Agents for 2022, they’ll find worthy splurges across positions. Here’s how Sporting News ranks and ranks the top 50 players in each position for this year, ahead of the opening of free agency on March 16:

MORE: SN’s latest mock draft | Big board of top 50 prospects

 

NFL free agency 2022 – Ranking the top 50 NFL players

1. Davante Adams, WR, Packers (age: 29)

Franchise tagged

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Adams is still considered the NFL’s best wide receiver and he was in his prime when he was partnered with Aaron Rodgers. His franchise tag is likely to be a place-holder for long-term deals to stay in Green Bay until Rodgers retires.

2. J.C. Jackson (age 28), CB, Patriots

Chargers signed him for five years, $82.5 Million

Jackson was a great coverage guy, taking over as No. 1 corner. He led the league with 23 pass breaksups and had eight interceptions. He may not be able come back to New England with Stephon Gilmore, and Jackson may need to seek out his big money elsewhere.

3. Terron Armstead (OT, Saints), age: 30

Armstead suffered some knee injuries in 2021, just like Ryan Ramczyk, a fellow bookend. However, he was as smooth as ever in pass defense when he was out there for any of their quarterbacks. Because he’s not as run-blocking as he used to be, he’s going to continue to play the left side.

4. Chris Godwin (age: 25), WR, Buccaneers

Franchise-tagged

Godwin played well on the franchise tag in the second and final season with Tom Brady, who boosted his stock in making him his key short-to-intermediate go-to guy. He should be fully recovered from his knee injury, and he still has many strong seasons to go as a versatile slot-ace.

5. Von Miller, EDGE, Rams (age: 32)

Miller was still able to produce 9.5 sacks in 15 regular-season games between Denver and Los Angeles. Although he has lost some of his effectiveness, he is still a valuable member of any 3-4 defensive team.

6. Chandler Jones, EDGE Cardinals (age of 31)

Jones returned to his best after a 2020 season without him due to a biceps strain. He had 10.5 sacks and played in 15 games. He is consistent in getting to the quarterback and, like Miller, he still has one big-money run.

7. Orlando Brown Jr. (age: 25), OT, Chiefs

Franchise-tagged

After using the tag, there’s a good chance that the Chiefs will secure the rock they purchased from the Ravens last offseason.

8. Mike Williams, WR, Chargers (age 27)

Re-signed for 3 Years, $60 Million

Williams overcame past durability issues to have a great season. He caught 76 of the 129 targets for 1,146 and 9 touchdowns, making him a key red zone threat and deep threat for Justin Herbert. Los Angeles may be moving on, but Jalen Guyton, Josh Palmer, and Keenan Allen’s big plays outside promise to help.

9. Jessie Bates III, S, Bengals (age: 25)

Franchise-tagged

In 2020, Bates was a second team All-Pro. He was not as prolific, making plays all across the field in 2021. However, he is an active extra defender to support run support and has strong ballhawking skills. He’ll return to the Bengals with the franchise tag.

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10. Marcus Williams, S. Saints (age of 25)

Williams has been a steady, durable, and well-rounded player for New Orleans ever since his struggles as a younger player. He’s always had a keen eye for the ball and was his best in coverage in 2021.

11. Ryan Jensen, C, Buccaneers (age: 30)

Re-signed for 3 year, $39 million

Jensen was worth the free-agent splurge of the Ravens, and he raised his game while snapping Brady for two seasons. But, there’s a good opportunity he leaves to sign one last big deal that Tampa Bay may not have the means to afford.

12. Stephon Gilmore (CB, Panthers), age 31

After being traded from New England, Gilmore was quite strong in coverage during Gilmore’s Carolina half season. He’s not losing too much, but he’s still a good short-term playmaker for any interested teams.

13. Carton Davis, CB, Buccaneers (age: 25)

Re-signed for 3 Years, $45 Million

Davis missed seven games in 2021 due to injuries, but when he was on the field, he displayed the same shutdown promise and ball skills that he displayed during his breakout 2020 season. This was crucial to Tampa Bay’s win of the Super Bowl. He’s likely going to be franchise-tagged. Godwin is signed for multiple seasons and Jensen is walking.

14. Akiem Hicks (DT, Bears), age 32

Hicks’ inside production against pass and run looked similar between 2020-2021. He put up the same 3.5 yards in six more games of healthy play and produced the same number of sacks. He proved to be a strong plug and play despite his age.

