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You are the GM: Top 20 free agents available this off-season

By Tayyib Abu

Published: 17:00, 1 March 2022

Seven months with no competitive action lie ahead in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean the league enters hibernation. Instead, the mad dash to procure new players keeps everyone talking.

The headline event is the draft as new players enter the NFL from the collegiate ranks, but before that comes free agency. With the salary cap set to rise to $208.2 million thanks to a new lucrative domestic TV deal, teams can spend to land big-name players.

Free agency opens on March 16, or March 14 if you include the ‘legal tampering period’, and here are the top 20 players available:

Davante Adams

Star wideout Davante Adams has demonstrated throughout his career that he is an elite talent and a game changer for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. At 29-years-old, the wideout will desire a career-defining contract. The only caveat is this; the Packers could use the franchise tag to ensure Adams short-term future is in Wisconsin.

Predicted landing spot – Green Bay Packers (via Franchise Tag)

Orlando Brown

Orlando Brown joined the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens to pursue his career as a Left Tackle, and it certainly paid off. Brown surrendered just four sacks protecting Patrick Mahomes’ blindside. The Chiefs can apply the franchise tag, but it would seem both parties would prefer a long-term deal.

Predicted landing spot – Kansas City Chiefs

Terron Armstead

Terron Armstead endured an injury-riddled 2021 campaign, but he is still a top player. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), Armstead has graded highly for pass-blocking in seven consecutive seasons, and would be an ideal pickup for the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals.

Predicted landing spot – Cincinnati Bengals

J.C. Jackson

J.C. Jackson starred for the New England Patriots last season, and he will rightly command a hefty fee. Jackson only allowed a passer rating of 47.8 when targeted in the passing game. Any team desiring a physical corner with excellent athleticism and the skill to defend on an island should want Jackson. .

Predicted landing spot – Pittsburgh Steelers

De’Vondre Campbell

De’Vondre Campbell was a standout linebacker in the NFL last season as he earned first-team All-Pro honours. Various sources have indicated that Campbell would accept a team-friendly deal to stay with Matt LaFleur’s side. The Packers need to juggle the cap implications, but both sides seem to have a will to seal a deal.

Predicted landing spot – Green Bay Packers

Von Miller

Former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller displayed plenty of juice in the late stages of the season as he helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl. While some analysts questioned his age and injury history, Miller defied the concerns as he played at a high level in the Rams run to a Lombardi. In total, Miller registered nine sacks and 60 total pressures.

Predicted Landing Spot – Denver Broncos

Brandon Scherff

Brandon Scherff is a mauling interior presence within the trenches, a nasty run-blocker with plenty of power. Those traits would bolster many offensive lines in the NFL. While Scherff’s run-blocking is the headline, his pass-blocking skills are solid. Teams such as the Bengals and Chicago Bears could be in play to chase his signature, as will his current employers Washington.

Predicted Landing Spot – Washington Commanders

Chris Godwin

The perils of the franchise tag hit Chris Godwin hard in 2021. Godwin was enjoying a fantastic season before injuring his ACL in December; that injury throws everything into question. Medical staff across the NFL will evaluate Godwin before offering any contract; those tests are critical to Godwin’s chances of landing a big deal.

Predicted Landing Spot – Chicago Bears

Tyrann Mathieu

The Swiss Army Knife that is Tyrann Mathieu enjoyed another solid season for the Chiefs in 2021 as he won their player of the season award. Mathieu is an athletic, versatile player with an array of skills. Mathieu’s versatility and leadership skills are desirable, with more teams pivoting to a multiple-style defense. The Ravens would love to sign a ball-hawking leader specialising in smashmouth physicality.

Predicted Landing Spot – Baltimore Ravens

Mike Williams

Mike Williams hit career-highs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards in 2021 and now enters the free-agent market. The Los Angeles Chargers have the second-highest projected cap space for 2022, and they could re-sign Williams with change to spare. However, the Chargers already hold three talented wideouts on their roster and may wish to avoid a bidding war.

Predicted Landing Spot – Las Vegas Raiders

Marcus Williams

New Orleans are currently $49 million over the projected threshold. Therefore, it is almost inconceivable for them to re-sign Marcus Williams. Williams is another hard-hitting, versatile safety with excellent pass coverage skills. Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and head coach Dan Campbell are former Saints staff members and the Lions’ safety room is threadbare – the move just makes sense.

