Best remaining NFL free agents: Top 25 players still available in 2019Sporting News — (Vinnie Iyer)
NFL free agency in 2019 has already reached its third wave less than a week into the new league year. Most of the highest quality and priciest veterans have either landed big contracts with new teams or re-signed to return to their old ones, via franchise tag or otherwise.
But of the many more who are still unsigned for 2019, there are plenty of players who can be solid contributors for teams in need, from starting jobs to backup or situational roles.
Here's looking at the best of what's left:
NFL free agents 2019: Top 25 players available
|25.||K|1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Rams
Age: 32 | Signed with: Buccaneers
Suh got some big one-year money to join LA’s Super Bowl push last year, and after coming through as a good inside pass-rusher in the regular season, he showed his pop against the run in the playoffs.
2. Jared Cook, TE, Raiders
Age: 32 | Signed with: Saints
Cook had a big season as Oakland's go-to guy for Derek Carr, his best year as a receiver since he entered the league as a third-rounder in 2009. He'll now become a valuable veteran target who can still stretch the field for a stronger passing offense
3. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions
Age: 29 | Signed with: Texans
When healthy, Ansah is a solid all-around edge player, but major durability issues have hampered him in his prime. Whoever signs him will be hoping he can be close to double-digit sack form again.
4. Tre Boston, S, Chargers
Age: 26 | Best team fits: Seahawks, Browns
Boston did well serving as the Cardinals’ third safety last season, which was a hybrid nickel back/cover linebacker role. As a ‘tweener in a top-heavy safety market, it’s no surprise that he is available, but perhaps he will reunite with Steve Wilks, this time in Cleveland.
5. Eric Berry, S, Chiefs
Age: 30 | Best team fits: Cowboys, 49ers
The biggest concern with Berry going forward is his health, as an Achilles injury has caused him to miss 29 of Kansas City's past 32 regular-season games over two seasons. If he can answer the question of potentially returning to top playmaker and leader status at his age, he can be valuable, a la Eric Weddle with the Ravens after his cut from the Chargers.
6. Jay Ajayi, RB, Eagles
Age: 25 | Best team fits: Colts, Lions
Ajayi is a solid early-down back when healthy, but he’s coming off an ACL injury suffered in October and doesn’t offer much in the way of the passing game. He has to go to a team with which he can be a complementary pounder behind a more complete back.
7. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars
Age: 25 | Signed with: Bills (2 years)
Yeldon should be getting more interest after filling in well for Leonard Fournette for much of last season, showing he can finish in the red zone and also be a swing-pass asset. He projects best playing off Mark Ingram in Baltimore.
8. Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs
Age: 27 | Signed with: Colts
Ware could not take advantage of Kareem Hunt’s release to take control of the Chiefs' backfield, as Damien Williams proved more effective in handling a bunch of touches. But he has had a high volume before and is a pretty good receiver, too. He is visiting Detroit, but he has obvious scheme connections in Philadelphia and Chicago.
9. Clay Matthews, OLB, Packers
Age: 32 | Signed with: Rams (2 years)
The Packers are moving on from Matthews and Nick Perry as they reboot their edge rush with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Matthews’ motor can still help a contender as a situational pass-rusher (see late-career Julius Peppers and Jared Allen), and it makes sense for him to finish in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme back home in LA.
10. Justin Houston, OLB, Chiefs
Age: 30 | Signed with: Colts (2 years, $24 million)
The Chiefs are following the Packers’ suit by releasing Houston and trading Dee Ford. Wherever Matthews does not get good situational pass-rush work, Houston should be on the short list as an alternative. Indianapolis spent good money to get him to adjust to its base 4-3.
11. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Packers
Age: 29 | Beat team fits: Buccaneers, Giants
The Packers gave Wilkerson a big, one-year deal in 2018 only to see him go down with a season-ending ankle injury in September. They could still re-sign him at a discounted price, but he is likely to end up with another NFC team that runs a similar scheme.
