2014 NFL free agent rankings: Top 15 free agents at each position

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

With franchise and transition tags handed out and a few names choosing to re-up with their old teams, we take another look at the top free agents at each position. SB Nation's GIF Tournament V

Free agency just began, but there has already been considerable movement among the players set to hit the market. A few players cashed in, even before hitting the open market, while six others had their free agency impeded by either the franchise or transition tag. At the same time, a handful of notable players avoided the franchise tag and became hot commodities.

Here's a look at the latest free agency rankings for each position, minus some of the early moves by teams to retain players like Anquan Boldin, etc.

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Quarterback

1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles

2. Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings

3. Josh McCown, Chicago Bears (signed with Tampa Bay)

4. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings (re-signed with Minnesota)

5. Matt Flynn, Green Bay Packers

6. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars (re-signed with Jacksonville)

7. Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks (re-signed with Seattle)

8. Shaun Hill, Detroit Lions

9. Colt McCoy, San Francisco 49ers

10. Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins

11. Kellen Clemens, St. Louis Rams (signed with San Diego)

12. Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers (re-signed with Carolina)

13. Brady Quinn, St. Louis Rams

14. David Garrard, New York Jets

15. Charlie Whitehurst, San Diego Chargers (signed with Tennessee)

The relatively modest class remains intact with Vick at the top. Teams in the market for a starter won't find many options. Even the options for a solid No. 2 drop off relatively quickly.

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Running back

1. Ben Tate, Houston Texans (signed two-year, $7 million deal with Cleveland)

2. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos

3. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (re-signed with Oakland on a one-year, $4 million deal)

5. Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders (signed with the Giants)

6. Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts (signed with San Diego)

7. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

8. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (re-signed with Green Bay)

9. Andre Brown, New York Giants

10. Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings (signed a three-year deal with Jacksonville)

11. Anthony Dixon, San Francisco 49ers (signed with Buffalo)

12. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (re-signed with Indianapolis for one year)

13. Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (signed with Arizona)

14. LaRod Stephens-Howling, Pittsburgh Steelers

15. Leon Washington, Tennessee Titans (re-signed with the Titans)

With none of the top free agents getting tagged, the running back market remained quiet until the start of free agency. There are some intriguing options even beyond the top few names. Brown, Blount and Starks all excelled at times last season.

Wide receiver

Free Agent Grades

1. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos (signed with New York Jets)

2. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (signed one-year, $3.5 million with Indianapolis)

3. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks (signed with Detroit)

4. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (re-signed with New England)

5. James Jones, Green Bay Packers (signed a three-year deal with Oakland)

6. Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers (signed with Denver)

7. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

8. Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans

9. Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (signed with Tennessee for three years, $12 million)

10. Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers (signed by New England for three years, $11 million)

11. Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals (signed a four-year, $16 million deal with Washington)

12. Jerricho Cotchery, Pittsburgh Steelers

13. Ted Ginn, Carolina Panthers (signed with Arizona for three years)

14. Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints

15. Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings (re-signed with Minnesota)

There was a little movement at wide receiver with Jeremy Maclin and Anquan Boldin coming off the board by re-signing. A couple of the top free agents could be in line for one year "prove it" deals, including Rice and Britt. If they can re-gain their previous form, they could be steals of the offseason. If not, they're worth the cost of taking a flier.

Tight end

Free Agent Grades

1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans -- Franchise tag

2. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers

3. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans

4. Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions (re-signed with Detroit)

5. Dustin Keller, Miami Dolphins

6. Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills (re-signed with Buffalo)

7. Garrett Graham, Houston Texans (re-signed with Houston)

8. Brandon Myers, New York Giants (signed with Tampa Bay for two years, $4 million)

9. Ed Dickson, Baltimore Ravens

10. John Carlson, Minnesota Vikings (signed by Arizona; two years, $4.65 million)

11. Anthony McCoy, Seattle Seahawks (re-signed with Seattle)

12. Andrew Quarless, Green Bay Packers (re-signed two-year, $3 million deal with Green Bay)

13. Tony Scheffler, Detroit Lions

14. Jeff Cumberland, New York Jets (re-signed by New York)

15. Clay Harbor, Jacksonville Jaguars (re-signed by Jacksonville)

The tight end market took a significant hit with Graham franchised, Dennis Pitta re-signing in Baltimore and Fred Davis getting suspended. There aren't many well-rounded tight ends on the market, but teams looking for either a receiving option or a blocking specialist will have some options.

