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Top 51 NFL free agents of 2023: Lamar Jackson, Roquan Smith, Geno Smith headline early rankings

The list of NFL quarterbacks headed for free agency in 2023 is long. The list of wide receivers, offensive linemen and cornerbacks is short. In general, this is a shallow crop of free agents at the top, but plenty of starters will hit the open market. I can't remember there ever being such a small gap between No. 10 on the board and No. 50.

Much will change between now and March -- three of the players I would have ranked in my top 30 (Elgton Jenkins, Jack Conklin and J.J. Watt) were re-signed or announced plans to retire in the last week alone. Expect a lot of movement as the regular season winds down.

In the meantime, here are my top 51 players.


  • Players are listed with current teams.
  • Each player's listed age represents how old he will be on Sept. 1, 2023, around when the next NFL season is poised to kick off.
  • These rankings are not a prediction of how much money each player will get, but rather how much I'd want someone at market value.
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · QB · Age: 26

There is absolutely no reason to believe the Ravens will let Jackson sniff the open market, but it’s fun for other teams to dream.

Roquan Smith
Baltimore Ravens · LB · Age: 26

Jackson's contract situation puts greater pressure on the Ravens to sign Smith before free agency. A great player in Chicago over the previous four seasons, the do-it-all linebacker has gone to another level in Baltimore since being traded there.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Smith and the Ravens have agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract that includes $45 million fully guaranteed and $60 million in total guarantees, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · QB · Age: 32

While Geno's play has leveled off following his hot start to the 2022 season, it's only declined to the level of league-average starting quarterback who can't overcome poor surroundings. Pro Bowl quarterbacks with quality years left don't come available often. 

Javon Hargrave
Philadelphia Eagles · DT · Age: 30

Undervalued in free agency in 2020, when he signed a three-year, $39 million deal with the Eagles, Hargrave could get bigger money this time after back-to-back monster seasons (17.5 sacks combined).

Orlando Brown
Kansas City Chiefs · OT · Age: 27

I'm not sure if left tackle is Brown's best position, but an above-average starter with great physical traits will get paid, even if Chiefs fans haven't always loved Brown. Kansas City offered Brown, who has played this season on the franchise tag, a big contract last offseason and figures to do the same again. 

Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · QB · Age: 46

For most of this season, Brady has played like a guy who would still excel if surrounded by the right coaching and pieces. The stretch run (7:7 TD-to-INT ratio since Week 13) has been cause for concern. 

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
Philadelphia Eagles · S · Age: 25

NFL general managers won't value an undersized slot corner/safety as highly as I do here, but Gardner-Johnson (eligible to return in Week 17 after going to injured reserve with a lacerated kidney suffered in Week 12) is a dog who is perfect for any secondary in this era. 

James Bradberry
Philadelphia Eagles · CB · Age: 30

Available for too long after being released by the Giants last offseason, Bradberry signed a prove-it deal with the Eagles. He proved in Philadelphia that he's a top-shelf corner when on his game. 

Saquon Barkley
New York Giants · RB · Age: 26

A running back with Barkley's receiving chops must be game-planned against. That has value, even if Barkley won't get the kind of money bound for some of the players below.  

Daron Payne
Washington Commanders · DT · Age: 26

A plug-and-play, quality starter who has improved as a pass rusher and doesn't need to come off the field much. 

Jessie Bates
Cincinnati Bengals · S · Age: 26

Bates, playing on the franchise tag, is likely out of Cincinnati after the Bengals drafted his replacement (Daxton Hill) in Round 1 last year. Bates might have greater value to a team that plays more single-high safety, although there are fewer of those teams every year.

Odell Beckham
Free agent · WR · Age: 30

The two ACL tears Beckham has suffered since 2020 make it hard to assess his value as a player, especially in light of the Cowboys' hesitation to sign him this year without seeing him work out. Then again, he's the most dynamic receiver available in a thin market where everyone is looking for wideouts.