15. Emmanuel Ogbah (age 28), EDGE, Dolphins

Re-signed for four years, $65 Million

Ogbah had a few big games in producing a second consecutive year with 9 sacks. He is able to play consistently elsewhere and has enjoyed his best play, including against the running.

16. Harold Landry, EDGE Titans (age 25)

Re-signed for 5 Years, $87.5 Million

Landry was a solid grinder for Tennessee in his fourth season, racking up 12 sacks using their 3-4 scheme. He has remained strong and uninjured, which makes him more appealing as a Pro Bowler.

17. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears (age: 28)

Robinson’s forgettable presumed last season in Chicago was marred by injuries and frustration with the offensive-minded, lame duck regime. Darnell Mooney has been pushing them forward as the No. 1 for Justin Fields,  Robinson has plenty of route-running and good hands savvy to offer his third team.

18. Brandon Scherff, G, Commanders (age: 30)

Signed with Jaguars

Scherff’s only job is to provide elite interior blocking when he is healthy. Washington has awarded him franchise-tag payouts for the past two years. Although there is no sign of decline in either running or passing, durability could be a greater challenge.

19. Cam Robinson, OT Jaguars, (age: 26).

Franchise-tagged

Robinson had a strong season all-around so Jacksonville understands why he wants to keep him on his left side as Trevor Lawrence’s young blindside pass protector.

20. Jadeveon Browns, EDGE, Browns (age 28)

Clowney recorded 9 sacks in his final season with Texans, matching his 2018 output. He performed well after Myles Garrett’s sensational season. He can still be effective in his later years if he plays a complementing role. He has always been a great run stopper.

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21. Duane Brown, OT, Seahawks (age: 36)

Brown has been solid for many years with Houston and Seattle. With full durability and strong overall blocking, he was able to return to Pro Bowl status in 2021.

22. Mike Gesicki, TE, Dolphins (age: 26)

Franchise-tagged

Gesicki has seen his receiving output rise with each of the four seasons. He caught 73 targets for 780 yard and 2 TDs in 2021. He has a strong connection with Tua Tagovailoa. Miami could keep him with its large salary cap or invest elsewhere to get a new offensive-minded coach Mike McDaniel.

23. Casey Hayward Jr. CB, Raiders (age of 32) 

The former Packers and Chargers standout enjoyed a revitalized season in Las Vegas as a top-cover corner. Although he is a bit slower, he still uses his intelligence well in all his assignments.

24. Randy Gregory, EDGE, Cowboys (age: 29)

Gregory was a strong member of Dan Quinn’s effective line rotation with six tackles. He settled in a veteran complementary role and made key plays on the field.

25. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, Chiefs (age: 29)

The ultimate hybrid, the now venerable “Honey Badger”He has been a consistent Pro Bowler with Kansas City, having always been there for the ball in coverage and running support. The Chiefs will do all they can to keep their leader of defense.

26. De’Vondre Campbell, LB, Packers (age: 28)

Re-signed for 5 Years, $50 Million

Campbell was a very prolific tackler for the Falcons & Cardinals, but he really rose to his game as a cover man and tackler. He was also an effective blitzer and was rewarded with his first All Pro nod in his sixth season.

27. Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys (age: 25)

Franchise-tagged

Schultz isn’t a blocker, but he had a great season catching passes from Dak Prescott. He caught 78 passes on 104 targets for 808 yards with 8 TDs. In 2022, he will return to the cap-strapped Cowboys.

28. D.J. Chark, WR and Jaguars (age 25)

His potential to rebound with Trevor Lawrence and produce at a high standard was wiped out in Week 4, when he injured his ankle against Bengals. He is still a No. Coach Doug Pederson may not want him to return for his second-year as franchise QB.

29. Calais Campbell, DT, Ravens (age: 35) 

Campbell’s dominance as a player for the Cardinals has diminished, but he is still a valuable contributor.

30. Melvin Ingram, EDGE, Chiefs (age: 32)

Midseason was a huge boost for Kansas City’s defense, with Ingram proving that he still has plenty of potential as a pass-rusher or backfield disruptor.

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31. Haason Reddy, EDGE and Panthers (age: 27).

