TOP 10 NFL FREE AGENTS

2023-02-26 · 5 min read · NFL/Football
Lamar Jackson, Derek Carr, Saquon Barkley

Mike Carlson | Rich Schultz/Associated Press | Getty Images

The 2022 NFL season is in the rear-view mirror but with free agency just around the corner, you can expect business to pick up quickly in the coming weeks.
Plenty of quality players at every position could fill some much-needed voids, so we can expect to see some significant bidding wars with crazy money being offered.
Free agency officially opens on March 15, and as we look ahead to a frantic time for owners and general managers across the league, here is my list of the top 10 free agents and their projected value per year.
10. Daniel Jones- Quarterback- New York Giants
The Giants pivot thrived under rookie head coach Brian Daboll, and this 26-year-old picked an excellent time to prove his value behind center.
Not only did he post a winning record for the first time as an NFL starter in 2022, but he showed he could be a dual threat, with 15 passing touchdowns plus seven on the ground.
He will undoubtedly be a candidate to be franchise tagged, while it’s no surprise New York is trying to negotiate a long-term deal with him.
Jones should be given a yearly salary of around $35 million with the Giants or elsewhere.
9. Darron Payne- Defensive Tackle- Washington Commanders
If he hits the free agent market, you can expect a massive bidding war for his services.
Payne is coming off a career season, showing his dominance on the interior line with a personal-best 11 sacks and 49 pressures.
Before that, he’d never produced more than five sacks a season, so some teams might be hesitant to commit to something long-term, but seeing as he’s only 26, there is reason to believe he is entering his prime and will only grow from here.
Given how sought after his position is, along with what he showed in 2022, he will likely get a hefty salary in and around the $20 million mark per year.
8. Jimmy Garoppolo- Quarterback- San Francisco 49ers
His foot injury during the regular season was the end of his campaign and likely the end of his career as a 49er, with Kyle Shanahan already essentially addressing the elephant in the room by saying he probably will not return to San Fran.
Before his injury, Jimmy G was in the midst of an impressive campaign with 16 TD passes and just four picks, while his 103-passer rating was his highest as an extended starter.
The 31-year-old has limitations, including not much athletic ability and a long list of past injuries.
However, there are still numerous clubs that could use his services, and with a market value of $17 million annually, some teams might see him as a nice short-term fix to get their team to the next level.
7. James Bradberry- Cornerback- Philadelphia Eagles
Because the Giants didn’t cut him until May of last year, James Bradberry missed out on free agency, and the Eagles took full advantage, signing him for $7.5 million on a one-year deal.
In Philly’s run to the Super Bowl, the cornerback showed he was worth every penny and then some, allowing a league-best 45.3% completion percentage (minimum 60 targets), defending seven passes and making three interceptions.
Expect his annual salary to be nearly double what the Eagles were paying him, as he’s estimated to be worth around $13 million.
6. Mike McGlinchey- Offensive Tackle- San Francisco 49ers
He is probably the best available right tackle who could be on the market, and with Colton McKivitz waiting in the wings, this talented blocker could be changing uniforms when free agency opens.
McGlinchey is an outstanding run blocker, ideally suited for wide-zone blocking schemes.
Given his experience at 28 and his ability to open up holes for the running game, he should be earning around $15 million annually with whatever team he joins next season.
5. Saquon Barkley- Running Back- New York Giants
He’d been battling injuries since entering the league, but in 2022 the Giants running back showed that he could be a difference-maker when he's healthy.
The Saquon we remember in his early days in the NFL showed up in abundance last season, rushing for 1,312 yards and 10 scores.
His ability to break huge plays at any moment should help make him the most sought-after running back currently on the market, so expect him to be earning around $13 million a year with his new deal.
4. Geno Smith- Quarterback- Seattle Seahawks
The veteran Seahawks QB may have been the best comeback story in recent memory as he set numerous passing records and led Seattle to the playoffs when everyone had them finishing near the bottom of the standings.
It may be unlikely to see him on the open market but given how accurate and on point he was last season, he should be making around $36 million annually whenever he puts pen to paper.
3. Derek Carr- Quarterback- Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders and Carr have finalized an uncomfortable and awkward divorce, and while there are many questions surrounding Carr, there will still be teams willing to persuade him to sign.
While he seems high-strung and struggles under pressure, he still has four previous Pro Bowl selections and continues to put up big numbers through the air.
Some teams out there could be willing to gamble on paying him his estimated value of $37 million with the hope that a fresh start and the right supporting cast and coaching could bring out his best qualities.
2. Javon Hargrave- Defensive tackle- Philadelphia Eagles
He is perhaps the top interior pass rusher currently available and was instrumental for Philly last season.
The 30-year-old terrorized offensive lines in 2022, setting career highs in sacks (11) and tackles for losses (10).
With the campaign, he just produced he will no longer be overlooked and should be getting at most an annual salary of $20 million.
1. Lamar Jackson- Quarterback- Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore has gone as far as to say there’s a “200%” chance the former NFL MVP remains a Raven, so there is no doubt they want him back, but the front office will have to show him the money.
The tail end of the 2022 regular season and their Wild Card Game showed again how much this team needs him to succeed.
The franchise tag could be an excuse for Baltimore to buy them more time to work out a long-term deal, but he should make over $50 million a year when it’s all said and done.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Joel Lefevre

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