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Top 50 NFL Free Agents For The 2018 Offseason

In one month, it will be the first full day of NFL free agency. I have already ranked over 300 free agents with grades and by position, but these are my top 50 overall players with a short explanation for each. These rankings will not be updated, but the full list will. [Note: age is for the start of the 2018 season]


1. Le’Veon Bell | RB | Age: 26 | UFA

It’s extremely rare that the best player at his position hits the open market, but Bell is set to do that if the Steelers don’t place the franchise tag on him. He could instantly transform an offense as the do-it-all centerpiece.


2. Allen Robinson | WR | Age: 25 | UFA

He’s coming off a torn ACL, but all you need to know about Robinson is that he had an 80/1,400/14 line at 22-years-old. The former Penn State star has a chance at two mega deals in his career.


3. Sam Bradford | QB | Age: 30 | UFA

Kirk Cousins is the consensus number-one quarterback available in free agency according to the media, but not for me. When he’s on the field, Sam Bradford is an elite, pinpoint pocket-passer, and even factoring in injury concerns, he would be my top target at the position—he’s that good.


4. Kirk Cousins | QB | Age: 30 | UFA

The sweepstakes for Cousins might be the biggest storyline to watch this offseason, as while I have Bradford as my top signal-caller, most teams will probably go after the healthier option. Cousins is accurate, competitive, and has good command of the offense.


5. Sammy Watkins | WR | Age: 25 | UFA

It’d be a mistake to look at Watkins’ stats (39 receptions for 593 yards) and no longer consider him an elite receiver; he had little time to build chemistry with Jared Goff after being acquired via trade, so numbers were left on the field in a share-the-wealth offense. However, Watkins showed he was a great weapon near the end zone with strong hands, and his speed hasn’t gone anywhere.


6. Andrew Norwell | G | Age: 26 | UFA

It would also be a mistake to look at Carolina’s production in the running game and penalize Norwell for it. The Panthers’ left guard was among the best at his position in 2017, and he’s easily the top unrestricted free agent on the offensive line.


7. Drew Brees | QB | Age: 39 | UFA

Age is the only thing keeping Brees from being higher on the list, but a team that can seriously contend for a Super Bowl in 2018 might rightfully have him as their top option. Unfortunately for those outside of New Orleans, he’s fully expected to re-sign with the Saints.


8. DeMarcus Lawrence | EDGE | Age: 26 | UFA

Lawrence broke out in 2017 with 10.5 sacks in his first seven games, but he had just 4.0 over the final two months of the season, including just a single sack in December. The former second-round pick has the talent, but issues with consistency could give teams pause.


9. Matt Paradis | C | Age: 28 | RFA

Top restricted free agents like Matt Paradis are unlikely to go anywhere, but they are still worth noting anyway. Denver’s anchor on the offensive line has been one of the best centers in football over the past two seasons.


10. Trumaine Johnson | CB | Age: 28 | UFA

It would be a surprise if Los Angeles used the franchise tag on Johnson for the second-straight year, so he should hit the open market as the top player at his position. The 28-year-old has the size to matchup with bigger receivers, but he can contain smaller, faster guys, too.


11. Tahir Whitehead | LB | Age: 28 | UFA

He was better on the outside after Detroit drafted Jarrad Davis to man the middle of their defense in 2017, but Whitehead has shown the ability to play every linebacker spot. New head coach Matt Patricia will likely want him back as an adaptable piece for his defense, but almost every other team in the league could give him a look.


12. Justin Pugh | G | Age: 28 | UFA

While Pugh bounced between guard and tackle last season, his best position is clearly inside, and he only kicked outside because of the lack of talent for New York. He has some injury concerns, but Pugh is a top-end guard when he’s on the field and can focus on one spot.


13. Jimmy Graham | TE | Age: 31 | UFA

Graham only had 520 yards in 2017 (his lowest total since his rookie year), but he was able to get back in double-digit touchdown territory with ten scores, so he’s still an elite red-zone weapon. You wish he would show more consistency catching the ball in traffic and blocking, but Graham could still be a tremendous signing in the right system.


14. Carlos Hyde | RB | Age: 26 | UFA

Last season, Hyde played in all 16 games for the first time in his career, and he was able to show his talents as a pass-catcher with 59 receptions in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Even though he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry in the new system, I’d be encouraged alone by Hyde’s toughness against Seattle’s elite front over the years.


