The NFL’s official start to their new league year is here, but due to the league’s negotiating or “legal tampering” period, many of the big-name free agents are already off the market. That’s because the negotiating period allows agents and teams to enter into contract talks even though pen cannot be put to paper until the start of the new league year.
Last year was a frenzy during the negotiating period, with most of the top players gone by the time the market actually opened. A whole bunch of deals were cemented right at 4 p.m. ET when the league year started, and that’s the case this year as well. Players can continue negotiating with other teams after agreeing in principle to a new deal — nothing is final until the contract is signed and submitted to the league office. But once something is reported as a done deal, there is minimal flip-flopping.
It’s likely this trend — the biggest players agreeing to deals before free agency actually starts — will continue.
That said, there are still plenty of good to great players still out there, waiting to find a team for the 2019 season. Below, we’re going to point you to the best still available — in alphabetical order — at each offensive and defensive position.
Signed: Derek Anderson, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles, Blaine Gabbert, Mike Glennon, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Griffin, Taylor Heinicke, Kevin Hogan, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion, AJ McCarron, Tom Savage, Matt Schaub, Trevor Siemian, Geno Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Joe Webb
Best Available: Colin Kaepernick
Nick Foles is getting paid a ton of money by the Jaguars, and after that the market gets a little bit stale. Obviously, the best available quarterback (Kaepernick) is probably not going to get signed, while another team will surely try and kick the tires on old standbys like McCown.
Others available: Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel, Josh Johnson, Josh McCown, Brock Osweiler, Mark Sanchez
Signed: Ameer Abdullah, C.J. Anderson, Kenjon Barner, Le’Veon Bell, Alfred Blue, Tevin Coleman, Isaiah Crowell, Mike Davis, Andre Ellington, Frank Gore, Kareem Hunt, Carlos Hyde, Mark Ingram, Doug Martin, Ty Montgomery, Latavius Murray, Adrian Peterson, Spencer Ware, T.J. Yeldon, Zach Zenner
Best Available: Jay Ajayi
There’s still a strong market for running backs, with young guys like Ajayi available. Even the players below all have shown they have something to offer.
Others available: LeGarrette Blount, Alfred Morris, Bilal Powell, Stevan Ridley, Darren Sproles
Signed: Danny Amendola, Tavon Austin, Cole Beasley, Josh Bellamy, John Brown, Randall Cobb, Chris Conley, Michael Crabtree, Jamison Crowder, Phillip Dorsett, Bruce Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Devin Funchess, Maurice Harris, Marvin Hall, Justin Hardy, Chris Hogan, Adam Humphries, Dontrelle Inman, Jordan Matthews, Donte Moncrief, J.J. Nelson, Cordarrelle Patterson, Breshad Perriman, Terrelle Pryor, Andre Roberts, Eli Rogers, Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas, Kevin White, Tyrell Williams
The biggest names to change teams at the wide receiver position were not free agents — Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. were both traded — but there are still some talented pass catchers out there. Veterans like Crabtree are always looking to prove they still got it.
Available: Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon, Jermaine Kearse, Rishard Matthews, De’Anthony Thomas, Mike Wallace, Terrance Williams
Signed: Dwayne Allen, Nick Boyle, Charles Clay, Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert, Darren Fells, Demetrius Harris, Jeff Heuerman, Jesse James, Tyler Kroft, Matt LaCosse, Marcedes Lewis, James O’Shaughnessy, Logan Paulsen, Richard Rogers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker, Geoff Swaim, Levine Toilolo, Logan Thomas, C.J. Uzomah, Clive Walford, Maxx Williams, Luke Willson
Best Available: Lance Kendricks
Most of what remains in the tight end market includes veterans who never quite developed as receiving threats or veterans who have a history of injuries. It’s not a great market, one of the weaker ones in recent years.
Others available: Antonio Gates, MarQueis Gray, Jermaine Gresham, Michael Hoomanawanui, Dion Sims
Signed: Oday Aboushi, Jamon Brown, Trent Brown, James Carpenter, A.J. Cann, T.J. Clemmings, Nick Easton, Jon Feliciano, Ereck Flowers, D.J. Fluker, Ramon Foster, Max Garcia, Mark Glowinski, Denzelle Good, Jonotthan Harrison, Bobby Hart, Seantrel Henderson, Mike Iupati, Ja’Wuan James, Matt Kalil, Josh Kline, Eric Kush, Kendall Lamm, Ted Larsen, Spencer Long, Cornelius Lucas, Bobby Massie, John Miller, Mitch Morse, Ty Nsekhe, Cedric Ogbuehi, Michael Ola, Kevin Pamphile, Matt Paradis, Mike Person, Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Ty Sambrailo, Brian Schwenke, Donovan Smith, Quinton Spain, J.R. Sweezy, Billy Turner, LaAdrian Waddle, Earl Watford, Daryl Williams, Stefen Wisniewski
Best Available: Jeremy Parnell, Donald Penn, Ryan Schraeder
As usual, teams did their best to re-sign their own offensive linemen. It’s rare that a high-end tackle or guard makes it to free agency, and when they do, they are quickly snatched up, as was the case with Brown and Paradis.