Offensive line

1. Branden Albert, Kansas City (signed with Miami for five years, $46 million)

2. Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders (signed a five-year deal with Arizona)

3. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns -- Transition tag

4. Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens (re-signed with Baltimore for five years, $37.5 million)

5. Anthony Collins, Cincinnati Bengals (signed with Tampa Bay)

6. Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs (signed with the New York Giants)

7. Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams (re-signed with the Rams for five years, $31.5 million)

8. Travelle Wharton, Carolina Panthers

9. Jon Asamoah, Kansas City Chiefs (signed with Atlanta)

10. Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens (signed four-year, $20 million with Tennessee)

11. Brian De La Puente, New Orleans Saints

12. Evan Dietrich-Smith, Green Bay Packers (signed four-year, $14.24 million deal with Tampa Bay)

13. Chad Rinehart, San Diego Chargers (re-signed with San Diego for two years and $6 million)

14. Breno Giacomini, Seattle Seahawks (signed four-year, $18 million deal with New York Jets)

15. Shawn Lauvao, Cleveland Browns (signed with Washington for four years, $17 million)

Cleveland used the transition tag on Mack, but that may not stop teams from pursuing him. Albert, Veldheer and Monroe all avoided a tag, meaning three above-average left tackles hit the market and were quickly signed to deals. There is some depth to the free agent class, both inside and at tackle.

Safety

1. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills (signed a six-year deal with New Orleans)

2. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns (signed with Denver)

3. Donte Whitner, San Francisco (signed a four-year deal with Cleveland worth $28 million)

4. Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans (signed a three-year, $16.25 million deal with the Eagles)

5. Louis Delmas, Detroit Lions (signed a one-year deal with Miami)

6. Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts (signed with San Francisco for four years)

7. Chris Clemons, Miami Dolphins

8. Mike Mitchell, Carolina Panthers (signed a five-year, $25 million deal with Pittsburgh)

9. Major Wright, Chicago Bears

10. Nate Allen, Philadelphia Eagles

11. Stevie Brown, New York Giants (re-signed with the Giants)

12. Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders

13. James Ihedigbo, Baltimore Ravens

14. Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers

15. Steve Gregory, New England Patriots

A loaded safety market received a boost in recent weeks. Delmas was released and should land a starting job in Miami. Neither Byrd nor Ward were tagged, and they quickly signed with new teams.

Cornerback

1. Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans (signed a four-year, $26.5 million deal with Tampa Bay)

2. Aqib Talib, New England Patriots (signed a six-year deal with Denver worth $57 million)

3. Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts (re-signed with the Colts for four years, $39 million)

4. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos (signed with the New York Giants for five years)

5. Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers (re-signed with Green Bay on a four-year deal)

6. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets

7. Captain Munnerlyn, Carolina Panthers (signed with Minnesota)

8. Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears (re-signed one-year, $3.4 million deal with Chicago)

9. Tarell Brown, San Francisco 49ers (signed one-year, $3.5 million deal with Oakland)

10. Brandon Browner, Seattle Seahawks (signed three-year, $17 million deal with New England)

11. Walter Thurmond III, Seattle Seahawks (signed one-year, $3.5 million deal with New York Giants)

12. Corey Graham, Baltimore Ravens (signed four-year, $16 million deal with Buffalo)

13. Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos

14. Terrell Thomas, New York Giants

15. Chris Cook, Minnesota Vikings (signed one-year deal with San Francisco)

Verner, Talib and Davis all avoided being tagged. Brent Grimes re-signed with Miami, but the free agent cornerback class remains deep and talented. Browner joined the mix after his indefinite suspension was lifted while Brown, Tillman and Munnerlyn are experienced starters from top defenses.