15. Avery Williamson | LB | Age: 26 | UFA

A fifth-round pick in 2014, Williamson has been very good in the middle of Tennessee’s defense since entering the league. Turning 26 next month, he is in the prime of his career and can do everything that’s asked of him, particularly in a zone-blitz scheme like Dick LeBeau ran with the Titans.


16. Bennie Logan | DL | Age: 28 | UFA

Logan was one of the league’s best interior defensive linemen in Philadelphia, and that was both in a 3-4 defense under Chip Kelly and a 4-3 under Doug Pederson. He settled for a one-year deal in Kansas City, but he didn’t have as much talent surrounding him there. Still, he’s great against the run and can do work as a pass rusher, and I think he could be signed for a multi-year bargain.


17. Sheldon Richardson | DL | Age: 27 | UFA

Richardson helped boost Seattle’s run defense after being traded there from the Jets last season, and he will likely seek a big contract as he hits the open market. The talent is evident, but teams need to make sure Richardson is fully committed to winning a championship.


18. Anthony Sherman | FB | Age: 29 | UFA

Fullbacks seem to be a dying breed in football, but having a good one is still important for teams that use them. Anthony Sherman will turn 30 in December, but he is still one of the best run-blockers at his position.


19. Teddy Bridgewater | QB | Age: 25 | UFA

I’m a big fan of Teddy, and he wouldn’t be a bad option by any means for teams that want a veteran but miss out on Cousins or Bradford. Bridgewater is a great presence in the locker room and throws a very accurate ball.


20. Morgan Burnett | S | Age: 29 | UFA

Burnett has seemingly been around forever on the back-end of Green Bay’s defense, but he just turned 29, so he should have a few more solid years left. His ability to come up and tackle should help solidify a defense and secondary that needs help there.


21. Case Keenum | QB | Age: 30 | UFA

Keenum’s magical season should lead to a nice contract this offseason, but teams should have a good supporting cast already in place, as it would be a mistake to think he will instantly turn an offense around by himself. That said, he displayed uncanny escape-ability and remarkable poise for Minnesota last year, and his confidence should be high heading into 2018.


22. Lamarcus Joyner | S | Age: 27 | UFA

Joyner couldn’t find consistent playing time under Jeff Fisher for the first three years of his career, but he started all 12 games he appeared in last season for Wade Phillips’ defense, and he broke out as a full-time safety. His competiveness and instincts make up for his five-foot-eight frame.


23. Dion Lewis | RB | Age: 27 | UFA

Including the Super Bowl LII loss, New England was 32-4 with Dion Lewis in the lineup since 2015, and before the defeat at the hands of Philadelphia in which they scored 33 points, they were 23-0 in his starts. Lewis is extremely elusive and consistently picks up yardage as a runner and receiver. Also, he’s still just 27.


24. Quinton Spain | G | Age: 27 | RFA

Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin get a lot of attention for their work on Tennessee’s offensive line, but the interior combination is also very good, including Quinton Spain at left guard. The restricted free agent is a mauler.


25. Jarvis Landry | WR | Age: 25 | UFA

Landry has the NFL record for receptions over the first four seasons to start a career, but much of that production has been at or near the line of scrimmage. The slot receiver averaged just 8.8 yards per reception in 2017 (for comparison, Falcons running back Tevin Coleman averages 12.2 for his career), and Miami and other teams might feel they could get a much cheaper option. I’d be surprised if Landry got the kind of money Alshon Jeffery or Davante Adams did.


26. Prince Amukamara | CB | Age: 29 | UFA

Amukamara has been one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league over the past few years, and he can play well in both man and zone coverage.


27. Nate Solder | OT | Age: 30 | UFA

He needs to cut down on the penalties, but Solder got better as the year went on for New England in 2017. He should be a steady option on the blindside for a team looking at a short-term solution.


28. Byron Maxwell | CB | Age: 30 | UFA

Maxwell was released by Miami after some young guys stepped up and it was clear the team wasn’t contending, but he eventually rejoined Seattle and was great down the stretch for them. I think he could be a steal in free agency.


29. Nigel Bradham | LB | Age: 29 | UFA

Bradham was a big factor in Philly’s championship season, and he’s an every-down outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.


30. Josh Kline | G | Age: 28 | UFA

Like teammate Quinton Spain, Josh Kline has been very good inside for the Titans over the past two seasons. The only concern is that his improved play since being released by New England is the product of playing next to an All-Pro right tackle.


