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2024 NFL Free Agency Rankings

The NFL free-agent negotiation period is just under two weeks away as the franchise/transition tag period began Feb. 20 and will end Mar. 5. The Bengals were the first team to use their franchise tag by placing it on wide receiver Tee Higgins, keeping him in Cincinnati for at least one more season. A handful of other teams have declined to use their tag on star running backs, sending players like Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry and more into the free agent group. As franchise tag and contract negotiations continue to heat up, here are the 15 best players that could become free agents.

 
  1. Josh Allen EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Allen had arguably the best season of his career, and his most productive season as a pro since his rookie year in 2023. Although he totaled a new career-high in sacks with 17.5–tied for second-most in the league–Allen showed he is more than just a pass rusher. He also ended the season with 8.5 stuffs in the run game, tying the second-most in a single season in his career. The Jaguars are expected to use their franchise tag on Allen, but if he hits free agency, the 26-year-old and two-time Pro Bowler will have plenty of suitors. 


2. Chris Jones DT, Kansas City Chiefs

Chris Jones has been a staple of Kansas City’s defense and has played a massive role in the development of their dynasty. In the last two seasons, Jones has 26 total sacks and 12.5 run stuffs, adding to an already impressive eight-year career. Jones returned to the Chiefs last offseason on a one-year deal after months of contract negotiations between him and the team. I would be surprised if they allow contract negotiations to go on for as long this offseason or allow him to leave Kansas City. 


3. Justin Madubuike DT, Baltimore Ravens

A third-round pick in 2020, Madubuike has steadily improved in each of his first 4 seasons as a pro. The Ravens defensive tackle earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections in 2023 after posting career highs across the board. Finishing with 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and 56 total tackles, Madubuike played a huge part in Baltimore’s defense being one of the best in the NFL. At age 26, his best football is ahead of him and he may be the most sought-after free agent if Baltimore chooses not to franchise tag him. 


4. Brian Burns DE, Carolina Panthers

Burns is another young star who has been trying to negotiate a large contract with his current team, as recent reports are suggesting that he’s seeking a new deal that would pay him 30$ million annually. After picking up his fifth-year option last offseason, the Panthers and Burns have been constantly attempting to agree to a new deal, but with no success thus far. The former first-round pick has 20.5 sacks in the last two seasons, including a career-high 12.5 in 2022. With Burns and the team seemingly far from agreeing to a contract, it appears as if the franchise tag is imminent, with a trade to a new team also in play. 


5. Kirk Cousins QB, Minnesota Vikings

Before tearing his Achilles in week eight, Cousins was on pace for yet another Pro Bowl season. Despite only appearing in eight total games and exiting one early with the injury, Cousins still finished in the top 20 for touchdown passes and seventh in QBR. The fact that Cousins will be 36 entering next season and is coming off the torn Achilles obviously raises questions about his availability and productivity. However, he is still easily the best QB that could be available this offseason and would be an upgrade for several teams across the league. 


6. Danielle Hunter EDGE, Minnesota Vikings

Hunter is coming off of his best season in the NFL where he finished fifth in the league in sacks with 16.5 and added four forced fumbles. His performance in 2023 paved the way for Hunter to earn his fourth Pro Bowl selection and his second straight. In a deep free agent class for pass-rushers, Hunter could arguably be the best of the bunch. If Minnesota is unable to retain the 2015 third-round pick, it is rumored that the Jaguars have a keen interest in signing him. 


7. Antoine Winfield Jr. S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winfield did it all for Tampa’s defense in 2023, leading to a First-team All-Pro selection and the first All-Pro nod of his career. He finished the season with 122 total tackles, six sacks, three interceptions, 12 pass defenses and a league-leading six forced fumbles. He showed off his ability to play at all levels of the field and his versatility as a defensive back. With his best playing days in front of him, Winfield is already in the discussion for the best Safety in the league. It would shock me to see him leave Tampa and I expect a lucrative contract to be signed soon. 


