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2016 free agency: Top 99 available players

  • By Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling
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NFL free agency is underway, and many of the best players already have been taken off the market. The top four players on our original Top 99 free agents received the franchise tag, and seven of our initial top 12 also were tagged. There has never been this much salary-cap room for teams.

We'll continue to update our top 99 free agents below as players get released and remove players as they sign. The rankings are based on answering one simple question: Which player would we want to sign most?

Difference makers

1. Malik Jackson, Denver Broncos defensive tackle: The Jaguars agreed to terms with Jackson on Tuesday, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

UPDATE: Jackson signed a six-year contract with the Jaguars. Per Rapoport, the deal is worth $90 million with $42 million in guarantees.

2. Olivier Vernon, Miami Dolphins defensive end: Vernon has dialed up a lot of pressure over the last four years, even if he doesn't finish with as many sacks as Cameron Wake. Miami might have to cut Wake or other players to keep Vernon.

UPDATE: Vernon signed an $85 million contract with the Giants.

3. Kelechi Osemele, Baltimore Ravens guard: If your team needs a run blocker, Osemele is easily the best name on the market.

UPDATE: NFL Media's Rand Geltin reported Osemele and the Raiders have agreed in principle on a deal.

4. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back: He won't make the same money as the guys listed above (and below) him here because of the position he plays, but no one helped their value more last season. Martin went from an afterthought to the No. 2 rusher in the NFL.

UPDATE: Martin signed a five-year, $35.75 million deal with the Buccaneers, the team announced.

5. Bruce Irvin, Seattle Seahawks linebacker: He isn't a defense-changing talent, but he's also better than you think. Irvin is a quality versatile starter.

UPDATE: Irvin signed with the Raiders on Wednesday, the team announced.

6. Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants defensive end: JPP turned down more money elsewhere to re-sign with the Giants on a one-year deal.

UPDATE: Pierre-Paul signed a one-year deal to remain with the Giants.

7. Mario Williams, Buffalo Bills defensive end: Williams, 31, took too many plays off and grumbled about Rex Ryan's scheme. On the other hand, he's just one year removed from a first-team All-Pro selection and the best year of his career in Jim Schwartz's defense.

UPDATE: Williams has signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins that is expect to land him $8 million per year, per Rapoport.

8. Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers safety: Weddle might have taken a step back from his All-Pro level, but he's still a dynamic centerfielder that can do a little bit of everything for a defense.

UPDATE: Weddle has agreed to join the Ravens, per Rapoport.

9. Danny Trevathan, Denver Broncos linebacker: Trevathan is a three-down linebacker entering his prime that can hold up in pass coverage. We're big fans of his skill set and he's just the type of above-average starter that gets paid like a superstar in free agency. Perhaps by old coach John Fox?

UPDATE: Trevathan signed a four-year, $28 million deal to join the Bears.

10. Janoris Jenkins, Los Angeles Rams cornerback: He's steadily improved each season in the NFL and now is a playmaking starter. After Trumaine Johnson received the franchise tag, Jenkins is set up to score big money.

UPDATE: Jenkins signed a five-year, $62.5 million deal with the Giants, per Getlin and the team.

Impact Starters

11. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears running back: One of the NFL's most complete backs has not shown many signs of age, yet. Perhaps he should be paired with another quality option, but there's no doubt he could upgrade many backfields.

UPDATE: Forte has agreed to sign with the Jets.

12. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins running back: Miller is a big-play threat who excels as a receiver. He's probably best used around 250 touches; don't look for a team to give him all the touches.

UPDATE: Miller signed a four-year, $26 million deal to join Brock Osweiler with the Houston Texans.

13. Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos quarterback: He displayed some positive traits (pocket movement, arm strength) in seven starts. The Broncos should have seen enough in practice the last four years to know if he's worth huge money.

UPDATE: Osweiler signed a four-year deal worth $72 million to join the Houston Texans.

14. Sean Smith, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback: Smith quietly put together rock-solid seasons as a man coverage cornerback in Kansas City. He's headed to his third contract yet is only 28 years old.

UPDATE: Smith has agreed to terms with the Raiders on a four-year, $40 million deal ($20 million guaranteed), per Getlin and Rapoport.

15. Jaye Howard, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle: One of our favorite value picks in free agency, Howard was a terror for the Chiefs last season. Can the Chiefs afford to keep all their great talent on defense?

UPDATE: The Chiefs re-signed Jaye Howard to a two-year, $12 million deal, sources told Rapoport and Getlin.

16. Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker: The ageless heart and soul of the Chiefs defense would look strange in any other uniform.

