With the 2020 NFL season officially in the books, it's team-building season for the league's 32 franchises, and the attention will first turn to the 2021 NFL free agency period.
The PFF free agent list is based upon our player evaluations and positional value — and it's a fluid list, as the 2020 season is still unfolding. We will continue to update this list as we head toward the March free agency period.
1. QB Dak Prescott — SIGNED by Dallas Cowboys
The prize of the free agent market, Prescott went down with an unfortunate injury after just four-plus games in 2020. With four full seasons under his belt, Prescott has finished in the top 10 of PFF grades twice while ranking closer to 20th in the other two seasons. However, Prescott’s 85.2 PFF grade this season would’ve been a career-best, and his 2019 and 2020 work is the most productive of his career.
From a macro view, Prescott’s play dipped as his supporting cast took a step back, but a revamped receiving corps has had Dallas’ offense moving the ball efficiently with Prescott at the helm. With solid accuracy, decision-making and mobility, he has proven capable of putting up high-end production, and he appeared on his way to establishing himself as an annual “top-eight” quarterback prior to his injury.
Contract: Four years, $160M ($40 APY) with $126M guaranteed
2. WR Chris Godwin — TAGGED by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 2019 season showed the ceiling that Chris Godwin can reach. He finished the year with a 90.7 overall PFF grade and was one of the very best receivers in football. Given his impressive grades over the first two seasons of his NFL career before that, it seemed like a natural breakout point. Injuries slowed him down in 2020, but Godwin finished with a strong 80.2 receiving grade and a passer rating of 131.9 when targeted.
Godwin is an exceptionally talented and versatile receiver who has great hands — dropping just four passes in his first three seasons— and he has excelled from both an outside and slot alignment. Godwin’s projection will likely depend on what the second half of the 2020 season holds for him. If he can get back to the form he showed in 2019, he may be one of the best receiver free agents to hit the open market in years.
3. WR Allen Robinson II — TAGGED by Chicago Bears
It’s impossible not to feel a little bit sorry for Allen Robinson II given the quarterback situations he has dealt with dating back to at least high school. He may have chosen his latest nightmare in Chicago, but the combination of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles did not encourage much success, yet Robinson continually excels.
Robinson hasn’t had an overall PFF grade lower than 69.0 in his career or lower than 75.0 since the 2018 season, his first in Chicago. He consistently showcases excellent hands and contested-catch skills, dropping no more than three passes in a season since his time in Jacksonville. Robinson graded out at 88.4 during the 2020 regular season — fifth-best in the league — and he is still only 27 years old. His ceiling with a high-end quarterback could be special.
4. WR Kenny Golladay — SIGNED by New York Giants
There may be no better endorsement of a top receiver than the difference it makes to his quarterback when he is on the field. Matthew Stafford is a different player when Golladay is on the field, and the wideout clearly has confidence in his ability to go up and get the football in tough spots. He battled injuries this season, but Golladay’s 628 yards on deep (20-plus yard) passes ranked second in the league in 2019.
Golladay has the size and athleticism required to be a big target on the outside, along with that contested-catch prowess, but he also possesses enough nuance in his route running to function well in any system. The NFC North has featured some great receivers in recent seasons, and Golladay is up there with the best of them.
Contract Analysis: We don’t think the rumors of him to the Giants through trade were by accident; Golladay’s representation was probably trying to help him land on a team more interested in giving him the long-term contract he deserves.
Prediction: Four years, $85 million ($21.25M APY): $57.5 million total guaranteed, $37.5 million fully guaranteed.
5. T Trent Williams — SIGNED by San Francisco 49ers
After not playing a snap in 2019, Williams is back in his rightful place as one of the league’s best offensive tackles. He can play in any scheme, moving defenders at the point of attack or cutting them off on the backside of zone plays, while linebackers must keep their head on a swivel because he attacks the second level with a vengeance.
Williams has basically never had a bad season in the NFL, with his rookie year being by far the lowest overall PFF grade he has posted (63.4). He hit at least a 75.6 mark in every other season and 2020 is now the third time he’s led all offensive tackles in PFF grade (91.9). He has shown elite-level play in multiple schemes and now multiple cities, and he looks capable of being the next great left tackle to play well into their 30s at a high level.
6. S Justin Simmons — TAGGED by Denver Broncos
After a few solid seasons to begin his career, Justin Simmons has blossomed into one of the game’s best safeties. Simmons had a 90.7 overall PFF grade in 2019, with four picks and 11 pass breakups to his name. He was a rare free safety who was also extremely active against the run and in the box, notching 28 defensive stops over the season. So far this year, he hasn’t quite backed up that phenomenal performance but has a better grade than in any of his previous NFL campaigns, proving that last year wasn’t a complete outlier.
Simmons has not only the range to impact plays in coverage, but he also possesses the ability to read and diagnose plays quickly enough to support against the run or on shorter passes over the middle in a way a lot of free safeties simply don’t.
7. S Anthony Harris — SIGNED by Philadelphia Eagles
Anthony Harris has been one of the best safeties in football for the past few seasons, steadily earning himself increased playing time in Minnesota. He put together an All-Pro caliber season in 2019 before taking a step back this year along with the rest of the Vikings’ defense. Harris earned a 91.1 overall PFF grade a season ago, which came hot on the heels of the 89.0 mark he posted the year before that when he played 624 snaps and started half the season due to injury. He has been a perfect free safety within Mike Zimmer’s defense, which employs a lot of split-safety looks and has been particularly adept at making plays on the football, with coverage being by far his biggest asset.
Harris has shown the ability to read route concepts and quarterbacks at the same time, putting himself in position to make plays. He should be primed for a big deal.
Contract Analysis: Minnesota has a huge decision to make at safety with the anchor of their defense in Harrison Smith entering the final year of his deal in 2021, as well. Harris’ emergence opposite Smith has been a welcome development, and although he’s the younger player, it’s hard to imagine the Vikings letting Smith play a single snap outside of Minnesota before his potentially Hall of Fame career is over.
Prediction: Four years, $56 million ($14M APY): $27.5 million total guaranteed, $16 million fully guaranteed at signing.
8. LB Lavonte David — SIGNED by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the best linebackers of his generation, Lavonte David is still playing at an incredibly high level past the age of 30. In many ways, he has been the archetype for the modern linebacker that counters the league’s shift in offensive philosophy away from smash-mouth football and toward speed and efficiency. David has been able to counter that with speed and efficiency of his own, in addition to exceptional coverage skills. He has four seasons in his career with a PFF coverage grade above 83.0 and has never graded lower than 64.6 in that area.
Those coverage skills will be what teams covet most because even if he begins to lose half a step as he ages, his ability to read the game and be in the right place at the right time will stand the test of time.
9. G Brandon Scherff — TAGGED by Washington Football Team
One of the most dependable guards in the league, Scherff has never posted a PFF grade below 72.5 in his six-year NFL career. Over the last three seasons, Scherff ranks among the league’s best guards in nearly every key metric, including a 97th percentile ranking on true pass sets and 90th percentile ranking in percentage of positively graded plays. Both numbers are among the most important when projecting interior offensive linemen from year to year.
In the run game, Scherff can do it all, showing the power at the point of attack and the quickness to make any block in space. He’s also one of the most polished pass protectors in the league, and he stands out as the best interior offensive lineman in this free agent class.
10. TE Hunter Henry — SIGNED by New England Patriots
At the beginning of his career, it looked as though Hunter Henry was set to become the league’s next great tight end. His first two seasons in the league featured overall PFF grades of 83.0 and then 87.2, but then injuries really began to bite. He missed almost the entirety of 2018, and though he has returned to be a productive player, has never quite recaptured that initial form.
There is still plenty of time for that to happen, however, even if his ceiling has been reset — Henry has ranked 14th and 18th over the last two years. He is a productive and capable tight end with plenty of tools to be an excellent receiver in any offense. Henry has the size to box defenders out underneath, the savvy to find holes in a defense and enough route-running skills to separate over the middle.
11. WR Will Fuller V — SIGNED by Miami Dolphins
Will Fuller has the all-important “speed you can’t teach,” which will always elevate him beyond where his production would otherwise rank him. It was clear even when the Texans had DeAndre Hopkins as their No. 1 receiver that Fuller made a material difference to the offense just by being on the field. Defenses needed to respect that deep threat on every single snap. He has yet to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season and has missed a lot of time with injuries throughout his career, but he will still be in his mid-20s when free agency rolls around. And his speed threat is transformative for an offense that doesn’t have it.
For a player who struggled badly with drops in college, Fuller has largely kept those under control at the NFL level, with just 19 total in his career — 14 of which came in two separate seasons.
12. T Taylor Moton — TAGGED by Carolina Panthers
Moton has been the model of consistency over the last three years, grading “in the green” every year as a starter. He performs well in the parts of offensive line play that translate well moving forward, including ranking in the 90th percentile in PFF pass-blocking grade on true pass sets since 2018. As a run-blocker, Moton is scheme diverse. He can move defenders at the point of attack as well as making the necessary backside cutoffs in a zone-heavy scheme. He ranks well above average at avoiding negatively graded plays in the run game, another one of the more stable measures of offensive tackle play. Dependability is the name of the game for Moton, who has quietly been one of the most valuable tackles in the league since 2018.
13. G Joe Thuney — SIGNED by Kansas City Chiefs
A starter from Day 1 as a rookie, Thuney has yet to miss a game in his five-year career while showing continual improvement. He transitioned smoothly from college offensive tackle to left guard, showing well in New England’s versatile run scheme. In pass protection, Thuney struggled with power players early in his career, but he’s improved every season and his 88.0 pass-blocking grade ranked third among guards in 2019. Thuney ranks in the 83rd percentile in overall pass-blocking grade since entering the league, though that drops to the 70th percentile when isolated to true pass sets, showing that there has been some protection for him in the New England scheme. Regardless, Thuney has developed into one of the best guards in the game and should fit in well in any system.
14. EDGE Shaquil Barrett — SIGNED by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of the more efficient pass-rushers in the league over the past few years, Barrett has put up solid production whether in a part-time or full-time role. He’s graded “in the green” as both a run defender and as a pass-rusher in all five years of his career, as he sets a hard edge in the run game and wins with good hands and a variety of moves when attacking the pocket.
Barrett had a 20-sack season in 2019, but don’t be fooled by the gaudy total — he was only slightly more effective that year than previous seasons. He’s spent most of his career playing in more of a classic 3-4 outside linebacker role, dropping into coverage at least 50 times a year and playing mostly from a standup role. Barrett’s best bet is in a similar system, as that’s what he’s been most familiar with in his six years in the league.
15. S Marcus Williams — TAGGED by New Orleans Saints
Since entering the league in 2017, Williams has ranked near the top of the league in every significant category for safeties. He has a coverage grade that ranks in the 90th percentile to go with the highest rate of forced incompletions. Williams is also a solid run defender and with the skills to fit as a free safety in any scheme.
16. CB William Jackson III — SIGNED by Washington Football Team
Jackson was the Bengals’ first-round pick in 2016 and is playing in 2020 on a $9.6 million fifth-year option. After tearing his pectoral and being lost for the year before his rookie campaign even kicked off, Jackson responded with a 90.2 defensive grade in his (redshirt) sophomore season — the sixth-best defensive grade for a cornerback in a second season since 2011. The players ahead of him feature a slate of all-pros. We expected Jackson to become one of the game’s best corners after that season and it never happened. He hasn’t had a season within 15 grading points of that year since, and while he allowed a passer rating of 36.1 when targeted in that great year, he has allowed one of at least 86 in each subsequent season. The situation in Cincinnati has been ugly, but the prospect that Jackson will become the great player he threatened to be is getting less and less likely.
17. CB Kyle Fuller — SIGNED by Denver Broncos
18. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick — SIGNED by Washington Football Team
After one of the most volatile careers in recent history, Fitzpatrick has played the best football of his career since 2018 as he’s posted three of his four best PFF grades. His aggressiveness allows playmakers to create chunk plays down the field, but it also allows the defense to make just as many plays on the ball. Still, that style works well with the right supporting cast, and Fitzpatrick has actually done a fine job of maximizing his group of playmakers and subpar offensive line in Miami.
19. CB Richard Sherman
One of the best cornerbacks of his generation, Richard Sherman is still playing the game at a high level, but his age and relative lack of scheme diversity will scare a lot of potential suitors off.
In 2019, once fully recovered from an Achilles injury, Sherman had one of the best seasons of his entire career, allowing just 227 receiving yards all season long. He surrendered a passer rating of just 46.8 before things came unglued a little in the Super Bowl loss to Kansas City. In 2020, Sherman produced a 67.2 coverage grade on just 332 snaps, the lowest grade of his career.
Sherman’s intelligence and tape study gives him a mental edge over most offenses he faces, and that more than makes up for less than stellar straight-line speed. In the kind of defense he plays in San Francisco, he can remain a valuable player even at his age and could be an attractive short-term option for a number of teams in need of a quick fix.
Contract Analysis: Sherman is at the “mercenary” stage of his career where he can sign short-term deals with contenders until he decides to hang up his cleats, much like Darrelle Revis in 2014 when he signed a one-year, $12M deal with the Patriots that included a $20M option for 2015 (the option was declined and Revis returned to the Jets). Sherman has already discussed how the 49ers have too many priority free agents, so he appears to be preparing for a change of scenery.
Prediction: Two years, $28 million ($14M APY): $18M total guaranteed, $14M fully guaranteed at signing.
20. DI Leonard Williams — SIGNED by New York Giants
One of the surest bets in the class, Williams has graded between 70.0 and 82.0 in all six years of his career. Run defense is his calling card, as he ranks in the 86th percentile in PFF run-defense grade since entering the league and with his best work coming as a B and C gap defender. Williams is an average pass-rusher and even with a career-high 13 sacks this season, he’s yet to break a 72.0 pass-rush grade for his career. Still, Williams has been one of the most valuable interior defensive linemen in the league since 2015, and his level of consistency is a plus for potential suitors.
21. DI JJ Watt — SIGNED by Arizona Cardinals
Even with some decline in recent years, Watt remains one of the best edge defenders in the league and his 85.5 overall grade ranked seventh among edge defenders in 2020. After battling injuries off and on for about five years, Watt was one of only two defensive linemen to play over 1,000 snaps last season, showing that he is still capable of producing at an every-down level. At his peak, Watt was a Hall-of-Fame level player who posted four straight years of 90-plus grades between 2012 and 2015. Though 2013, Watt was more of an interior defensive lineman before playing more on the edge starting in 2014, and a move back to the interior could be a wise move to maximize his production moving forward.
22. OT Mitchell Schwartz
Coming off a back injury, which is sure to scare some teams, Schwartz has nonetheless been arguably the best right tackle in the game over the last several seasons. If he checks out medically, he could represent a steal for a team willing to be patient. Schwartz has never had a bad season, and his postseason run on the way to Kansas City’s Super Bowl victory was one of the greatest postseasons of all time, having allowed just one hurry despite his team in a near-constant state of obvious passing situations.
Contract Analysis: While Schwartz missed the majority of the 2020 season to injury and there are rumors he may retire, he'll immediately become one of the best free agents available if he does choose to play in 2021. His one-year, $11.255 million extension signed for 2021 was near the top of the market at right tackle and still probably a discount, even though injuries prevented him from playing on the new year. He’d be a great addition for any team and may come at a discount as he continues to recover.
Prediction: Schwartz signs for one year, $6 million, $5 million total guaranteed.
23. CB Desmond King II — SIGNED by Houston Texans
The jury is still out on exactly how good Desmond King is and can be going forward. Since coming into the NFL, King is still — just about — the best-graded slot defender in football, but that is all built on his play over the first two seasons of play for the Chargers. He posted back to back overall PFF grades of 85.7 and then 88.6 before coming off the boil and failing to find that same production since.
He was ultimately shipped out of Los Angeles for close to nothing, suggesting that the team either didn’t believe in him or had bigger concerns about his presence in the locker room. He graded at just 50.5 in coverage during the regular season in Tennessee. King is still young and has shown the ability to be good at every part of defending the slot in today’s NFL, but his elite tape is getting further in the rear-view mirror.
Contract Analysis: Following a deadline trade from the Los Angeles Chargers for a 2021 sixth-round pick, King will now look to cash in with the Tennessee Titans after a likely playoff run. In King’s first game with his new team, he returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown en route to a 24-17 win over Chicago.
Prediction: Three years, $17.5M ($5.83M APY): $10M total guaranteed, $7.5M fully guaranteed at signing.
24. S Marcus Maye — TAGGED by New York Jets
Maye has played multiple roles for the New York Jets defense since entering the league in 2017, including lining up for at least 400 snaps at free safety, 200 snaps in the box and 125 snaps at slot corner in each of the last two seasons.
Maye played a more traditional free safety role when the Jets had Jamal Adams on the roster, but he’s even stepped into an Adams-caliber versatile role this season. He can make plays at the catch point, ranking among the league’s best at breaking up passes when targeted, and he’s been solid against the run. Maye does his best work as a traditional free safety, capable of playing both single- and two-high looks, though he is versatile enough to line up all over the defense, making him one of the most coveted safeties on the market.He finished the regular season with the No. 4 overall grade among safeties at 82.8.
25. S John Johnson III — SIGNED by Cleveland Browns
Johnson has fallen off the free-agent radar a bit after an injury-plagued 2019 season, but make no mistake, he’s an elite safety when healthy. His greatest contribution is also the most important one, as he’s a truly dominant cover safety when called upon. His 85.6 coverage grade ranked fourth among safeties during the regular season, marking the third time in four seasons he was at or above 84.9.
Now that new Rams DC Brandon Staley has gotten his defensive identity established, Johnson is on a tear to close his contract year. Johnson is PFF’s third-highest-graded safety, with an 85.6 grade on the season.
26. CB Adoree' Jackson — SIGNED by New York Giants
A former first-round pick, Adoree Jackson has elite coverage numbers. He ranks just behind the trio of Jaire Alexander, Richard Sherman and Stephon Gilmore among corners when lined up outside in PFF coverage grade since 2018, and was an unexpected cut by the Titans. He missed almost the entirety of the 2020 season, but if he checks out medically is an outstanding option at the position.
27. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster — SIGNED by Pittsburgh Steelers
JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to hit free agency having just turned 24 years old because of how young he was when he entered the NFL before the 2017 season. His exact role and ceiling is still something of an open question. His best season — an 81.8 overall grade in 2018 — came working predominantly inside and when Antonio Brown was the primary threat for the Steelers. Injury robbed us of the chance to see if he could step into Brown’s role and replace that production before the team decided — aided by the emergence of Diontae Johnson, among others — to move him back to the slot for most of his snaps.
There is a lot to like about his game. He is clearly smart, understands coverages and can exploit both man and zone defenses from the slot, as well as having good size, but his projection as a full-time perimeter receiver involved more guesswork, and that’s his biggest battle heading to the negotiating table.
28. WR Corey Davis — SIGNED by New York Jets
While Davis may never live up to his No. 5 overall draft status, he has become a reliable No. 2 receiver. His four-year body of work puts him slightly above average when measured by PFF receiving grade, receiving grade against single coverage and yards per route run.
Davis pairs one of the lowest drop rates in the league with one of the lowest catchable-target rates — his 2020 breakout may be more than a mirage. Davis looked the part of a high-volume possession receiver coming out of college, but he works best on the outside running the vertical route tree, and he’s been better than expected at winning in contested situations at the catch point.
Davis may never develop into an all-around route-runner or a dynamic threat after the catch, but if expectations are properly set, he fills the role of a dependable complementary receiver on the outside. Davis' 86.9 regular season grade was by far the best of his career and ranked eighth among all receivers.
29. C Corey Linsley — SIGNED by Los Angeles Chargers
Linsley is the best center on the market. He’s been one of the most dependable pivot men in the league since 2014, and he’s been at his best in 2020.
Linsley has been outstanding in pass protection this season, allowing just four pressures on 437 pass-blocking attempts in 2020. He is also a strong run-blocker, ranking in the 84th percentile in the percentage of positively graded blocks and the 85th percentile when it comes to avoiding negatives.
30. OG Kevin Zeitler — SIGNED by Baltimore Ravens
Zeitler is coming off the lowest PFF grade of his career, but he’s been one of the best guards in the NFL since 2012. Last year’s 65.9 overall mark was Zeitler’s first time grading below 70.0, and he should be coveted by guard-needy teams. Over the last three years, Zeitler ranks in in the 81st percentile as a pass blocker and in the run game, along with one of the lowest percentages of negatively graded plays.