8. Christian Wilkins DT, Miami Dolphins

Wilkins moved all over the defensive line for the Dolphins in 2023 leading to a career-high in sacks to go along with 65 tackles and 35 pressures. Wilkins can play in several different defensive schemes and would be a great fit for multiple teams if the Dolphins are unable to bring him back. With the depth of defensive lineman in free agency this year, Wilkins could be a great option for a team on a cheaper contract compared to others mentioned on this list. 


9. Jaylon Johnson CB, Chicago Bears

Johnson was a bright spot in what was a rather poor passing defense for the Bears in 2023 as they allowed close to 240 passing yards per game (25th in the NFL). Johnson ended 2023 with four interceptions–the most in a single season for him–and 10 pass defenses. Able to play in both man and zone schemes, Johnson is at his best when he’s able to use his physicality in coverage. With Chicago still in the middle of a rebuild, I’d expect the young corner to return to the Bears. 



10. L’Jarius Sneed CB, Kansas City Chiefs  

Sneed played a huge role in Kansas City’s Super Bowl run and was a key part of one of the best secondaries in the NFL in 2023. Powered by Sneed’s versatility as a corner, the Chiefs held opponents to only 185.8 passing yards per game this season, good for fourth in the league. The former fourth-round pick posted a career high 14 pass defenses this season to go along with two interceptions. Given their cap space situation, it could be difficult for the Chiefs to retain both Sneed and Chris Jones. 


11. Mike Evans WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans has been the king of consistency since entering the league in 2014, going for 1,000+ receiving yards in each of his 10 pro seasons. 2023 was another great season for the future Hall-of-Famer. With new QB Baker Mayfield at the helm, Evans tallied his most receiving yards in a season since 2018 and brought in double-digit touchdowns for the fifth time in his career. Evans and the Bucs have been unable to agree to a new contract for several months now, so there is a possibility he finds a new home heading into year 11. However, I find it hard to believe that Tampa would let one of their best players in franchise history walk away. 


12. Michael Pittman Jr. WR, Indianapolis Colts

Pittman has been a huge part of the Colts’ offense since 2021, using his frame and run-after-the-catch ability to make plays on the outside and from the slot. The former USC Trojan posted his second 1,000-yard season of his career in 2023 and his first with 100 receptions. Pittman has been able to shine even with inconsistent QB play through four years. He also showed flashes of what the future could look like in Anthony Richardson’s limited play as a rookie. With the Colts having a young QB and a lack of receiver depth, it’s hard to imagine Pittman suiting up for another team next year. 


13. Robert Hunt G, Miami Dolphins

Hunt had a stellar season in Miami that led the Dolphins to have one of the most potent offenses in the league and the best offensive lines. Miami allowed just 1.8 sacks per game, good for fourth in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Hunt totaled an 89.6% pass-block win rate in 2023. Hunt could be the most in-demand lineman in this free agency, even with the depth across the position. 


14. Bryce Huff EDGE, New York Jets 

Huff had a breakout season and was a major contributor to what was largely viewed as the best defense in the NFL last season for the Jets. Huff’s speed-rushing skills led him to a career high 10 sacks–he had 7.5 in his first three seasons–and a pass rush win rate of 21.8%, good for eighth in the NFL (ESPN). Huff could be in line for a career-altering contract which could make it difficult for the Jets to bring him back. There’s been a lot of rumors connecting Huff to the cross-town rival New York Giants. 


15. Jonathan Greenard EDGE , Houston Texans

Greenard’s case is very similar to Bryce Huff’s; a young pass rusher who had a breakout season and could receive a huge payday as a result. Greenard finished top 10 in the league in sacks with 12.5–had 10.5 in his first three years–and ranked sixth in pass rush win rate according to ESPN. The 2020 third-round pick also played great in the run game, tallying nine stuffs and 52 tackles. With a young defensive-minded head coach in charge, the Texans will pull out all the stops to retain Greenard, but who knows if it will be enough to fend off other teams in need of pass rush help.  


*All stats were received from ESPN Stats & Info. Department and TeamRankings.com

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