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Under-the-radar NFL free agents in line for a healthy payday

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Nick Foles and Le'Veon Bell headline the list of notable players set to hit free agency next week, along with the Pro Bowl likes of Earl Thomas, C.J. Mosley, Anthony Barr and Landon Collins, among others. But the big names aren't the only guys who could be headed for big paydays.

Here's a look at some lower-profile free agents who might get more money than you think, based on recent conversations with team executives and other people familiar with the 2019 free-agent marketplace:

Wide receivers

Practically all the teams loaded with salary-cap space (like the Colts, Jets, et al.) need receivers, but there aren't many front-line guys on the market. That should benefit the likes of Tyrell Williams, who spent the last two seasons fighting for targets on a talented Chargers team (69 targets, 16.9 yards per catch in 2017; 65 targets, 15.9 yards per catch in '18) and now appears headed for top-20 receiver money: $11 million to $12 million a year, if not more. Some slot guys are likely to get paid, too, and not just veteran Golden Tate. Jamison Crowder (most recently with the Redskins) and Adam Humphries (Buccaneers), both 25 years old, could get $9 million to $11 million. Cole Beasley (Cowboys) turns 30 next month, but he might end up in a similar range.

Running backs

Beyond Bell, the list of difference-makers in their prime at the position is short. One name to watch: Tevin Coleman, who's still only 25 years old and has limited wear and tear (684 touches in four seasons with the Falcons, including playoffs). Jerick McKinnon got $7.5 million a year from the 49ers with a similar profile last March, and Coleman could end up in that $7 million range, too.

Tight ends

Jared Cook (Raiders) has bounced around, playing for four teams in his NFL career thus far, and turns 32 next month, but he can still run and posted career highs in catches (68), yards (896) and TD catches (six) last season with the Raiders, who want to keep him. That may cost $8 million to $9 million a year. Nick Boyle was the inline player set to cash in, but he agreed late Wednesday to stay with the Ravens for three years and $18 million.

Offensive linemen

Assuming everything checks out medically as expected, Matt Paradis (Broncos) and Mitch Morse (Chiefs) both could push the top of the center market -- $10 million a year or more. There also is expected to be a market for Trent Brown (Patriots), who some believe could get $13 million to $15 million as the best left tackle available.

Defensive linemen/Edge

Pass rush will really be at a premium, with DeMarcus Lawrence (Cowboys), Dee Ford (Chiefs), Frank Clark (Seahawks), Grady Jarrett (Falcons) and Jadeveon Clowney (Texans) having been predictably blocked from the open market via franchise tags. Besides Trey Flowers -- whose market is a point of debate, with some insisting he can get as much as $17 million a year if he doesn't take a discount to stay in New England -- Preston Smith (Redskins) and Za'Darius Smith (Ravens) figure to land deals in the eight figures. (Side note: Bigger names such as Terrell Suggs and Cameron Wake should make out just fine in this marketplace as well, even entering their late 30s.) In terms of inside players, don't overlook Darius Philon (Chargers). He started 13 games last season, just turned 25 and could command around $6 million.

Defensive backs

The safety market is absolutely loaded, with big deals expected for Thomas, Collins and Tyrann Mathieu, and Eric Weddle now available after his surprise release from the Ravens, too. (UPDATE: Weddle agreed to a two-year contract with the Rams worth up to $12.5 million.) But the cornerback group is lean. That should benefit Ronald Darby (Eagles), who may get close to top-10 money -- perhaps $12 million a year -- even as he rehabs from a torn ACL. Darby just turned 25. Justin Coleman (Seahawks) is a slot guy to watch. He could end up at $7 million to $8 million. Pierre Desir (Colts) should do well, too.

Follow Tom Pelissero on Twitter @TomPelissero.

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