Mike McGlinchey
San Francisco 49ers · OT · Age: 28

It helps McGlinchey that nearly half the league is running a version of Kyle Shanahan's offense, in which the veteran has ably performed for 4,300 snaps since being drafted ninth overall in 2018 to play right tackle. The recent deals given to Jack Conklin and Elgton Jenkins made the O-line market even thinner. 

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · QB · Age: 26

It would be fascinating to see Jones operate with consistent pass protection and better weapons. He's shown this season he can limit mistakes and play efficient football. The deep quarterback market, however, could hurt his earning power. 

Dre'Mont Jones
Denver Broncos · DT · Age: 26

He was in the top 20 in pressures among defensive tackles last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and was tied for fifth this season before suffering a hip injury in Week 14 that sent him to injured reserve.

JuJu Smith-Schuster
Kansas City Chiefs · WR · Age: 26

Still just 26 years old, Smith-Schuster has great career production as a possession receiver who adds a physical run-after-catch element to any offense.

Jamel Dean
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · CB · Age: 26

He's probably been the Bucs' most consistent cornerback this season. While he doesn't have the physical skills of his teammate Carlton Davis, he's a young starting cornerback, and a contract similar to what Davis received in 2022 (three years, $45 million) would make sense. 

Jakobi Meyers
New England Patriots · WR · Age: 26

Meyers is somewhere between a solid No. 2 receiver and a perfect No. 3, able to win on the inside and outside with crisp routes. He'd fit in any offense. 

Zach Allen
Arizona Cardinals · DL · Age: 26

Few players made themselves more money in 2022. In Year 4 with the Cardinals, Allen went from a quality innings-eater to a true ascending difference-maker who can play in any gap.

Tony Pollard
Dallas Cowboys · RB · Age: 26

Pollard is a weapon. One of the most effective per-touch running backs in football the last two years, he'd add juice to any offense.

Josh Jacobs
Las Vegas Raiders · RB · Age: 25

Jacobs' breakout season in 2022 comes with a minor red flag because of his heavy usage (he's logged a career-high 353 touches through Week 16). But Jacobs has been durable as a pro, is excellent in the passing game and nearly always makes the first defender miss. 

Marcus Davenport
New Orleans Saints · Edge · Age: 26

Pressure is production. Davenport creates pressure with a power game that is only ranked this low because he struggles to finish plays or play more than 500 snaps.

Evan Engram
Jacksonville Jaguars · TE · Age: 28

It's amazing how much Engram's career has been helped by having a coach who knows what the explosive tight end does well. He's been durable, with nearly 200 receptions over the last three years.

Jordan Poyer
Buffalo Bills · S · Age: 32

Could Poyer get better in his 30s like Devin McCourty? He seemed to show that he will in 2022, posting one of his best seasons. 

David Long
Tennessee Titans · LB · Age: 26

A December hamstring injury won't erase Long's breakout season as one of the most dynamic off-ball linebackers in football. Every team needs a dude who can stay on the field for all three downs.

Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers · QB · Age: 31

Jimmy G was playing his best ball since 2017 this season, but the foot injury that knocked him out in early December is an example of the kind of long-term viability issues that led Kyle Shanahan to draft Trey Lance in the first place. 

Cameron Sutton
Pittsburgh Steelers · CB · Age: 28

An improving starting cornerback with plenty of experience is rare in this market.

Lavonte David
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · LB · Age: 33

The only reason he’s not in the top 10 on this list is his age, and the idea that he has more value in Tampa than anywhere else. His play remains elite. 

Dalton Schultz
Dallas Cowboys · TE · Age: 27

Although Schultz’s production declined this season, he’s a quality starting tight end who can play in-line, in the slot and out wide. The Cowboys essentially chose to tag Schultz over keeping Amari Cooper last year. 

Dalvin Tomlinson
Minnesota Vikings · DE · Age: 29

Sign me up for any 328-pounder who can rush the passer.