Predicted landing spot – Detroit Lions

Odell Beckham Jnr

Odell Beckham Jnr silenced the doubters and critics as he helped the Rams win the Super Bowl. Sadly, Beckham re-injured his ACL during the Super Bowl, which casts many questions around his NFL future. Ultimately, Beckham looked at peace playing for the Rams and Sean McVay’s team will surely want to do right by Beckham and keep him in LA.

Predicted landing spot – LA Rams

Jessie Bates III

While Jessie Bates didn’t play at a top-level in 2021, the Cincinnati Bengals star still boasts a solid body of work on his NFL CV. Bates starred in 2020 as he earned Second-Team All-Pro honors. Bates is a rangy athlete with excellent awareness in the defensive backfield. The Wake Forest alum is one of the Bengals’ homegrown stars, and they’ll desperately want to bring him back on a long-term deal.

Predicted landing spot – Cincinnati Bengals

Michael Gallup

Finding room for Michael Gallup on the Dallas Cowboys’ roster is tough. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott are inked on big contracts, while CeeDee Lamb is in line for a bumper payday soon. All of that makes it unlikely that Gallup rejoins America’s Team for 2022. Gallup is an exciting athlete capable of dazzling performances. He just needs a stage and a team looking for a new number one.

Predicted Landing Spot – Cleveland Browns

Harold Landry

Harold Landry is a classic speed-rusher, best suited to teams operating a base 3-4, although his physical prowess should translate into a 4-3 defense. Landry registered 14 sacks, with 38 hurries and 64 pressures in 2021. Overall, the Boston College product has had a solid NFL career showing growth every season. With the Titans struggling for cap room, Landry could hit the FA market.

Predicted Landing Spot – LA Chargers

Quandre Diggs

Amidst the forgettable Seattle Seahawks’ 2021 season, Quandre Diggs shone for Pete Carroll’s team. Renowned as a box safety in Detroit, Diggs displayed tremendous maturity in pass coverage and emerged as the leader of the Seahawks’ backfield. The Seahawks have enough cap room to make a move if they wish to keep Diggs in the northwest, but there will be suitors elsewhere.

Predicted Landing Spot – Seattle Seahawks

Allen Robinson

It is hard to evaluate Allen Robinson’s 2021 season due to inconsistent quarterback play. Nevertheless, Robinson has shown plenty of grit, competitiveness, and solid catching skills over his NFL career. Robinson is unlikely to spend another season on the franchise tag; he will undoubtedly explore the market.

Predicted Landing Spot – Miami Dolphins

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Chandler Jones

Veteran edge rusher Chandler Jones recorded 11 sacks, six forced fumbles, 21 hurries, and 47 pressures in 2021; although five of those sacks came in a single contest. At 32-years of age, Jones won’t get a lengthy deal, although he could see an incentive-laden short-term contract handed to him. The Arizona Cardinals don’t have much cap room, so Jones may not return to the team.

Predicted Landing Spot – Miami Dolphins

Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston played well in the 2021 season before a knee injury ended his campaign prematurely. Winston’s big arm and starting experience make him the best quarterback available, although it is unclear where he will land. The New Orleans Saints would surely like to re-sign him, but their cap situation is dire, he may become available come March 16.

Predicted Landing Spot – New Orleans Saints

Ryan Jensen

Ryan Jensen anchored the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive line expertly in 2021. Jensen’s durability, consistency, and leadership are fundamental reasons many teams consider signing him. The stout interior lineman surrendered just 21 total pressures while earning a run-blocking grade of 76.7 with PFF. With the retirement of guard Ali Marpet, the Bucs’ urge to bring Jensen back will increase.

Predicted Landing Spot – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Laken Tomlinson

Laken Tomlinson won the Bob McKrittick award in 2021, which goes to the best linemen on the 49ers’ squad. Tomlinson played every offensive snap and his performances in run-blocking, in particular, were excellent. Couple that with just two sacks allowed, and Tomlinson is a high-caliber player. His links with new Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel could see him swap the west coast for the south beach.

Predicted Landing Spot – Miami Dolphins

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