Signed with Eagles, $3 year contract, $45 million

Reddick added 11 more sacks to his double-digit sack win in Arizona and reconnected with college coach Matt Rhule for a one-year contract. He is now a quarterback-pursuing specialist.

32. Laken Tomlinson, G, 49ers (age: 30)

Signed with Jets for 3 Years, $40 Million

Tomlinson was rewarded for years of consistent play in San Francisco, with his first Pro Bowl nomination in 2021. He’s a very reliable and durable zone blocker.

33. Quandre Diggs, S, Seahawks (age: 29)

Re-signed for 3 Years, $40 Million

Diggs, who came over from the Lions with two consecutive 5-interception full season seasons, has been solid. He is a strong leader and clean-up presence in defense.

34. Foyesade Olowun, LB Falcons (age 26)

Jaguars signed him for 3 years at $45 million

Oluokun was the NFL’s top tackler with 192 in 2021, and he also had three interceptions. He is a reliable run defender and has some coverage power.

35. Rob Gronkowski, TE Buccaneers (age 32)

Gronkowski doesn’t rule out a return to Tampa Bay or any other team, even with Brady. Although his body is getting more and more soiled, he is still a dangerous seam receiver.

36. Leonard Fournette (age 27), RB, Buccaneers

Fournette is a power runner and skilled receiver in Tampa Bay. He lives up to his high expectations of Jacksonville’s first-round draft. However, he’s getting older and has some durability concerns.

37. B.J. Hill, DT, Bengals (age: 26)

Re-signed for 3 Years, $30 Million

The ex-Giant has proven to be an excellent interior pass-rusher to compliment their strong ends. He should get a boost from the 5.5-sack regular season as well as playoff performance.

38. D.J. Jones, DT, 49ers (age: 27)

Jones is a strong gap-clogger and can be trusted on early downs, but he also has some inside pass-rush pop.

39. James Conner, RB, Cardinals (age: 26)

Re-signed for 3 year, $21 million

The ex-Steeler workhorse is now a solid power runner and a red zone finisher in a Cardinals team. His 18-TD season deserves consideration for a 20-touch position.

40. Marcus Maye (age: 28), S. Jets

Although Maye made big plays in his early career, his durability and effectiveness are questionable. He’s still capable enough to rebound in another setting.

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41. Odell Beckham Jr. WR, Rams (age 29)

Beckham is getting closer to 30 but he showed that he can be a great complement to an outside No. 2.

42. Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns (age: 29)

Landry was released from the Browns just a bit later than Beckham. As a reliable veteran player, Landry should be in play for many other teams.

43. Foley Fatukasi, DT, Jets (age: 26)

Jaguars signed him for three years, $30 million

Fatukasi will be his reliable run stopper, making the transition to 3-4 from 4-3.

44. Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals (age: 25)

Signed for 2 years with Dolphins, $12.6 Million

When healthy, Edmonds was an explosive back who can also be used as an open-field receiver to help with the passing game.

45. Cordarrelle Patterson, RB/WR, Falcons (age: 30)

Patterson is a solid return man, and sometimes a big-play wideout. However, Patterson elevated his running back cross-play play to a whole new level with 1,166 yard and 11 TDs. Unfortunately, he is nearing the end his career.

46. Dont’a Hightower LB, Patriots (age 31)

Hightower has been a major playmaker and leader for Bill Belichick, but his appearance over the years is beginning to show.

47. Darious Williams (age: 27), CB, Rams

Williams is a solid No. Williams is a solid No. 2 corner, who doesn’t make a lot on the ball in cover, but he helps himself as a tackling asset.

48. Michael Gallup, WR Cowboys (age 25)

Re-signed for 5 Years, $62.5 Million

Gallup could have enjoyed a great fourth season with Dak Preston if it wasn’t for his injury to his calf in Week 1. He’s a good vertical threat and can make Amari Cooper obsolete.

49. James Daniels G, Bears (age of 24)

Daniels has been a solid left-side starter for them and he is another plug-and play acquisition for run blocking needsy team.

50. Charvarius Ward CB, Chiefs (age 25)

Ward is like the Rams Williams in that you can’t count upon him for big plays or interceptions, but he can do the little things well and be a No. 2 corner.

