Free agent lists in January are teases. Fans see the big names and dream of offseason purchases their favorite team should acquire. In reality, most of the names on our top-20 free agent list below won't become available.
With the salary cap expected to soar this offseason, we suspect that deal will wind up looking like an absolute bargain.
Without further adieu, the list below is our early rough list of the top-20 unrestricted free agents set to hit the market. We will expand our free agency coverage dramatically in the coming month, with our annual Top 101 list coming out in February.
Top 20 2016 Unrestricted free agents
3. Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets defensive end:Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams were splashy draft pick additions, but Wilkerson is still the best defensive lineman on the Jets. New York has played hardball in negotiations thus far with Wilkerson, but the franchise tag has to be an option here.
6. Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants defensive end: He's still disruptive despite playing with a club over his injured hand. There has to be a chance JPP will only get better as he learns how best to play with his disadvantage, and the ceiling here is tremendous. Still, he has struggled to wrap up opposing running backs. Can he finish plays?
9. Olivier Vernon, Dolphins defensive end:The other Dolphins pass rusher opposite Cameron Wake has dialed up a lot of pressure over the last three years, even if he doesn't always finish the play with a sack. He's clearly an above average pass rush starter, which is going to make him a very rich man. Expectations are he'll leave Miami, who can only afford to pay so much on their defensive line.