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2023 NFL Free Agent Rankings: Top 200 players set to enter free agency

The first day of the 2023 NFL calendar is here.

Here are the top 200 free agents, headlined by two quarterbacks who are now off the free-agent market and an interior defender who has blossomed into one of the NFL's elite interior pass rushers.

For up-to-the-minute updates based on everything we’re hearing around the NFL, go to PFF's free agency rankings, where you can sort by position, team needs and more all offseason long.

1. QB Lamar Jackson

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings


Who else but the 2019 MVP and most electrifying player in the NFL? No one produces more must-see TV than Jackson, and the facade that a quarterback can only win with a certain play style is slowly fading.

Jackson is not just the league’s most electrifying open-field runner at the quarterback position. His 4.9% big-time throw rate since 2019 is a top-16 mark among qualifying quarterbacks, and he boasts a 93.3 passing grade on throws 10-plus yards downfield in that same span.

The Ravens once again elected to largely neglect the wide receiver position this past offseason, which doesn’t get discussed enough when people criticize Jackson’s game, as they seemingly love to do. Jackson will never be a pure dropback passer, but the belief this is necessary to win in 2022 needs to disappear; that’s just not the era of football we’re in anymore.

2. QB Geno Smith

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Re-signed with Seahawks

Imagine before the season began, mired in a quarterback battle with Drew Lock in Seattle, that we’d have Geno Smith as a top free-agent target for the 2023 offseason. It’s not often you hear about the age-32, Year 10 breakout, but that’s exactly what we witnessed this past season from Smith. 

Nothing about what he’s doing is fluky or excessively bolstered by things like play action, an outlier performance in unstable metrics like passing grade against pressure, or any other method you use to try to poke holes in his production this season. Smith’s 79.8 overall grade and 87.6 grade from a clean pocket this season ranked ninth and 12th, respectively. His 14 passing touchdowns on throws of 20-plus yards were two more than the next best quarterback, and his 5.6% big-time throw rate ranked fifth.

There’s no current indication we should expect some massive regression, either. Smith’s 85.8 passing grade against middle-of-field-open coverage further illustrates that he didn't benefit in an outsized fashion from loaded box counts that freed up his receivers in an effort to sell out against the run. We can go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that Smith played like a legitimate top quarterback in the NFL in 2022.

3. DI Javon Hargrave

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Signed with 49ers

Hargrave moved from western Pennsylvania over to the East Coast during 2020 free agency and has been a force in Philadelphia, blossoming into one of the elite interior pass rushers in the NFL over the past few seasons. Since 2020, Hargrave’s 92.2 pass-rush grade trails only Aaron Donald and Chris Jones at the position, with his 18.8% pass-rush win rate also ranking third. 

Hargrave will be 30 years old for the 2023 season, but we’ve seen many interior defenders maintain longevity well into their 30s recently. Hargrave is also intriguing, as different responsibilities between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have led to interesting splits as a run defender or pass rusher. His run-defense grades were much better in his first stop, but it seems he can excel at whatever is asked of him, which is good to know for interested teams that likely don’t frequently deploy a five-man front and do a lot of the other exotic things Philadelphia does up front. 

4. S Jessie Bates III

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Signed with Falcons

It appears far more likely Bates will reach unrestricted free agency this time around after Cincinnati placed the franchise tag on him last offseason and never made a serious multi-year offer. 

His 76.8 PFF grade this season ranked 13th at the position, and his 84.8 run-defense grade was a top-five mark. This year marked Bates' fifth 1,000-plus-snap season in as many years as an NFL player, pairing his above-average skill set with remarkable reliability. He ranks behind only Kevin Byard in regular-season snaps played among safeties since 2018.

5. CB Jamel Dean

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Re-signed with Buccaneers

Fellow Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis returned to the team this offseason on a three-year, $44.5 million contract that could serve as something of a benchmark to clear for Dean, wherever he potentially ends up. Dean carries some injury history but has outperformed Davis since entering the league in 2019, earning coverage grades above 75.0 in every season thus far:

Player Coverage Grade Yds/Cov. Snap Allowed Run-Defense Grade Open-Target %
Jamel Dean 89.9 0.80 62.4 34.6%
Carlton Davis 74.2 1.15 72.6 34.5%

Dean takes some risks attempting to jump routes that at times can lead to explosive receptions over the top, but his size, athleticism and physicality at the line of scrimmage enable him to disrupt opposing wide receivers' releases and will have a lot of teams interested. He doesn’t have great ball skills — though he did snag two interceptions on the year — and can be a bit stiff in the hips, but we’re nitpicking here with a guy who can match up well with a lot of the top big-bodied wide receivers across the NFL. 