Linebackers

1. Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins -- Franchise tag

2. Karlos Dansby, MLB, Arizona Cardinals (signed with Cleveland for four years, $24 million)

3. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys (signed with Denver)

4. Brandon Spikes, MLB, New England Patriots (signed one-year, $3.25 million deal with Buffalo)

5. Daryl Smith, MLB, Baltimore Ravens (re-signed by Baltimore to four-year, $16.1 million deal)

6. Shaun Phillips, OLB, Denver Broncos

7. Jon Beason, MLB, New York Giants (re-signed with New York Giants)

8. Wesley Woodyard, MLB, Denver Broncos (signed four-year, $16 million with Tennessee)

9. D'Qwell Jackson, MLB, Cleveland Browns (signed with Indianapolis for four years, $22 million)

10. Calvin Pace, OLB, New York Jets (re-signed with New York Jets)

11. Perry Riley, MLB, Washington Redskins (re-signed with Washington for three years, $13 million)

12. Erin Henderson, OLB, Minnesota Vikings

13. Mike Neal, OLB, Green Bay Packers (re-signed with Green Bay)

14. Arthur Moats, MLB, Buffalo Bills

15. O'Brien Schofield, OLB, Seattle Seahawks (signed a two-year deal with the Giants, worth $8 million)

Orakpo received the franchise tag, which all but takes him off the market. Jason Worilds signed his transition tender, officially taking him off the market. The free agent crop of linebackers is heavy on inside 'backers and is overall a veteran group.

Defensive ends

1. Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers (signed his one-year, $13.1 million franchise tender)

2. Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks (signed a four-year deal worth $28.5 million with Seattle)

3. Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals (signed a five-year deal worth $43.75 million with Tampa Bay)

4. Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders (signed a five-year, $35 million deal with Chicago)

5. Arthur Jones, Baltimore Ravens (signed with Indianapolis for five years, $33 million)

6. Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings

7. Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears (signed three-year, $30 million deal with Green Bay)

8. Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings (re-signed by Minnesota; five years, $42 million)

9. Justin Tuck, New York Giants (signed with Oakland)

10. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City (signed with Atlanta for five years, $25 million)

11. Antonio Smith, Houston Texans (signed two-year, $9 million deal with Oakland)

12. Corey Wootton, Chicago Bears

13. Robert Ayers, Denver Broncos

14. Jeremy Mincey, Jacksonville Jaguars (signed with Dallas)

15. Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys

15. Willie Young, Detroit Lions (signed with Chicago)

It came as no surprise to see Hardy tagged, but even without him on the open market, there is still a deep and talented group of free agent defensive ends. The group is versatile with pass-rush specialists, run defenders and overall players among the crop.

Defensive tackle

1. Henry Melton, Chicago Bears

2. Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins (re-signed with Miami)

3. Red Bryant, Seattle Seahawks (signed by Jacksonville: four years, $17 million)

3. Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys (signed with Washington)

4. Linval Joseph, New York Giants (signed a five-year deal with Minnesota)

5. B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers (re-signed by Green Bay to one-year, $4 million deal)

6. Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta Falcons (re-signed with Atlanta for three years and $9 million)

7. Kevin Williams, Minnesota Vikings

8. Clinton McDonald, Seattle Seahawks (signed with Tampa Bay for four years, $12 million)

9. Paul Soliai, Miami Dolphins (signed with Atlanta for five years, $33 million)

10. Earl Mitchell, Houston Texans (signed four-year, $16 million deal with Miami)

11. Alex Carrington, Buffalo Bills

12. Vance Walker, Oakland Raiders (signed three-year, $13 million deal with Kansas City)

13. Ziggy Hood, Pittsburgh Steelers (signed with Jacksonville)

14. Pat Sims, Oakland Raiders

15. Ryan Pickett, Green Bay Packers

None of the defensive tackles got tagged, leaving a solid group of free agents. Melton is coming off a serious knee injury, but still remains the prize of the group. Had he stayed healthy, he may be the No. 1 overall free agent. The free agent crop is geared toward 4-3 defenses.

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