NFL News & Analysis

2023 NFL Free Agent Rankings: Edge defender

Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (90) in action during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With the first day of the 2023 NFL calendar now just three months away, it's time for most teams around the league to turn their attention to NFL free agency in a bid to improve their rosters for a new campaign.

Here are the top free agents at edge defender, taken from PFF's list of the top 50 players set to enter free agency.

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1. EDGE MARCUS DAVENPORTNEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Free agent rank: 22

Injuries once again hampered Davenport’s season, but he’s a remarkably effective pass rusher off the edge when healthy, and his talent alone could be worth the gamble in free agency — especially given the relative lack of edge rushers available. Since he entered the league in 2018, Davenport’s 17.8% pass-rush win rate and 13.9% pressure percentage are both top-20 marks among edge defenders, and he’s also earned a very respectable 82.1 run-defense grade for his career, which ranks 16th over the span.

Davenport has five straight campaigns grading above 70.0. The issue is that he’s yet to log 600 snaps in a single season. At the end of the day, top-20 edge defenders against the pass and run don’t reach free agency often, and while his injury list is long, it doesn’t include any devastating ligament tears.


2. EDGE JADEVEON CLOWNEYCLEVELAND BROWNS

Free agent rank: 26

Clowney’s somewhat bizarre NFL journey continues, and he will almost certainly be playing somewhere besides Cleveland in 2023 after comments he made about frustration with his role led to him being inactive for Week 18. 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.

Clowney 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.


3. EDGE MELVIN INGRAM IIIMIAMI DOLPHINS

Free agent rank: 37

A year after Ingram was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and immediately became their best edge defender for the stretch run, he signed a steal of a one-year deal with the Dolphins and once again played at a very high level, far outpacing his compensation.

Ingram is a rotational player at this stage in his career, with fewer than 600 snaps in three straight seasons, but he’s still very effective, earning his eighth straight overall and pass-rush grades above 70.0 while generating a quarterback pressure on over 10% of pass-rush reps for the eighth consecutive season.


4. EDGE JUSTIN HOUSTONBALTIMORE RAVENS

Free agent rank: 38

Just like Miami Dolphins edge defender Melvin Ingram III, Houston was forced to sign a modest one-year deal and completely outplayed his contract from day one even as a rotational pass-rush specialist with just 400 snaps on the season. Houston’s 18.4% pass-rush win rate and 14.6% pressure percentage were both top-25 marks among edge defenders, and he managed to add 9.5 sacks to his total, which brings him to 111.5 for his career, a top-40 mark all time. For a team looking for a menace on passing downs, Houston is still that guy entering his age-34 season.


5. EDGE BRANDON GRAHAMPHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Free agent rank: 39

Graham is likely going to re-sign with the Eagles as a rotational pass-rush specialist or retire, but he’s worthy of making this list, as the ageless wonder had the first 10-sack season of his career at age 34 and was an absolute problem on passing downs. Graham’s 22.9% pass-rush win rate ranked sixth among edge defenders, and his 17.1% pressure percentage came in at seventh. The fact that Graham finished top 10 in both metrics coming off a torn Achilles at his age is remarkable, and there are no signs he can’t run it back in 2023.


6. EDGE CHARLES OMENIHUSAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Free agent rank: 41

Omenihu thus far in his career has been more of a rotational player, but he’s been on a tear as a pass rusher over the past two seasons, especially after the Houston Texans traded him to the 49ers. Omenihu’s 20.4% pass-rush win rate since 2021 ranks 12th among edge defenders, and his 13.6% pressure percentage ranks 24th.

Omenihu also brings versatility along the defensive line with his 6-foot-5, 280-pound frame enabling him to line up over tackles or as a true end outside the opposing tackle's outside shoulder, though he doesn’t use his size as much as one would like in the run game, missing far too many tackles over his entire career.


 

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