The time has finally come – NFL Free Agency is officially here and all of our questions about who will land where will finally be answered this week.
PFF has provided you with our top 100 free agent rankings over the last few weeks and we will continue to do so all throughout the coming days by updating the list after every single signing made. That being said, using our one-of-a-kind free agency database that you can get access to, let’s dive into the best available players on the open market:
[Editor's Note: All of PFF's EDGE and ELITE subscribers can access season-by-season grades and PFF WAR via PFF's Free Agent Rankings. New to PFF? Sign up today using promo code “NFL2020” to save 25% on any of PFF's subscriptions.]
1. QB Cam Newton
Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Panthers are expected to release Newton.
The nine-year NFL veteran signal-caller turns 31 years old in April and is coming off an injury-plagued 2019 campaign. Newton earned an 86.5 overall grade in his career-best season in 2015, but the 6-foot-5 phenom has earned a sub-77.0 overall grade in every other season of his career.
2. QB Jameis Winston
We went into detail regarding Winston and the roller coaster of emotions he elicits, and it doesn't take advanced numbers to tell the story of his 2019 season and career. He finished with over 5,000 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions, all perfect descriptors of Winston's game that moves the chains as well as any quarterback in the league while also putting the ball into the defense's hands more than any signal-caller in the NFL. The bottom line with Winston is that he may never change as he annually ranks near the top of the league in both positively and negatively graded throws, but that high-end volatility could lead to a wide range of outcomes from high-end starter with some interception luck to benchwarmer if the ball bounces the other way. A team with strong offensive weapons and a good coverage unit may want to see if they can extract the high-end season out of Winston, as he's capable of putting points on the board in the right situation.
3. Edge JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Clowney put up an 88.0 overall grade in 2018 — the highest mark of his career — and he followed up with an 87.3 grade after a trade to the Seahawks despite seeing his sack total drop from nine to three. Clowney has the 11th-best overall grade among all edge defenders since 2017, including the third-best mark against the run (91.3), but his pass-rush grade of 83.9 ranks just 25th among that same group. Pass-rushers earn massive contracts for their ability to get after the quarterback, but Clowney has always been good, not great, in that department. The price tag may be too high for many teams, but Clowney brings top run defense and solid pass-rush to the table, though his game has never really lived up to his draft hype and he’s never matched the production of other dominant edge defenders.
4. CB Logan Ryan
Ryan has had a solid career, and he hits free agency once again after three years in Tennessee. He’s a slot corner who has graded between 62.0 and 76.2 in coverage in all but one year of his seven-year career, and that level of consistency makes him an intriguing candidate for teams looking for help in the slot. Ryan has generally been an excellent tackler, though 20 of his 49 career misses came in 2019.
5. DI Mike Daniels
Mike Daniels isn't particularly hitting free agency at the best time, given how the past couple of seasons have gone for him, but he isn’t far removed from being one of the most disruptive interior linemen in the entire NFL. Daniels now has to sell teams on looking past his recent injury history, a downtick in form and the fact that he is now the wrong side of 30. However, he can still generate pressure and play with excellent leverage against both run and pass — and he shouldn’t break the bank anymore.
Amukamara earned PFF coverage grades above 70.0 in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 77.1 PFF coverage grade in 2018. In Chicago this past season, he allowed 36 receptions from 58 targets for 515 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 70.5 PFF coverage grade. He allowed more than 50 yards in coverage in five of the 15 games he played at least 20 defensive snaps in. He also logged just four passes defensed and zero interceptions in 2019. He’s recorded just three interceptions and 16 passes defensed in the last three years.
© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
7. LT Jason Peters
Somehow Jason Peters is still plying his trade at an extremely high level despite approaching 38 years of age. That age obviously makes Peters a short-term option for prospective teams, and Peters also comes with a significant injury history and the prospect that he might not last 16 games in any given season. But he is still an impressive figure when he is on the field, and he ended the 2019 season with an overall PFF grade of 82.8 after allowing 25 total pressures on the season. Peters won’t be receiving many multi-year offers, but he could provide a very useful short-term fix for a team struggling to find answers on the offensive line.
8. Edge Everson Griffen
Griffen earned the two highest single-season PFF pass-rushing grades of his career in 2017 and 2019. This past season, he earned a 76.6 PFF pass-rushing grade and recorded a career-high 70 total pressures across 596 pass-rushing snaps. The 32-year-old veteran still has enough in the tank to offer value off the edge in the NFL.
