• WR Odell Beckham Jr.: He still has plenty to provide to a team, as his 84.7 receiving grade during the 2021 playoffs ranked fourth among wide receivers.
• EDGE Yannick Ngakoue: He has registered at least eight sacks in every season of his seven-year career.
• CB Marcus Peters: He wasn’t quite the ball hawk in 2022 we’ve come to know him as over his career, but he can still be a consistent presence on the back end.
Estimated Reading Time: 8 mins
While free agency is largely in the rearview mirror with the 2023 NFL Draft in full focus, there are still impact additions to be made. Some of the bigger names to hit the market feel frustrated by the lack of quality offers and are now trying to decide where a prove-it deal might make sense, and older veterans may wait until after training camp to keep their bodies fresh for the season.
The draft will once again change our perception of team needs, but franchises shouldn’t rely on any draft pick outside of the first two rounds being guaranteed to make an immediate impact in Year 1 — and even the early-drafted players come with no guarantees. We take a look at 11 remaining veteran free agents and where they could stand to make the biggest impact in 2023.
Most impactful landing spot: New Orleans Saints
The Saints agreed to a reworked contract with long-time left guard Andrus Peat after he logged fewer than 600 snaps for the third season in four years, now making him a free agent after 2023. On the right side, a big decision looms on 2020 first-round guard Cesar Ruiz‘s fifth-year option. Risner has been a consistently above-average blocker who excels in pass blocking, posting four straight years with a 69.5-plus pass-blocking grade. In 2022, Risner earned a 65.7 pass-blocking grade on true pass sets that ranked 22nd among guards.
The Saints' run scheme is also diverse, as they mix and match zone and gap runs well. The Broncos employed a similar run scheme under previous head coach Nathaniel Hackett, and Risner could become an important future piece at either guard spot depending on how things shake out with Peat and Ruiz.
Read more: Landing spots for PFF's top 100 free agents
CB ROCK YA-SIN
Most impactful landing spot: Baltimore Ravens
The former second-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts earned a 74.4 coverage grade when lined up out wide over the past two seasons, which ranks 24th, and he allowed an explosive reception on just 0.9% of coverage snaps, which was the top mark in the NFL. Furthermore, Ya-Sin’s 70.9 coverage grade in press coverage ranks 23rd over the span, with his 18.2% forced incompletion percentage lined up out wide placing 19th and his 0.67 yards per coverage snap fifth.
Now that the dust has settled on free agency, one major storyline shows how aggressively Baltimore was looking to add talent at outside cornerback. Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said on his “Big Play Slay” podcast that he was very, very close to signing with the Ravens. With the Eagles stepping up and extending Slay, Baltimore should look to take a flier on the younger Ya-Sin, even if they may use an early draft pick on a long-term replacement going forward.
Most impactful landing spot: Kansas City Chiefs
Beckham may not be the weekly six-catch, 85-yard wide receiver he was to start his career, but teams looking for players who can make key plays in big moments have to be interested in what he can bring to the table. Beckham’s 84.7 receiving grade during the 2021 playoffs ranked fourth among wide receivers, his four contested catches were tied for the lead and his eight explosive receptions were tied for the third most.
The Dallas Cowboys made sense as a landing spot before they traded with the Houston Texans for Brandin Cooks. Now, the list of wide receiver-needy teams that are also working to add veteran talent takes a big hit. That said, Kansas City still sticks out as the best option for Beckham, and vice versa.
EDGE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Most impactful landing spot: Carolina Panthers
Clowney is coming off a down year in the pass-rushing department, totaling only 29 pressures and two sacks, but a change of scenery could allow him to thrive again, similar to what happened in his first year in Cleveland. He could also be a good veteran presence alongside some of the Falcons' younger defenders.
The Panthers could use another edge rusher to pair with Brian Burns. New defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero likes to use his edge rushers in stand-up roles, and Clowney has gained experience with various deployments during his career. Beyond how he best fits on the edge, he can also kick inside and generate pressure from the interior opposite Derrick Brown, helping to negate the loss of Matt Ioannidis from 2022. It would also be a return home for Clowney, who was a standout at South Carolina before being selected No. 1 overall in 2014.