31. CB Mike Hilton — SIGNED by Cincinnati Bengals
Hilton epitomizes the do-it-all slot corner who can cover in both man and zone, play the run and blitz effectively. The Steelers' scheme allows him to show off all of those skills, and he’s quietly been one of the most valuable corners in the league since 2017. The one concern is his 26 missed tackles over the last two seasons.
Hilton has only played a handful of snaps on the outside since entering the league, so expect him to play in the slot no matter where he lands. However, given the difficult nature of that position, he should be coveted on the open market. Even at just 184 pounds, Hilton is annually among the top corners in defensive stops, highlighting his willingness to stick his nose in against the run as well as his proficiency as a blitzer.
32. EDGE Carl Lawson — SIGNED by New York Jets
Lawson looked like a fourth-round steal in his rookie season after putting up a ridiculous 59 pressures on just 389 rushes. He’s yet to get back to those benchmarks, but he is still a good situational pass-rusher with a limited skill set in the run game.
33. QB Jameis Winston — SIGNED by New Orleans Saints
While Winston has been a backup this season, he still has starter potential. He’s graded between 67.0 and 74.0 in every year as a starter, but it’s a roller coaster of emotions that leads to that false sense of consistency. Winston’s volatility is legendary, but that’s the exact type of style that leads to high-end seasons if a team is willing to buy in. At worst, he’s one of the league’s best backups a year from now, but Winston’s aggressive playing style is worth another look to see if that top-end year is in there.
34. WR Antonio Brown
Even after an extended absence from football, the 32-year-old Brown returned for the final nine games of the regular season and ranked seventh among all wide receivers over that span (min. 100 snaps) with a receiving grade of 86.0. Brown has one sub-80 receiving grade in his entire career, and it was a 79.0 in 2018.
Brown’s 9.4-yard average depth of target and 10.7 yards per reception marks are both the lowest since his rookie season in 2010, but in contrast, his 5.6 yards after the catch per reception is his highest mark since 2013. With Mike Evans and Scotty Miller taking more of the deep targets, Brown produced in a different way than he’s accustomed to but still quite efficiently. He forced eight missed tackles on 45 receptions, with that 17.8% rate the highest since his rookie season in 2010. Brown is still one of the NFL’s best wide receivers.
Contract Analysis: The list of potential suitors for Antonio Brown’s services is likely not a very long one. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers presumably top the list as Brown looks to return and chase another Super Bowl ring in Tampa. The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens were reportedly at least considering bringing Brown aboard, though both offenses will likely be very run-heavy in 2021. Though he’s still playing at a very high-level, it’s hard to imagine a team feeling comfortable paying him much more than the minimum at this point.
Prediction: One-year, $2 million fully guaranteed. Incentives can raise the value of the deal to $4 million.
35. Edge Jadeveon Clowney
Just like any free agent signing, the key is understanding what a player is bringing to the table. Clowney has elite tools, but he’s never been an elite pass-rusher, as he has posted a pass-rushing grade in the 70s in each of the last three years and a 69.6 mark in 2020. The sack totals will fluctuate from year to year, so don’t let that change the narrative: Clowney is a good, not great, pass-rusher. He does his best work in the run game, using those elite tools and heavy hands to win at the point of attack. Since entering the league, Clowney is a 95th percentile run defender and a 77th percentile pass-rusher, so his future team should expect similar snap-to-snap production at this point.
Contract Analysis: Clowney’s offseason rollercoaster was a lot more interesting than anything he’s done during the season so far, and it looks like we may once again be in for a prolonged saga awaiting his team for 2021. There’s probably a decent chance that a wide chasm again exists between what Clowney thinks he’s worth and what NFL teams are willing to pay, but he did have at least four suitors we know of the last time around, so there’s always a market for the former No. 1 overall pick.
Prediction: One-year, $13 million, fully guaranteed at signing.
36. TE Jonnu Smith — SIGNED by New England Patriots
Smith’s calling card in the NFL has been his work after the catch, where he has averaged 6.8 yards after the catch per reception over his career.
In 2019, he broke 14 tackles on just 41 receptions to average 7.5 yards after the catch per reception as part of the vastly improved Titans offense with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. His threat is less of a secret to NFL teams in 2020, and he has found it a little more difficult to escape for big plays, but he still finished with a career-high 75.2 PFF grade.
Smith has yet to be a high-volume target in the offense — his career-high in targets over a season is still just 63. A more prominent role that taps into Smith’s receiving skills could lead to a big increase from Smith’s career-highs of 41 catches and 448 receiving yards.
Smith will be an enticing prospect for a team with a major need at tight end that will look to scale up his opportunity and see a corresponding jump in his impact on the offense. Smith’s blocking is the weaker area of his game, but that has become less of an issue for the position as the years have gone by.
37. T Russell Okung
The former No. 6 overall pick of the Seattle Seahawks has more than lived up to the billing. Now in his 11th season and on his fourth team, Okung hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down when healthy. Over the last three years, Okung ranks as a slightly above-average pass-blocker and an above-average run-blocker, and he remains a valuable player at an important position.
The veteran has earned a pass-blocking grade above 70.0 — with five grades above 75.0 — in five of the six games he started in 2020. Coincidentally, he’s also recorded a pass-blocking grade of 71.0 or higher — with five grades above 75.0 — over his last six seasons.
Contract Analysis: Okung is now 33 but appears to be one of the many recent stalwart pass-protecting tackles who age very well and play long into their 30s. He was one of the original players in recent years to negotiate his own contract (with help from advisors), so perhaps an unorthodox structure wouldn’t be surprising as his career winds down.
Prediction: Three years, $50 million. ($16.67M APY): $32.5M total guaranteed, $22.5M fully guaranteed at signing.
38. T Alejandro Villanueva
There’s immense value in solid, mid-tier offensive linemen, and that’s exactly what Villanueva has been throughout his career. He’s graded between 74.0 and 82.0 in each of his last five seasons; he ranks in the 54th percentile in PFF pass-blocking grade and the 46th percentile in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets during that time.
There’s a similar level of dependability to Villanueva’s game as a run-blocker. He ranks in the 74th percentile at avoiding negatively graded plays but just the 23rd percentile in positively graded plays. NFL teams must avoid having disastrous options at offensive tackle, and Villanueva’s profile makes him a valuable asset.
Contract Analysis: Villanueva has had a remarkable NFL career after serving in the U.S. military, going undrafted and then working his way to becoming one of the league’s best left tackles. Nevertheless, the Steelers will have a very tough time retaining Villanueva after pushing all their chips in on 2020. We wouldn’t be surprised if Villanueva, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bud Dupree are all playing elsewhere in 2021, purely for salary cap reasons.
Prediction: Three years, $45 million ($15M APY): $30M total guaranteed, $20M fully guaranteed at signing.
39. WR John Brown — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
One of the catalysts of the rejuvenated Bills passing attack, Brown has the speed to attack down the field and has been one of the league’s better receivers at the intermediate (10-19 yard) level. Brown is a valuable piece of any wide receiver corps, and he was missed by the Bills at times last year as he played only 628 snaps including the playoffs. Brown ran a 4.34 40 back in 2014 — that speed keeps his ceiling high with a floor of a solid No. 2 or No. 3 who can attack at the intermediate level.
40. CB Janoris Jenkins — SIGNED by Tennessee Titans
Jenkins hits the market as one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the league over the last few years. He has graded between 66.0 and 70.0 in each of the last four years while breaking up 12.6% of his targets during that time, good for 44th out of 155 qualifiers. Jenkins does his best work in single coverage where he ranks in the 70th percentile in PFF coverage grade since 2017, but he ranks in just the 45th percentile in zone concepts. Look for man-heavy teams to covet Jenkins at outside corner.
41. QB Cam Newton — SIGNED by New England Patriots
Outside of Newton’s 2015 MVP season in which he graded at 86.5 overall, he’s been a mid-level passer with the added upside of what he brings to the run game. Newton is a monster in short yardage, and an effective offense can be built around that skillset. However, the 2015 season is far more of an outlier than the norm at this point, and Newton’s accuracy and decision-making limit his potential in the passing game. He has two top-10 finishes in PFF quarterback rankings in his 10 years in the league.
42. QB Andy Dalton — SIGNED by Chicago Bears
Dalton finished 24th in PFF grade among quarterbacks with at least 150 dropbacks in 2020, and that’s about where he stands in today’s landscape of NFL signal-callers. He is one of the league’s best backups and can start if needed, but he disappointed with three PFF game grades under 55.0 for the Cowboys this season. Over the course of his career, Dalton has been a mid-tier starter who can produce with an excellent supporting cast, and that general premise still applies to him, albeit in a backup role.
43. CB Shaquill Griffin — SIGNED by Jacksonville Jaguars
A former third-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, Shaquill Griffin has been a starter for the Seahawks pretty much from Day 1, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the team really started to see plus play from him. That year, he posted a PFF grade of 78.0, and though he didn’t have any interceptions, he did record 13 pass breakups. He hasn’t managed to replicate that level of play this season, but he has been dealing with injuries and has still flashed high-end play, like against Miami where he didn’t allow a single reception all game long.
Griffin is one of two Seattle cornerbacks set to hit free agency (Quinton Dunbar), and both have dealt with injury issues for most of the year. After a 2019 season in which Griffin registered a 77.0 defensive grade and 76.0 coverage grade, he slid to 64.1 and 63.6, respectively, in 2020.
44. LB Matt Milano — SIGNED by Buffalo Bills
Milano has developed into a modern-day linebacker. He has the 11th-best coverage grade among linebackers since 2018, he’s been excellent matching up with running backs in single coverage and he’s held his own when asked to line up over the slot.
Milano’s tackling has been an issue, as he missed 36 over 2018 and 2019, and that adds up to a below-average run defender since entering the league. However, the coverage value makes Milano an intriguing option given the importance of being able to match up with opposing offensive weapons.
45. WR T.Y. Hilton
Hilton is not the same big-play threat he once was, but he’s settled in as more of an efficient chain-mover over the past two years. Forty-two of his 56 receptions went for either a first down or a touchdown in 2020, and he has just six drops on his past 101 catchable passes. Hilton had the No. 13 grade on intermediate (10-19 yard) passes last season, and that’s where he provides the most value going forward as a complementary threat.
Contract Analysis: Hilton finished out the regular season of his contract year with a bang, scoring four touchdowns and posting five straight games with at least 60 receiving yards from Week 12 to Week 16. He had no touchdowns and only one outing with 60 receiving yards over the first 11 weeks, so generating some flashy generic stats was important for him down the stretch.
Prediction: Three years, $28.5 million ($9.5M APY): $18 million total guaranteed, $10 million fully guaranteed at signing.
46. CB Malcolm Butler
Butler is coming off his best coverage grade since 2016, a 75.8 mark that ranked 15th in the NFL last season. He’s been effective in both man and zone concepts, and while Butler may not have the desired dominance of a No. 1 corner, he’s an excellent No. 2 option. He could be a steal for a contender, especially if he can back up his 2020 performance rather than his 2018-19 work, which ranked closer to the middle-of-the-pack among the league’s corners.
Contract Analysis: The Titans cleared over $10 million with the release of Butler and will turn to 2017 first-round CB Adoree’ Jackson and 2020 second-rounder Kristian Fulton as their wide cornerbacks of the future.
Prediction: Butler signs for two years, $12.5 million ($6.25M APY), $9 million total guaranteed.
47. DI Dalvin Tomlinson — SIGNED by Minnesota Vikings
Tomlinson has a distinct profile as an above-average run defender and a below-average pass-rusher. He ranks in the 82nd percentile in PFF run-defense grade since 2017, and he knows how to finish plays — generating one of the best run-stop percentages in the league. As a pass-rusher, Tomlinson has only graded above 62.3 once — 74.7 this past season. He can play all over the defensive interior and represents one of the best run-stopping nose tackles in this class.
48. T Daryl Williams — SIGNED by Buffalo Bills
Daryl Williams is having a career-reviving season in Buffalo after signing a one-year, $2.25 million deal this offseason following a disappointing 2019 campaign with the Carolina Panthers. Williams was recovering from a torn right MCL and dislocated patella that knocked him out of the 2018 season, and perhaps that helps in part to explain his struggles. The issue for potential suitors is that he has just two high-end seasons under his belt as a pass protector through six years in the league. It took him three seasons to show the talent the Panthers were convinced was there before injuries derailed his career until his 2020 rebound season. His peak is very high, but it’s a gamble for any team to chase it.
49. CB Troy Hill — SIGNED by Cleveland Browns
A player who has earned impressive PFF grades dating back to his college career, Troy Hill displayed versatility in 2020 by moving inside to cover the slot after previously playing primarily on the outside. Hill has high-end play under his belt at the NFL level, but he plays at his best when protected from the most physically imposing receivers in the league — something the Rams have been equipped to do since acquiring Jalen Ramsey. A move to the slot also better facilitates that. Hill can be a solid No. 2 or 3 cornerback.
Hill’s 546 snaps in the slot in 2020 are more than he played in five seasons from 2015-19 combined. Hill has produced coverage grades of 73.0 or better in three of his last four seasons, and his versatility could be appealing to a handful of teams looking for a solid veteran piece in the secondary.
50. CB Chidobe Awuzie — SIGNED by Cincinnati Bengals
After earning a coverage grade that ranks right in the middle of the league’s corners since 2017, Awuzie epitomizes the league-average cornerback. He’s done his best work in zone coverage, ranking in the 61st percentile in PFF grade, but he’s in just the 35th percentile in single coverage. That matches our scouting report of Awuzie coming out of college, where he looked like an excellent fit in a zone scheme, and that’s likely his best bet once again as he hits free agency.
Contract Analysis: The Cowboys prioritized Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen and Gerald McCoy over retaining CB Byron Jones this past offseason. All three players are no longer on the roster, and Dallas has one of the worst defenses in NFL history. Dallas must now realize they have to invest in coverage to get this unit back on track, just like Miami did with Byron Jones.
Prediction: Three years, $27M ($9M APY): $15.5M total guaranteed, $10M fully guaranteed at signing.
51. WR Curtis Samuel — SIGNED by Washington Football Team
Perhaps one of the more under-the-radar storylines of the entire 2020 season is Curtis Samuel’s rebirth in Carolina under new head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. When Carolina signed speedster Robby Anderson this offseason, some thought it could spell the end of Samuel’s time in Carolina. He’s long been rumored in trades as he approaches the end of his rookie contract, but his 2020 campaign changes the situation entirely. Samuel and Anderson really aren’t very similar in their playing styles, and Joe Brady has accentuated Samuel’s strengths in an impressive fashion.
52. RB Aaron Jones — SIGNED by Green Bay Packers
Jones is one of the league’s best running backs, but like all backs, he is heavily dependent on his environment. Jones has been running behind an impressive offensive line and catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, neither of which may be true with his next team.
Jones has four straight seasons with a PFF rushing grade of 79.0 or higher, and he ranks fourth in receiving grade among running backs since the start of the 2019 season, behind only Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara, each of whom has had a big payday in large part because of that skill.
Jones is a well-rounded threat at the position and a player with little in the way of weaknesses. He has also been kept relatively fresh by Green Bay’s use of a committee approach to their backfield, so should still have tread left on the tires.
53. Edge Yannick Ngakoue — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
It’s all about setting proper expectations and carving out a role for Ngakoue, who has been a good, not great, pass-rusher throughout his career. He excels from wide alignments where he can threaten the edge and has the inside counters to keep offensive tackles off balance. Since 2017, Ngakoue has the eighth-best pass-rush grade in the league when rushing from wide alignments (89.1), but he grades out at just 68.3 from all other defensive line alignments. When combining that with a history of well below-average run-defense grades (he peaked with a 59.0 grade in 2018), Ngakoue has a limited skill set compared to other top edge defenders around the league.
Ngakoue’s best role is as a designated pass-rusher on a team with strong interior rushers and in a scheme where he can stay on the outside while limiting his work in the run game.
54. DI Shelby Harris — SIGNED by Denver Broncos
One of the most underrated players in the league, Harris has been an above-average player since starting to see significant playing time in 2017. The former seventh-rounder wins with good pad level and quickness in the running game and ranks in the top third of the league in run-stop percentage since 2018. Harris has also been one of the league’s best pass-rushers since 201,8 with the only reservations being that he has only two seasons with more than 500 snaps (636 in 2019, 516 in 2017).
55. WR Marvin Jones Jr. — SIGNED by Jacksonville Jaguars
Kenny Golladay is not the only Lions wide receiver headed to free agency, but the team won’t be as hard-pressed to retain Jones, who will be 31 years old before the 2021 league year begins on March 17. Jones has been incredibly consistent, grading between 71.0 and 76.0 in each of his last six seasons. Jones is still a capable Z wide receiver on the outside opposite a true X, but he has also seen his snaps from the slot increase steadily each season, which could perhaps make him more attractive to potential suitors if there are concerns about his game not aging well.
Jones has solid hands (only dropped more than four passes once in a season) and some juice after the catch. He should still be a capable addition to a lot of receiving corps in the league. He isn’t a true mismatch weapon or a No. 1 receiver, but he can still provide a lot of value.
Prediction: Three years, $27 million ($9M APY): $16.5 million total guaranteed, $12.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
56. TE Gerald Everett — SIGNED by Seattle Seahawks
Gerald Everett is an athletic move tight end who has taken advantage of his role within the Rams’ offense to put up some solid numbers in a limited workload. He has averaged more than 5.0 yards after the catch in his career and broken 30 tackles on 130 catches in his career. Given his age and upside, as well as his relatively small workload throughout his NFL career, he could be an intriguing option for a team looking to get more athletic at the position and expand its passing game options.
57. S Kareem Jackson
A late-career move to safety has worked out well for Jackson who posted back-to-back 80.0-plus season grades for the Broncos. The former cornerback can line up all over the field and he has an 82.1 coverage grade in the slot over the last two years, fourth-best among safeties. Jackson also has 13 pass breakups and a strong run defense grade of 83.6 during that time, and he still has plenty to offer at 33 years of age.
58. CB Brian Poole
At 5-foot-9, Brian Poole very much fits the mold of a slot cornerback at the NFL level, and he has always been solid in that role. Since moving to the Jets, he has been better than solid, posting one of the highest PFF coverage grades from the slot over the past two seasons. He has allowed just one touchdown and a passer rating of under 70.0 when targeted over that stretch. There are more spectacular players around the NFL, but Poole has proven to be an impressively consistent and solid defender in one of the most undervalued positions in the league.
Contract Analysis: The Jets inking Poole to a one-year, $5 million contract for 2020 was one of the better value signings across the NFL, as he was playing some really good football before heading to injured reserve with shoulder and knee ailments. Following consecutive one-year flier deals from the Jets, Poole will look to cash in on a multi-year extension.
Prediction: Three years, $18 million ($6M APY): $11.5 million total guaranteed, $7 million fully guaranteed at signing.
59. CB Xavier Woods
Woods entered the league as a versatile safety with slot coverage skills and a sixth-round draft steal as he’s developed into a solid free safety. He ranks in the middle of the pack from a coverage standpoint when lined up deep, but he’s been excellent when lined up closer to the line of scrimmage, making him a good fit for teams that play with interchangeable safeties. He can still dabble in the slot at times, and the Cowboys are doing more of that in 2020, but it hasn’t been Woods’ strong suit to this point in his NFL career. His four season grades have ranged from 65.0 to 73.0.
Contract Analysis: This much talent at one position could have the effect of suppressing contracts for everyone. Or, particularly because of the salary cap situation in 2021, it could have the effect of eroding the middle-tier market. Teams may decide that unless they can land a premier free safety who is an impact player, they might as well just go to the bargain bin and sign a cheap veteran. For this reason, Woods’ next contract could truly fall within a very wide range.
Prediction: Four-year, $25 million extension ($6.25M APY).
60. QB Tyrod Taylor — SIGNED by Houston Texans
Penciled in as the Los Angeles Chargers’ starting quarterback this season, Tyrod Taylor lasted a game before a doctor inadvertently punctured his lung when administering a painkilling injection meant to help him battle through injured ribs. That thrust Justin Herbert into the lineup, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Taylor now hits free agency again, with the last signs of his best play even further in the rear-view mirror.
His one game this season saw him earn a 60.7 PFF game grade, and you have to go back to 2017 for his last solid stretch of starting play. That said, it’s hard to completely ignore three years where he was a very capable, if flawed, starter for the Bills. He’s likely a backup at this point — but a good one, which is valuable.