31. Ricardo Allen | S | Age: 26 | RFA

Allen is a solid centerfielder on the back-end of Dan Quinn’s defense. They should be able to keep him around as a restricted free agent.


32. NaVorro Bowman | LB | Age: 30 | UFA

Bowman was released by the new regime in San Francisco last October, but the four-time All-Pro showed he’s still capable of playing at a high level in Oakland.


33. Zach Line | FB | Age: 29 | UFA

Line did a nice job blocking for two Pro Bowl runners in New Orleans last season, and he’s also shown some versatility so far in his career.


34. Ezekiel Ansah | EDGE | Age: 29 | UFA

Ansah bounced back from two-sack season in 2016 with 12.0 sacks in 2017, but half of that total came in the final two games of the year. Teams need to decide how much good football he has ahead of him.


35. Vontae Davis | CB | Age: 30 | UFA

Davis battled injuries and was released after appearing in just five games for Indy last year, but I think he could be fresh and determined to prove he’s not finished yet.


36. Dontari Poe | DL | Age: 28 | UFA

Poe was solid as he played on a one-year deal in Atlanta, and he showed he can be more than a nose tackle. The former first-round pick doesn’t turn 28 until August.


37. David Irving | DL | Age: 25 | RFA

If not for a PED suspension last year, Irving would be a lot higher on the list after recording 7.0 sacks in eight games (he missed the final month of the season with a concussion). He has exceptional length and athleticism for a defensive tackle.


38. Morris Claiborne | CB | Age: 28 | UFA

Claiborne was great to start the year in his first season with the Jets, but his play trailed off down the stretch as he battled a foot injury. If healthy, the former first-round pick should be able to continue this career resurgence.


39. Malcolm Butler | CB | Age: 28 | UFA

I’m simply deferring to Bill Belichick here, as you would think something had to happen with Butler in the lead-up to Super Bowl LII. Also, Butler wasn’t as good in the regular season as he was in 2015 and 2016, so confidence could have been an issue after the team signed Stephon Gilmore.


40. Rashaan Melvin | CB | Age: 28 | UFA

Melvin shadowed Antonio Brown last year and held him to three receptions for 47 yards, so the upside is there for the 28-year-old.


41. John Brown | WR | Age: 28 | UFA

I don’t think there’s a chance Brown would even be hitting free agency if he stayed healthy in Arizona, but the speedster just wasn’t able to do so. At worst, he’s an explosive number-two wideout if he’s on the field at 100%.


42. Jerick McKinnon | RB | Age: 26 | UFA

McKinnon was a great change-of-pace option for Minnesota last season, but there’s a good chance he plays elsewhere in 2018 with Dalvin Cook returning. He’s a very good receiver with underrated toughness to run between the tackles.


43. Cameron Fleming | OT | Age: 26 | UFA

Fleming stepped up admirably for Marcus Cannon in 2017, and he’s a quality run-blocker and pass-protector.


44. Anthony Hitchens | LB | Age: 26 | UFA

Hitchens has flashed upside for the Cowboys over the past four years, and a preseason leg injury that sidelined him for the first month of the season didn’t seem to impact him much when he returned. He can play in a 4-3 or 3-4.


45. Weston Richburg | C | Age: 27 | UFA

Limited to four games in 2017, Weston Richburg might have to settle for a short-term deal when he hits the open market. He was one of the best pass-blocking centers in the league in 2015 and 2016.


46. Cameron Brate | TE | Age: 27 | RFA

Brate has had a great connection with Jameis Winston over the past two seasons, and teams that miss out on Jimmy Graham and are looking for a red-zone threat at tight end should see if they could steal Brate away from the Bucs.


47. Trey Burton | TE | Age: 26 | UFA

Burton has been stuck behind Zach Ertz, but he’s a very receiving tight end with the versatility to line up all over the formation. He can throw, too.


48. Tyler Eifert | TE | Age: 28 | UFA

Outside of a 13-touchdown season in 2015, Eifert just hasn’t been able to stay on the field (seven touchdowns over the other four seasons). He might be too big of a health risk to commit to with a long-term deal.


49. John Sullivan | C | Age: 33 | UFA

Sullivan will turn 33 this summer, but he was great as the anchor for Sean McVay’s offensive line and helped Jared Goff in his breakout season. Contending teams with a hole at center should target the veteran.


50. Rex Burkhead | RB | Age: 28 | UFA

He missed some time in his first year with New England, but Rex Burkhead displayed his versatility when given the opportunity as an effective runner, receiver, and short-yardage option.


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