9. TE Delanie Walker
Walker has played only 232 snaps over the last two years, but he finished with a PFF grade of at least 74.0 in every season from 2014 to 2017. Walker has always been a solid run blocker, but he became one of the league's best receiving weapons at tight end in recent years. He's worth a look to see if he can re-capture a year or two of his prime.
10. QB Joe Flacco
As the number of teams in need of a starting quarterback dwindles, Joe Flacco joins Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston in the pool of available options with extensive starting experience following his release from the Denver Broncos. Flacco's career revival in Denver didn't quite go as planned, starting the first eight weeks before suffering a neck injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. In recent years, he has seen a sharp divide in his play from a clean pocket vs. under pressure, posting an 87.4 clean-pocket passing grade since 2017 compared to a grade of just 33.2 when under pressure. If he were to get back to full health, Flacco could serve as an above-average backup or a competent starter behind a good offensive line, but teams can't expect much more than that at this point in his career.
11. Edge Cameron Wake
Wake’s PFF pass-rushing grade has dropped in each of the past five seasons, falling from 93.3 in 2015 down to 77.8 in 2019. The 38-year-old veteran still brings high-floor pass-rush production to the table, but his days as an elite pass-rusher in the NFL may be behind him.
12. S Damarious Randall
A player who has bounced around different positions since being drafted in the first round, Damarious Randall is now searching for his third team and a situation that can truly work for him. The Packers initially drafted him as a cornerback, and he struggled in that regard before ending up in Cleveland where he was the deep safety in a Gregg Williams' system before seeing a more well-rounded role in 2019 (202 snaps box safety, 88 slot cornerback, 407 free safety). Randall is definitely a better safety than he was a corner and seems best suited to that single-high role in a Cover-1/Cover-3 system.
13. DI Damon Harrison
After earning 90.0-plus PFF run-defense grades in four consecutive seasons (2015-18), Harrison crashed back down to earth in 2019. The big man earned just a 63.2 overall grade and a 66.7 PFF run-defense grade with the Lions this past season. At just 31 years old, Harrison still can provide production that falls between his 2019 season and the high-end play he had in the four years prior.
14. DI Timmy Jernigan
The last two years for Jernigan have been hindered by injuries, limiting him to only 406 snaps, and he ended up posting his two lowest-graded seasons overall in his six-year NFL career. Prior to the injuries, Jernigan was becoming a strong run-defender by ranking 33rd and 17th in run-defense grade in 2016 and 2017. Jernigan has been a relatively average pass-rusher throughout his career — not good enough to take him out of that “risky” category given the injuries as of late.
15. CB Brandon Carr
Carr (34) has earned a single-season PFF coverage grade above 70.0 just once over the nine years. He, however, still can provide a durable, veteran presence with high-floor production in the NFL. He’s earned single-season PFF coverage grades below 60.0 just two times after his rookie campaign and has played 750-plus defensive snaps every year of his 12-year NFL career.
16. S Tavon Wilson
Box safeties aren’t one of the more valuable positions on the field, but Tavon Wilson was pretty good in that role in 2019 as he ranked 25th in PFF grade at that alignment. He played well over half of his snaps at that alignment, but he was actually better when playing deep safety. Not only was his overall grade higher there, but he also was 17th in coverage grade. Going back to the entirety of his time with Detroit, Wilson has always been better when playing deep. Placing Wilson in a two-high scheme and signing him for cheap is not a bad idea.
17. S Eric Reid
Reid unquestionably had a down year in 2019, but history tells us he’ll bounce back to average-to-above-average form in 2020. The now 28-year-old safety earned just a 36.1 PFF coverage grade a year ago, but he earned 65.0-plus PFF coverage grades in three of the four years prior to this past season.
18. CB Tramon Williams
It’s pretty crazy that 36-year-old Tramon Williams was the 11th highest-graded cornerback in coverage this past season and the eighth-most valuable cornerback in the NFL. He gave a handful of 40-yard plays that he wishes he had back, but in his 18 games played he allowed under 45 yards in coverage in 13 and allowed one catch or fewer in eight. He turns 37 this week which will scare a lot of teams away, but he’s worth pursuing to fill a short-term need.