61. CB Quinton Dunbar
Following a trade from the Washington Football Team this past offseason, Dunbar was hoping to repeat a dominant 2019 on a more competitive team and cash in big time in 2021. The former wide receiver turned cornerback has gotten off to a tough start in Seattle, though he had been dealing with nagging injuries all season until he was finally placed on IR in Week 11.
His 397 snaps are the second-most in a season in his career. Any team looking to sign Dunbar is banking on a relatively young player at the position getting back to his excellent 2019 form.
Prediction: Two years, $12 million ($6M APY): $9.5M total guaranteed, $7.5M fully guaranteed at signing.
62. LB Jayon Brown — SIGNED by Tennessee Titans
Another undersized, modern-day linebacker, Brown has earned the 10th-best coverage grade in the league since 2018. His profile is eerily similar to Matt Milano's — they're plus coverage players, below-average run defenders and both have a fifth-round pedigree.
The one difference is stylistic, as Milano has done his best work when lined up in single coverage while Brown has performed best in zone. Brown also has the fourth-best forced incompletion percentage since 2017, so he will get his hands on the ball in the middle of the field.
63. Edge Melvin Ingram III
Ingram’s second contract went a lot better than his first in terms of his level of play. Once seen as a first-round disappointment, Ingram blossomed into an extremely effective NFL pass-rusher only enhanced by the arrival of Joey Bosa to the Chargers‘ defensive front.
Ingram racked up three straight seasons with 70 or more total pressures before injury broke that streak, and 2020 featured the best PFF pass-rushing grade he has posted since 2017, even if the sacks never materialized.
Ingram is a productive pass-rusher, but he was limited to just 361 snaps this season. And at this point in his career, he isn’t going to be the primary source of pass rush for anything other than a bad pass-rushing football team. Teams that already have that primary stud up front could dramatically improve their rush with the addition of Ingram as a second threat, however.
Contract Analysis: Ingram briefly held out of training camp before the season, presumably looking for an extension of some kind. But after making Bosa the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, the Chargers were only willing to guarantee Ingram’s 2020 salary and not add any years onto his deal. Injuries kept him out of the Chargers’ final six games, and he appeared in just seven games total in 2020.
Prediction: Two years, $20M ($10M APY): $16M total guaranteed, $14M fully guaranteed at signing.
64. OT Rick Wagner
Wagner proved to be one of the better signings last offseason as he finished 2020 with a 78.2 overall grade, good for 24th among offensive tackles. He’s been consistently effective since entering the league in 2013, grading above 70.0 in five of his seven full seasons. Since 2017, Wagner ranks above the 60th percentile in pass block grade on true pass sets as well as avoiding negatively graded plays in the run game and he profiles as a viable starter at right tackle for his next team.
Contract Analysis: The Packers let former RT Bryan Bulaga head to the Los Angeles Chargers, are slated to earn a fifth-round compensatory pick as a result, and Wagner graded a good bit better in every facet in 2020. That’s how the smart franchises like Green Bay stay good for so long. Nevertheless, Wagner struggled a bit against speed, and his $6 million price point was a bit too much with Green Bay needing to cut costs to get under the cap. There should be a decent market for Wagner’s services.
Prediction: Two years, $9 million ($4.5M APY), $5 million total guaranteed.
65. Edge Bud Dupree — SIGNED by Tennessee Titans
Dupree broke out with a 77.7 overall grade in 2019, good for 23rd among edge rushers. That marked trampled his previous performances, which ranged from 44.4 (2015) to 62.6 (2016) overall, and he came back down to Earth here in 2020 with a 60.2 overall grade prior to a season-ending injury.
The key with Dupree is not to get caught up in the sack totals, particularly this season, as most of his sacks have come down to quarterbacks holding the ball for way too long. Dupree does play hard, and his high motor allows him to get in several hustle plays and clean-up sacks, but high-end pass-rushers should be winning one-on-one against offensive tackles far more often than Dupree has shown over his career.
Given Pittsburgh’s blitz-happy scheme and supporting talent combined with Dupree’s mediocre career grades and subsequent injury, he’s a buyer-beware candidate on the open market.
66. TE Rob Gronkowski — SIGNED by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s deceiving to have Gronkowski on any free agent list, as he’s made it clear he wants to play with Tom Brady alone, so expect a Bucs reunion if Gronkowski returns in 2021. He’s no longer the Hall of Fame-caliber tight end he once was, but Gronkowski is still a versatile blocker and a capable receiving threat. He has enough tools to threaten the defense up the seam or in the red zone, and he’s a necessary complementary threat that pairs well with the Bucs’ strong receiving corps.
67. RB Chris Carson — SIGNED by Seattle Seahawks
You will find few harder-running backs than Chris Carson, and that play style has led to him having some of the most consistent PFF rushing grades of any back in the league during his career. He hasn’t had a rushing grade below 75.0 or above 81.0 in four years and has always maximized his yardage. In each season of his career, he has gained at least three yards per carry after contact, topping out with 3.63 yards on average in 2019 — a season in which he broke 62 tackles including the playoffs.
Carson may not possess the receiving skill set of other backs, but he has been bucking that trend in 2020, already bettering two of his previous three seasons in terms of receiving first downs and soon to set a new career-high in that area. While Carson wasn’t a high draft pick, he has been one of the better players at his position since entering the NFL.
Contract Analysis: Chris Carson has had as strong of a start to his career as possible after being selected 249th overall in 2017 (26th running back taken). Nevertheless, Seattle drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round in 2018 and added DeeJay Dallas in the fourth round in 2020, which could signal they’re looking to replace Carson — not retain him.
Prediction: Three years, $27 million ($9M APY): $15 million total guaranteed, $10 million fully guaranteed at signing.
68. EDGE Leonard Floyd — SIGNED by Los Angeles Rams
Floyd has been a solid player for the majority of his career, and 2020 was no different. However, don’t get caught up in career-highs in both pressures and sacks, as Floyd has posted pass-rush grades in the 60s in four of his five years in the league — including this past season. He’s an above-average run defender and is good in coverage, where he’s played over 100 snaps in each of the past three years. But the key for Floyd’s market will be expectations where he is more of a complementary pass-rusher than a “10-sack guy.”
69. EDGE Trey Hendrickson — SIGNED by Cincinnati Bengals
Of all the players in the free-agent pool, Hendrickson may have made himself the most money here in 2020. His career started with three years of average grades, but he’s getting after the quarterback at a high rate — and the NFL is noticing. Hendrickson was an outstanding player in college at Florida Atlantic, posting back-to-back years of 90.0-plus pass-rush grades. He then showed off his athleticism with above-average marks in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and broad jump at the NFL combine, giving him an intriguing profile of production and movement skills. It’s important not to completely overrate his sack totals this season, but Hendrickson has ranked as a mid-level pass-rusher and run defender in his four years in the league.
70. WR Nelson Agholor — SIGNED by New England Patriots
It’s been a career of inconsistency for Agholor, who has been good in two of his five years with three other seasons being marred by dropped passes and disappointing production. However, Agholor was an excellent slot receiver for the Eagles in 2017, as Philadelphia quarterbacks had a 114.5 passer rating when targeting him.
His 2020 campaign with Las Vegas has netted similar production, albeit in a different role. Agholor has become a legitimate downfield threat for the Raiders, posting career-highs in yards, and touchdowns while dwarfing his career yards per reception numbers with a 17.9 mark. The question is whether Agholor can sustain his success, and that question is better asked of him in a complementary role rather than a feature one.
71. CB Xavier Rhodes — SIGNED by Indianapolis Colts
By the end of his time with the Minnesota Vikings, Xavier Rhodes looked absolutely cooked. Yet, this season showed how much of that was due to injury and being hung out to dry when not 100% healthy.
In his first season with the Colts, Rhodes bounced back to his best form and, if anything, had a career year. He allowed only 50% of passes thrown his way to be caught, down more than 30 percentage points from last season, and throwing into his coverage generated a 79.2 passer rating, down 50 points from last year.
Rhodes isn’t all that young anymore, but he showed in 2020 he can be a high-level corner if he plays healthy.
Contract Analysis: Rhodes’ play fell off a cliff in 2019 after a strong start to his career, and odds are that he’s best suited in a zone-heavy coverage scheme going forward. But that’s not all bad, as he excelled in a defense that left him on an island far less often. His 2020 prove-it deal had a base value of $3 million, and he demonstrated that he’s deserving of another (more substantial) contract before it’s all said and done.
Prediction: Three years, $24 million ($8M APY): $14.5 million total guaranteed, $8.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
72. CB Ronald Darby — SIGNED by Denver Broncos
It’s been an odd career for Darby, who has now had productive seasons for three different teams in his six NFL seasons. The problems in between have been injuries and ineffectiveness, and 2020 is the first season in which Darby has played at least 600 snaps since 2016. He’s best in man coverage, where he has the speed and shiftiness to hang with a variety of receivers. Darby has graded in the 92nd percentile in single coverage since entering the league.
The knock on Darby has always been a lack of interceptions, both in college and in the NFL; he has just eight in his career. But for man-heavy teams looking to make life difficult on outside receivers, he is worth another look as he hits free agency for the third straight season.
73. WR Sammy Watkins
Once looking like a future star, Watkins has leveled off as a complementary receiver over the past few years. He’s never gotten back to his career-high 89.8 grade in 2015, though he posted solid grades between 69.0 and 74.0 from 2016 to 2019 across three different teams. Watkins’ 64.4 overall grade in 2020 is the lowest of his career, though he always seems good for a couple of dominant games per season, and last year it showed up at the right time during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.
Contract Analysis: Watkins agreed to an incentive-laden pay cut before the 2020 season to run it back with the Chiefs for another shot at a Super Bowl. Otherwise, Kansas City would have moved on from the receiver it originally signed to a three-year, $48 million deal back in 2018.
Watkins was the top wide receiver on the market that year, with Allen Robinson II coming off a torn ACL being the next best available.
Watkins won’t have that same luck this time, as he’s way down the list of top free-agent wide receivers. Nevertheless, the former No. 4 overall pick is still a serviceable player when healthy and will be only 28 years old.
Prediction: Three years, $30 million ($10M APY): $21 million total guaranteed, $16.5 million fully guaranteed at signing
74. CB Jason Verrett — SIGNED by San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers kept rolling the dice on an injured Jason Verrett, and they finally got the payoff in 2020 of a healthy season from a player whose talent level has always been unquestioned.
Verrett played 803 snaps this season — a career-high — and allowed a mere 76.3 passer rating in a season of huge offensive production. He allowed just 8.9 yards per reception and one touchdown all season, playing his first significant snaps since at least 2016.
Any team will have to be conscious of the injury risk, but Verrett is still under 30 years old and has intriguing upside play at the position.
75. WR Emmanuel Sanders — SIGNED by Buffalo Bills
While Sanders is getting up there in age, he’s still a good route runner who profiles best as a No. 3 option at this point in his career. Over the last three years when facing single coverage, Sanders has the No. 15 grade and No. 16 separation percentage in the league, both indicators that his route running still plays against man coverage. Sanders won’t provide much after the catch, but he’s a valuable short and intermediate option who can move the chains.
76. LB K.J. Wright
Wright has been one of the league's most consistent linebackers over his NFL career, and as he gets toward the end of it, he still provides a lot of value as a solid all-around player at the position. He finished the regular season with the eighth-best overall grade among linebackers at 75.3.
The Seahawks had their annual shock pick in the first round of the NFL draft when they took Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks at 27th overall. And while he’s slowly coming along in a Will linebacker role — which has been Wright’s spot in Seattle for nearly a decade — his presence may not necessarily mean Wright is on the way out.
Contract Analysis: Wright has been solid after transitioning into the strongside linebacker role following Bruce Irvin’s season-ending injury, and it suits him as he gets a bit older. His 59.9 coverage grade in 2019 was his worst since his rookie season in 2011, so playing closer to the line and setting the edge in run defense works for him at this stage of his career. Irvin is also a free agent after the season but is two years older and will be coming off a torn ACL, so perhaps Wright carves out a role in Seattle because he can contribute at either spot going forward.
Prediction: Two years, $12 million ($6M APY): $6 million total guaranteed, $5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
77. QB Mitchell Trubisky — SIGNED by Buffalo Bills
Trubisky’s accuracy has been an issue in his four NFL seasons, and even his best statistical years have been marred by too many missed throws and stats that have been inflated by either scheme or playmakers. He’s graded between 62.0 and 66.4 in every season, with the statistical results fluctuating based on ecosystem and turnover luck. Trubisky does add value with his legs, but he’s likely relegated to a backup role once again.
78. OT Riley Reiff — SIGNED by Cincinnati Bengals
One of the most consistent offensive tackles in the league, Reiff has graded at 69.0 or better in all but one of his nine years in the league. He’s a mid-tier pass blocker who ranks below average in true pass sets since 2018, a sign that he may need some help in a play-action-heavy system. In the run game, Reiff is a solid zone blocker who profiles on the more volatile side with a high percentage of both positively and negatively graded blocks over the last few years.
Contract Analysis: Reiff agreed to take a pay cut prior to the 2020 season to help Minnesota fit ED Yannick Ngakoue on their cap, and both of those moves may have backfired. Reiff had one year remaining on his deal in Minnesota, but the Vikings presumably were looking to work out a short extension to reduce his cap hit again and keep him on board for the next few years. Reiff may have recognized that, following his release, he’s arguably the best left tackle available after 49ers LT Trent Williams, who seems likely to stay in San Francisco.
Prediction: Reiff signs for three years, $35 million ($11.67M APY), $25 million total guaranteed.
79. S Malik Hooker
Hooker has dealt with significant injury after significant injury, and this concern existed even before the 2020 season, which was lost to a torn Achilles. He’s never really provided the intended playmaking ability in the middle of the field, but he’s also played in a Colts scheme that has been heavy on two-high safety coverages.
Hooker still may be a better fit in a true single-high safety role where he takes good angles on downfield throws. He’s looked out of place when forced into one-on-ones with receivers or when needing to react quickly from two-high alignments. His best season saw him grade at 81.6 in coverage in 2018, though the other 1200 or so snaps have him graded in the mid-60s. He's worth a look in a new system that could get the most out of his downfield playmaking skill set.
Contract Analysis: The Indianapolis Colts were the last team in the NFL to make a decision on their 2017 first-round pick’s fifth-year option, waiting until the very last day to ultimately decline Hooker’s $6.7 million for 2021, which looks smart in hindsight. Hooker will likely need to take a near-minimum “prove-it” deal to get his career back on track.
Prediction: One year, $2 million.
80. OT Bobby Massie
Starting-caliber tackles are difficult to come by, and Massie has been a mid-tier starter for the majority of his career. Since 2017, he has a solid 73.4 pass-blocking grade, including a 57th percentile rank on true pass sets, showing that he will at least provide adequate play at a position group that needs to avoid glaring holes. Massie has been less effective in the run game, grading above 60.0 just once in his five years with the Bears, so his best fit may be in a pass-heavy attack.
Contract Analysis: Massie’s four-year, $32 million extension signed in 2019 had a team option for 2021 which Chicago chose to decline, making him a free agent ahead of the 2021 offseason. Massie has been a solid if unspectacular right tackle in Chicago the last two years but has missed 14 games over the last two seasons.
Prediction: Massie signs for two years, $10 million, $8 million total guaranteed.
81. C David Andrews — SIGNED by New England Patriots
After missing the 2019 season, Andrews bounced back to grade out at 67.7 in 2020, good for 16th among centers. He has now ranked in the top 16 in his past three full seasons, doing his best work in pass protection. He ranks in the 87th percentile in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets since 2015. He did take a step back in that department, posting a career-low 56.4 pass-blocking grade in 2020. In the run game, Andrews has one of the lowest negatively graded play percentages in the league, and that dependability should be valued among a thin group of centers.
Contract Analysis: Andrews missed the 2019 NFL season while dealing with blood clots in his lungs, a frightening condition for the ascending center. His 2020 campaign was very promising considering his health situation, the fact there was no offseason and because Andrews had to learn to play with a new quarterback in Cam Newton. There’s certainly reason for optimism going forward.
Prediction: Three years, $18 million ($6M APY): $8 million total guaranteed, $5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
82. QB Jacoby Brissett — SIGNED by Miami Dolphins
Brissett has PFF grades of 62.4 in 2017 and 59.2 in 2019 as a starter, showing that he’s likely a high-end backup. Stylistically, Brissett has landed more on the game manager end of the spectrum, taking good care of the ball but also having a low percentage of big-time throws. When adding some rushing value to the mix, it’s clear that Brissett can be called upon to win a few games, but he hasn’t looked like a quarterback who is capable of carrying a team.
83. S Keanu Neal — SIGNED by Dallas Cowboys
A former first-round pick, Neal found his home immediately as a traditional strong safety in the Falcons’ Cover 1/Cover 3 scheme. He made an impact from Day 1, flying around the field in the run game and showing good range against underneath routes when playing zone. Unfortunately, injuries limited Neal to just 213 snaps across 2018 and 2019, but he was healthy once again in 2020, grading out at 68.2 overall. Neal is a classic box safety who does his best work around the line of scrimmage and in the middle of the field, and his future team should look for him to play a similar role.
Contract Analysis: Neal is set to hit free agency coming off his $6.466 million fifth-year option in 2020, and he’s fortunate Atlanta stuck by it. He was able to play a full season and provide quality snaps down in the box as well as in the slot, and a versatile safety who lurks near the line of scrimmage could be just what a few teams need this offseason.
Prediction: Two years, $10 million ($5M APY): $6 million total guaranteed, $3.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
84. CB Patrick Peterson — SIGNED by Minnesota Vikings
The No. 5 overall pick from 2011 hadn’t shown any signs of slowing down through the 2018 season — his eighth consecutive year playing in all 16 games — but a six-game suspension to start the 2019 season may have provided one explanation. Peterson has struggled against good route-runners, and 2020 has seen him post his worst coverage grade since 2011 to go with a league-high 11 penalties. Recent play shows a below-average corner in both man and zone coverage.
85. C Austin Reiter
Austin Reiter flashed ability in limited playing time early in his career before getting a chance to start in Kansas City, where he has become a quality starter for a championship-caliber team.
Reiter is a better pass blocker than he is in the run game, with PFF grades of at least 78.0 in every season of significant playing time in that facet. In 2020, he allowed just seven total pressures and wasn’t flagged for a penalty all season.
Contract Analysis: Reiter’s market will likely be determined by how much teams value the run game, but he is certainly a steady hand at a spot that can be a problem position for some teams.
Prediction: Two years, $9.5 million ($4.75M APY): $4 million total guaranteed, $3 million fully guaranteed at signing.
86. QB Alex Smith
Smith completed one of the greatest comebacks in sports history to get back on the field in 2020, and though he made a clear difference to the Washington Football Team when he started, his play was short of where it was before his devastating injury. Between age, declined play and a recurring calf problem likely linked to his recovery, Smith is likely a backup at best going forward, but he could be an invaluable resource for a team looking to rely on a young quarterback as its starter.
Contract Analysis: This may have been a tough decision emotionally, but it certainly wasn’t from a business standpoint. Smith’s return to the field was nothing short of a miracle, but he showed the effects of a brutal leg injury that almost ended his career. Washington took out a $12 million insurance policy on Smith’s contract that followed his trade from Kansas City and was able to recoup some of that cap space following the gruesome injury that knocked him out of the 2019 campaign. He’ll clear $14.7 million off of Washington’s books as they look for their franchise quarterback of the future.
Projection: Smith signs for one year, $3 million fully guaranteed.
87. Edge Matthew Judon — SIGNED by New England Patriots
There’s an element to Judon’s game that screams “buyer beware,” as he has had high sack totals and good — not great — pass-rush grades over the past three seasons. The Ravens’ blitz-happy scheme certainly helps create mismatches and unblocked pressures, but even with those factored in, Judon has an above-average pass-rush grade over the past three years. The caveat is the expectation that he’ll become a “10-sack guy” in any system. Judon fits best as a situational rusher who can take advantage of mismatches and be used as a pass-rush/spy weapon against athletic quarterbacks.
88. EDGE Aldon Smith
Smith’s return to the NFL is a miraculous comeback story after a four-year absence from 2016-19. While he hasn’t quite been the superstar he was with the 49ers, he’s still generated a 70.0 pass-rush grade while playing at least 40 snaps in every game so far in 2020 — a testament to his conditioning. He’s been moved all over the defensive front, and his 50 pressures tell a better story than his four sacks, as he was a solid pass-rusher in his return to the NFL.
