2023 NFL Free Agency: Building the best team from available free agents

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of the jersey of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the big-name free agents are off the board as we stretch into the second week of the new league year. Others have been added to the pool as cap casualties by teams starting to feel the constraints of the salary cap.

A sizable chunk of the players remaining have some warts, whether that be age, recent injury or both. But we’ve seen in previous years that there are still values to be had late in free agency.

QB Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater's days of being an unquestioned starter are now a long way behind him, but he has proven to be a very capable backup who can step in and hold the fort for a few games if needed.

Since 2019, the former first-round pick has earned a 72.6 passing grade that ranks 28th among the 48 signal-callers with at least 500 dropbacks in that span, while his 3.2% turnover-worthy play rate is tied with Matthew Stafford for 20th.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


RB Devin Singletary

Singletary has led all Bills running backs in attempts, rushing yards, targets and receiving yards in each of the last three seasons, but he earned career-highs in overall grade (78.6) and rushing grade (85.1) in 2022.

The 2019 third-round pick has put up a 90.1 rushing grade and has forced 0.22 missed tackles per attempt since 2020, both top-10 marks at the position.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham flirted with a return during the 2022 season as he recovered from the second ACL tear of his career, but he ultimately decided to take the year off and get ready for the 2023 offseason, which could prove to be a wise decision.

Beckham has expressed that he wants a multi-year deal so he can plant roots somewhere, which makes this projection very difficult because it creates such a wide range of possibilities. His postseason run with the Los Angeles Rams in 2021 was epic — even despite the fact he missed the second half of the Super Bowl — with his 84.7 receiving grade through the playoffs ranking fourth among wide receivers.

Beckham's four contested catches were tied for the most of any wide receiver, and his eight explosive receptions were tied for third. When healthy, Beckham can still be one of the best separators at the position with his trademark elite skills at the catch point.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


WR D.J. Chark Jr.

Chark signed a one-year, $10 million flier last offseason. He missed Weeks 4-11 due to injury but finished the year quite strong as the Lions turned their season around down the stretch.

From Week 12 through the end of the season, he earned a 72.5 receiving grade with three outings of 90-plus receiving yards over six games, 11 explosive receptions (tied for 13th) and an average of 17.6 yards per reception (11th). That’s Chark’s game — he is a field-stretcher with a 6-foot-4 frame who runs a 4.34 40-yard dash. He will always be near the top of the league in average depth of target and yards per reception, and there is always a market for those services.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


WR Mecole Hardman 

Hardman quietly put up over 500 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons and was on pace to do that again in 2022 before an ankle injury put him on short-term IR.

The speedy wideout ranked second at the position in yards after the catch per reception in both 2020 and 2021, and he has generated a 125.1 passer rating over his career.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


TE Dalton Schultz

Schultz had a very slow start to the year, in part due to the absence of quarterback Dak Prescott, but he came on strong in the middle of the season.

From Week 7 to Week 12, his 83.5 grade ranked third among tight ends, including a 76.8 receiving grade and an 82.5 run-blocking grade to go along with 2.11 yards per route run (fourth), 230 receiving yards (fifth), three contested catches (tied fourth) and three touchdowns (fifth).

Schultz’s ceiling may not be the highest, but he’s a reliable pass catcher who can find soft spots in zone coverage and a plus run blocker in a league that has very few of them at the tight end position. He could turn into a good value as a second-tier signing a bit below the top of the market.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


LT Isaiah Wynn

Wynn had a very tumultuous rookie contract with the New England Patriots, missing his entire rookie 2018 season to injury and good chunks of time in 2019 and 2020. Nevertheless, over the 2019-21 seasons, Wynn earned 70.0-plus pass-blocking grades each year, and his 79.6 overall grade ranked 26th among tackles.

Injuries are a legitimate concern, and the Patriots seemed to reach a boiling point in 2022 with the lack of certainty, but Wynn will be just 26 years old for most of his sixth NFL season and has logged significant time at both tackle spots. We projected a deal that is right about the same value as his 2022 fifth-year option but over a two-year stretch. Perhaps Wynn looks to take a one-year flier instead if he thinks he can boost his stock into a multi-year deal.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


LG Dalton Risner

Risner offered consistency along a Broncos offensive line that had anything but at every other position, logging almost 1,000 snaps before unfortunately missing the season finale with an elbow injury. Before going down, he earned his second consecutive pass-blocking grade above 70.0, with a 65.7 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets that ranked 22nd among guards.

It’s a great time for the former second-rounder to hit free agency, given the short list of quality interior offensive linemen available. He is right at the top of that list.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


C Ben Jones

Jones has been a consistently solid starter throughout his 11-year career, grading between 69.4 (2012) and 79.3 (2019) in each of those seasons. He's played a colossal 10,597 snaps over his tenure in the NFL and has seven 1,000-snap seasons under his belt.

A season ago, Jones allowed just one sack, two hits and seven hurries across 371 pass-blocking snaps, good for a 68.4 pass-blocking grade.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


RG David Edwards

Edwards played just four games in 2022 before he was shut down for the season due to a series of head injuries. He struggled in those outings, too, posting just one single-game grade above 70.0.

However, the four-year pro has two seasons with over 1,000 snaps under his belt, with his overall PFF grade hovering around 70.0 overall in each.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


RT Cameron Fleming

Fleming has bounced around the league over the past few years but earned a career-high 72.6 grade on a career-high 976 snaps in 2022.

The 30-year-old tackle also put his swing-tackle prowess on display, with nine starts at right tackle and six at left tackle, earning grades right around 70.0 on each side of the line.

The veteran should have a handful of suitors after reminding the league that he can be a very reliable swing option.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney’s somewhat bizarre NFL journey continues.