19. CB Johnathan Joseph
While he was far from elite and clearly lost a step, it was pretty remarkable to see Johnathan Joseph still force 11 pass breakups. All-in-all, Joseph allowed 627 yards in coverage on his 427 coverage snaps which led to him posting a 65.0 receiving grade – his second-lowest since 2009. Though in the year prior, Joseph was among the 10 highest graded cornerbacks in the league. He’s on a quest for a ring, and any team that has a chance at one in 2020-21 in need of outside help should consider Joseph on a one-year deal.
20. OT Demar Dotson
Considering he came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Demar Dotson has had an incredibly successful career. He’s been consistently average to slightly above average starting at right tackle for the Buccaneers and has been among the 15 most valuable tackles in the league since his 2012 season when he was named the starter. The last two years though, Dotson’s age has started to show as he has posted two of his lowest-graded seasons since 2013. He’ll turn 35 next season, so he fits more of a short-term need for perhaps a contending team.
21. OT Cordy Glenn
In the first five seasons of his NFL career from 2012 to 2016, Cordy Glenn was one of the top tackles in the league. In fact, he was actually the 14th most valuable tackle in PFF WAR in that span. He posted 80.0-plus pass-block grades from 2013 to 2016 and was a solid run-blocker too. Though he’s experienced a handful of injuries the last few seasons and hasn’t been the same player. He posted a career-low overall grade of 67.4 in 2017, was traded to the Bengals and went on to post two of his worst seasons in the Queen City. At 30-years-old and with the injury baggage, Glenn is a bit of a risk.
22. LB Nigel Bradham
Bradham (30) has earned single-season PFF coverage grades above 73.0 in three of the past four NFL seasons. He’s inconsistent in run defense but athletic enough to fly sideline to sideline and limit opposing backs and tight ends in coverage in the right role.
23. S Javien Elliott
After playing minimal snaps his first two seasons of the NFL (just 314 snaps), Javien Elliot was given more opportunities to showcase he is capable of being a key player in the NFL the last two years with the Buccaneers and Panthers but has been relatively average. Elliott didn’t give up many explosive plays, but he did surrender a catch rate over 80% in his slot role and made only three plays on the ball.
24. S Tony Jefferson
Jefferson has always been a strong run-defender when down in the box. Prior to his 2019 season that was cut short due to injury, Jefferson owned a run-defense grade above 73.0 in every season. In coverage though, he was a bit of a liability and prone to giving up big plays. He only had one season in his career in which he produced a coverage grade above 70.0 and has allowed a whopping 18 touchdowns while forcing only 17 pass breakups. The one year he did grade above 70.0 in coverage, it was in 2018. It’s hard telling whether or not he can replicate that in 2020 coming off injury, so Jefferson still carries some risk given his prior performance.
25. S Reshad Jones
Jones (34) has earned single-season PFF grades above 72.0 in five of the last six NFL seasons. He, however, played just 189 defensive snaps with Miami in 2019 due to injury. He allowed six receptions from eight targets for 71 yards and two touchdowns in limited action this past season.
26. RB Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman produced the worst PFF grade among running backs in 2019 while on the fifth-largest contract. Freeman was just 29th in WAR this past year while playing the 10th most snaps among running backs. In simplest terms, he got more opportunities to produce a higher amount and failed to match.
27. WR Taylor Gabriel
A complementary receiver in the good system, Gabriel has had two extremely productive seasons, first in 2016 with the Falcons and then in 2018 with the Bears. Despite his 5-foot-8 frame, Gabriel has worked mostly on the outside and he was more of a downfield target with the Bears. We saw Gabriel average 7.8 yards after the catch per reception with the Falcons in 2016 and he averaged 6.6 in 2017, so his best role may be as an after-the-catch threat as a third or fourth option in the passing attack.
28. CB Dre Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick (30) earned a 61.7 PFF grade across 334 defensive snaps before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 6 of the 2019 season. He played 255 of his 334 defensive snaps at outside cornerback and allowed 19 receptions from 29 targets for 140 yards and three touchdowns in the process. The former first-round pick has earned single-season coverage grades above 70.0 just twice in his eight-year career.