Contract Analysis: Arguably the most impressive aspect of Smith’s return was that he did not sign a veteran minimum contract, negotiating a deal with a maximum value of $2 million in Dallas. At 31 years old, Smith has proven to just be a different type of human, and one final payday as a veteran will be a great end to his story.
Prediction: Two years, $15 million ($7.5M APY): $10 million total guaranteed, $8 million fully guaranteed at signing.
89. Edge Carlos Dunlap
Dunlap is 32 years old but only a year removed from the best season of his career in 2019 with the Bengals. That season, Dunlap’s overall PFF grade was 89.7 and he had 51 total pressures and 36 defensive stops. He ended the 2020 season playing well for Seattle, notching 13 total pressures in the last three weeks of the season as the team’s best pass rusher.
Contract Analysis: Seattle acquired Dunlap in a deadline trade from the Bengals for a 2020 playoff push, with the Seahawks desperate for help at edge rusher. The move was certainly viewed as a rental, but Dunlap went on to make a handful of game-altering plays, including a fourth-down sack on Kyler Murray in Week 11 that clinched a win for the Seahawks. His $14,037,500 salary was too large to carry into 2021, but he should have a decent market among contenders looking for pass rush help.
Prediction: Dunlap signs for one year, $9 million, $7.5 million total guaranteed.
90. T Kelvin Beachum — SIGNED by Arizona Cardinals
Beachum has been as consistent as it gets, grading between 67.0 and 70.0 in each of the past four seasons. During that stretch, Beachum slots into the 82nd percentile in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets, ranking 19th among 107 qualifiers. He’s better in pass protection than he is as a run blocker, where he hasn’t graded above 60.0 since 2015 while ranking in just the 15th percentile in positively graded play percentage. It’s all about setting proper expectations for Beachum, as he will provide above-average pass blocking and below-average run blocking.
91. CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
Now infamous for the non-call on a blatant defensive pass interference in the 2018-19 NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints, Robey-Coleman hasn’t been quite as fortunate recently. An important piece of a stingy secondary in Los Angeles became expendable and ended up signing a one-year, $1.35 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for 2020. Robey-Coleman’s defensive grade and coverage grade through Week 12 are both five-year lows, and those marks will raise some questions about how much of his grade in Los Angeles was down to the system rather than the player.
He has shown flashes this year that he can still be an aggressive and feisty slot corner, but he has given up a 116.0 passer rating when targeted while allowing 11.7 yards per reception — a high figure for an inside defender.
Contract Analysis: Robey-Coleman will land somewhere as a tried-and-true veteran at slot cornerback, but another one-year deal near the minimum is probably in order.
Prediction: One year, $2 million fully guaranteed at signing.
92. RB Kenyan Drake — SIGNED Las Vegas Raiders
Kenyan Drake was expected to have a huge year in 2020 given what we had seen from him within Arizona’s offense after his arrival the year before, but it never quite happened. Drake ended the season with a 60.9 overall PFF grade, the lowest mark of his career. And his 4.0 yards per carry was a full half-yard lower than any other season of his career.
It wasn’t all Drake’s fault, however, and he still generated 2.5 yards per carry after contact and broke 31 tackles, but the lack of dominant production in a No. 1 role will immediately scare off plenty of teams. Overall, he still has plenty of ability in the right situation, yet he needs a good environment.
93. OG Richie Incognito — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
Incognito only played two games in 2020 before injury shut him down, but he was still playing at his usual high level deep into his 30s. At this point, health and age are a concern, but if Incognito is healthy he could realistically be an elite upgrade for a team needing a short-term fix at guard.
94. TE Jared Cook — SIGNED by Los Angeles Chargers
A 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end who can run a 40-yard dash in the 4.4s, Jared Cook has always been a player with the potential for monster production in the passing game. And while he’s never quite put up that kind of production, he has been a consistently productive weapon.
Cook has a PFF receiving grade of at least 72.8 in each of the past three seasons, generating a 100.0-plus passer rating when targeted each year, too. There are teams out there for which Cook would represent a significant upgrade.
95. C Alex Mack — SIGNED by San Francisco 49ers
Mack is just a few years removed from ranking as a top-five center in the league, and he ranked in the top 10 in 2019. His play dropped off a bit in 2020, but he’s still one of the best zone-blocking centers in the NFL. However, Mack posted the lowest pass-blocking grade of his career in 2020, so that’s the big question going forward for the 35-year old. He should be a viable one-year option for center-needy teams, especially in a zone-heavy scheme.
96. CB Mackensie Alexander
Alexander’s career started slow, but he’s now posted three straight solid coverage grades, including a career-high 72.5 mark back in 2018. He signed a one-year deal with the Bengals and provided average play, grading at 60.4 overall to go with a 67.2 coverage grade. Alexander has played primarily in the slot throughout his career, and he’s in the group of available slot corners who are worth a look.
Contract Analysis: Alexander joined Trae Waynes last offseason in departing Minnesota’s secondary for Cincinnati, but unlike Waynes — who suffered an injury before the season — Alexander was able to get on the field in 2020. He continued to provide average to above-average play in the slot and will likely be facing a similar market.
Prediction: Two years, $6 million ($3M APY): $3 million total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.
97. RB James Conner
Conner is a productive player with an incredible story, and after defeating cancer and graduating from Pittsburgh, he was able to continue his career in the Steel City. However, with the Steelers drafting Anthony McFarland Jr. and Benny Snell Jr. in the fourth round in back-to-back years, they may have already jump-started the process of moving on.
Contract Analysis: Conner’s production has stalled after an impressive start to his Steelers career, but the lack of dominance also coincides with the team’s run blocking getting worse. Conner has solid PFF grades in all four seasons of his career.
Prediction: Three years, $20 million ($6.66M APY): $10 million total guaranteed, $8 million fully guaranteed at signing.
98. OG Kyle Long — SIGNED by Kansas City Chiefs
Long becomes the latest player to come back to the NFL after a sabbatical dressed up as retirement. He is reportedly fully healthy and in great shape, and if that translates to Long playing in 2021 at something approaching his best play, he could be a real find. His best season saw him post a PFF pass-blocking grade of 85.0 and allow just 15 total pressures over 675 pass-blocking snaps.
Contract Analysis: Long did not look like himself the last time he was on an NFL field, and even he would tell you that. After taking time to rest and recover, he could return to a solid form with injuries in the rear view mirror. Nevertheless, teams will probably want to see him play before shelling out the big bucks he used to earn.
Prediction: Long signs for one year, $2.25 million, $1.25 million total guaranteed.
99. RB Mike Davis — SIGNED by Atlanta Falcons
Despite just 3.9 yards per carry during the 2020 season, Davis impressed with 43 missed tackles forced as a runner and another 22 as a receiver, all leading to a career-high 75.0 overall grade. He’s never been a big-play threat, but as a back who will take what’s in front of him while creating after contact, Davis has proven to be a good option in a backup role.
Contract Analysis: Davis was signed in 2019 by the Chicago Bears, who promptly cut him before Week 10 for compensatory pick purposes — a loophole that was very unfriendly to players and was closed in the latest collective bargaining agreement. Davis was able to land in Carolina to close the 2019 season and was then provided a golden opportunity in 2020 when Christian McCaffrey was sidelined for an extended period. Davis played over 70% of offensive snaps in each game from Weeks 3-8, and he averaged 14 carries and five receptions over that stretch.
Prediction: Two years, $8.5 million (4.25M APY): $5 million total guaranteed, $4 million fully guaranteed at signing.
100. WR Keelan Cole — SIGNED by New York Jets
The Jaguars got great value out of Cole, a former undrafted free agent who has played both out wide and in the slot. Cole is a good route-runner who ranks in the 60th percentile at creating separation against single coverage. He’s also been strong at the catch point, winning 52% of his contested catches over the past two years. Cole profiles as a No. 3 or No. 4 option on a good team, but he can line up all across the formation.
Contract Analysis: Cole finally seemed to take a firm grasp of the WR3 job in Jacksonville and never looked back, consistently providing a solid baseline of play. Obviously, the wheels came off in Jacksonville with a new quarterback under center each week, but Cole was his usual reliable self.
The start to his career is reminiscent of Dontrelle Inman, another former Jaguars undrafted free agent wide receiver. Cole received the second-round restricted-free-agent tender for 2020, illustrating that the Jaguars are fond of him and did not wish to see him go, so perhaps a reunion is in order.
Prediction: Two years, $11 million ($5.5M APY): $5 million total guaranteed, $4 million fully guaranteed at signing.
101. WR Adam Humphries
When healthy, Humphries is an effective short-area threat, highlighted by the second-lowest average depth of target in the league since 2017 (7.1). Humphries is a sure-handed option who knows how to get open against single coverage and he has a good feel against zone, making him a solid possession option in the middle of the field. His best season came in 2019 when he tied for 19th with 48 first downs plus touchdowns, but he’ll need to go to a high-volume attack to approach those numbers once again.
Contract Analysis: Humphries signed a four-year, $36 million contract with Tennessee in the 2019 offseason, and ended up earning about $325,000 per reception for the Titans. Humphries is a slot specialist who manages to create consistent separation and produce when healthy, but he’s played just 603 snaps over the last two seasons combined. Humphries will be just 28-years-old in 2021, and if a team isn’t overly concerned about his concussion history, could be a nice addition as a secondary or tertiary receiving option for any team.
Prediction: One year, $4.25 million, $3.5 million total guaranteed.
102. RB Duke Johnson Jr.
Johnson epitomizes what the modern running back should look like as he’s an excellent receiver who can create mismatches in the pass game. Since entering the league, Johnson has a 91.0 receiving grade, ranking in the 90th percentile during that time. He’s also 11th in yards per route at 1.55 and eighth in missed tackles forced per attempt at 0.21. Johnson can create on his own as a runner and add value to the pass game, so teams in need of a pass-catching complementary option should take note.
Contract Analysis: Johnson’s three-year, $15.61 million ($5.203M APY) extension signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2018 was a market-setter for a player primarily considered a third-down back. Running backs like Dion Lewis, James White and Giovani Bernard have all since signed for just beneath Johnson, who was then traded a year later to the Houston Texans for a conditional fourth-round pick that became a third-rounder. Johnson isn’t just a scat back though, in fact he’s the all-time leading rusher at the University of Miami – topping a list with names like Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Willis McGahee. Now set to play for his third NFL team, Johnson is only 27-years-old, and questions remain as to whether he’s ever truly been used effectively.
Prediction: Two-years, $6.5 million ($3.25M APY), $4.25 million total guaranteed.
103. WR Danny Amendola
Despite approaching the age of time itself (35 years old), Danny Amendola has quietly been as productive as ever over the past few seasons. He hasn’t been as big a part of the offense as he once was, with his last 100-target season coming in New England, but for a team that needs a safe pair of hands or someone who runs a lot of routes from the slot, Amendola can still be a useful member of an offense. He has had six straight seasons with a 65.0-plus PFF receiving grade.
Contract Analysis: While Amendola’s usage has naturally declined, he managed to post his best season grade (74.9) since 2015. He signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Lions this past offseason, and he’ll most likely keep signing similar contracts until he retires.
Prediction: One year, $5.5 million: $5 million total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.
104. RB James White
White is a specialist — he’s far better at catching the ball out of the backfield than he is carrying it as a traditional runner. He’s an excellent route-runner with good hands and shiftiness after the catch, all adding up to a perfect option in a pass-heavy attack. As a runner, White generally gets what is blocked, as he’s averaged just 2.0 yards after contact during his career. However, he can still be an effective pass-game weapon in the right offense.
Contract Analysis: While Tom Brady had a phenomenal season, the Buccaneers seemingly used a different running back in the third-down role every single week. Brady missed his checkdown security blanket in White, and a lot of teams could benefit from the running back’s skill set.
Prediction: Two years, $10 million ($5M APY): $5 million total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.
105. RB Le’Veon Bell
The great Le’Veon Bell that was once arguably the best back in the NFL is long gone, but he is still a capable player in the backfield with a well-rounded skill set. His trademark “patient” rushing style that was so successful in Pittsburgh seems to have morphed into a general lack of explosion over time, and he hasn’t had a carry longer than 20 yards since he was playing for the Steelers.
This season, Bell ended with a 73.9 overall PFF grade and averaged more than three yards per carry after contact in addition to dropping just one pass. He won’t break the bank anymore and could be a useful addition to a backfield lacking in talent.
Contract Analysis: Le’Veon Bell’s tenure with the New York Jets ended with an unceremonious breakup after never really getting off the ground, as he was more or less phased out of the offense in favor of 37-year-old Frank Gore. Bell will certainly benefit from performing on the biggest stage in the playoffs with the Kansas City Chiefs, and perhaps a few big performances can entice a team to take another chance on him.
Prediction: Two years, $10 million ($5M APY): $5M total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.
106. EDGE Haason Reddick — SIGNED by Carolina Panthers
Reddick’s strong finish to 2020 has looked nothing like the first 3 ½ years of his career, clouding his free-agent evaluation. Reddick was clearly out of place as a traditional linebacker, grading at just 35.4 in coverage in his first three NFL seasons — the third-worst mark among linebackers during that time. However, Reddick’s move back to his college position on the edge has rejuvenated his career, as his burst has been an asset when he rushes the passer. The question will be whether Reddick will continue this incredible stretch of play or if it’s just an anomaly, but he’s definitely worth a look as a change-of-pace No. 3 pass-rusher. And he may get paid like a No. 2.
107. CB K’Waun Williams
In a league where covering the slot has never been more important, K’Waun Williams is one of the NFL’s better slot defenders and has been consistently good at a position where it is hard to maintain a high standard. In six seasons, Williams doesn’t have an overall PFF grade below 66.2, and his best play has been genuinely elite.
Over the past two seasons, Williams has allowed just one touchdown on 99 targets. He would represent a significant upgrade for a lot of teams if he’s healthy.
Contract Analysis: Williams is one of four 49ers cornerbacks set to hit free agency, but as a pure slot corner, he may have the best chance of returning. Williams missed eight out of a possible sixteen games this season yet finished on a positive note with his highest-graded performance of the season in a lockdown effort at Arizona, earning him a 90.5 defensive grade and an 80.5 coverage grade.
Prediction: Two years, $8 million ($4M APY): $4 million total guaranteed, $3 million fully guaranteed at signing.
108. CB Gareon Conley
A former first-round pick, Conley has had his ups and downs, grading out at 64.5 and 64.0 in his two full seasons. He missed all of the 2020 season. Conley is better in man coverage, as he’s graded in the 69th percentile in single coverage compared to just the 37th percentile in zone since entering the league. He’s also forced incompletions on 22.2% of his targets, the second-best rate in the NFL since 2017. Conley is worth a look in a man-heavy system.
Contract Analysis: The former 2017 first-round pick of the then-Oakland Raiders was traded to the Houston Texans for a third-round pick after just two seasons. Conley is a perfect candidate to be 2021’s Ronald Darby, as he profiles very similarly — and that’s what he should be selling to potential suitors.
Prediction: One year, $2.5 million: $1 million fully guaranteed at signing.
109. CB Bashaud Breeland
Breeland’s play at cornerback is something of a roller-coaster ride. In the right game, he can play well and hold his own on the outside against even decent receivers, but when the wheels come off, they tend to do so spectacularly.
The veteran cornerback had three games with a PFF coverage grade above 80.0 this past season, but he also one of 32.2 and another of 43.1 as well as two games in the 50s. Overall, he was beaten for a passer rating of 90.3 and earned a solid coverage grade, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
Breeland will be 29 by the time free agency hits, and though he can certainly play and start in this league, he represents the kind of starter that teams will always have an eye out to upgrade upon.
Contract Analysis: Breeland began the season with a four-game suspension following an arrest in April of 2020, but he made his presence felt immediately in Week 5 against the Las Vegas Raiders with an interception. Breeland has excelled as the right cornerback in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system, and with a strong playoff run could be looking for his first multi-year veteran contract.
Prediction: Chiefs sign Breeland for two years, $10 million ($5M APY): $5.5 million total guaranteed, $2.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
110. CB Cameron Sutton — SIGNED by Pittsburgh Steelers
Sutton had played just 621 career snaps coming into 2020 but posted a solid 68.6 overall grade across 552 regular-season snaps in 2020. He was forced to play on the outside down the stretch after primarily lining up in the slot, so there’s some versatility to his game. He’s a high-upside play on a small sample size. Sutton has been above-average in the slot and in single coverage, two places that bring great value to any defense.
111. T Matt Feiler — SIGNED by Los Angeles Chargers
Feiler should be a player in demand this offseason, given the state of offensive line play in some areas of the NFL, and especially because he won’t be among the marquee names.
Feiler has extensive starting experience with the Steelers at both right tackle and inside at left guard, and he has graded well at both positions. In four seasons, he has never earned an overall PFF grade lower than 65.0 and hits free agency still well short of 30 years old.
Feiler’s best season from a grading standpoint came while starting at right tackle, the more valuable position. And at the bare minimum, he would represent one of the best “sixth linemen” in the game. Often the best value signings happen in the second wave of free agency, and Feiler would upgrade a lot of offensive lines.
Contract Analysis: Feiler’s ability to play on both sides of the offensive line, as well as outside at tackle and inside at guard, makes him a very intriguing free agent. At no position is it more valuable to excel in multiple roles, and if Feiler could serve as the swing tackle and the first interior offensive lineman off the bench, that could be tremendously valuable to any club.
Prediction: Two years, $12 million ($6M APY): $8 million total guaranteed, $5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
112. DI Geno Atkins
At his peak, Geno Atkins was one of the best pass-rushing interior linemen in the game, but we have seen a decline from him in recent years and injury limited him badly last season. If he can get healthy and recapture some of his better play, he can still do a job for a team short on disruption inside, but his best play may be a long way in the rearview mirror.
Atkins played just 127 snaps in 2020 and graded out at 54.0, both marks by far the lowest of his career. The career Bengal had played at least 775 snaps and graded at 76.2 or better in five straight seasons before his first-ever bad year, but it’s fair to wonder if age is perhaps catching up to the soon-to-be 33-year-old.
He'll now be released later into free agency as many teams have already spent up a decent portion of cash reserves, much like the Chicago Bears Akiem Hicks. Atkins was a dominant force for the better part of a decade and could have some spark left in a better situation.
113. WR Tyrell Williams — SIGNED by Detroit Lions
One of the most explosive receivers in the league, Williams has been a good vertical threat since entering the league, but he’s only produced more than 48 receptions once and it was in his second year in 2016. Williams has averaged 16.1 yards per reception during his career as his size and speed cause problems for defenses down the field, but he’s best in a complementary role that taps into that skillset.
114. DI Jurrell Casey
Limited to just 156 snaps in 2020, Casey kept his streak alive of never grading below 70.0 overall on the PFF grading scale, highlighting how he’s been consistently good since entering the league in 2011. Casey had five straight years with 50-plus pressures from 2013 to 2019, but his pass-rushing has slowed a bit in recent years. He’s still a plus run defender and he should get a look in a weak free agent class of interior defensive linemen.
Contract Analysis: The Broncos acquired Casey for a seventh-round pick before the 2020 season, but he missed the majority of the year to injury. Casey’s 2021 salary was slated to be $11,874,750, with $0 dead money on a release. There’s no reason to think Casey can’t be a productive player going forward, this move was more about the financial implications. He should have a handful of suitors and can provide good value as a run-stuffing 3-technique that can generate the occasional pressure on the quarterback.
Prediction: One-year, $5 million fully guaranteed.
115. EDGE Takkarist McKinley — SIGNED by Cleveland Browns
McKinley has disappointed as a first-round pick, though he’s produced at a solid level in his four years in the league. He’s graded in the middle of the pack as a pass-rusher since entering the league, with his best pass-rushing grade (70.1) coming as a rookie. McKinley has the skills to be effective against the run, but there have been too many blown gaps and missed tackles through the years, combined with just 33% of his snaps coming in the run game. He ranks as a mid-tier pass-rusher who is best suited as a No. 3 option or, perhaps, a low-end No. 2 rusher.