Yannick Ngakoue
Indianapolis Colts · Edge · Age: 28

Ngakoue’s inability to stop the run is why he’s been on five teams in four years, but sacks and QB hits still sell.

Mike Gesicki
Miami Dolphins · TE · Age: 27

More athletic than his rendition of the Griddy would indicate, Gesicki needs to get back in an offense that uses him like a slot receiver. 

D.J. Chark
Detroit Lions · WR · Age: 26

A lot of teams could use a player like Chark, who can stretch the field. The thin wideout market will help him.

Byron Murphy
Arizona Cardinals · CB · Age: 25

He played more on the outside this season, which should only help his value, but he can also play in the slot. 

Brandon Graham
Philadelphia Eagles · Edge · Age: 35

The Eagles’ decision to use Graham as a part-time pass rusher paid off in 2022, with the veteran producing incredible per-snap production. He makes for a fine one-year signing.

Tremaine Edmunds
Buffalo Bills · LB · Age: 25

Throughout his up-and-down Bills tenure, Edmunds never lacked for energy. He improved his coverage skills and has had way fewer breakdowns in 2022.

Ben Powers
Baltimore Ravens · OG · Age: 26

Powers went from a position battle in training camp to one of the most consistent interior lineman in football. Will other teams think he was a product of the Ravens' system?

Poona Ford
Seattle Seahawks · DT · Age: 27

Ford is hitting free agency after a down year. He didn’t appear to fit in Pete Carroll’s new 3-4 scheme, but he’s shown a high level previously as a penetrator.

Nate Davis
Tennessee Titans · OG · Age: 26

Arguably the Titans' most-reliable lineman, Davis should easily find a starting job. 

Dalton Risner
Denver Broncos · OG · Age: 28

Perhaps best known as the man who pushed Denver backup quarter Brett Rypien on the sidelines during the Broncos' Christmas Day loss to the Rams, Risner has started 61 games at an above-average level overall.

Rock Ya-Sin
Las Vegas Raiders · CB · Age: 27

Traded from the Colts to the Raiders in exchange for Yannick Ngakoue, Ya-Sin can help out a team that likes to play press-man coverage.

Miles Sanders
Philadelphia Eagles · RB · Age: 26

He's averaging more that 5 yards per carry for his career and showed in 2022 he can lead a backfield.

Vonn Bell
Cincinnati Bengals · S · Age: 28

A terrific free-agent signing by the Bengals three years ago, Bell is a tight end stopper. 

Kaleb McGary
Atlanta Falcons · OT · Age: 28

Another player who significantly improved his value in 2022, McGary has developed into a quality starter at right tackle, especially in the running game. 

Drue Tranquill
Los Angeles Chargers · LB · Age: 28

He proved this season he's an every-down player, excelling in coverage and as a blitzer. 

Arden Key
Jacksonville Jaguars · Edge · Age: 27

When Key replaced an injured Travon Walker in the lineup, the Jaguars' pass rush improved. He is a perfect rotational piece for virtually any system.

Patrick Peterson
Minnesota Vikings · CB · Age: 33

Playing on his second straight one-year contract in as many seasons, Peterson is Minnesota's best cornerback in the 2022 campaign despite his age.

Melvin Ingram
Miami Dolphins · Edge · Age: 34

Every year I rank Ingram high, no NFL team seems to want him and then he balls out. Even if he goes off-script sometimes, the chaos is worth it.

Isaac Seumalo
Philadelphia Eagles · OG · Age: 29

He hasn’t always been a starter in Philadelphia, but his run blocking has been a big part of the Eagles' success this year. 

Jadeveon Clowney
Cleveland Browns · Edge · Age: 30

It wouldn’t be a free-agent list without Clowney, still getting pressures after all these years.

Mike White
New York Jets · QB · Age: 28

I’m just putting White here as a placeholder for all the bridge quarterback options who can change their value in the final two weeks. Baker Mayfield, Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold qualify here, too. 

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

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