29. CB Tramaine Brock
The 31-year-old is actually coming off the second-best season of his career in 2019 by posting a 73.9 coverage grade with both the Cardinals and Titans. Brock was primarily a slot corner with Arizona from Weeks 1 through 13 and was below-average in that role by ranking 24th of 33 qualifying slot corners in PFF coverage grade. After Week 13, he was cut to give more playing time to younger corners and Tennessee swooped him up to play outside corner where he had his best work in Arizona (25th of 97 in PFF coverage grade when outside with the Cardinals). From Week 14 through conference championship play, Brock went on to own the third-highest coverage grade on the outside. He’s not one you want long-term, but Brock isn’t a terrible option for a team with limited cap space who is desperate for help at outside corner.
30. OL Ron Leary
Leary’s grade has dropped in each of the four past NFL seasons, falling from 78.3 in 2016 to 58.4 in 2019. The 30-year-old NFL veteran did, however, earn a 74.7 PFF pass-blocking grade alongside a 52.6 PFF run-blocking grade in 2019. He’s a quality depth piece that should come at depth-player pricing on the open market.
31. CB Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib has had a great, long career in the NFL. He produced above-average coverage grades routinely, posting a grade above 70.0 in eight of his 11 seasons prior to 2019. We only saw him play in five games in 2019 before missing the rest of the year due to injury, but it was beginning to look like his age was taking a toll on him. Talib owned a career-low 55.8 coverage grade on his 205 coverage snaps and surrendered three touchdowns.
32. Edge Markus Golden
Golden (29) played a career-high 916 defensive snaps with the Giants in 2019 and earned just a 60.3 PFF grade in the process. He totaled just 64 pressures across his 509 pass-rushing snaps and earned only a 63.0 PFF pass-rushing grade.
33. OL Josh Kline
In Kline’s lone season with Minnesota (2019), he earned a 65.1 overall grade that ranked outside the top-50 qualifying interior offensive linemen in the NFL. The 30-year-old veteran is a high-floor producer in pass protection, but he’s a stop-gap solution with little upside in the run game at best.
34. Edge Pernell McPhee
Pernell McPhee has had a brutal injury history, leading to a limited role over the last few years. Prior to the injury pile-up, McPhee was beginning to look like one of the top edge defenders in the NFL. In 2014 with Baltimore and 2015 with Chicago, McPhee produced PFF grades in the mid-80s leading to ranks that were among the five best at his position each season. McPhee isn't a liability when on the field, but the injuries and age are a massive concern.
35. OL Mike Person
Person (31) is an older interior offensive lineman that played over 1,000 offensive snaps for the 49ers in 2018 and 2019. Among the 98 guards with at least 400 offensive snaps played in 2019, Person ranked tied for 77th in overall grade (61.8) and 104th in PFF pass-blocking grade (60.3).
36. WR Rashard Higgins
Rashard Higgins struggled mightily in his first two years in the league back in 2016 and 2017. He saw only 58 targets and produced a 58.5 receiving grade, the second-worst among wide receivers in that span. Higgins then came back in 2018, struggled once again to start out the year then things started to come around for a change in the post-Hue Jackson portion of the 2018 season as he owned a 71.4 receiving grade which ranked 35th in that stretch. Injuries then limited his 2019 campaign to only 10 targets, leaving him still as an unproven wide receiver.
37. LB Wesley Woodyard
Woodyard played just 416 defensive snaps and earned one of the lowest single-season PFF grades (54.0) of his career in 2019. The 33-year-old veteran earned an impressive 89.9 overall grade with the Titans in 2015, but those days seem long gone. His PFF run-defense grade has dropped from 87.7 in 2015 to 62.7 in 2020.
38. Edge Jabaal Sheard
In his third season with the Colts in 2019, Jabaal Sheard had a year he probably wants to forget. He finished the season with the lowest PFF grade in his nine-year career by far and with his run-defense and tackling being his downfall. Shear posted a 47.7 run-defense grade ranking 101st of 106 qualifying edge and missed tackles at one of the highest rates with missing 25% of his attempts. His pass-rushing was below-average too, owning a grade in that facet that didn’t crack the 50th percentile.