116. LB Denzel Perryman — SIGNED by Carolina Panthers
Few players are better downhill thumpers than Perryman is; it’s just unfortunate for him that this is 2021 and not 1985. Perryman is coming off arguably his best season, albeit one in which his playing time totaled just 317 snaps. Perryman earned a PFF grade of 86.3 against the run, and his coverage grade of 74.1 represents the best figure of his career in that area. Two-down run-stuffers don’t have much of a role in today’s NFL, but Perryman is fun to watch given how he hits.
117. Edge Romeo Okwara — SIGNED by Detroit Lions
After over 1,000 snaps of below-average production as a pass-rusher, Okwara finished like a ball of fire with the No. 3 pass-rush grade among edge defenders since Week 12. That stretch run was great, and it capped a career year that saw him post an 85.4 pass-rush grade, ninth-best in the league. If he’s truly figured something out, Okwara is worth a shot as a No. 2 pass-rusher, but perspective is needed given the 4.5 years of average play prior to his half-season of dominance.
118. WR Alshon Jeffrey
Jeffery’s Eagles career will always be remembered for a great playoff run in 2017, capped by a spectacular touchdown grab on a jump ball in the back of the end zone over the out-stretched hand of Patriots defensive back Eric Rowe. His tenure in Philadelphia ended in a far less exciting fashion; marred by injury, he missed 20 total games over the 2019-20 campaigns. Now at 31 years old, Jeffery may not be much more than a big-bodied red-zone target.
Prediction: Jeffery signs for one year, $3 million fully guaranteed
119. S Jaquiski Tartt — SIGNED by San Francisco 49ers
Safety play in the NFL is extremely volatile, and often at the mercy of the opposing offenses that you happen to run into in a given year. Nothing shows that better than Jaquiski Tartt’s grading profile over the past few seasons, as Tartt has earned PFF grades of at least 75.0 in every facet of play we measure, just not in the same season.
His best season came in 2017, but he has struggled to replicate that level of performance ever since, and he even lost half of this past season due to injury. Tartt is versatile — able to line up in any safety spot — and athletic, but he fits the solid-if-unspectacular profile more than he is a true playmaker.
Contract Analysis: With so many safeties available, Tartt may get lost in the shuffle and end up as a great value signing in the second or third wave of free agency after missing the 49ers' final seven games. Tartt has a high floor both in coverage and against the run and is a perfect guy to pair next to just about anyone.
Prediction: Two years, $9 million ($4.5M APY). $4 million total guaranteed, $3 million fully guaranteed at signing.
120. WR Breshad Perriman — SIGNED by Detroit Lions
Perriman, a former first-round draft pick, looked as if he had put it all together late in the 2019 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but then he joined the New York Jets. Perriman couldn’t avoid being tarnished by New York in 2020, and his 63.1 overall PFF grade was back to his baseline of disappointment.
Perriman dropped only three passes, but he caught just 53.6% of the targets sent his way. With his height, weight and speed combination, there is still a lot to like about his potential in the right situation. The Jets, obviously, were not the right fit.
121. LB Kyle Van Noy — SIGNED by New England Patriots
Van Noy now has seven seasons of NFL play under his belt, but the only above average performances have come in New England. Even joining Miami under former Patriots coach Brian Flores couldn’t produced the same magic in 2020. Van Noy had 60 total pressures in 2019 for the Patriots and an excellent run defense grade, but how reliant is he on that specific scheme?
122. DI Ndamukong Suh
Suh certainly isn’t the force he once was, but he is still able to maintain an absurd workload for as many snaps as he’s logged over his NFL career.
The 788 snaps he played this season was the lowest total of his career, yet it was still the 11th-most among all interior defenders. Suh racked up 50 total pressures and 25 defensive stops and can still be a very solid member of a defensive line. At this point, he is a mercenary for hire on a short-term contract. If a team has a problem spot up front, Suh can fix it.
Contract Analysis: Suh is no longer resetting the market like he did with his massive six-year, $114 million contract with the Miami Dolphins back in 2015, but he’s still a highly productive interior defender. Now at 34 years old, Suh rarely comes off the field. While he’s still capable of handling a full-time role, perhaps he could also sell himself on becoming a lower-volume, higher-efficiency player like Tyson Alualu in Pittsburgh.
Prediction: One year, $6.75 million fully guaranteed at signing.
123. DI Sheldon Rankins — SIGNED by New York Jets
Injuries have become an issue for Rankins, but he hits free agency at 27 years old with some high-level play on his resume, albeit all the way back in 2018. That year was Rankins’ best season, seeing him post a PFF grade of at least 67.0 in every facet of play. Outside of that, he has been a plus run defender who has struggled to offer much as a pass-rusher.
Over the past two seasons combined, Rankins has generated just 43 total pressures on 738 snaps, including the playoffs. He exceeded that total in 2018 on fewer snaps. Teams will have to determine which player they are signing.
Contract Analysis: Rankins and the Saints helped each other out by agreeing to “restructure” his fifth-year option salary in 2020, adding void years onto the deal for cap relief. But make no mistake, the 2016 first-rounder is an unrestricted free agent. His injury history will certainly scare some teams away, but when healthy, he’s an explosive player who shows you why he was drafted 12th overall.
Prediction: Two years, $14.5 million ($7.25M APY): $8 million total guaranteed, $5.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
124. WR Rashard Higgins — SIGNED by Cleveland Browns
A lack of blazing speed and elite measurables means that Higgins is typically overlooked for superior athletes, but he’s a player who has typically produced well when given an opportunity for a bigger role within an offense. And he has a knack for getting open.
With Odell Beckham Jr. getting hurt this season, Higgins earned more playing time for the Browns and responded with new career-high marks in yards and yards per reception. When throwing the ball in the direction of Higgins, Baker Mayfield had a passer rating of 126.1 despite badly missing him in the end zone for a touchdown on one occasion. At 26, Higgins represents an interesting option after the top receivers in the market are gone, though citations for drag racing will raise questions over maturity.
Contract Analysis: Higgins was finally thrust into a starting role following the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. in Week 7. From Week 7-17, Higgins was the 28th-ranked wide receiver out of the 146 who played at least 100 snaps over that stretch. He’ll get a chance to continue his free agency audition playing in the Browns’ first playoff game since 2002.
Prediction: Two years, $10 million ($5M APY): $5.5 million total guaranteed, $4 million fully guaranteed at signing.
125. CB Casey Hayward Jr.
One of the best cornerbacks of the past decade, Hayward is coming off the worst season of his NFL career and going into a season in which he will be 32 years old. Hayward’s overall PFF grade was just 59.5 last year and he surrendered five touchdowns. It was the first season of his career that has been anything very good, but expecting a bounceback year is a risk at his age.
Contract Analysis: Even with some risk associated with this move, Hayward has a better resume than most cornerbacks hitting the market this offseason. The position is known for volatility, so teams have to hope he’ll return to his elite form after a down season.
Prediction: Hayward signs for two years, $16 million ($8M APY), $12 million total guaranteed.
126. CB Terrance Mitchell — SIGNED by Houston Texans
Terrance Mitchell played a career-high number of snaps in 2020 by some distance. The 1,225 snaps he played, including the postseason, for Cleveland represent close to 40% of his career total, and he posted a better than average overall PFF grade of 68.2. Mitchell was beaten for five touchdowns and a passer rating of 100. Most teams wouldn’t view him as a starter, but he’s the type of player who can do a job and hold up if injuries strike — and there is value to that.
127. DI Tyson Alualu — SIGNED by Jacksonville Jaguars
After nine years of average to below-average grades and a career-high grade of 66.5, Alualu turned things around with an 80.1 grade in 2019 and an 86.6 mark in 2020. He became sound in the run game and a reasonable pass-rusher who can provide a good 400-500 snaps as part of a defensive line rotation.
128. CB AJ Bouye
Bouye is a few years removed from his best seasons as he ranked as one of the league’s best corners in 2016 and 2017 before posting a solid 75.7 grade in 2018. He’s graded in the 50s in each of the last two seasons, making him a reclamation project at this point in his career. Bouye has man coverage skills on the outside, and he’s a high upside play if a team can get him back to his previous level of play.
Contract Analysis: A.J. Bouye was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a fourth-round pick during the 2020 offseason as Jacksonville unloaded all of their veteran talent, setting themselves up to win the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Bouye appeared in just seven games with the Broncos as a result of a six-game suspension for PEDs, and became one of the first cuts of the 2021 offseason. He still has two games remaining on his suspension that he’ll have to serve elsewhere, delaying his debut with a new team to Week 3 at the earliest. Bouye had a $13 million 2021 base salary with $0 in guarantees and will be 30 next season, making this move unsurprising. In a weak free agent class for cornerbacks though, he could still land somewhere and provide value to a team desperate for help in the secondary.
Prediction: One-year, $5 million, $3 million total guaranteed.
129. DI Kawann Short
Short has multiple elite years on his resume, but he’s played just 199 snaps over the last two years and last year graded at just 45.4 overall in his limited time. When healthy, he’s been an excellent run defender, peaking with a 91.7 grade in 2017, as well as an effective pass-rusher as he’s graded above 80.0 in both 2015 and 2017. The question is what he has left at this point in his career, but he’s worth a flier to see if he can regain form as part of a defensive line rotation.
Contract Analysis: Short has been one of the best interior defenders in the NFL since he was drafted in 2013, playing a large role in the Panthers’ 2015 Super Bowl run, which culminated in a massive five-year, $80.5 million contract extension signed in 2017. He got off to a great start on his new deal, with the fourth-highest grade among interior defenders over the 2017-18 seasons at 91.3 – trailing only Aaron Donald, Fletcher Cox and Damon Harrison Sr. Unfortunately, injuries in 2019 and 2020 limited him to a total of 199 snaps. Short was set to make a $12.5 million 2021 base salary. Now at 32, his football future is something of a mystery.
Prediction: One-year, $5 million, $2.075 million total guaranteed
130. EDGE Deatrich Wise Jr. — SIGNED by New England Patriots
An intriguing option, Deatrich Wise Jr. has played all over the defensive line in New England. He has generally been a very efficient pass-rusher but close enough to a liability in the run game that his role for the Patriots was reduced until injuries forced him back into more playing time. Wise has 57 total pressures on 452 pass-rushing snaps over the past two years and a top-10 pass-rush win rate over that time. If he lands in a spot that cares less about the run than New England, his best football could be in front of him.
131. WR A.J. Green — SIGNED by Arizona Cardinals
Age and injury have likely robbed us of the player who was once one of the most dominant receivers in the game, but A.J. Green can still be a useful part of a team’s receiving corps, and he showed that at times for the Bengals in 2020.
The last time Green played more than 1,000 snaps in a season was back in 2015, with 2018 and 2019 featuring major injuries costing him most or all of each year. At 32 years old, the chances of him rediscovering his lost step are minimal, so his role now becomes one of savvy and skills at the catch point. He has always had solid hands, with five or fewer dropped passes every year since 2013, but contested catches are a low-percentage play for even the best in the league, so Green’s role is not nearly as attractive as it once was.
132. CB Michael Davis — SIGNED by Los Angeles Chargers
The lone non-superstar or high draft pick in the Chargers secondary, Michael Davis has been “the other” starting cornerback for Los Angeles over the past couple of seasons. His numbers are not horrendous, having surrendered a passer rating of 77.0 in each of the past two seasons when targeted. He has made a lot of plays on the ball, but Davis gives up a lot, too. He has good size and strength and is a natural fit for the scheme the Chargers run, but in an ideal world, Davis wouldn’t be a starting cornerback but rather solid depth who can make some plays in a pinch.
133. EDGE Tyus Bowser — SIGNED by Baltimore Ravens
After playing just 320 snaps over his first two years, Bowser posted PFF grades of 70.8 in 2019 and a 68.3 in 2020. He has hybrid ability, as he’s rushed the passer 689 times and dropped into coverage 301 times in his career, so he has added value in a role that highlights that versatility.
134. TE Kyle Rudolph — SIGNED by New York Giants
An obvious cap casualty, Rudolph is still a solid receiving option, even if his role has been diminished with age. He has above average PFF receiving grades for six straight seasons, but he has seen a decline in targets for four consecutive seasons and at this point is unlikely to be anybody’s primary option at the position. Rudolph is also a capable blocker, so he should have a role with a team and be a solid, if limited, option in 2021.
Contract Analysis: Rudolph was released two years into a four-year, $36.1 million contract signed in 2019 after publicly expressing some displeasure with his role in the Vikings offense. He’s still a very capable red zone target and solid in pass protection when left in to block but offers little between the 20s.
Prediction: Rudolph signs for two years, $12 million ($6M APY), $7.5 million total guaranteed.
135. RB Jamaal Williams — SIGNED by Detroit Lions
The second fiddle in the Green Bay backfield to Aaron Jones since they were drafted together in 2017, Jamaal Williams has proven to be a capable running back in his own right. He has PFF grades of at least 83.3 as a rusher, receiver and pass-protector since he was drafted, even if they have yet to all come in the same season. Williams has only seen north of 500 snaps once in his career (2018), so has relatively little wear and tear and is a perfect complementary back in a backfield committee.
136. S Tashaun Gipson
Gipson has several good seasons under his belt as a starting safety and he’s played over 1,000 snaps in four of the last five years. Last year, he graded at 72.0 overall, tied for 18th among safeties. Since 2017, Gipson has graded at average or slightly above average when lined up at free safety, in the box, or over the slot, giving him the kind of safety versatility that many schemes covet.
Contract Analysis: HaHa Clinton-Dix was in the same position last offseason as Gipson finds himself in now, signing a prove-it deal in Chicago to get his career back on track and performing admirably on a stacked Bears defense. Clinton-Dix earned a more substantial deal from the Cowboys as a result, but was promptly cut before the season began even with Dallas having one of the worst secondaries in the league.
Prediction: Gipson signs for one-year, $2.75 million, $1.25 million total guaranteed.
137. S Lamarcus Joyner — SIGNED by New York Jets
Joyner has been a substandard player as a slot corner, but he has been a genuinely outstanding defensive back at free safety in his NFL career. Over the last five years, Joyner’s PFF grade when lined up in the slot is just 64.0, but it jumps all the way to 90.0 when he lines up at free safety. It is a strong year for safeties in free agency, but teams that view Joyner in that role could find a true steal.
138. Edge Markus Golden — SIGNED by Arizona Cardinals
Golden has distinct splits over the last few years as he’s graded better as a pass-rusher than he has in the run game. Last season, he posted a career-high 75.1 pass-rush grade, but that coincided with a career-low 41.5 mark against the run. He’s been a solid high-volume rusher with over 50 pressures in each of the four seasons in which he rushed at least 350 times.
139. TE Anthony Firkser — SIGNED by Tennessee Titans
At a listed 6-foot-2, 246 pounds, Firkser’s size and skill set scream H-back or “move” tight end. He’s a limited blocker but a viable receiving threat who has the highest grade among tight ends when targeted in single coverage over the last two seasons, albeit on a small sample size. For teams looking for a receiving threat who can move around the formation and create mismatches, Firkser can carve out that role.
140. EDGE Justin Houston
The big question for Houston is what he has left at this point after 10 years in the league. He doesn’t have the same burst and power that made him the fifth-best pass-rushing edge defender in the NFL during the last decade, and he finished 2020 with the lowest pass-rush grade of his career.
Houston still flashes his ability, as he can get offensive tackles off-balanced with his length and good technique, but the days of accumulating 50-plus pressures in a season appear to be in the past. Even in the run game, Houston took a step back in 2020. On the other hand, Houston is just one year removed from an 87.1 overall grade while playing just over 40 plays per game, and he may have something to offer in a rotational role.
Contract Analysis: Houston could have an underwhelming 2021 free agency. The market for older players at expensive positions like edge rusher could disappear given the salary cap constraints ahead, and guys that fit this bill for 2020 — Everson Griffen and Vic Beasley, for example — didn’t exactly do Houston any favors.
Prediction: Two years, $18M ($9M APY). $10M total guaranteed, $7M fully guaranteed at signing.
141. S Duron Harmon
Harmon earned consistently strong PFF grades in coverage as a designated free safety during his time in New England. But after being acquired by the Lions, Harmon was just one of a number of things that didn’t function as well in Motown as it had in Foxborough. He played 1,102 snaps for the Lions as a full-time player, but that playing time yielded career lows in overall PFF overall grade (65.3) and PFF coverage grade (64.4). Harmon has coverage skills but now needs to show he wasn’t just a product of the Patriots' system.
Contract Analysis: Harmon was traded from one Belichick defense to another, landing in Detroit with Matt Patricia for the final year of his contract signed in 2017. He’s been one of the best players on an otherwise poor defense in Detroit, and with a strong finish to the 2020 season, he could earn himself one last significant multi-year contract.
Prediction: Two years, $12 million ($6M APY). $5 million total guaranteed/fully guaranteed.
142. C Nick Martin — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
The entire Texans’ offensive line did their best work in the pass game rather than in the run game, and Martin was no different. Since entering the league, Martin has the sixth-best pass-blocking grade among qualifying centers, but he’s never graded above 61.0 as a run blocker. Given those splits, his best fit is in a pass-heavy scheme that has a solid pair of run-blocking guards to complement Martin.
143. CB Rasul Douglas
Douglas has the size and length that a lot of NFL teams covet at the cornerback position, but he lacks change-of-direction or coverage chops. In his past two seasons — with two different teams — he has been beaten for a 100.0-plus passer rating when targeted, giving up eight total touchdowns without an interception going the other way. Douglas is likely a backup at best at this point despite age being on his side.
Contract Analysis: Douglas had a solid bounceback year in Carolina after he was cut before the conclusion of his rookie contract. The former third-round pick of the Eagles in 2017 earned a better deal than the minimum contract he signed for 2020, but another one-year flier to boost his value may be in order.
Prediction: One year, $2.25 million, $1.25 million total guaranteed.
144. CB Ahkello Witherspoon — SIGNED by Seattle Seahawks
A year ago, Witherspoon was benched in the postseason after proving to be a liability against Stefon Diggs, among others. He didn’t win the starting job back, but he did get some late-season starts due to injuries this year and had three-straight 77.0-plus PFF grades against some solid opposition to finish the year. Overall, he produced an 80.9 PFF coverage grade on 334 snaps and hits free agency having at least shown promising play and potential for any team that likes his skill set.
145. CB Jason McCourty
After an incredible start to his time in New England, Jason McCourty has seen his role reduced, but he still technically started 11 games in 2020 and played a versatile part within the New England defense, lining up at safety or in the slot on occasion in addition to his usual spot out wide. He is now 33 years old and coming off his lowest PFF coverage grade (51.8) since 2015. This season, he allowed a 135.0 passer rating when targeted. His versatility is useful, but McCourty isn’t transforming anybody’s secondary.
Contract Analysis: One of the first extensions of the 2021 “offseason” (signed in December) was 33-year-old Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith signing a one-year, $2.5 million extension worth up to $5 million with incentives. McCourty and Smith have both started to play less wide corner and more at safety and in the slot, relying on their advanced football knowledge and instincts to make up for a loss in athleticism. Smith’s contract provides a perfect blueprint.
Prediction: One year, $2.5 million with incentives to push it to $5 million.
146. OT Dennis Kelly
A journeyman offensive lineman, Dennis Kelly was called upon to start at right tackle for the Titans in 2020 due to their crisis at the position and acquitted himself reasonably well. Kelly didn't allow a sack all season and had average or better PFF grades as both a pass blocker and in the run game. He is best suited to the role of a backup swing tackle but proved he can start and be solid if called on.
147. RB Marlon Mack — SIGNED by Indianapolis Colts
2020 was supposed to be a big breakout season for Marlon Mack behind a dominant offensive line in Indianapolis, but he lasted just 11 snaps in Week 1 before injury shut down his campaign. Mack has three seasons with 72.0-plus PFF rushing grades and is a talented ball carrier, but he has shown little as a receiver while running behind a very good offensive line for most of that time. If Mack had been coming off a dominant year, he would have plenty of suitors, Now, 2021 may need to be a year he tries to rebuild his status.
148. S Tre Boston
An annual staple on the free agent market, Boston has been one of the better free safeties in the league in his seven years. Last season, he produced a career-low 53.8 grade that included a career-high 16 missed tackles. After playing almost exclusively at free safety in previous seasons, Boston played about half of his time in the box last season and his coverage grade of 50.6 ranked just 55th out of 64 qualifiers. He does his best work on the back end in both one and two-high safety looks, so a return to more of a true free safety role should get Boston back on track.