UPDATE: Chiefs re-signed Johnson to a three-year, $21 million deal, a source involved in the contract negotiations told Rapoport.

17. Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks tackle: He is coming off shoulder surgery and is representing himself as an agent. This could get interesting.

UPDATE: Okung has signed a five-year deal worth $12 million per season with the Denver Broncos, a source told Rapoport.

18. Damon Harrison, New York Jets nose tackle: One of the premier run-stuffers in football, there just aren't many humans left on the planet quite like "Snacks."

UPDATE: Harrison agreed to a deal with the Giants.

19. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns center: Two years removed from signing an offer sheet with the Jaguars after being transition tagged, Mack is back on the market after voiding his contract with the Browns. He passed up $8 million with Cleveland, so it's safe to say he'll make more than that despite coming off a down year at age 30.

UPDATE: Mack finalized a five-year deal with the Falcons.

20. Prince Amukamara, New York Giants cornerback: There just aren't enough capable starting cornerbacks in today's NFL. Amukamara is one of them.

UPDATE: The cornerback agreed to a one-year deal with the Jaguars, a source informed of the contract told Rapoport.

21. Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher: It's rare to see a player take a pay cut like Hali, then enjoy one of his best seasons. So the Chiefs decided to re-sign Hali to a three-year deal, per Rapoport.

UPDATE: Hali signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs, a source involved with the deal told Rapoport.

22. Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati Bengals safety: So many teams are looking for a reliable "centerfielder" at safety like Nelson to improve the team's last line of defense.

UPDATE: Nelson agreed to a two-year contract with the Oakland Raiders, per Rapoport.

23. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets quarterback: He has more value to the Jets with Chan Gailey running the show than he would in any another city.

24. George Iloka, Cincinnati Bengals safety: He has rare size and coverage ability. It feels like Illoka is just tapping into his physical gifts.

UPDATE: Iloka signed a five-year, $30 million deal to stay in Cincy, per Rapoport.

Starters with questions

25. Chris Long, Los Angeles Rams defensive end: He only has four sacks over the last two injury-ravaged years, yet Long should still have some quality seasons left. He was a top-20 defensive end as recently as 2013.

UPDATE: Long agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots, a source informed of his thinking told Rapoport.

26. Nick Fairley, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle: He stayed out of trouble and quietly was effective as a rotational player in St. Louis. Can he be effective playing more? There is boom or bust potential here.

27. Derrick Shelby, Miami Dolphins defensive end: An improving player that has performed well with his opportunities, Shelby could be a steal this offseason. The Dolphins could wind up keeping Shelby to replace Olivier Vernon.

UPDATE: Defensive end Derrick Shelby signed with the Falcons.

28. Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers defensive end: Cut because of a monster cap figure, Johnson still played like an above average starter when healthy last season. (Including an excellent performance in the Super Bowl.)

UPDATE: Johnson has re-signed with the Panthers.

29. Alex Boone, San Francisco 49ers guard: He can add nastiness to any offensive line.

UPDATE: Boone signed with the Vikings.

30. Arian Foster, Houston Texans running back: The downside: He has missed 23 of his last 40 games. The upside: He ran harder than just about any running back in the league in 2014, when he was a top-five player at his position. He's worth a shot to see if you get one last big year.

31. Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver: Jones is the top receiver in the entire market in the wake of Alshon Jeffery being franchise tagged. He has a terrific skill set, but is a candidate to get overpaid because of the thin market.

UPDATE: Jones signed a five-year deal worth $40 million to play with the Lions.

32. Robert Ayers, New York Giants defensive end: It makes no sense that a former first-round pick that played in New York is so under the radar.

UPDATE: Ayers agreed to a three-year deal with the Bucs worth $21 million with $10 million guaranteed, Rapoport reports.

33. Chris Ivory, New York Jets running back: He can look like a Pro Bowler for half a season, but Ivory's running style makes him a better candidate to split carries before he gets run down.

UPDATE: Ivory signed with the Jaguars on a five-year deal.

34. Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals tackle: It's a red flag he's coming off such a down year after the Bengals maxed out his skill set for much of his career.

35. Ian Williams, San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle: He's like "Snacks" Harrison, possibly with more value on passing downs.

UPDATE: Rapoport reports Williams is staying in San Francisco on a five-year deal.

36. Kelvin Beachum, Pittsburgh Steelers tackle: He would be ranked in the top 20 if he wasn't coming off a torn ACL.

UPDATE: Beachum became the latest free agent to sign with the Jaguars.