39. Edge Vinny Curry
Thirty-one-year-old Vinny Curry had a career year in 2019 as a pass-rusher, posting an 81.7 pass-rush grade ranking 12th at his position and pressure rate that tied for fourth with J.J. Watt at 16.9%. Curry spent one season away from Philadelphia before returning in 2019 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he posted the worst grade of his career both overall and as a pass-rusher. He’s generated a consistent amount of pressure in his time with Philadelphia outside of 2019 (top 20 in pressure rate in 2016 and 2017) and would be great added depth.
40. S Clayton Geathers
In the box, Clayton Geathers has been a stout run defender. He has produced an above-average run-defense grade in each of the last four seasons with multiple seasons ranking 11th or higher. He’s not going to make a lot of impact plays in coverage, but as of late he has shown to not make too many mistakes. After surrendering 311 yards on 534 coverage snaps in 2018, Geathers gave up just 70 on 311 coverage snaps in 2019. He only made three combined pass breakups and interceptions in those years combined but never gave up for than 50 yards in a single game.
41. Edge Ezekiel Ansah
In his one season away from Detroit with Seattle in 2019, Ezekiel Ansah had the worst season of his career. He had never recorded an overall grade lower than 65.0 in his six seasons with the Lions and owned a 56.0 overall grade with the Seahawks, generating a career-low pressure rate under 9%. It should be mentioned that Ansah had an injury-riddled year in Seattle, battling three different injuries all throughout the year. He produced above-average grades in each season from 2014 to 2018 with multiple seasons in the top 20. Ansah wouldn’t be a bad pick up for low cost.
42. Edge Clay Matthews
The Rams signed Matthews to a two-year, $9.25 million deal last offseason to start opposite Dante Fowler Jr. at edge, and that is what he did. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the result was the worst season in Matthews' career. He earned just a 54.2 overall grade on the year, struggling in run defense and missing 12 tackles in 44 tackling opportunities. The pass-rushing numbers don't look bad at first glance — 40 pressures in 280 pass-rushing snaps — but he benefitted from attention placed on his teammates, namely Aaron Donald. 24 of those 40 pressures for Matthews were designated as cleanup or unblocked opportunities. All of that led to Matthews being expendable. The Rams will look to fill his snaps with someone else in 2020.
43. Edge Terrell Suggs
Suggs (37) is on the wrong side of 35 years old and is starting to drop from a production standpoint. He earned just a 62.3 overall grade across 789 defensive snaps in 2019. He has earned an 80.0-plus single-season PFF grade just once in the past eight NFL seasons.
44. RB Carlos Hyde
Carlos Hyde had the best season as a ball-carrier yet in 2019, producing the 11th best rushing grade at his position at 77.2. Though the most important trait for a running back to carry relies in the receiving game and Hyde has been largely ineffective in that area all throughout his career. In every single one his six seasons, Hyde has never produced a receiving grade higher than 60.0 and is coming off three straight seasons below 50.0. He’s also dropped 15 passes on 179 targets and never averaged more than six yards after the catch per reception in a season – a remarkably low figure for a running back.
45. OL Jordan Mills
46. LB Darron Lee
47. CB Daryl Worley
48. CB Nevin Lawson
49. CB Ross Cockrell
50. TE David Morgan
51. QB Blake Bortles
52. CB Bashaud Breeland
53. S Antoine Bethea
54. WR Ted Ginn Jr.
55. WR Paul Richardson Jr.
56. OT Kelvin Beachum
57. S Jahleel Addae
58. CB Vernon Hargreaves III
59. CB Trumaine Johnson
60. CB PJ Williams
61. WR Josh Gordon
62. OG John Miller
63. DI Marcell Dareus
64. DI Sheldon Day
65. LB Mark Barron
66. OL James Hurst
67. DI Margus Hunt
68. S Morgan Burnett
69. WR Jaron Brown
70. WR Chester Rogers
71. RB Chris Thompson
72. OT Jason Spriggs
73. RB Lamar Miller
74. RB LeSean McCoy
75. DI Anthony Chickillo
76. WR Johnny Holton
77. CB B.W. Webb
78. TE Luke Stocker
79. S Tedric Thompson
80. LB Alec Ogletree
82. DI Corey Liuget
82. Edge Kareem Martin
83. OL Cam Erving
84. LB Jake Ryan
85. CB Morris Claiborne
86. Edge Kamalei Correa
87. Edge Benson Mayowa
88. DI Adam Gotsis
89. CB Cyrus Jones
90. S Johnson Bademosi
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