Contract Analysis: Boston finally landed the multi-year contract he deserved after several seasons of quality play on one-year deals, but unfortunately his three-year, $18 million contract with the Panthers just ended up becoming his latest one-year deal. Though Boston is a good player, no position market is more flooded with talent this offseason than free safety, so another one-year deal may be in store for him.
Prediction: Boston signs for one-year, $2.25 million, $1.25 million total guaranteed.
149. T Mike Remmers — SIGNED by Kansas City Chiefs
Since becoming a full-time starter in 2015, Remmers has ranked slightly below average as both a pass blocker and run blocker, but he’s had a good 2020 season for the Chiefs. Remmers posted career highs in both overall grade (72.3) and pass-blocking grade (75.1). Even with his recent success, he is a league-average option at tackle, which is still a valuable commodity in today’s NFL.
150. CB Desmond Trufant — SIGNED by Chicago Bears
A reclamation project at cornerback, Trufant is still just under 30 years old but is now several years removed from his best play and coming off his worst season — an injury-marred campaign in Detroit. Trufant has talent, but there are questions about just how good he can be going forward after several past injuries.
Contract Analysis: Trufant was one year into a two-year, $20 million contract signed with Detroit before the 2020 season, and Detroit is willing to take on a decent chunk of dead money ($6 million) just to move on early. The Lions roster purge continues.
Prediction: Trufant signs for one year, $6 million, $4.5 million total guaranteed.
151. WR Larry Fitzgerald
One of the greatest to ever do it, Larry Fitzgerald is currently an extremely reliable set of hands who understands defenses and can settle in soft spots but offers little in terms of athleticism or ability to beat defenders. He didn’t drop a pass this season, but neither did he break any tackles. Fitzgerald also produced a career-low 59.6 PFF grade. If he wants to keep playing, there is a role for him — albeit minor — in the NFL.
Contract Analysis: Fitzgerald has signed a contract with an $11 million salary for every season since 2016, presumably a reference to the number he wears (11) and also a solid value deal for both parties as the Cardinals watch the career of the best player in franchise history come to a close. It may be difficult to keep that tradition alive this offseason, with Fitzgerald showing more signs of decline in his remarkable 17th season and with the salary cap situation ahead.
Prediction: Fitzgerald retires. If not, he signs a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals for $5.5 million fully guaranteed.
152. Edge Adrian Clayborn
A first-round pick back in 2011, Clayborn has been a surprisingly productive pass-rusher for hire over the past several years but is coming to free agency off his worst season in a long time. Clayborn had just 27 total pressures and a PFF run defense grade of 46.4 and will be 33 years old by the time the season rolls around.
Contract Analysis: Clayborn will be looking for his fourth team in as many seasons, even though he’s a pretty solid rotational player on the edge. While he’ll be 33 this upcoming season, he played more snaps in 2020 than he had since 2017. However, he also earned his lowest grade (57.8) since 2016.
Prediction: Clayborn signs for one year, $2.25 million, $1.75 million total guaranteed.
153. LB Kevin Pierre-Louis — SIGNED by Houston Texans
Kevin Pierre-Lewis has been primarily a special teams player for the majority of his career, and 2020 represents the first season in which he played more than 300 snaps on defense. His overall PFF grade was not great, and he struggled against the run, but his coverage grade was good — a facet he's done well in before. Given how important that is in today’s NFL, he might be worth a look for a team with a real problem area at the position.
154. RB Carlos Hyde — SIGNED by Jacksonville Jaguars
A 230-pound load, Carlos Hyde runs hard every time he gets the football but isn’t particularly dynamic. And because of that, he has struggled to earn dominant PFF grades. Hyde boasts 223 broken tackles in his career, but they have come on almost 1,200 carries including the playoffs, and his career-high PFF rushing grade is just 77.2. He has never had a receiving grade higher than 60.0, which limits him to a small role within an offense in today's NFL.
155. EDGE Tarell Basham — SIGNED by Dallas Cowboys
After playing just 321 snaps in his first two seasons, Basham performed well in a starting role for the Jets over the past two years. He’s firm on the edge in the run game, where he’s posted an 81st percentile run-defense grade to go with league-average work as a pass rusher in his two years as a starter.
156. WR David Moore — SIGNED by Carolina Panthers
David Moore made spectacular catch after spectacular catch on passes from Russell Wilson in 2020, but that kind of mental highlight reel is a dangerous thing to work from (remember Paul Richardson?). Moore ended the year with just over 400 receiving yards and a mere 66.4 PFF receiving grade, which is solid, but not spectacular, and consistently in line with his previous seasons of limited action. Moore is young and flashed the ability to make spectacular plays, but his best asset may be reliable hands, with only four career drops from 135 targets.
Contract Analysis: Russell Wilson’s style of play, sometimes pulling a rabbit out of a hat 3.5 seconds after the snap with his receivers freelancing downfield, can make said receivers really shine. Moore is undoubtedly sure-handed and can get open deep, but by the end of the season, rookie wideout Freddie Swain was starting to eat into that role a bit.
Prediction: Moore signs for two years, $7.5 million ($3.75M APY), $5 million total guaranteed.
157. TE Trey Burton
Trey Burton was an impressive player in small sample sizes with limited opportunities as an Eagle early in his career before failing to make the same kind of impact when handed a bigger role in Chicago. He then fell completely out of favor and dealt with injuries. Burton remains an intriguing tight end, but at this point, he will be little more than a backup or relief option in an offense until he proves otherwise.
Contract Analysis: The infamous “Philly Special” play in Super Bowl 52 where Burton threw it to Nick Foles in the end zone will forever be his legacy, and that playoff run had a large role in him securing a substantial second contract from the Bears. Now facing his age 30 season and having dealt with various ailments, which is significant at the tight end position, Burton will likely sign a one-year deal again in 2021.
Prediction: Burton signs for one year, $3 million, $2 million total guaranteed.
158. DI Quinton Jefferson — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
A player who had flashed impressive play during his time in Seattle, Jefferson regressed significantly in Buffalo and was much closer to his career baseline than the season he had in 2019. That year was by far Jefferson’s best season against the run, but Jefferson managed his best season from a pass-rushing standpoint in 2020, earning a pass-rush grade of 67.9 thanks to 30 total pressures on 420 pass-rushing snaps.
159. DI Henry Anderson — SIGNED by New England Patriots
Anderson injured his knee early in his NFL career and never quite became the player who showed promise as a rookie. He has become a consistently average player who defends the run well but doesn’t move the needle as a pass-rusher. Anderson has just one season with more than 22 total pressures has earned a PFF run-defense grade above 70 five times.
160. CB Darqueze Dennard
Once a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, Darqueze Dennard never really showed solid enough play at the NFL level to justify his draft stock, and he hits free agency after an average season in Atlanta. Primarily a slot corner, Dennard can play outside in a pinch but has allowed a 96.4 passer rating for his entire career and rarely makes plays on the football, with 18 pass breakups and four picks in seven seasons.
Contract Analysis: Dennard agreed in principle with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a three-year, $13.5 million contract ($4.5M APY) with $6 million guaranteed in March of this past offseason, but the two sides were unable to hammer out the details. Dennard eventually signed a one-year, $1.01 million deal with the Falcons, appearing in eight games. The former 2014 first-rounder is a solid slot corner against both the pass and run but has had nagging injuries limit him in three straight seasons. He will be 30 years old in 2021.
Prediction: Dennard signs for two years, $8 million ($4M APY), $5 million total guaranteed.
161. T Cam Robinson — TAGGED by Jacksonville Jaguars
We’ve seen marginal improvement from Robinson throughout his career, and his 61.8 overall grade in 2020 represents a career-high. However, he’s yet to surrender fewer than 40 pressures in a full season and is a below-average run blocker, so his past performance may limit his options despite the impressive tools he brings to the table. If there’s a proxy for potential improvement, look to a player like Donovan Smith, who did take strides from four years of below-average to average play starting in Year 5 of his career.
162. EDGE Olivier Vernon
While we’re a few years removed from Vernon’s best play, he’s been one of the better pass rushers in the league over the past few seasons. Unfortunately, a Week 17 Achilles injury has his 2021 status in doubt, but a healthy Vernon graded at 74.6 last season to go with 51 pressures, so he is still a capable No. 2 rusher assuming a return to health.
Contract Analysis: The timing could not have been worse for Vernon, suffering his Achilles injury on January 4 — just two and a half months out from free agency. The 2021 season is a recovery year for the proven veteran edge rusher. It could work out all right for him if he can get back on the field toward the end of the year, show he has no lingering issues from the injury and then hit free agency in a potentially better market.
Prediction: Vernon signs for one year, $2.075 million, $1.075 million total guaranteed.
163. OT Eric Fisher
Fisher was putting together the best season of his NFL career in 2020, and his loss in the AFC Championship game proved to be a real body blow for a Chiefs offensive line that was overwhelmed in the Super Bowl. Fisher allowed just three sacks across almost 800 pass-blocking snaps, but a ruptured Achilles so late in the season will make for a difficult decision for any prospective new team.
Contract Analysis: The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Fisher earned the best regular season grade of his career in 2020 with an 80.0. He suffered an extremely unfortunate Achilles tear injury in the AFC Championship game, missing a second straight Super Bowl trip and putting his availability for Week 1, 2021 in doubt. Nevertheless, Fisher is just 30 years old and could have more good football ahead of him once healthy.
Prediction: Fisher signs for two years, $20M ($10M APY), $15 million total guaranteed.
164. WR Josh Reynolds — SIGNED by Tennessee Titans
The Rams turned to Josh Reynolds when one of their primary receivers was out due to injury, and thanks to playoff runs, he has been on the field for at least 750 snaps in two of the past three seasons. His grades have been remarkably consistent — in the 60s — but rarely has he looked like a true difference-maker as opposed to simply a bit-part depth player.
Contract Analysis: Reynolds has a large body of work for teams to break down on film as a result of playing in Sean McVay’s 11-personnel-dominant scheme, but nothing about his play jumps off the tape. Teams do value a safe, reliable player who they know what they’ll get from every week. With just four drops on 165 targets over the past three seasons, Reynolds is a safe bet as a depth wideout.
Prediction: Reynolds signs for two years, $8.5 million ($4.25M APY), $5 million total guaranteed.
165. WR Kendrick Bourne — SIGNED by New England Patriots
The 49ers have focused their attention on receivers who are at their best underneath and running after the catch, so a player such as Kendrick Bourne has been a smaller part of the offense than he perhaps deserved — not helped by the passing situation he’s dealt with. Bourne has flashed real ability, and his PFF grade has improved each season of his career. His best football could be ahead of him if he lands with a team that has a more conventional passing offense.
166. CB Justin Coleman — SIGNED by Miami Dolphins
In Seattle, Coleman had two seasons that put him in the conversation for the best slot corner in football, but his time in Detroit was significantly less impressive, often hung out to dry with exceptionally difficult assignments in the Lions’ man-heavy coverage system. Coleman’s PFF coverage grade was more than 20 grading points worse on average in those years than his previous two seasons, but the potential that could be unlocked in a more favorable scheme is very real.
167. QB Joe Flacco
A prominent component to the PFF NFL Podcast intro, Flacco is a backup quarterback at this point of his career, though he’s one of the better available options in the league. Flacco hasn’t averaged more than 7.0 yards per attempt since 2014, as he’s become more conservative later in his career and no longer has the big arm to consistently drive the ball down the field. In a backup role, Flacco can be trusted to execute the offense, and perhaps a little prodding and a decent set of playmakers can extract some aggressiveness over the course of a few games.
Contract Analysis: Flacco will just be taking the “QB who's really an assistant QBs coach to a younger guy” contract for the rest of his career at this point, which is really not the worst gig. He’ll be 36 in 2021 and has around $170 million in career football earnings, so maybe he hangs up his cleats.
Prediction: Flacco signs for one year, $2 million, $1.075 million total guaranteed.
168. WR Desean Jackson — SIGNED by Los Angeles Rams
One of the best deep threats the league has ever seen, Jackson has averaged 17.4 yards per reception in his 13-year career. He’s played just 245 snaps over the last two years, but even when he’s been on the field, Jackson’s ability to get behind the defense and create big plays still remains. The question is health as he enters his Age-34 season, but there may be a role for Jackson as a designated deep threat in an offense that has two or three starters intact.
Contract Analysis: At 34 years old and with injuries significantly reducing his playing time the past two seasons, Jackson is likely looking at near-minimum contracts to perhaps provide the occasional spark to a contender. He’s still a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the field, but it will be hard for teams to invest too much given the risk.
Prediction: One-year, $2 million fully guaranteed.
169. RB Rex Burkhead
Rex Burkhead has spent his career as a bit-part player in a backfield committee, whether it was in Cincinnati or New England. He is primarily known as a receiving back, and his PFF grades back that up, with three seasons above an 80.0 PFF receiving grade and no below-average years in his career. He can be a threat carrying the ball, as well, and he would be a useful backup for a number of teams.
Contract Analysis: Burkhead suffered a significant knee injury in Week 11, believed to be a torn ACL, and will do his best to be ready for the 2021 season. Up to that point, he led the Patriots' running backs in snaps and was second in carries. A healthy Burkhead can be a productive player in the running and passing games anywhere he goes.
Prediction: Burkhead signs for one year, $1.5 million.
170. TE Dan Arnold — SIGNED by Carolina Panthers
After featuring largely as one of the unknown receivers Drew Brees found himself throwing to due to injuries, Dan Arnold saw an expanded role with the Cardinals in 2020 and hits free agency coming off a career year in terms of production, with 42 targets and 31 catches. Arnold certainly made some spectacular plays, generating a 128.9 passer rating for Kyler Murray, but he also fumbled twice.
Contract Analysis: Arnold is an interesting study because there certainly aren’t many 6-foot-6, 220-pound tight ends in the NFL. Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense that values speed above all else was a perfect fit for Arnold, but there may not be a huge market for his services across the league.
Prediction: Arnold signs for one year, $1.75 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
171. QB Mike Glennon — SIGNED by New York Giants
Another career backup, Glennon had a solid stretch of play in 2020, grading at 67.5 on 192 dropbacks for the Jaguars. It was his best performance since 2014, and it’s about in line with expectations for him as a solid backup option.
172. WR Kenny Stills
Still under 30 years old, Stills has been a productive deep threat everywhere he has played, though his PFF grade has rarely matched up with the production. He has just one season with a receiving grade higher than 71.0 despite five years where he generated a passer rating north of 100.0. He is inconsistent and largely one-dimensional, but that dimension is valuable.
Contract Analysis: Stills came along to Houston as a part of the Laremy Tunsil blockbuster and has since gotten lost in the shuffle in a deep wide receiver room. He can still be a productive deep threat when healthy, and you can’t teach speed. He ended the season on the Bills' practice squad after getting waived by the Texans late in the year, and he’ll look to bounce back in 2021.
Prediction: Stills signs for one year, $2.5 million, $1.075 million total guaranteed.
173. WR Damiere Byrd
Byrd does one thing really well — he brings his 4.27 speed to work the vertical route tree. He obviously has the speed to get behind the defense, but that also opens up curls and hitches on the outside. Even with the speed, Byrd has averaged just 12.0 yards per catch in his career, and he must cut back on last year’s five drops on only 52 catchable passes.
Contract Analysis: With opportunities somewhat scarce in the New England Patriots‘ run-first offense, Byrd still managed a few big outings when the Patriots did choose to air it out. He's a willing blocker, even though he didn’t exactly excel as one, and Bill Belichick trusted him enough to keep trotting him out there, something he’s not always going to do if he feels a guy is a weak link.
Prediction: Byrd signs for two years, $4.5 million ($2.25M APY), $2.5 million total guaranteed.
174. QB C.J. Beathard
Another backup quarterback, Beathard has earned a 62.7 passing grade since entering the league, good for 40th out of 49 quarterbacks with at least 50 dropbacks since 2017. He’s done his best work at the intermediate (10-19 yard) level, where he’s graded at 80.3. He posted the best grade of his career in 2020, a 69.2 mark on 114 dropbacks.
Contract Analysis: Beathard is another benefactor of the greatness that is Kyle Shanahan, and he’s a solid backup option that now presumably has a wealth of knowledge about ways to attack opposing defenses efficiently. The former third-round pick finished the season on a high note, earning a 78.5 passing grade with two big-time-throws and zero turnover-worthy-plays in Week 17 against the Seahawks.
Prediction: Beathard signs for two years, $6 million ($3M APY), $4.5 million total guaranteed.
175. EDGE Jordan Jenkins
Jenkins has ranked just below average as both a pass-rusher and as a run defender since entering the league. However, his 71.0 run-defense grade over the last two seasons ranks in the 74th percentile, and he does provide value in that department. Jenkins is best suited as a No. 3 edge defender who can play early downs or start in a pinch.
Contract Analysis: Jenkins brings similar value to the table as fellow Jets free agent edge rusher Tarell Basham — he has a reliably high-floor but a capped ceiling. He signed a one-year, $3.75 million deal to remain in New York this past offseason, making him the longest-tenured Jets player on the roster. He finished up the season on I.R. with a shoulder injury but should be ready to roll for 2021.
Prediction: Jenkins signs a one-year, $5 million deal, $3.5 million total guaranteed.
176. WR Willie Snead IV
There’s a good chance that Snead will be looked at harshly, as symbolic of the lack of impact receivers in Baltimore and part of the issue of their passing game. Snead is a capable player in the right role, though. His best seasons came in New Orleans, but he has generated a passer rating of over 100.0 in three of his NFL seasons and caught upwards of 70% of passes thrown his way. Any team in need of an upgrade in the slot should be calling.
Contract Analysis: Snead’s production could be viewed in a negative light because the Ravens didn’t get much out of their wide receiver group in 2020, but Snead had a larger role than perhaps he should have and was dependable out of the slot. He’s also now played well in one of the pass-happiest offenses in the NFL with the Saints, and then again with the run-heavy Ravens attack.
Prediction: Snead signs for two years, $13.5 million ($6.75M APY), $6.75 million total guaranteed.
177. DI DaQuan Jones
Jones has graded at just about average as a run defender and as a pass-rusher while averaging 716 snaps per year over the last three seasons. He’s lined up anywhere from 0-technique to 3-technique and has been a valuable interior player in his seven years with the Titans.
Contract Analysis: Jones can log a lot of snaps on the interior, having played over 700 in each of the last two seasons for the Titans. He had the best year of his career in 2019, earning a 77.6 overall grade, and he followed it up with a respectable 2020 campaign. There’s no reason to think he doesn’t have a few more solid years of run-stuffing ahead, especially if he comes off the field more often in obvious passing situations and conserves energy for early-down work.
Prediction: Jones signs for two years, $14.5 million ($7.25M APY), $10 million total guaranteed.
178. CB DJ Hayden
A former first-round pick, D.J.Hayden had the only two solid years of his NFL career in his first two seasons with the Jaguars before the wheels fell off this season and he returned to being a liability in coverage. At the point he went down injured he had a PFF coverage grade of just 32.6 – his second season in the 30s – and was beaten for a passer rating of 128.8.
Contract Analysis: The 2013 first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders got his career back on track with two quality seasons in Jacksonville from 2018-19 after fully committing to playing in the slot. A hamstring injury has kept him out since Week 4 this season, and with the Jaguars’ youth movement all over the roster, the 30-year-old Hayden may not be in their long-term plans.
Prediction: One-year, $3M ($3M APY). $3M total guaranteed/fully guaranteed at signing.
179. OL James Hurst — SIGNED by New Orleans Saints
James Hurst has always struggled at the NFL level as a run blocker, but after some ugly early seasons as a pass protector with the Ravens, he has been above average in that area for most of his career. His deficiencies lost him a starting job, and he has spent the last two seasons as a backup in New Orleans, but in the snaps he did get to play he performed well as a pass blocker in the Saints offense. Hurst likely hasn’t done enough to get another starting gig, but six total pressures allowed in his last 242 pass blocking snaps makes him a useful swing tackle.
180. C Ted Karras — SIGNED by New England Patriots
A former sixth-round pick, Ted Karras has started each of the last two seasons, one for New England and the other for Miami. He has been solid, if unspectacular, over those two years, earning PFF grades of 66.5 and then 65.3. Karras doesn’t have anything worse than an average grade in any facet across his career, but neither has he stood out as a high-end player. He could start for a team badly in need of an upgrade but is unlikely to be anything better than “solid.”
181. T Cameron Fleming
Though he started for the Giants last season, Fleming is a backup swing tackle barring disaster. He earned an overall PFF grade of 58.4 this season, surrendering 35 total pressures on 572 pass-blocking snaps. He will struggle against capable pass-rushers, and his best single-game performances came against teams with no pass-rush threat. Fleming is a solid backup but was in over his head as a starter.