Most impactful landing spot: Green Bay Packers
Ioannidis has missed time in recent seasons with injuries, but he’s been a consistently strong pass rusher from the interior, earning a 69.1-plus pass-rush grade in each of the past six campaigns with a pressure rate of around 10% in each of the past two. He could help a lot of teams make things tough on opposing quarterbacks with disruption up the middle, and he’ll be under 30 years old through the 2023 regular season.
Adding a good veteran pass rusher on the interior next to Kenny Clark, with 2022 first-round pick Devonte Wyatt coming along slowly, makes sense for the Green Bay Packers. Dean Lowry departed for the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings this offseason and was a force in 2021.
Most impactful landing spot: Houston Texans
The veteran center has logged roughly 1,000 snaps in each of the past five seasons. His 74.7 grade over the past two years ranks 13th among centers, his 69.8 pass-blocking grade places 16th and his 76.9 run-blocking grade comes in at 13th. He offers a high floor as a solid zone run blocker and could be an asset to a team with a young quarterback.
Houston re-signed center Scott Quessenberry this offseason, but his 36.6 overall grade in 2022 ranked dead last by 13 grading points among 39 centers with at least 300 snaps. Adding an experienced, high-floor center for a rookie quarterback could go a long way. Additionally, McGovern spent the past few seasons with a coaching staff that came over from the San Francisco 49ers, so he has connections to the new staff in Houston that also came over from the 49ers.
EDGE YANNICK NGAKOUE
Most impactful landing spot: Chicago Bears
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 has 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 to 2021.
Chicago’s defense under head coach Matt Eberflus likes to get home with four rushers and not rely too heavily on blitzing, with their 18.1% blitz rate in 2022 ranking 28th. This approach leads to an extra emphasis on edge guys winning up front, and while Ngakoue isn’t a complete player, he can get after the quarterback from a wide-nine alignment with the best of them.
Read more: Landing spots for PFF's top 100 free agents
OT ISAIAH WYNN
Most impactful landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Injuries are a legitimate concern with Wynn, and the Patriots seemed to reach a boiling point in 2022 with the lack of certainty, but he will be just 26 years old for most of his sixth NFL season and has logged significant time at both tackle spots. Wynn earned 70.0-plus pass-blocking grades in each season from 2019-2021, and his 79.6 overall grade ranked 26th among tackles.
With Donovan Smith released, it sounds like the plan in Tampa is to slide All-Pro Tristan Wirfs over to left tackle. If the team wants to have maximum flexibility at the tackle spots, it can bring in Wynn, who has experience on both sides of the line. He can either start at right tackle and be solid insurance at left tackle or enable Wirfs to stay at his current position.
Most impactful landing spot: Washington Commanders
Peters tore his ACL in 2021 but still managed a 69.5 coverage grade in 2022, and while he wasn’t quite the ball hawk we’ve come to know him as over his career, his 12 interceptions from 2018-2020 ranked third and his 5.2% interception rate per coverage target ranked sixth.
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. The Commanders boast a stout defensive line loaded with talent, but here they add a veteran on the back end who doesn’t have to move far from Baltimore.
EDGE JUSTIN HOUSTON
Most impactful landing spot: Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston’s 18.4% pass-rush win rate and 14.6% pressure percentage in 2022 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 in search of a menace on passing downs, Houston is still that guy entering his age-34 season.
Jacksonville has its young edge duo of the future in Josh Allen and Travon Walker, but the team lost Arden Key to free agency and may lose Dawuane Smoot should he sign elsewhere. That’s 80 total quarterback pressures from 2022 potentially departing. Houston can help fill that void and also be a great veteran mentor to both Allen and Walker.
EDGE MELVIN INGRAM III
Most impactful landing spot: New York Giants
Ingram has been a pillar of consistency in his NFL career, recording nine straight seasons with a 70.0-plus pass-rush grade. A year after he 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.
The Giants have a lot of youth at the edge rusher spots and could use a veteran presence. With defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s aggressive blitzing approach, a platoon of rushers is required to consistently get home on opposing quarterbacks. Ingram has thrived and could continue to thrive as a part of a rotation, seeing around 500 high-leverage snaps.