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2022 NFL free agents – Tracking top players according to position

Quarterbacks

  • Jameis Winston, Saints
  • Marcus Mariota, Raiders
  • Mitchell Trubisky, Bills
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, Commanders
  • Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos
  • Colt McCoy, Cardinals, (re-signed for 2 year, $7.5m)
  • Tyrod Taylor, Texans
  • Andy Dalton, Bears
  • Jacoby Brissett – Dolphins
  • Cam Newton, Panthers
  • Joe Flacco, Jets
  • Running backs

  • Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers
  • James Conner, Cardinals (resigned for 3 years, $21 Million)
  • Chase Edmonds (signed with Cardinals for 2 Years, $12.6 Million)
  • Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons
  • Sony Michel, Rams
  • Rashaad Penny, Seahawks
  • Melvin Gordon, Broncos
  • Duke Johnson Jr. Dolphins
  • Darrel William, Chiefs
  • Boston Scott, Eagles
  • Ronald Jones II, Buccaneers
  • Devonta Freeman, Ravens
  • Latavius Murray, Ravens
  • Justin Jackson, Chargers
  • Damien Williams, Bears
  • Devontae Booker (Giants)
  • David Johnson, Texans
  • Jeff Wilson Jr., 49ers
  • Phillip Lindsay, Dolphins
  • Alex Collins, Seahawks
  • Wide receivers

  • Davante Adams, Packers (franchise-tagged)
  • Chris Godwin (Buccaneers) (franchise-tagged).
  • Mike Williams, Chargers, (re-signed for three years, $60 million)
  • Allen Robinson, Bears
  • D.J. Chark, Jaguars
  • Odell Beckham Jr. Rams
  • Jarvis Landry, Browns
  • Michael Gallup, Cowboys (resigned for 5 years, $62.5 Million)
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster Steelers
  • Christian Kirk, Cardinals (signed for four years with Jaguars, $78 Million)
  • Russell Gage, Falcons
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers
  • Cedrick Wilson, Cowboys, (signed for 3 years with Dolphins, $22.8 million)
  • Braxton Berrios (Jets) (re-signed for two years, $12 million).
  • TY. Hilton, Colts
  • Jamison Crowder, Jets
  • Sammy Watkins, Ravens
  • Will Fuller, Dolphins
  • Keelan Cole, Jets
  • A.J. Green, Cardinals
  • Emmanuel Sanders, Bills
  • Zay Jones, Raiders (signed for Jaguars for three years, $30 million)
  • Tight ends

  • Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (franchise-tagged)
  • Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (franchise-tagged)
  • Rob Gronkowski and the Buccaneers
  • Zach Ertz, Cardinals
  • Robert Tonyan, Packers
  • C.J. C.J.
  • Evan Engram, Giants, (signed with Jaguars, 1 year, $9M)
  • Gerald Everett Seahawks
  • David Njoku and Browns (franchise-tagged).
  • Maxx Williams, Cardinals
  • O.J. Howard, Buccaneers
  • Will Dissly, Seahawks (resigned for 3 years, $24 Million)
  • Offensive tackles

  • Terron Armstead, Saints
  • Orlando Brown Jr. Chiefs (franchise tagged)
  • Cam Robinson, Jaguars (franchise-tagged)
  • Duane Brown, Seahawks
  • Joe Noteboom, Rams (resigned for 3 years, 40 million)
  • Eric Fisher, Colts
  • Trent Brown, Patriots
  • David Quessenberry, Titans
  • Morgan Moses, Jets
  • Riley Reiff, Bengals
  • Brandon Shell, Seahawks
  • Steelers, Chukwuma OKorafor (re-signed for 3 year, $29.25m)
  • Daryl Williams, Bills
  • Bobby Massie, Broncos
  • Guards/centers

  • Ryan Jensen (Buccaneers) (re-signed for three years, $39M)
  • Brandon Scherff (signed with Jaguars), Commanders
  • Laken Tomlinson (49ers) (signed with Jets for three years, $30 million).
  • James Daniels Bears
  • Andrew Norwell, Jaguars
  • Ben Jones, Titans (resigned for two years, $14 million)
  • Connor Williams, Cowboys
  • Austin Corbett, Rams
  • Brian Allen, Rams (resigned for 3 years, $24 Million)
  • Rodger Saffold, Titans (signed for 2 years with Bills)
  • Germain Ifedi Bears
  • Alex Cappa (signed with the Buccaneers for 4 years, 40 million)
  • Ted Karras of Patriots (signed with Bengals 3 years ago, $18 Million)
  • Quinton Spain, Bengals
  • Mike Glowinski (Colts)
  • Mason Cole, Vikings (signed to Steelers)
  • Edge rushers