Contract Analysis: There’s always a need for swing tackles in this league, and while Fleming wasn’t spectacular in a larger role, he also wasn’t such an issue as to prove completely unplayable in a pinch.
Prediction: Fleming signs for one year, $4 million, $2.5 million total guaranteed.
182. DI Lawrence Guy
Guy has been one of the better interior run defenders in the league over the last few years, highlighted by an outstanding 90.4 run-defense grade on the 2018 Patriots Super Bowl team. He can disrupt and finish, as his run-stop percentage of 9.8% ranks 12th out of 152 players at his position over the last three years. Guy has not provided much as a pass-rusher throughout his career, as he’s never tallied more than 28 pressures in a season, but his presence in the run game is valuable as part of a defensive line rotation.
Contract Analysis: Guy profiles as the classic run-stuffing defensive tackle that teams can plug and play and then scheme pressures around him. He’d still bring value to a lot of teams, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see an uptick in snap-to-snap efficiency with a slightly reduced role after being asked to do a lot in New England the last few years.
Prediction: Guy signs for one year, $7 million, $5 million total guaranteed.
183. Edge Kerry Hyder
Playing on his third team in three seasons, Hyder turned in a career-high 68.6 overall grade while tying a career-high with 55 pressures in 2020. Hyder knows how to win as a pass-rusher up front, ranking near the middle of the pack in pass-rush win percentage since 2018, but he must do a better job of finishing plays as he’s missed an incredible 21 tackles on just 114 career attempts.
Contract Analysis: Former 49ers DC Robert Saleh – now the head coach of the New York Jets – showed this past season why he was one of the hottest candidates this cycle, because he was getting production out of everyone on the roster after San Francisco faced a barrage of injuries. Hyder played the most snaps of his career and had at least two pressures in every outing but one, and now he’ll look to cash in free agency, potentially playing for his fourth team in four straight seasons.
Projection: Hyder signs for two-years, $9 million ($4.5M APY), $5 million total guaranteed.
184. T Ty Nsekhe — SIGNED by Dallas Cowboys
Nsekhe is getting up there in age, but he’s found his niche as one of the better swing tackles in the league over the last few years. He’s performed well when called upon, grading at 65.2 on 399 snaps in 2019 and 67.8 on 403 snaps in 2018. Nsekhe projects as a reliable backup, even entering his age-35 season.
185. DI Derek Wolfe — SIGNED by Baltimore Ravens
Many people expect Wolfe to be a disruptive pass-rusher given his build, but he has actually been a consistently impressive run defender while his one 10-sack season in his entire career does actually do a good job of giving a fair reflection of his pass-rushing. He has just two above-average PFF pass-rushing grades in his career but is a very useful early-down force on the defensive line.
186. S Rayshawn Jenkins — SIGNED by Jacksonville Jaguars
Jenkins has been a valuable player as a fourth-rounder from the 2017 draft as he’s played over 1,700 snaps over the last two years to go with solid coverage grades. Jenkins ranks average across the board in coverage whether lined up in the box or deep and for a box-safety body type, he’s turned in a disappointing 56.3 run defense grade over the last two years.
187. CB Kevin King
King has disappointed during his four years in Green Bay — the former second-rounder's highest-graded season was a 62.7 mark in 2019. He blew up the NFL scouting combine, running a 4.43 40 and posting 98th-percentile agility drills at 6-foot-3, but that agility has not shown up on the field, as King is often knocked off balance by good route runners. King has struggled mightily in zone coverage, ranking dead last in coverage grade since entering the league, and he’s been one of the worst tacklers in the league over the last two years. King has the size and athleticism to be effective on the vertical route tree, but he’s a reclamation project who likely needs a specific, limited role on his new team.
Contract Analysis: King’s elite measurables and draft status (33rd overall pick in 2017) will certainly work in his favor this offseason, and that could be the best way for King and his representation to pitch him as an option to interested teams. He has yet to put everything together in the NFL, but a change of scenery could go a long way.
Prediction: One year, $3.5 million. $1.5 million fully guaranteed at signing.
188. CB Jourdan Lewis — SIGNED by Dallas Cowboys
A former third-round pick, Lewis’ career got off to a promising start, but he’s coming off a career-low 48.1 overall grade. His previous two full seasons saw him grade at 72.0 as a rookie and 68.7 in Year 3 with an injury-laden year in between, so there’s hope that Lewis can get back on track. While most of Lewis’ snaps have come in the slot, he’s graded better on the outside, where his coverage grade ranks 38th out of 103 qualifiers since 2017.
189. S Earl Thomas
For years the single-high free safety prototype, Earl Thomas showed in Baltimore he could be more than that and disrupt a game from all safety alignments before getting himself cut from the team and then further off-field issues keeping him out of the entire 2020 season. Thomas may not be signed at all, but the league is always willing to overlook a lot for talent, and Thomas can likely still make a big impact should he be signed.
Contract Analysis: Thomas is still engaged in an ongoing grievance process with the Baltimore Ravens over money from 2020 after he was released for conduct detrimental. Going unsigned the rest of the season even while plenty of teams could have used the help in the secondary, the legendary player may have to prove he’s worth the investment before any team shells out a big-money contract again.
Prediction: Thomas signs for one-year, $3.5 million, $1.125 million total guaranteed.
190. LB B.J. Goodson
Goodson played a career-high 937 snaps in 2020, and his 66.0 overall grade ranked 24th among NFL linebackers. Goodson was best suited for an early-down run-stopping role in his first few years, but he rounded out his game with a career-high 66.1 coverage grade to go with four pass breakups last season. The rest of Goodson’s career suggests that a limited role is still the best bet for his production, but he’s a sure tackler and solid overall player who will get a look from linebacker-needy teams.
Contract Analysis: The Browns were missing many of their defensive players, particularly on the back end, for much of the season, but Goodson was ever-present and relatively solid throughout the Browns’ march to the playoffs. A strong performance against the Steelers in the wild-card round was followed by a tough outing against the speedy Chiefs, but Goodson proved he can handle a larger workload and not be a liability if it becomes necessary.
Prediction: Goodson signs for two years, $6.5 million ($3.75M APY), $4 million total guaranteed.
191. CB Corn Elder
Elder was a pleasant surprise for the Panthers in 2020, grading at 68.5 overall to go with a 68.2 coverage grade. He projected well as a slot corner coming out of Miami and he showed well in that role last season.
Contract Analysis: A 2017 fifth-round pick of the Panthers, Elder made his way back onto Carolina’s active roster after a stint on the Giants practice squad. Playing more snaps in 2020 than he had in his full career prior, Elder is a capable slot defender
Prediction: Elder signs for one-year, $1.25 million.
192. S Bradley McDougald
McDougald has two season grades above 70.0 in his seven-year career, though last year saw him bottom out with a 41.0 overall grade on just 432 snaps. He does his best work in the box where he has a 66th percentile coverage grade since 2018 to go with a mid-level grade against the run. When lined up at free safety, his coverage grade of 45.7 ranks just 75th out of 81 qualifiers, so McDougald’s usage is crucial for his next team.
Contract Analysis: McDougald was sent to the New York Jets as part of the Seahawks’ package for S Jamal Adams, where he played out the final year of his three-year, $13.5 million contract signed in 2018. He’ll likely have to look to bounce back in 2021 playing on a one-year flier and potentially hit the market again.
Prediction: McDougald signs for one-year, $1.5 million, $500,000 total guaranteed
193. OG James Carpenter
The last two years for Carpenter looked a lot like his first two in the league when he was on his way to being viewed as a first-round draft bust. He has overall PFF grades of just 45 and 56 over those two years and hasn’t had an above average year in pass protection since 2018.
Contract Analysis: Carpenter was one of several higher-priced guards cut before the 2021 season as teams look for ways to free up cap space. Atlanta cleared a little over $4 million with his release as they look to get under the cap and get younger along the interior of the offensive line.
Prediction: Carpenter signs for one year, $2 million, $850,000 total guaranteed.
194. RB Tevin Coleman
In many ways, Tevin Coleman was the perfect back for the San Francisco 49ers backfield, but so many of the players they targeted for that role have been injured, and Coleman is no different. He played just 502 snaps over two seasons with the 49ers, but when healthy is a dangerous speedster who can exploit gaps in the blocking for big gains quickly. That kind of style leads to inconsistency, and he has just one overall PFF grade above 72 in his career, but Coleman has a skill set teams will want to take a look at as a cheap roll of the dice.
Contract Analysis: Coleman has battled with injuries here and there for much of his career, and at this point is purely a committee back that can ideally offer around 100 total touches on the season.
Projection: Coleman signs for one-year, $1.75 million, $1.25 million total guaranteed.
195. DI Roy Robertson-Harris — SIGNED by Jacksonville Jaguars
After going undrafted in 2016, Robertson-Harris has carved out a nice role as a rotational defensive lineman. He’s graded at 67.0 or better in each of the last three years while doing his best work in the run game where his 70.6 run defense grade ranks in the 62nd percentile during that time.
196. DI Mario Edwards — SIGNED by Chicago Bears
Edwards had a career-best 90.1 grade on just 278 snaps in 2020 though a late-season PED suspension may explain his Year 6 surge. Edwards is a solid run defender who has posted below average pass-rush grades in four of his six years and he projects as an early-down rotational player in his next home.
197. WR Dede Westbrook
Despite an ugly quarterback situation in Jacksonville, Dede Westbrook has flashed ability and the talent to be a useful receiver at this level. He played just 16 snaps in 2020 before injury shut him down, but the season he saw the most playing time (805 snaps in 2018) he earned a PFF grade of 71.3. Primarily a slot receiver, Westbrook could benefit from a change in scenery and could upgrade a team’s receiving corps inside.
Contract Analysis: Westbrook for the most part could only get on the field this season on special teams, and after fumbling a kick return earlier in the game, he suffered a gruesome leg injury on the next. 2021 will be about recovering.
Prediction: Westbrook signs for one-year, $1.5 million.
198. G Germain Ifedi — SIGNED by Chicago Bears
After three below average years starting at right tackle for the Seahawks, Ifedi returned to guard in 2020 and he turned in a career-high 65.5 overall grade. He was above average in pass protection and below average in the run game where he posted one of the league’s highest percentage of negatively graded plays. Ifedi is controlled at the line of scrimmage more than you’d like to see from a 325-pound guard, but he’s a reasonable starting option at this point in his career.
199. CB T.J. Carrie
Over the last three seasons, Carrie has the No. 114 coverage grade out of 155 qualifying cornerbacks and his best work came in 2017 with a 75.0 coverage grade with the Raiders. If trying to maximize Carrie’s value, he has done good work when playing in the slot, grading at 72.8 on 878 coverage snaps since 2017. He’s struggled in a similar sample size on the outside.
Contract Analysis: Carrie played for the veteran minimum in 2020 and outperformed that contract in a reserve role, but the soon-to-be 31 year old slot corner will likely be looking at offers in the same range.
Prediction: Carrie signs for one-year, $1.25 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
200. G Denzelle Good — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
Good played a career-high 958 snaps last season, though his 56.7 overall grade ranked just 64th out of 92 qualifiers. He’s been better as a run blocker than as a pass blocker through the years, ranking in the 62nd percentile in percentage of positively graded plays since 2017. In pass pro, Good ranks just 120th out of 134 qualifiers during that time period so he needs to be protected in the pass game.
201. Edge Trent Murphy
Murphy played a career-low 369 snaps in 2020, but he’s graded above 70.0 in three of his six years in the NFL. Unfortunately, he’s only reached that mark in two of the last three seasons, and he’s been inconsistent against the run through the years. Overall, Murphy projects as a rotational edge defender who has ranked in the 50th percentile as a pass-rusher over the last three years and in the 51st percentile as a run defender.
Contract Analysis: Murphy projected as a potential cap casualty coming into the 2020 season, but managed to stick in Buffalo along a defensive front that was sorely lacking in playmakers. Buffalo likely looks to get younger at edge rusher in 2021.
Prediction: Murphy signs for two-years, $15 million ($7.5M APY), $10 million total guaranteed
202. DI Malik Jackson — SIGNED by Cleveland Browns
Once one of the best pass-rushing interior defensive linemen in the game, Jackson's effectiveness has waned with age and a reduced role in recent seasons. He is coming off an overall PFF grade of just 64.7, but he does still bring a reliable source of pressure as part of a defensive line rotation, and that will always have value.
203. DI Steve McLendon
McLendon has 11 years under his belt, but he remains one of the most dependable run stoppers in the league. His 71.1 run defense grade is the lowest we’ve seen from him since 2016, showing just how good he’s been in that department. He’s certainly a specialist, however, as McLendon has never produced more than 19 pressures in a season and he has just 103 pressures on 1,937 career rushes.
Contract Analysis: McLendon was traded from a win-less New York Jets squad to the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers following an injury to DI Vita Vea, and it doesn’t get much better than that for a player in their 12th season. McLendon can still be a valuable early down run-stuffer that gives you 25-30 quality snaps a game, but perhaps now turning 35 and with a Lombardi Trophy he retires on the mountaintop.
Prediction: McLendon signs for one-year, $2.5 million, $2.25 million fully guaranteed.
204. C Ethan Pocic — SIGNED by Seattle Seahawks
After three years playing mostly guard, Pocic returned to center in 2020, his college position. Playing a career-high 993 snaps, Pocic finished as the No. 27 center in the league with a 59.8 overall grade. On the optimistic side, Pocic ranked above average in pass-block grade on true pass sets, so we could see improvement in his overall pass-blocking grade moving forward. On the other hand, he ranked below average in the run game, whether it was earning positives or avoiding negatives, so Pocic’s upside appears to be an average pass blocker with below average work as a run blocker.
Contract Analysis: The second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2017 never lived up to that billing, but the LSU product can provide depth at all three spots on the interior of the offensive line and will be just 26 years old for the 2021 campaign.
Prediction: Pocic signs for one-year, $1.25 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
205. DI Johnathan Hankins — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
Once one of the best run defenders in the league, Hankins has dropped to merely above average in that department over the last three years. He adds little as a pass-rusher as he’s notched just 43 pressures on his last 929 rushes, but Hankins is still capable of beating blocks and disrupting in the run game. The other question as Hankins heads into Year 9 is his ability to finish plays as he’s missed 24 tackles over the last three years after missing just nine in his first five years.
206. LB Eric Wilson
Wilson has a solid 2020 in coverage, grading at 65.5, good for 27th among linebackers. His issues have been in the run game where his 38.3 grade ranked just 85th out of 99 qualifiers. Wilson brings well above average athleticism to the position and that shows up in flashes, but he must get better as a run defender if he’s going to play over 1,000 snaps once again as he did last season.
Contract Analysis: A series of injuries hit the Vikings linebacker group, and Wilson got a lot of run in 2020 as a result. He may be able to capitalize on a relatively weak free agent group at off-ball linebacker with a big drop off after the top few guys. Wilson played in 2020 on the second-round restricted free agent tender worth $3.259 million.
Prediction: Wilson signs for two-years, $6 million ($3M APY), $2.5 million total guaranteed.
207. G Oday Aboushi — SIGNED by Los Angeles Chargers
After an excellent start to his career with a 71.7 overall grade in 2014, Aboushi rarely approached that level of play until last season’s 66.6 graded in eight games as a starter. He allowed an impressive 11 pressures on 426 attempts last season and he’s done his best work in gap schemes in the run game.
Contract Analysis: Aboushi played his highest snap count since his second season in the NFL back in 2014, with 622 snaps over 8 starts and appearances in 12 games total. His increased role in 2020 demonstrated he’s still capable of solid contributions at either guard spot, particularly in pass protection. He played for the veteran minimum in 2020, but may have earned a small raise from there.
Prediction: Aboushi signs for one-year, $1.75 million, $675,000 total guaranteed.
208. G John Miller
Miller has two years grading above 65.0 as a starter, the most recent of which came in 2018 with the Bills. He graded at 61.1 overall last season, good for 52nd among 93 qualifiers and that highlights Miller’s position as a low-end starting option.
Contract Analysis: Miller has now started three years in a row for three different teams – the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers. He’s a reliable, high-floor option at right guard, which a handful of teams can always use.
Prediction: Miller signs for two-years, $9 million ($4.5M APY), $4 million total guaranteed.
209. S Erik Harris — SIGNED by Atlanta Falcons
Harris has spent the majority of his time at free safety for the Raiders, but he’s done his best work when lined up closer to the line of scrimmage. Since 2018, Harris has the No. 9 coverage grade when lined up in the box, albeit on a small sample, and he’s performed well when lined up over the slot as well. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder may have a role as more of a strong safety, though he must cut down on the missed tackles as he’s missed 14.9% of his last 201 attempts, good for just 87th out of 109 qualifiers.
Contract Analysis: The market at safety is absolutely flooded with options, particularly with free safeties that patrol the deep third of the field and ballhawk. Harris may latch on somewhere because of his ability to play both spots relatively well, with solid results playing down in the box earning him an important reserve role for any team in need of depth on the backend.
Prediction: Harris signs for two-years, $5.5 million ($2.75M APY), $2.5 million total guaranteed.
210. TE Jacob Hollister — SIGNED by Buffalo Bills
Hollister is a “move” tight end who is athletic enough to create separation in one-on-one situations. He’s caught 73 passes at 8.5 yards per reception over the last two seasons and he’s more of a No. 3 tight end option who is reasonable across the board.
Contract Analysis: Hollister was the subject of trade deadline rumors, with the Seahawks crowded tight end room not affording him many opportunities. He played in 2020 on the second-round restricted free agent tender of $3.259 million, and the former undrafted free agent of the Patriots will now hit unrestricted free agency.
Prediction: Hollister signs for two years, $7.5 million ($3.75M APY), $4 million total guaranteed.
211. DI Corey Peters
A run-stopping specialist, Peters has graded at 70.0 or better in the run game in five of the last seven years. Last season’s 62.6 grade is his worst since 2012, so this may be the start of a decline for Peters after 10 years in the league. He’s still worth a look in a run-stopping role, but little should be expected in the pass game as he has just 162 career pressures on 3,359 rushes.
Contract Analysis: Peters will be 33-years-old heading into his twelfth NFL season, but he did play at least 700 snaps in consecutive seasons in 2018-19 before a knee injury shortened his 2020 campaign. A torn patellar tendon can be a tough injury to come back from, so Peters may have to sign a one-year prove-it deal to show he’s regained his form.
Prediction: Peters signs for one-year, $3 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
212. DB Jalen Mills — SIGNED by New England Patriots
After four below-average years at cornerback, Mills transitioned to safety in 2020 and finished with a 68.9 overall grade, good for 29th in the league. He did a nice job working downhill and Mills’ cornerback pedigree brings some flexibility to the back end. Mills had a solid first year at safety and it appears to be a better fit for him at this point in his career.
213. G Matt Skura — SIGNED by Miami Dolphins
Matt Skura has been a multi-year starter for the Ravens but lost his job this season after struggling to snap the ball at center, something his replacement didn’t fare much better at after the change. Skura’s best season came in 2019, but he has rarely been an above average performer and is likely a backup lineman in the future.
214. S Ricardo Allen
Once a promising young free safety, Allen’s play has tapered off over the last two seasons as he graded at just 58.6 in 2019 and 62.4 in 2020. Despite spending most of his time playing free safety, Allen has graded better when lined up either in the box or over the slot in Atlanta’s zone-heavy scheme. He could get a look in that role for a new team, especially given his 47.6 coverage grade at free safety over the last two years.
Contract Analysis: Allen was one of the first cuts of the offseason, so he’s had some time for a market to develop ahead of free agency. Unfortunately, he joined an extremely long list of free safeties looking for new teams in 2021. It does help that Justin Simmons, Marcus Maye and Marcus Williams were franchise-tagged.
Prediction: Allen signs for one year, $3 million, $2.5 million total guaranteed.
215. DI Brent Urban
A plus run defender who has been remarkably consistent as a below average pass-rusher along the defensive line, Brent Urban has a role as an early-down rotational body for some team in the NFL. He has just 55 total pressures from over 800 pass-rushing snaps over his career.
Contract Analysis: Urban signed a veteran minimum contract to stay with the Chicago Bears in 2020 after they signed him following a release from the Tennessee Titans during the 2019 season. While he may be a bit one-dimensional, he was excellent against the run in 2020, and a reunion with former Titans DC Dean Pees in Atlanta could help provide a solid interior presence for a team that needs it.
