After all, not every team will be in the market for a wide receiver or a pass rusher. Rather, they will be focused on the top players available at other positions while also being careful in free agency so they can avoid signing a player to a deal that ends up being one of the worst contracts in NFL history.
Best NFL free agents 2023 by position
With this in mind, we decided to create a rundown of the free agents available this offseason at every position.
Most teams probably have NFL free agents ranked by position, so why wouldn’t we do the same? To take a deeper look at the upcoming NFL offseason, let’s look at the best NFL free agents in 2023 by position.
The quarterback position figures to be a little misleading for teams in the market for a new one this offseason. On the surface, Lamar Jackson and Tom Brady are the two heavyweights. However, there is virtually no chance that Jackson makes it to the open market. The Ravens will either sign him to an extension, let him play 2023 under the franchise tag, or use the franchise tag and then trade him.
That creates a slight chance for teams to trade for him, but at a high cost. Meanwhile, it’s unclear if Brady wants to play another season and if he’ll entertain the possibility of playing somewhere other than Tampa despite the team’s struggles this past season.
Beyond those two, it’s tough to know what to make of free agents like Geno Smith, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Daniel Jones. Smith is coming off a great season but only has a track record as a backup. Garoppolo seems to be more of a short-term or transition quarterback, which could be appealing to a few teams but not one looking for a long-term solution.
Finally, the jury is still out on Jones despite taking a lot of positive steps forward in 2022.
Free-agent running backs rarely get monster contracts nowadays, although there are a few backs who could get paid handsomely this season. Saquon Barkley is surely the best of the punch and a genuine game-changer if he can stay healthy.
Next is Josh Jacobs, who led the NFL in rushing in 2022 after being overlooked. Miles Sanders also ranks high after his first 1,000-yard season this past year. Finally, the top tier of backs includes Tony Pollard, who figures to be given a chance to be the starter somewhere despite breaking his leg in the playoffs.
Teams looking for a backup or a complementary back should also have plenty of options. Rashaad Penny was having a breakout season in 2022 before getting hurt. The likes of David Montgomery, Jamaal Williams, and Damien Harris have all been productive backs and should have something left in the tank.
Also, don’t forget about Devin Singletary, Samaje Perine, and Alexander Mattison, who are all hoping to find a new team where they can play a bigger role than the one they’ve been given in recent seasons.
There’s not much to brag about at the wide receiver position this offseason. There’s certainly no bonafide no. 1 receiver available, making it hard to pick the best player available. The likes of Jakobi Meyers, Mecole Hardman, Allen Lazard, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and DJ Chark are all capable receivers but nobody that figures to move the needle too much.
A few years ago, Jarvis Landry would have been at the top of this class, but he’s coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him play just nine games. In fairness, younger receivers like Parris Campbell and Darius Slayton help to give this class some depth despite a lack of overall excitement.
Much like the wide receiver position, you won’t find any top-flight ends this offseason, but there are some good options. Dalton Schultz is likely the best of the bunch after the role he’s had on the Dallas offense the past couple of seasons. Evan Engram is fresh off a bounce-back season in Jacksonville and still has the upside that made him a first-round pick and a Pro Bowler in 2020.
Mike Gesicki didn’t have his best season after getting the franchise tag last season but is capable of bouncing back. Finally, Austin Hooper is a solid option for teams looking for a reliable veteran.
This year’s crop of offensive linemen is highlighted by Orlando Brown, who received the franchise tag last year and can finally cash in on the open market after making his fourth straight Pro Bowl. San Francisco’s Mike McGlinchey is also a good option at right tackle despite his injury history.
Beyond those two, there is a fair amount of depth on the market this offseason. Kaleb McGary, Isaiah Wynn, and Andre Dillard are all players to watch closely and are all capable of earning multi-year contracts. While not game-changers, Jermaine Eluemunor, Connor McGovern, Garrett Bradbury, and Cameron Fleming are all notable offensive linemen who will be free agents.
Outside of running back, the defensive line might be the deepest position in this year’s free-agent class. Washington’s Daron Payne is arguably the best player available at that position. Not far behind are both Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox, who helped to anchor the underrated Philadelphia defense this season.
Dre’Mont Jones and Dalvin Tomlinson are also among the difference-makers along the defensive line heading toward free agency.
But even if teams don’t get one of the top linemen available, there are several other good options. Sheldon Rankins and A’Shawn Robinson are the most established of the bunch and should be a safe bet for teams that need help upfront. Also, Zach Allen and Poona Ford are hitting free agency for the first time and could be about to hit their prime.
There may not be an elite pass-rusher on the free-agent market this year, but there are several viable options that should be in demand. Yannick Ngakoue might be the most reliable, as he’s averaging over nine sacks per season during his career and appears to be still in his prime. Jadeveon Clowney is also an interesting name, although he had just two sacks this past season. Players like Marcus Davenport, Samson Ebukam, and Arden Key also should be about to enter their primes but aren’t exactly sure things.
Meanwhile, there is a group of older pass-rushers who might be a little more affordable but are starting to get old. For example, Justin Houston collected 9.5 sacks this past season, although he is no longer an every-down player. Melvin Ingram, Trey Flowers, and Kyle Van Noy also fit the description of aging players who can still contribute something but perhaps won’t be impact players at this point in their careers.
Among linebackers who aren’t pure pass-rushers, there are some good options but they’ll likely be signed quickly. Tremaine Edmunds is the best of the bunch, as he’s a proven player, a great leader, and in the prime of his career. Lavonte David is close behind him, although he’s a little older so his best years might be behind him.
The next tier of linebackers includes the likes of T.J. Edwards and Leighton Vander Esch. Both should be hot commodities for teams looking for linebackers to patrol the middle of the field. Likewise, players like Bobby Okereke, Kaden Elliss, Germaine Pratt, and Alex Singleton are all worth watching as well.
At the cornerback position, there may not be a superstar, although teams looking for help at that position should be able to find help.
James Bradberry is likely the top cornerback in this free-agent class after a strong season with the Eagles. However, he benefited from playing opposite Darius Slay this past season. Veterans Patrick Peterson and Marcus Peters are also prominent names to watch. The caveat is that neither player is at the same level they were a few years ago.
Of course, there is plenty of depth at cornerback in this free-agent class, including some younger options. Tampa’s Jamel Dean and Pittsburgh’s Cameron Sutton are among the better options. Emmanuel Moseley could be part of that group, although he tore his ACL in October.
There is a pair of top-notch safeties on the open market this year with Jessie Bates and Jordan Poyer. Bates is likely the better option because he’s younger and less of a risk on a long-term deal. However, Poyer is just as good and comes with more experience and more leadership qualities.
Bates’ teammate in Cincinnati Vonn Bell is also one of the top safeties on the free-agent market this year.
Outside of that trio, there are still a few safeties worth watching on the open market. Taylor Rapp has been a regular starter with the Rams for the past two seasons and helped them win the Super Bowl last year.
Likewise, C.J. Gardner-Johnson was big for the Eagles in 2022. Also, Adrian Amos has been a steady but often overlooked safety for many years and offers a reliable and cost-effective option for teams in need of help at safety.