37. Walter Thurmond, Philadelphia Eagles safety: Injury prone for much of his career, Thurmond was part of perhaps the best safety tandem in the league with Malcolm Jenkins in Philadelphia.

38. Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland Browns tackle: The ever-improving right tackle adds value with excellent Twitter analysis.

UPDATE: Schwartz signed a five-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

39. Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers tight end: He never quite broke out behind Antonio Gates, but Green put together some terrific tape in 2015. He has excellent hands, incredible speed for a tight end and is a solid blocker. He's still a Making the Leap candidate!

UPDATE: Green signed to a four-year, $20 million deal with the Steelers.

40. Tashaun Gipson, Cleveland Browns safety: He followed up an incredible 2014 season with a miserable 2015 campaign. He's worth a shot at a discounted price.

UPDATE: Gipson signed a five-year, $35.5 million deal with the Jaguars, sources told Rapoport and Getlin.

41. Jerrell Freeman, Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker: He's great in coverage for an inside linebacker, which is worth a premium.

42. Haloti Ngata, Detroit Lions defensive tackle: No longer a game-wrecker, Ngata can add quality depth to the middle of any defensive line.

UPDATE: The Lions announced they have re-signed Ngata.

43. Donald Penn, Oakland Raiders tackle: An up and down career is back on the rise after a steady turn protecting Derek Carr.

44. Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers cornerback: He has been a solid starter for the Packers, yet the team looks set to let him walk away. He can play outside and in the slot.

UPDATE: Getlin reports Hayward reached a deal to join the Chargers.

45. Aldon Smith, Oakland Raiders pass rusher: He is suspended until at least the middle of November and it's possible he won't be reinstated (or signed) until 2017. With all that said, Smith is eligible to sign with a new team and represents a rare top-10 pass rusher talent available at a reduced price. Someone will give him a third chance.

46. Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns wide receiver: Coming off a career year, Benjamin may find out that NFL teams refuse to pay for undersized slot receivers.

UPDATE: Benajamin signed with the Chargers on a four-year deal.

47. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers tight end: He's fully expected to stay with the Chargers.

UPDATE: Gates re-signed with the Chargers.

48. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers nose tackle: He can still clog up the middle of a defensive line, with the upside that he'll turn back the clock one of these years.

UPDATE: Raji said in a statement he is taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 season.

49. Adam Jones, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback: Pacman played better than all but roughly 20 players on this list last season. But can he keep up that high level as an outside cornerback turning 33 this year? Would his act play outside of Cincinnati?

UPDATE: Jones signed on a three-year deal to remain with the Bengals, a source informed of the contract told Rapoport.

50. Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts tight end: Every team wants a tight end that can stretch the seams of a defense. Fleener's hands just aren't as consistent as you'd like.

UPDATE: The Saints signed Fleener to a five-year deal worth about $36 million, a source told Rapoport.

51. Greg Hardy, Dallas Cowboys defensive end: Based purely on talent and 2015 play, Hardy would be in the top ten of this list. But you have to sign the person that goes with the talent, and most teams will smartly decide Hardy isn't worth the trouble.

52. Richie Incognito, Buffalo Bills guard: Incognito emerged from football purgatory to complete his best season as a pro. He's ranked this low because of his red flags.

UPDATE: Bills have re-signed Incognito to a three-year deal worth roughly $15 million, a team source told Rapoport.

53. Mark Barron, Los Angeles Rams linebacker: He made a surprisingly smooth transition to linebacker from safety.

UPDATE: Barron signed a five-year, $45 million deal with the Rams, a source told Rapoport.


54. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver: He doesn't need to be open to make catches. He's found a way to stay productive throughout his 30s and is a great locker room addition.

55. Ramon Foster, Pittsburgh Steelers guard: A solid starter, Foster was a big part of Pittsburgh's excellent offensive line.

UPDATE: The Steelers have agreed to terms on a three-year deal with Foster, the team announced.

56. Terrance Knighton, Washington Redskins defensive tackle: He signed for one year in Washington last year, hoping for a bigger payday this time around. He should get it.

UPDATE: Knighton has agreed to a deal with the Patriots, he announced on Twitter.

57. Rodney McLeod, Los Angeles Rams safety: The No. 10-ranked safety by Pro Football Focus last year, McLeod has logged at least 1,000 snaps in each of the last three seasons.

UPDATE: McLeod signed a five-year, $37 million deal with the Eagles that includes $17 million in guarantees, a source informed of the contract told Rapoport.

58. Rashad Johnson, Arizona Cardinals safety: He got lost in the shuffle in Arizona's star-studded secondary but Johnson can do a lot of things well at the safety position.