The multi-year deal he’s been seeking for several offseasons may ultimately never come at this point, and he’ll be a year-to-year mercenary for around $10 million annually.

He has also struggled to stay on the field due to a handful of injuries over the past few years, failing to reach 500 snaps played for the second time in three seasons. All of that said, Clowney still flashes his tantalizing No. 1 overall pick talent just enough to make him an intriguing option for many teams. Clowney — always a stout run defender and strong edge setter — also missed just 7.4% of potential tackles, his first season below 12.5% since 2016.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


DI Matt Ioannidis

Ioannidis was one of the more surprising cap casualties heading into 2022, ultimately landing with the Carolina Panthers on a one-year, $5.9 million flier. He paired well with nose tackle Derrick Brown as a lighter pass-rusher up the middle.

The former Washington star has missed time here and there in recent seasons with injuries, but he’s been a consistently strong pass-rusher from the interior, earning pass-rush grades of 69.1 or better in each of the last six seasons with a pressure rate of around 10% in each of the past two. He can help a lot of teams make things tough on opposing quarterbacks.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


DI A’Shawn Robinson

Robinson signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020 and then had it reworked into a three-year deal during the pandemic, so he once again hits free agency. Despite entering his eighth NFL season, Robinson will be 28 through the entire 2023 campaign.

Robinson’s 73.6 run-defense grade over the past two seasons ranks tied for 12th among interior defenders, with his 46 defensive stops ranking inside the top 20 even though he missed the second half of the 2022 season with a torn meniscus. Fortunately, the standard recovery timeline indicates that he'll be back in time for 2023 offseason activities.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


EDGE Yannick Ngakoue

Ngakoue’s 2022 production makes us wary once you look at his underlying metrics, with his 9.5 sacks this past season well above the expectation of a player with his pass-rush win rate and pressure rate. That being said, he’s registered at least eight sacks in every season of his seven-year career and was a more menacing pass rusher on a per-snap basis from 2017-21.

The seven-year pro is a pure pass-rush specialist, offering very little in run defense over his career, but his ability to get home from a wide-nine alignment is a very valuable trick to have in the bag.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


LB Bobby Wagner

Wagner is the poster child for great linebacker play over the span of the past 11 seasons. The only question mark is if he can continue his high level of play now that he's entering his mid-30s.

The veteran was elite against the run all season and earned a PFF grade of at least 77.9 in every facet of play. He missed four tackles all year.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


LB Denzel Perryman

Perryman was signed to a two-year, $6.085 million contract before the 2021 season and promptly traded to the Las Vegas Raiders before the first week of the campaign. He ended up making the Pro Bowl by playing a career-high 863 snaps and racking up 121 tackles and 61 defensive stops.

He was looking for a new contract heading into 2022 but ultimately played out the year, earning a strong 80.5 run-defense grade. His 62 run stops over the past two seasons rank ninth among off-ball linebackers, and his 18 tackles for loss or no gain are tied for 14th.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


CB Rock Ya-Sin

The Indianapolis Colts traded Ya-Sin to the Las Vegas Raiders last offseason in exchange for edge defender Yannick Ngakoue, and Ya-Sin was a good fit in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s man-coverage-heavy scheme, with the former second-rounder boasting good size on the outside at 6-foot and 190 pounds. Working in his favor is the fact he’s effectively the only other young, pure outside cornerback hitting the market this offseason besides Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean.

Over the past two seasons, Ya-Sin’s 74.4 coverage grade when lined up out wide ranks 27th, and his 70.9 coverage grade in press coverage looks ranks 23rd. His 18.2% forced incompletion percentage line up out wide ranks 19th, and his 0.67 yards per coverage snap ranks fifth.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


CB Marcus Peters

Peters returned from a torn ACL suffered in 2021, and after an understandably slow start to the season, he regained his form down the stretch in a Baltimore secondary that settled in as the year went along.

One of the league’s premier interception hawks at cornerback, Peters failed to record multiple picks for the first time in his career. The soon-to-be 30-year-old suffered a calf strain in December that sidelined him for the final three weeks of the regular season, but this was just his first season outside of 2021 where he didn’t log at least 900 snaps.

Peters is likely looking at one-year offers in free agency to serve as a No. 2 cornerback with upside going forward.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


CB Bryce Callahan

Callahan was in the conversation for the best slot corner in the NFL a handful of years ago. From 2017 through 2018 with the Chicago Bears, he allowed the fewest yards per slot coverage snap in the NFL en route to a top-five coverage grade at the position.

But the injuries started to mount. He missed all of 2019 and was limited to 1,812 snaps from 2020 through 2022, though he still graded above 60.0 in every season.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


S Adrian Amos

Amos had long been one of the most consistent, reliable safeties across the NFL, allowing an explosive reception on just 1% of coverage snaps over five seasons from 2017-21 and forcing an incompletion on 17.3% of targets into his coverage over the span, which ranked tied for 21st. He took a step back in 2022, earning a 54.2 grade — a career-low mark by more than 15 grading points.

That said, betting on a bounce-back 2023 campaign for a versatile defensive back who has logged roughly 1,000 snaps in five straight seasons could be worthwhile. While Amos may not have the highest ceiling, before 2022 his floor was very, very high.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


S Taylor Rapp

Rapp was solid if unspectacular over his rookie contract after the Los Angeles Rams selected him in the second round in 2019, and he earned career-high grades against the run (82.3) and in coverage (72.9) in 2022.

Los Angeles was comfortable lining him up all over, and he’s one of those players who is OK in various alignments but not particularly great at any one thing.

One thing that has been consistent: He is a sure tackler, never missing more than 8.7% of potential tackles in a season. His 148 tackles over the past two seasons rank ninth among safeties.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


 

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