12. Darqueze Dennard, CB, Bengals
Age: 27 | Signed with: Bengals
Dennard was the most attractive slot option with Justin Coleman (Lions) and Bryce Callahan (Broncos) already landing homes. The Bengals brought him back despite adding B.W. Webb.
13. Morris Claiborne, CB, Jets
Age: 29 | Best team fits: Packers, Buccaneers
Claiborne is one of several older corners left on the market. He had a strong two seasons with the Jets in coverage and should find a home soon.
14. Darius Philon, DT, Chargers
Age: 25 | Signed with: Cardinals (2 years, $10 million)
Philon produced well for Los Angeles. He has turned into a solid, consistent rotation regular with 4 1/2 and 4 sacks the past two seasons. The Cardinals sholud be happy to get him for Vance Joseph's front.
15. Randall Cobb, WR, Packers
Age: 28 | Signed with: Cowboys (1 year, $5 million)
Cobb found a new home working the slot, as the Packers can turn more to younger wide receivers to complement Davante Adams. His experience and relative youth are appealing, balancing out his recent durability issues.
16. Jordy Nelson, WR, Raiders
Age: 33 | Retired
Nelson was a surprise cut by the Raiders; he seemed like the perfect big slot to keep between newcomers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. Now he's chosen to hang it up rather try to extend his careeer with a third team.
17. Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots
Age: 30 | Signed with: Panthers (1 year)
Hogan got some interest from the Giants as a new starter behind Sterling Shepard before the team went with Golden Tate. He lost some pop with age in New England but is still a valuable role player with his field-stretching ability and route versatility.
18. Quinton Spain, G, Titans
Age: 27 | Signed with: Bills
Spain's time in Nashville ended when the team signed former Ram Rodger Saffold to start between Taylor Lewan and Ben Jones. He is still a solid run-blocking starter who can help multiple line-needy teams.
19. Jamie Collins, OLB, Browns
Age: 29 | Best team fits: Dolphins, Lions
Collins is coming off a mega deal with the Browns. After signing that contract, his play steadily went down. He still offers some versatile athleticism, but it would be best used in a scheme from his Patriots past.
20. Vontaze Burfict, OLB, Bengals
Age: 28 | Signed with: Raiders (1 year)
Burfict became too unreliable for Cincinnati, as the suspensions were traded for consistent concussions that kept him from contributing on the field. With a change of scenery, he can be a low-risk, medium-reward run defender.
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21. Rashaan Melvin, CB, Raiders
Age: 29 | Signed with: Lions (1 year, $3.5 million)
Melvin followed his 2017 late-season breakout in Indianapolis that was cut short by a wrist injury by not getting much of a chance to continue his strong play in Oakland. He is best suited to play outside for Detroit in a non-zone scheme.
22. Michael Crabtree, WR, Ravens
Age: 31 | Best team fits: Cardinals, Seahawks
Crabtree had a disappointing season in Baltimore, stamped by little chemistry with Joe Flacco and then irrelevance with Lamar Jackson. He is pretty much a sub-package red zone and possession receiver in this stage of his career.
23. Jaheel Addae, S, Chargers
Age: 29 | Signed with: Texans
He is a good all-around defender who became expendable in Los Angeles with a crowd at the position led by Derwin James and Adrian Phillips. Addae can latch on as either a starter or swing backup in a familiar scheme.
24. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jaguars
Age: 26 | Signed with: Patriots
Seferian-Jenkins has been teasing teams with his size as a red-zone receiver (6-5, 262 pounds) through his time with the Bucs, Jets and Jags. But he has not been able to stay healthy or provide much as a blocker.
25. Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots
Age: 35 | Signed with: Patriots
There was a little decline in 2018 from his stellar field-goal accuracy, but he remains one of the most reliable kickers in the league. New England is still a good bet to bring him back, even without a tag.