Prediction: One-year, $1.5 million, $750,000 total guaranteed.
216. T Elijah Wilkinson
A former undrafted free agent, Elijah Wilkinson has had significant opportunity over the last three seasons to show he can be a viable starter in the league but has come up short. He has yet to post a PFF pass-blocking grade above 62, and that’s just not enough to hold up at this level.
Contract Analysis: Wilkinson has gotten a lot of run with the Broncos the last two seasons, as Denver’s big-ticket free agent T Ja’Wuan James missed the majority of the 2019 season with injury and then opted out of the 2020 campaign. Wilkinson received the second-round restricted free agent tender for the 2020 season, which was worth $3.259 million. He probably shouldn’t be expected to become a starter wherever he signs but has proven to be a reliable depth option.
Prediction: Wilkinson signs for two-years, $7.5 million ($3.75M APY), $3.5 million total guaranteed.
217. G D.J. Fluker
Searching for his fifth team in six years, D.J. Fluker’s mammoth frame has seen him given several chances after the Chargers elected to move on following his rookie contract. His last couple of years have been average at best, and he surrendered 30 total pressures in 293 pass-blocking snaps this past year in Baltimore.
Contract Analysis: Fluker kicked outside to right tackle following the injury to Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley, which led to Orlando Brown Jr. moving across the line to replace him on the blindside. Fluker hadn’t consistently started at tackle since his first two seasons in the league, and while he wasn’t stellar, he showed he can play right guard and fill in at right tackle in a pinch wherever he ends up next.
Prediction: Fluker signs for one-year, $1.75 million, $750,000 guaranteed.
218. LB Raekwon McMillan
A former second-round pick with impressive athleticism, Raekwon McMillan has never lived up to those tools in the NFL and was little more than a special teams player this season for the Raiders. Athleticism will always buy players another look in this league, and being a solid special teams player will guarantee him a roster spot somewhere, but his contributions on defense should be limited.
Contract Analysis: McMillan is still just 24 following the conclusion of his rookie contract, but has struggled to develop at the NFL level thus far.
Prediction: McMillan signs for one-year, $1.5 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
219. LB Brandon Copeland — SIGNED by Atlanta Falcons
A journeyman linebacker, Brandon Copeland has played virtually every linebacker spot there is across his time in the NFL for three different teams. Not a player you want trapped in coverage, but a plus special teams player who can see some snaps against the run or rushing the passer in a pinch.
220. S Kenny Vaccarro
Vaccaro has a distinct skill set as a box safety who is good in the run game but below average in coverage. Since entering the league in 2013, Vaccaro has the 29th-best run-stop percentage to go with an 83rd percentile run defense grade, both indicators that his best role is closer to the line of scrimmage. He’s done his best coverage work over the slot, and his future team would be wise to limit his free safety snaps, as he’s graded at just 47.1 in coverage over the last three years.
Contract Analysis: Vaccaro was two years into a four-year, $24 million deal with the Tennessee Titans, and his release cleared $3.9 million. The 2013 first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints is a classic box safety who excels against the run but struggles in coverage.
Prediction: Vaccaro signs for one year, $2.25 million, $1 million total guaranteed.
221. T Jermaine Eluemunor
Four years into his NFL career, Jermaine Eluemunor more than doubled his career snap count with eight starts and 419 snaps in total. He allowed 11 total pressures across 201 pass-blocking snaps. His season started very well before tailing off, but he should have earned himself a look somewhere else.
Contract Analysis: Eluemunor was handed the starting role after longtime Patriots RT Marcus Cannon opted out of the 2020 season. He ended up playing at left tackle for a stretch as well after Isaiah Wynn went down for the season. He’s worthy of a role as a swing tackle in the league.
Prediction: Eluemunor signs for two-years, $4.25 million ($2.125M APY), $2.25 million total guaranteed.
222. G Lane Taylor
A week 1 starter for the Packers, Taylor didn’t make it beyond that game, suffering a season-ending knee injury. He has been a serviceable pass-blocker when starting throughout his career but hasn’t been a plus player in the run game, which is a balance some teams would covet given what they have in place.
Prediction: Taylor signs for one-year, $1.5 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
223. WR Tajae Sharpe
Tajae Sharpe effectively wasted a year in 2020 with the Minnesota Vikings who got outstanding play from rookie Justin Jefferson. The Vikings cut Sharpe in December after he played in just 28 snaps across four games, catching none of the three targets sent his way.
Contract Analysis: Sharpe has bounced around the league working to make a 53-man roster the last few years, with his 2020 season concluding as a member of the Chiefs practice squad. He’ll look to stick once more, with a solid first few seasons in Tennessee illustrating he can produce when given the opportunity.
Prediction: Sharpe signs for one-year, $1 million
224. TE Marcedes Lewis
Effectively an auxiliary offensive lineman at this point, Marcedes Lewis is a quality blocking tight end who can show up every now and then with a key reception when teams forget about him.
Contract Analysis: The only first-round pick Aaron Rodgers has ever thrown a touchdown pass to, Lewis is beloved in Green Bay as a stout run and pass blocker.
Prediction: One-year, $2.075 million, $1 million total guaranteed
225. G Austin Blythe
Austin Blythe’s play has been all over the map over the last three seasons for the Rams, performing well in 2018 before struggling badly the following year and then bouncing back in 2020, at least in terms of his run blocking. He may have played his way to the bench, but teams in real need of an answer at guard may give him a shot to compete for a starting job.
Contract Analysis: Blythe is a solid pass-blocker and can play right guard or kick inside to center, making him a worthy addition for most teams at a reasonable price.
Prediction: Blythe signs for two-years, $5.5 million ($2.75M APY), $3 million total guaranteed.
226. G Ben Garland
A consistent run blocker at any position along the interior of the offensive line, Ben Garland has been a good backup lineman, able to come in and start games when needed without causing a dropoff in production. His ceiling may be capped, but he’s a valuable player as a backup.
Contract Analysis: Garland’s NFL debut was delayed for two years as he completed his military commitment with the Air Force, so he’s a young 33 heading into 2021. Kyle Shanahan loves having him fill in along the interior of the offensive line, as he’s a perfect fit in his zone running scheme, with the two now working together every year since 2015 when Shanahan became the offensive coordinator in Atlanta.
Prediction: Garland signs for one-year, $2.25 million, $1.25 million total guaranteed.
227. T Zach Banner — SIGNED by Pittsburgh Steelers
An ACL injury robbed Zach Banner of a chance to start at right tackle for the Steelers this season having been impressive in limited snaps as an extra offensive lineman in previous years. Banner has monstrous size and some dominant run blocking tape, but his ability as a pass-blocker is still an open question.
228. TE James O'Shaughnessy
O’Shaughnessy has good speed and he’s averaged 5.1 yards after the catch per reception in his six-year career. With only three drops on 93 attempts in his career, O’Shaughnessy provides a dependable underneath option who has shown flashes as a run blocker, peaking in 2018 with a 78.0 grade in that department, though he’s graded in the 40s in each of the last two seasons.
Contract Analysis: O’Shaughnessy is an unremarkable, but consistent player at a position with little depth in this year’s Free Agent class.
Prediction: O’Shaughnessy signs for two-years, $3 million ($1.5M APY), $1 million total guaranteed.
229. IOL Justin Britt — SIGNED by Houston Texans
Prior to sitting out the 2020 season, Britt posted three straight seasons in the 60s, including a 62.0 grade on 504 snaps in 2019. A move from guard to center rejuvenated Britt’s career back in 2016 as he posted a career-high 81.4 overall grade, though he’s never approached that level since. He’s a solid run blocker who has posted below average pass-blocking grades in four of his six years in the league across three different positions.
230. TE Tyler Kroft — SIGNED by New York Jets
Tyler Kroft had one season as a full-time starter with the Bengals, which earned him a contract in Buffalo, but he couldn’t replicate the same role for the Bills, seeing just 32 passes come his way over the past two years combined. He only caught 18 of those passes, and at this point may be more of a blocking tight end than a receiving threat.
Contract Analysis: Kroft signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Bills following the conclusion of his rookie-contract with the Bengals, and never lived up to that deal while battling through various foot injuries. He’s a solid blocking tight end but doesn’t offer much more than that.
Prediction: Kroft signs for one-year, $2 million, $500,000 total guaranteed.
231. LB Alex Anzalone
Alex Anzalone has dealt with some injury issues in the NFL just as he did in college, but he has shown the ability to make some plays in coverage, even if he hasn’t got the interception numbers to back that up. He hasn’t been beaten for a pass longer than 22 yards in any of the last three years but has struggled far more against the run.
Contract Analysis: Anzalone lost his starting role in New Orleans when the Saints traded for Kwon Alexander, but an injury knocked Alexander out a few weeks later and led to an uptick in play once more. The 2017 third-rounder will look to win a starting role once more.
Prediction: Anzalone signs for one-year, $2 million, $1million total guaranteed.
232. DI Larry Ogunjobi — SIGNED by Cincinnati Bengals
The high-end flashes have been there for Ogunjobi, including an incredible Week 1 94.1 grade to kick off 2020. Unfortunately, the down-to-down consistency has not been there and he’s yet to grade above 60.6 overall since his rookie season. Ogunjobi has plenty of experience with over 2,700 snaps in his four years, but he’s taken a step back after looking like a promising run defender early in his career. His pass-rush grade of 57.0 ranks just 104th out of 133 qualifiers since 2018, so Ogunjobi may be best in a rotational role with the majority of his work coming on early downs.
233. G Jon Feliciano — SIGNED by Buffalo Bills
After four years in the league as a backup, Feliciano has started for the Bills in each of the last two seasons. He graded at 63.1 in 2019 and 64.8 last year, ranking 41st and 40th respectively. Feliciano has ranked among the best in the league in adding positively graded plays in the run game, though he’s been slightly below average as a pass blocker. It nets out to a reasonable starter, so Feliciano brings value to teams looking for a starter on the inside.
234. OG Trai Turner
Turner looked like one of the best guards in football early in his career, but that play is getting further in the rear-view mirror and what we have seen lately has been far less impressive. His final season in Carolina saw his PFF grade slump into the 60s before a disastrous mark of 34.8 last year that ranked 90th out of 92 qualifying guards.
Contract Analysis: Turner was traded to the Los Angeles Chargers straight up for T Russell Okung before the 2020 season and had by far the worst season of his career on his new team. He’s on a long list of recently cut guards, but there wasn’t a lot of free agent talent to speak of at the position before roster cut-downs, so perhaps he’ll have a few teams interested in his services.
Prediction: Turner signs for one year, $5 million, $3.5 million total guaranteed.
235. LB Nicholas Morrow — SIGNED by Las Vegas Raiders
Morrow took a big step in coverage in 2020, grading out at a 70.4 for the season after three consecutive years grading below 55.0. He finished with a better coverage and overall grade than Raiders starting LB Cory Littleton, and filled in admirably when both Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski missed time with injury at various points throughout the season.
236. LB Neville Hewitt
After four seasons with fewer than 400 snaps on defense, Neville Hewitt started the last two years for the Jets, but his below average PFF grades didn’t improve much with an expanded role and greater opportunities. His overall grade of 59.3 this season was his best year considering playing time but was still a long way from elite play at the position.
Prediction: Hewitt signs for two-years, $4 million ($2M APY), $1.5 million total guaranteed.
237. Edge Samson Ebukam — SIGNED by San Francisco 49ers
Hitting free agency coming off a down year, Samson Ebukam had actually had three-straight solid seasons before 2020 for the Rams. He notched 20 total pressures this year, and he will generate some heat on the quarterback if given snaps, but his run defense grade slipped into the 50s, which was an unexpected dip on his previous baseline.
238. C/G Nick Easton
Easton has yet to post an overall grade above 60.0 in his four years in the league and last year saw him produce a 44.7 pass-blocking grade, good for 82nd among guards. He’s best utilized in a backup role where he can start in a pinch at either guard spot or at center.
Contract Analysis: Easton was one of the first cuts of the young offseason, saving the Saints almost $6 million with his release. He provides a solid depth option at either guard or center, but likely won’t be relied upon to start going forward.
Prediction: Easton signs for one-year, $2.25 million, $750,000 total guaranteed.
239. Edge Pernell McPhee — SIGNED by Baltimore Ravens
When healthy, Pernell McPhee has been a consistently solid player throughout his NFL career, even if he rarely looks like he will exceed that standard. 2020 represents the most snaps McPhee recorded over a season since his first year in Chicago (2015), and he recorded more pressure than his previous two seasons combined. He can still add value to a defensive rotation.
240. TE Richard Rodgers
He only played 274 snaps this past season, but Richard Rodgers was unexpectedly outstanding for the Eagles. A former starter with the Packers, Rodgers caught 24 of 28 passes thrown his way on his way to an overall PFF grade of 88.6. Rodgers should have earned himself another look in the league in an offseason that isn’t overflowing with tight end talent.
Contract Analysis: Rodgers signed with the Washington Football Team last offseason and was cut just before the season began. He found his way onto the division rival Eagles roster and made the absolute most of his opportunity with Zach Ertz missing time.
Prediction: Rodgers signs for two years, $3.5 million ($1.75M APY), $1.25 million total guaranteed.
241. DI Adam Butler — SIGNED by Miami Dolphins
Butler has shown flashes as a pass rusher in his four NFL seasons, and he’s coming off a career-high 64.3 mark in that department. He picked up 27 pressures on 317 rushes last season while showing the versatility to move around the defensive line. Just 25% of Butler’s career snaps have come against the run, and he’s never graded above 60.5 in the run game, so his best role is as a situational pass rusher.
242. DI Allen Bailey
A solid rotational defensive lineman since 2011, Bailey is coming off the lowest grade of his career at 50.9 overall. He did his best work in 2015 and has since graded above 60.0 twice. At this point in his career, Bailey is a depth piece along the defensive interior.
243. IOL Brian Winters
After starting at right guard for the Jets, Winters was released prior to the 2020 season and picked up by the Bills, with whom he graded out at 54.6 on 617 snaps. Winters has just two seasons grading above 68.0 — 2015 and 2016 — so he has generally ranked as an average to below-average guard throughout his career. He profiles as an experienced backup at this point.
Contract Analysis: Winters was cut heading into the final year of his four-year, $29 million extension signed in 2017, and he landed in Buffalo on a one-year, $3 million pact. He’ll likely continue to sign shorter contracts and provide depth at right guard.
Prediction: Winters signs for one year, $2 million, $1.575 million total guaranteed.
244. LB Kwon Alexander
When healthy, Alexander flies around the field mixing high-end plays with one of the league’s highest percentages of negatives among linebackers. Since entering the NFL, Alexander has forced an incompletion on 7.3% of his targets, 14th-best among linebackers, but he’s also missed 18.5% of his tackle attempts during that time, 107th out of 108 qualifiers. Those two numbers sum up Alexander’s boom or bust game, but a late-season injury adds yet another question mark to Alexander’s future.
245. Edge Ryan Kerrigan
A phenomenally productive player over his career, Kerrigan hits free agency at almost 33 years old after coming off the worst season of his career despite a reduced role that should have encouraged better production. Kerrigan generated 16 total pressures on 252 pass-rushing snaps in 2020, but he produced a mere 45.6 run-defense grade. He has been such a productive rusher for so long that some team might want to see if he can put together one last successful pass-rushing season in 2021, but it would be a gamble.
Contract Analysis: Some reports indicated Kerrigan was interested in getting moved at the trade deadline to make a playoff push with a contender, something he hasn’t gotten to do over the course of his 10-year career in Washington. With back-to-back first round picks in Montez Sweat and Chase Young now running the show at edge rusher, Kerrigan played the fewest snaps of his career by far in 2020. While he didn’t see a bump in per-snap productivity with a decrease in snaps, he could still have a year or two left in him.
Prediction: Kerrigan signs for one year, $5 million fully guaranteed.
246. DI Tyrone Crawford
Crawford has played poorly on just 535 snaps over the past two years, but he could be a worthwhile reclamation project. His two best years came in 2017, when he posted an 81.5 grade, and 2018, when he graded at 70.5. He was an effective pass rusher and an adequate run defender in both seasons. If Crawford can return to that form, he’s a solid No. 3 defensive tackle.
247. WR Chris Conley
While Conley’s 6-foot-3 frame and 4.35-second speed scream big-play ability, it’s never shown up on the field. However, he’s coming off career-highs in both PFF grade (70.1) and yards per route (1.54). He’s worth a look as a No. 4 option, a role where he can step in and provide solid play if needed.
248. Edge Charles Harris
A former first-round pick, Harris got off to a strong start with a 70.1 overall grade as a rookie in 2017, but he’s yet to approach that mark since. Still, we’ve seen pass rushers break out in their fourth or fifth year in the league, so Harris could be worth a cheap flier to see if he can do the same.
249. LB Christian Kirksey — SIGNED by Houston Texans
Kirksey once looked like a top young coverage linebacker, but his play has declined in recent years. After seeing just 586 snaps across 2018-19, he played 591 snaps in 2020 and graded out at 48.3 overall, good for 73rd out of 96 qualifiers. Kirksey’s last year grading above 65.0 was in 2016 with the Browns.
250. Edge Vic Beasley
Beasley hasn’t posted a PFF pass-rush grade above 63.0 since 2016, when he led the league with 16 sacks. Even then, his 79.9 pass-rush grade didn’t scream “sack leader,” and Beasley has struggled to win one-on-ones off the edge since that year. Last season, he split time between the Titans and Raiders, grading at 51.6 overall on just 199 snaps. He’ll be 29 years old at the start of the 2021 campaign, and he’ll get a shot as a No. 4 rusher in the hopes of recapturing some of his early-career potential.
Contract Analysis: Beasley signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract in Tennessee and got off on the wrong foot immediately. Things never seemed to get much better, and he was waived after the trade deadline. No one claimed his contract, so he signed a minimum deal with the Raiders to finish out the year.
Prediction: Beasley signs for one year, $4.75 million, $3 million total guaranteed.
251. LB De'Vondre Campbell
Campbell joined Arizona last season but struggled within the Cardinals’ defense, both in coverage and against the run. He posted his lowest PFF-season grade since entering the NFL. Campbell was beaten for a 97.7 passer rating and was consistently unable to hold up in the run game. He is an athletic linebacker, but one whose best attribute is being a solid tackler.
252. WR John Ross — SIGNED by New York Giants
Ross shows off his first-round skills in spurts, from his game-breaking speed to incredible agility both before and after the catch. The problem has been his consistency, from poor routes to dropping 20.0% of his catchable targets, the worst rate in the league since 2017. Any receiver with 4.22-second speed makes for an intriguing reclamation project, and that’s what Ross is at this point in his career.
253. QB Colt McCoy
McCoy hasn’t thrown more than 100 passes since 2014. He’s a serviceable backup at this point in his career. Recent play has seen him post a high percentage of turnover-worthy plays, a number he must cut down on the next time he sees game action.
254. OG Forrest Lamp
After being drafted in the second round in 2017, Lamp played just 174 snaps in his first three NFL seasons. Last year, he finally had a chance to start, but he struggled to a 49.4 overall grade. He makes the list solely on the principle that he showed promise in college and offensive linemen tend to take a step forward after three or four years in the league. Given Lamp’s lack of on-field experience, he could still figure it out either this year or in 2022.
255. LB Jarrad Davis — SIGNED by New York Jets
Davis’ first three years in the league were poor, as he never graded above 52.8 in a season. However, he showed some improvement last year with a 62.2 grade on just 329 snaps. Davis has been an excellent blitzer in his four years, notching at least 10 pressures in each of his NFL campaigns and peaking at 30 in 2018. There could be a role for him in a blitz-heavy system that limits his exposure to playing in space.
256. TE Jesse James
Once the Steelers’ starting tight end, James has played his way into a backup role in the NFL. He hasn’t cleared 500 snaps on offense since 2018, putting together just two seasons in his career with a 60.0-plus PFF receiving grade. He can do a good job as a second tight end.
Contract Analysis: James made it through two years of a four-year, $22.6 million deal signed in 2019 with the old Lions front office. The new regime is going a different direction, and with 2019 No. 8 overall pick tight end T.J. Hockenson getting better each week in 2020, Detroit doesn’t need to spend much at the position to fill out depth.
Prediction: James signs for two years, $10 million ($5M APY), $6 million total guaranteed.