6. LB Lavonte David

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Re-signed with Buccaneers

One of the best off-ball linebackers of his generation, David is still playing at an extremely high level and may benefit from linebackers Demario Davis and Bobby Wagner playing very good football well into their 30s and after signing contracts in recent years. Potentially losing a step or two with age can be negated by elite play recognition and instincts, both of which David has in spades.

David’s 88.5 coverage grade this past season ranked second among off-ball linebackers, and his elite 93.0 mark over the past four seasons is the top mark at the position. 

7. WR Jakobi Meyers

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Signed with Raiders

After every big-name wide receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft class who was set to hit free agency this offseason signed monster extensions before the year began, Meyers found himself as the top free agent at a position that is growing in importance (and value) every single week. Meyers was an undrafted free agent find of the Patriots in 2019 who has blossomed into a very good player, returning to New England in 2022 on a restricted free agent tender and comfortably outperforming all the other major investments the team made at the position over the past two offseasons.

New England may certainly try to keep Meyers around, likely letting Nelson Agholor reach free agency at the least, but they’ve also made it a habit of letting players walk after their rookie contract value is gone, notably with another former undrafted free agent in cornerback J.C. Jackson last offseason.

Meyers is predominantly a slot receiver but is certainly not just that, logging a little more than one-third of his snaps out wide. What he lacks in physical tools — his 4.63-second 40-yard dash ranks in the 14th percentile among wide receivers in PFF’s database — he more than makes up for with sharp route running and great hands. Over the past three seasons, his 3.1% drop rate ranks ninth among qualifying wide receivers, and at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he can use his frame to make contested catches. His 63.2% contested catch rate is a top-five mark among all wide receivers over the same span.

8. OT Orlando Brown Jr.

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Signed with Bengals

After threatening to hold out for the 2022 season following a franchise-tag saga that didn’t culminate in a long-term deal, Brown turned a slow start into a strong second half protecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. From Week 10 to the end of the regular season, Brown’s 88.7 pass-blocking grade ranked third best among left tackles. 

He may not become one of the game’s true top tackles given his much-maligned athletic limitations, but he’s a very reliable blindside protector who has succeeded in two diametrically opposed offensive schemes.

9. DI Daron Payne

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Franchise-tagged, re-signed with Commanders

Payne showed early in his NFL career that he could be a stout run defender from the nose tackle position, with his 86 defensive stops against the run the most in the NFL from 2018 to 2020. And he has now continued to build on his pass-rush arsenal to the point where he’s a problem for interior offensive linemen trying to keep their quarterback upright. Payne has 95 quarterback pressures since the start of 2021, the 10th most among interior defenders, with his 11.8% pass-rush win rate over the same span a very respectable figure on the inside.

Payne still needs to put all his tools together for a complete season where he’s a positive factor in both facets, and he’s shown he has the talent to do just that.

10. QB Derek Carr

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Signed with Saints

While it is unquestionable that Carr had a down 2022 season, he was a top-half-of-the-NFL quarterback for a number of years.

From 2019 to 2021, Carr ranked ninth in passing grade (86.3), ninth in yards per attempt (7.8) and seventh in big-time throw rate (5.4%). While the nine-year veteran has the athleticism to navigate the pocket and the ability to scramble for a first down if necessary, he also tends to leave a few plays on the field that have you scratching your head from time to time.

Nevertheless, it's not often a quarterback of his caliber hits the free-agent market, and that helped him earn a solid four-year, $150 million deal with New Orleans.

11. OT Mike McGlinchey

Contract projection: Available in PFF's free agency rankings

*Signed with Broncos

McGlinchey hasn’t quite lived up to his top-10 pick billing coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft, but he is a quality starter at right tackle who has returned to form after suffering a torn quadriceps in 2021. He’s dealt with various minor injuries over the years but has done well to avoid missing much time overall. 

McGlinchey is a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan’s wide-zone rushing attack, with his 85.4 run-blocking grade since he entered the league a top-10 mark among tackles. He still has room to grow as a pass protector but notably dropped his pressure percentage allowed from 6.1% over his first three seasons to 5.1% over the past two.


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