UPDATE: Getlin reported that Johnson has agreed to terms with the Titans on a one-year deal, per a source informed of the move.

59. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins running back: He can't catch a pass, but Morris is a rugged early down running back that can top 1,200 yards without breaking down.

60. Brandon Brooks, Houston Texans guard: He has shown that he can start in multiple systems.

UPDATE: The Eagles signed a five-year deal with Brooks, the team announced.

61. Evan Mathis, Denver Broncos guard: Mathis is an accomplished veteran two years removed from All Pro-caliber play, but he's nearing his mid-30s, coming off of surgery and limited to zone-blocking schemes.

Needs the right role

62. Mike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver: Wallace has a limited skill set but getting deep in the NFL is still worth something. He's been overpaid the last few years but makes sense as a role player.

63. Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver: Sanu is essentially a fine slot receiver, with some gadget plays mixed in. He could be productive in the right system.

UPDATE: Sanu signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

64. Chase Daniel, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback: He's looked like a capable starter in preseason and spot duty work in the regular season. It's finally time to Make the Leap!

UPDATE: Daniel is joining his old offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson, in Philly. Daniel and the Eagles have agreed to a deal.

65. Cedric Thornton, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end: The Eagles can't keep everyone, but this run stopper has played well in a 3-4 defense before.

UPDATE: Thornton signed a four-year deal with the Cowboys. His deal is worth $18 million, a source informed told Rapoport.

66. Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins wide receiver: In and out of Joe Philbin's doghouse for the majority of his Miami career, Matthews finally hit the starting lineup, posting career-highs across the board in just 11 games. There are certainly worse No. 3 receivers around the league.

UPDATE: Matthews has agreed to a three-year, $15 million deal with the Titans, sources told Getlin and Rapoport.

67. Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver: The Seahawks prefer physical, well-rounded wide receivers willing to block and contribute on special teams, which is where much of Kearse's value lies.

UPDATE: Kearse agreed to terms on a re-signing with the Seahawks on a three-year deal, Rapoport reports.

68. Jahri Evans, New Orleans Saints guard: Once the highest-paid guard in the league, Evans can still help a team out as a quality starter.

69. Nigel Bradham, Buffalo Bills linebacker: He wasn't a fit for Rex Ryan's defense, but Bradham showed off a three-down starter skill set the year before with Jim Schwartz.

UPDATE: Bradham signed a three-year deal with the Eagles, the team announced.

70. Mike Neal, Green Bay Packers linebacker: He's a high effort player that can play anywhere from outside linebacker to defensive tackle. A good rotation player.

71. Junior Galette, Washington Redskins pass rusher: Although highly productive when healthy, Galette is a coach-killer with character concerns and health questions.

UPDATE: Galette has agreed to a one-year deal with the Redskins that could be worth up to $4.1 million, a source informed of the deal told NFL Media's Albert Breer.

72. Percy Harvin, Buffalo Bills wide receiver: It's easy to forget that Harvin outplayed Sammy Watkins early last season before injuries resurfaced, begetting thoughts of early retirement. With his football future in question, Harvin won't land a contract commensurate with his talent level.

73. William Hayes, Los Angeles Rams defensive end: Hayes has been one of the premier rotational defensive ends of the past half-decade. As a Jeff Fisher favorite going back to their time together in Tennessee, he's a good bet to re-sign with the Rams as Chris Long's replacement in the starting lineup.

74. Dwight Freeney, Arizona Cardinals pass rusher: Freeney is purely a situational edge rusher at a stage of his career in which he will only play for a Super Bowl contender. His last two months in Arizona were his most effective in nearly half a decade.


Draft coverage:

75. Courtney Upshaw, Baltimore Ravens defensive end: If he couldn't make it in Baltimore as anything more than a run-stuffing specialist, he isn't likely to develop elsewhere.

UPDATED: Upshaw signed with the Atlanta Falcons, according to the team.

76. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots running back: There is a fear he'll turn into a pumpkin away from Bill Belichick.

77. Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback: Paying aging cornerbacks is rarely good business, but Hall can still help out as a role player in the right situation.

78. Nick Perry, Green Bay Packers pass rusher: Perry showed flashes of pass-rushing potential last season, but never produced consistently enough to live up to his first-round pedigree.

UPDATE: Perry is re-signing with the Packers on a one-year deal, per Rapoport.

79. Patrick Robinson, San Diego Chargers cornerback: The former New Orleans Saints cornerback has come on strong the last two years as a feisty cornerback.