  • Von Miller, Rams
  • Chandler Jones, Cardinals
  • Emmanuel Ogbah Dolphins (resigned for 4 year, $65 million).
  • Harold Landry, Titans (resigned for 5 years, $87.5 Million)
  • Jadeveon Clowney and Browns
  • Randy Gregory, Cowboys
  • Chiefs Melvin Ingram
  • Haason Reddick (Pants, signed with Eagles for 3 Years, $45 Million)
  • Derek Barnett, Eagles
  • Justin Houston, Ravens
  • Jerry Hughes, Bills
  • Charles Harris, Lions
  • Uchenna Nwosu, Chargers
  • Trey Flowers, Lions
  • Za’Darius Smith, Packers
  • Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers
  • Defensive tackles

  • Akiem Hicks, Bears
  • Calais Campbell, Ravens
  • B.J. Hill, Bengals (resigned for 3 years, $30 Million)
  • D.J. Jones, 49ers
  • Foley Fatukasi (Jets) (signed for 3 years with Jaguars, $30 million)
  • Larry Ogunjobi (Bengals), Signed with Bears for 3 Years, $40.5 Million
  • Sebastian Joseph-Day (signed with Chargers for three years, $24 millions)
  • Harrison Phillips, Bills, (signed with Vikings for three years, $19.5million)
  • Maliek Collins, Texans
  • Eddie Goldman, Bears
  • Linval Joseph, Chargers
  • Jamarco Jones, Seahawks, (signed with Titans for two years, $5.75million)
  • Tim Settle Commanders (signed with Bills 2 years ago)
  • Sheldon Richardson, Vikings
  • Linebackers

  • De’Vondre, Packers (re-signed for five years, $50 million).
  • Foyesade Olowun, Falcons (signed for 3 years by Jaguars, $45 million)
  • Patriots, don’t be hightower
  • Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys
  • Josey Jewell – Broncos
  • Alexander Johnson, Broncos
  • Anthony Barr, Vikings
  • Kyzir White, Chargers
  • Cory Littleton Raiders
  • Cornerbacks

  • J.C. Jackson, Patriots, (signed with Chargers for $52.5 million, 5 years)
  • Stephon Gilmore, Panthers
  • Carlton Davis, Buccaneers (resigned for 3 years, $45 Million)
  • Casey Hayward Jr. Raiders
  • Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs
  • Darious Williams, Rams
  • Chavarius Ward Chiefs
  • D.J. Reed, Seahawks
  • Donte Jackson, Panthers
  • Steven Nelson, Steelers
  • Patrick Peterson, Vikings
  • Bryce Callahan, Broncos
  • Joe Haden, Steelers
  • Robert Alford, Cardinals
  • A.J. Bouye, Panthers
  • Safety

  • Jessie Bates III, Bengals (franchise-tagged)
  • Marcus Williams, Saints
  • Seahawks (resigned for 3 years, 40 million)
  • Marcus Maye, Jets
  • Jordan Whitehead, Buccaneers
  • Kareem Jackson, Broncos
  • Tracy Walker, Lions, (re-signed for three years, $25 million)
  • Justin Reid, Texans
  • Devin McCourty, Patriots
  • Jayron Kearse, Cowboys
  • Xavier Woods of the Vikings (signed for 3 years with the Panthers, $15.75 Million)
  • Landon Collins, Commanders
  • Kickers

  • Younghoe Koo Falcons
  • Matt Gay, Rams
  • Dustin Hopkins, Chargers, (re-signed for three years, $9 million)
  • Zane Gonzalez (Pants) (re-signed for two years, $4.5million)
  • Nick Folk, Patriots
  • Randy Bullock, Titans
  • Michael Badgley, Colts
  • Greg Zuerlein, Cowboys
  • Joey Slay, Commanders
  • Greg Joseph, Vikings
  • Punters

  • Bryan Anger, Cowboys
  • Kevin Huber, Bengals
  • Pat O’Donnell, Bears
  • Michael Palardy – Dolphins
  • Andy Lee, Cardinals
  • Corey Bojorquez, Packers
  • Jordan Berry, Vikings
  • Thomas Morstead, Falcons
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