The NFL's "official tampering period" begins today, as some free agent players will be looking to lock in big pay-days while others might take a smaller contract to play for a contender. Today I'll be ranking the top fifteen free agents available during this year's signing period
1. Tyran Mathieu, S
Mathieu has been named to three consecutive pro-bowls and two All-Pro teams as a member of the Chiefs. In his three seasons with Kansas City, Mathieu totaled just under two-hundred and fifteen tackles (213), twenty-seven passes defended, and thirteen interceptions. Mathieu will be thirty years old heading into next season and could be in store for another big payday
2. Terron Armstead, OT
Regardless of the injuries, Armstead sustained last season, he’s likely to be one of the most sought-after players during free agency. Armstead played in only eight games last season, however, he was as reliable as ever in that stretch. Allowing only one sack and committing only three penalties, the thirty-year-old Armstead will have plenty of suitors in this free agency period.
3. Marcus Williams, S
One of many young players who could receive a big pay-day, Williams enters free agency at the age of twenty-five, after five seasons, all of which as a starter with the Saints. Williams has shown his ability to impact both the run and pass as he’s tallied a total of three-hundred and twenty-one tackles and fifteen interceptions in his career thus far.
4. J.C. Jackson, CB
Since entering the league Jackson has totaled twenty-five interceptions, which is the most in the league for a single-player since 2018. Jackson’s ballhawk ability has been on display more than ever the last two seasons as he hauled in nine interceptions in 2020 and eight interceptions in 2021. At only twenty-six years old, Jackson should have a plethora of contract options.
5. Von Miller, OLB
Miller just turned thirty-three and although his production is no longer at its peak, Miller is still undoubtedly one of the top veteran pass-rush options in this free agency period. The Rams were more than willing to surrender draft picks this season for Miller for a reason. Although Miller has had trouble staying healthy the last two seasons, he can still provide a viable pass-rush threat for multiple teams in the league.
6. Brandon Scherff, G
Scherff has spent his entire career with Washington and has received Pro-Bowl honors five times and has been selected an All-Pro once, in 2020. Scherff had an impressive 2021 campaign allowing no sacks and only being called for six penalties. The only knock on Scherff is whether or not he can remain healthy as he hasn't played a full season since his second year in the league.
7. Trent Brown, OT
Brown could be moving on to his fourth team already in his seven-year NFL career. However, the team that eventually signs Brown will be more than happy as the former seventh-rounder has given up just six sacks in the last five seasons of his career. Although it could be unlikely that Brown gets a contract similar to his 2019 pay-day from the Raiders (4 years, 66$ million) Brown will be only twenty-nine years old next season and should have multiple teams looking to add him to their roster.
8. Haason Reddick, OLB
Arguably the best young pass-rusher on this list, Reddick finished in the top twenty in total sacks last year with eleven, the second-most of his career. Reddick signed a one-year deal with Carolina last offseason after collecting a career-high twelve and a half sacks in 2020. After another impressive showing in 2021, Reddick could be in line for a big-time contract.
9. Carlton Davis, CB
After a great 2020 season in which Davis set new career-highs in nearly every category, his 2021 was hindered by injury and as a result, played only ten games last season. In ten games last year Davis recorded eleven passes defended and thirty-three solo tackles. At only twenty-five, Davis will be one of the more sought-after defensive backs in this signing period.
10. Allen Robinson II, WR
Robinson has dealt with poor Quarterback play throughout his career both in Chicago and Jacksonville and as a result, has had inconsistencies with his production. However, before an abysmal 2021 season, Robinson put together consecutive seasons with over one thousand yards receiving. Robinson has the talent to be the number one option in the passing game, and should receive that opportunity, whether it be in Chicago once again, or for a new team.
11. Chandler Jones, OLB
After racking up nineteen sacks in 2019, Jones’ last two seasons have been up-and-down. Jones played in only five games in 2020 due to injury, and in 2021 only recorded five and a half sacks after an astounding week one performance. At thirty-two years old, it can be argued that Jones is the best veteran pass-rusher available.
12. Stephon Gilmore, CB
The former Defensive Player of the year was released by New England after continuous disputes on a contract extension for Gilmore and eventually landed with Carolina. Gilmore had a quiet 2021 as he played in just eight games, recording two interceptions and passes defended along with sixteen total tackles. The five-time pro-bowler and two-time All-Pro still can shut down opposing offenses' number one receivers and can return to one of the best corners in the league in the right defensive system.
13. Randy Gregory, DE
Gregory has struggled thus far in his career with off-the-field issues as well as injuries which have caused him to miss over fifty games in his four-year career. However, Gregory has shown flashes of his potential when on the field. In the twelve games he appeared in last season, Gregory totaled six sacks, nineteen total tackles, three forced fumbles, and his first career interception. But, due to the number of games Gregory has missed and his past off-the-field issues, it’s hard to tell what type of market he will have in this signing period.
14. Jadeveon Clowney, DE
2021 was Clowney’s best season from a numbers standpoint since his final season with Houston in 2018. Clowney recorded nine sacks and two forced fumbles, both tying the second-highest in those categories for Clowney in a single season, thus far in his career. Clowney has shown more consistency as a run stopper so far in his career, however, if teams believe he can string together the same level of consistency as a pass rusher that he showed in 2021, he’ll have plenty of options on where to play in 2022.
15. DJ Chark Jr., WR
Chark suffered a broken ankle in 2021, limiting him to only appearing in four games. However, because the injury was sustained early in the season, Chark is expected to recover and be fully healthy for training camp this season. Before the injury, Chark was coming off back-to-back seasons with more than ninety receptions, seven-hundred yards receiving, and at least five touchdowns. Chark is one of the younger receivers available in free agency and will certainly be a desired target for teams who need a boost at his position.
*All stats and info. were received from ESPN & Pro Football Focus