Others available: Jeff Allen, Joe Barksdale, Chris Clark, Cameron Fleming, Garry Gilliam, Ryan Groy, Ulrick John, Jordan Mills, Marshall Newhouse, Tyler Shatley, John Sullivan, Travis Swanson, Josh Wells
Signed: Ezekiel Ansah, Jerry Attaochu, Shaq Barrett, Anthony Chickillo, Frank Clark (franchise tag), Adrian Clayborn, Jadeveon Clowney (franchise tag), Vinny Curry, Dee Ford, Trey Flowers, Dante Fowler Jr., Markus Golden, Brandon Graham, Eli Harold, Justin Houston, Bruce Irvin, DeMarcus Lawrence, Aaron Lynch, Cassius Marsh, Clay Matthews, Benson Mayowa, Pernell McPhee, Steven Means, Alex Okafor, Shane Ray, Brooks Reed, John Simon, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Terrell Suggs, Cameron Wake
Just look at the signings to determine the value of the edge rusher position in the NFL — all of the top players got franchise tags except for Flowers and Fowler, who were quickly locked up.
Available: Sam Acho, Connor Barwin, Kony Ealy, William Hayes, Michael Johnson, Dion Jordan, Matt Longacre, Derrick Morgan, Nick Perry, Frostee Rucker, Derrick Shelby, Frank Zombo
Signed: Tyson Alualu, Henry Anderson, Angelo Blackson, Malcom Brown, Christian Covington, Carl Davis, Mario Edwards, Johnathan Hankins, Margus Hunt, Malik Jackson, Grady Jarrett (franchise tag), Timmy Jernigan, Brandon Mebane, Gerald McCoy, Mike Pennel, Jordan Phillips, Darius Philon, Sheldon Richardson, Danny Shelton, Shamar Stephen, Ndamukong Suh, Brent Urban
Best Available: Corey Liuget, Muhammad Wilkerson
There weren’t many top-end defensive tackle talents available in free agency. The ones who have had recent success on the field either agreed to terms quickly, or were given the franchise tag.
Others available: Allen Bailey, Tyeler Davison, Dominique Easley, Rodney Gunter, Ziggy Hood, Ricky Jean-Francois, Zach Kerr, Earl Mitchell, Ahtyba Rubin
Signed: Kwon Alexander, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Anthony Barr, Mark Barron, Preston Brown, Deone Bucannon, Vontaze Burfict, Bruce Carter, Jamie Collins, Thomas Davis, L.J. Fort, Neville Hewitt, Jordan Hicks, Mike Hull, Mychal Kendricks, Justin March-Lillard, David Mayo, Brandon Marshall, C.J. Mosley, Denzel Perryman, Jake Ryan, Craig Robertson, Adarius Taylor, Damien Wilson, Paul Worrilow, K.J. Wright
Best Available: Gerald Hodges
C.J. Mosley, Kwon Alexander, and Anthony Barr got big-time deals to kick off free agency and there’s still a few quality players left on the market — especially for teams looking for run stoppers.
Others available: Stephone Anthony, Josh Bynes, Will Compton, Kyle Emanuel, Najee Goode, Cameron Lynch, Kevin Minter, Mark Nzeocha, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Vincent Rey, Kelvin Sheppard, Nathan Stupar, Manti Te’o, Ramik Wilson
Signed: Robert Alford, Justin Bethel, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Bashaud Breeland,Tramaine Brock, Bryce Callahan, Justin Coleman, Ronald Darby, Darqueze Dennard, Pierre Desir, E.J. Gaines, Phillip Gaines, Antonio Hamilton, Kareem Jackson, Kevin Johnson, Nevin Lawson, Tony Lippett, Jason McCourty, Rashaan Melvin, Steven Nelson, Brian Poole, Darryl Roberts, Bradley Roby, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eric Rowe, Buster Skrine, Jason Verrett, B.W. Webb, Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Best Available: Morris Claiborne
There weren’t many big-name cornerbacks on the market this year, but there are still a few names who can help defensive units. Teams looking for a quality cornerback that isn’t a world-beater, but still effective should be able to find some value in free agency.
Others available: Brent Grimes, Davon House, Captain Munnerlyn, Orlando Scandrick, Sam Shields, Kayvon Webster, Shareece Wright
Signed: Jahleel Addae, Adrian Amos, Chris Banjo, Antoine Bethea, Terrence Brooks, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Landon Collins, Clayton Geathers, Tashaun Gipson, George Iloka, Colin Jones, LaMarcus Joyner, Tyrann Mathieu, Adrian Phillips, Eric Reid, Curtis Riley, Andrew Sendejo, Earl Thomas, Kenny Vaccaro, Jaylen Watkins, Jimmie Ward, Eric Weddle
Best Available: Eric Berry, Tre Boston, Morgan Burnett, Johnathan Cyprien, Glover Quin
Yet another strong year for the safety position, and this time, they didn’t wait around to get deals done. Notable guys like Landon Collins and Tyrann Mathieu made it to the open market, and quickly agreed to deals with their new teams. However, there is still some meat left on the bone at the position.
Others available: Mike Adams, Kurt Coleman, Chris Conte, Marcus Gilchrist, Kendrick Lewis, Mike Mitchell, Reggie Nelson, Ron Parker, Darian Stewart