UPDATE: Robinson has agreed to a three-year deal with the Colts, according to Rapoport.

80. William Gay, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback: He was easily Pittsburgh's most reliable cornerback last year and could be back.

UPDATE: Gay is re-signing with the Steelers, the team announced.

81. Akiem Hicks, New England Patriots defensive tackle: Acquired in a trade with the Saints, Hicks flashed impressive ability late in the season.

UPDATE: The Chicago Bears announced that they have signed the defensive lineman to a two-year deal.

82. Tahir Whitehead, Detroit Lions inside linebacker: The former fifth-round pick made a lot of plays for the Lions the last two years. He's a nice value pickup.

UPDATE: The Lions are re-signing Whitehead to a two-year deal worth more than $8 million, Rapoport reports.

83. Stefen Wisniewski, Jacksonville Jaguars center: Serviceable starting center, will travel.

84. Nolan Carroll, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback: He wasn't exactly a solution for the Eagles defense last season, but he wasn't a problem either. Snaps eater.

85. Zach Brown, Tennessee Titans linebacker: He has insane pursuit skills but was never fully trusted in Tennessee.

86. Jerraud Powers, Arizona Cardinals cornerback: He's played a lot of snaps for some very good teams over the last five years.

87. Michael Griffin, Tennessee Titans safety: The longtime Titans captain should have a year or two left.

UPDATE: Griffin will sign a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Vikings, a source told Rapoport.

88. Bilal Powell, New York Jets running back: He can play all three downs at a solid level, without truly excelling in any one attribute.

UPDATE: Rapoport reports Powell is re-signing with the Jets.

89. James Laurinaitis, Los Angeles Rams linebacker: Known as a good leader, Laurinaitis just didn't make enough plays the last few years in St. Louis. He's a stop-gap pickup.

UPDATE: Laurinaitis has agreed to a deal with the Saints, a source familiar with the deal told Getlin.

90 Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins cornerback: Released by the Dolphins because of his big salary, Grimes still played like a solid starter at age 32.

UPDATED: Grimes agreed to terms with the Bucs on two-year deal worth $16.5 million, Getlin reports.

91. Brian Quick, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver: Quick might have been the most physically gifted wideout on the Rams' roster, but he lost the majority of the past two seasons to a severe shoulder injury. Given the Rams' history of failing to develop wide receivers, he's an interesting flier for teams seeking a size/speed reclamation project.

UPDATED: Quick re-signed with the Rams on Wednesday.

92. Rueben Randle, New York Giants wide receiver: Drawing single coverage opposite Odell Beckham, Randle had one of the cushiest gigs in the league last season. Rather than establishing himself as the long-term Robin to Beckham's Batman, he remained frustratingly inconsistent.

UPDATE: The Eagles announced that the team has signed Randle to a one-year deal.

93. Zach Miller, Chicago Bears tight end: A quarterback at Nebraska-Omaha, Miller has always been among the league's most athletic receiving tight ends. He just couldn't the injury bug since entering the league with the Jaguars all the way back in 2009. That changed in the second half of last season, when he emerged as a reliable playmaker for Jay Cutler.

UPDATE: Miller has agreed to a two-year deal with the Bears worth $6 million, a source told Rapoport.

94. Jarvis Jenkins, Chicago Bears defensive end: Jenkins flashed as one of Chicago's best defensive players early last season before his effectiveness waned in the second half.

UPDATE: Jenkins agreed to a three-year deal with the Jets worth $2 million per year, per RapSheet.

95. Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints tight end: Watson might be 35 years old, but he's coming off an impressive season, nearly matching Jimmy Graham's receiving output from his last season in New Orleans.

UPDATE: Watson signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, the team announced.

96. Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys linebacker: McClain is one of the league's most physical run-stuffing linebackers when healthy and motivated. Will his checkered track record limit his market, though?

UPDATE: McClain's agent announced his client will return to the Cowboys for the 2016 season.

97. David Bruton, Denver Broncos safety: Bruton had been a premier special teamer before last season, when he made a series of big plays in the Broncos' secondary.

UPDATE: Per multiple reports, Bruton signed a three-year contract with the Washington Redskins.

98. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals running back: A more patient and physical Johnson was second in the league in rushing before hitting the wall in November. David Johnson's emergence as one of the NFL's best backs suggests Chris' initial success may have been a byproduct of Arizona's pick-your-poison offense.

UPDATE: Johnson has agreed to a one-year deal to stay with the Cardinals, Rapoport reported.

99. Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins quarterback: There was a time not so long ago when RGIII was considered the brightest young star in football.


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