Top 100 Free Agent List

Since I have been receiving so many questions about free agents I thought it might be fun to put together a top 100 unrestricted free agents list. I ranked the players in order of where I think their APY might land. I didn’t put in estimated values but the cutoff for the bottom of the list is around $3.5 million. I am sure there are a few names I simply missed here and there so feel free to ask about any players and Ill try to answer in the comments. Remember these are just one persons opinion to give a general overview of free agency. Clicking on the table headers should allow you to sort by team, position, age, etc…

1Kirk CousinsQBRedskins301012Biggest name QB to hit free agency since Peyton Manning in 2012. Could challenge for $30 million a year if market breaks right.
2Drew BreesQBSaints391034Veteran QB still plays at a high level. Likely to stay in New Orleans with a deal signed right before start of free agency
3Demarcus LawrenceDECowboys2670414.5 sack season makes him a lock for the franchise tag. Would make a massive payday if he goes to market.
4Case KeenumQBVikings301016Right place, right time for Keenum last year. When a QB hits like that they generally get a good payday. Transition  tag could be in play, though likely too expensive.
5Ziggy AnsahDELions29516Ultra talented player but injuries are a concern. Hard to see a number 5 pick off a 12 sack year not getting close to $15M no matter what negatives exist.
6LeVeon BellRBSteelers26945Most used running back in the league will likely get tagged again and earn close to $15 million in the process.
7Jarvis LandryWRDolphins26932Market dynamics for receivers changed again this year and Landry should benefit. Only once in the last 5 years have the top receivers not gotten massive free agent paydays
8Nate SolderLTPatriots301116Left tackles are like QBs when it comes to the payscale. None are available so those who are get paid near the top.
9Andrew NorwellGPanthers271079Will see the new high water mark for guards. Hottest free agent position the last two years and Norwell upped his stock significantly this year.
10Trumaine JohnsonCBRams28938Versatile corner is probably the only player more teams than not think could be a top cover corner. Generally such players hit double digit APYs.
11Justin PughGGiants28435Positional need and versatility make Pugh a good bet to reach the $10 million mark despite nagging injuries.
12Allen RobinsonWRJaguars253Best receiver available but coming off injury has me concerned about the kind of offers that will come in. Could be tagged, but I could see logic in taking 1 year deal with a contending team with a good QB.
13Malcolm ButlerCBPatriots281040Stock took a big hit this year but he should still do well in free agency since most corners do pretty well.
14Sheldon RichardsonDTSeahawks28655Cant see teams risking a long term contract with Richardson, but he is too talented for a team to pass up on a one year contract. Last year this position saw multiple players take deals like this.
15Sammy WatkinsWRRams25778Wouldn’t surprise me for Watkins to earn $11 million a year from the Rams or be lucky to find $7 million elsewhere. Inconsistent but very young and has a high pedigree.
16LaMarcus JoyerSRams28688Stood out in his walk year and is pretty versatile in coverage. Those players in recent years have scored big contracts in free agency.
17Prince AmukamaraCBBears29848Solid corner that has taken one year contracts since leaving the Giants. Probably time to take a 3 or 4 year deal for over $8 million a season.
18Dontari PoeDTFalcons28742Good player but injury issues and inability to pressure the QB will likely keep him out from making the kind of money the better interior d-line players make.
19Sam BradfordQBVikings3191A pure gamble given that a strong gust of wind might break him. Not sure any free agent lost more money this year than Bradford.
20Jimmy GrahamTESeahawks32730Aging tight ends best days are behind him, but he is a solid red zone threat and has to be respected in passing game. Doubtful he matches his old contract but $8 million isnt a reach considering his name.
21Kyle FullerCBBears261015Too many questionable years for teams to gamble on a big contract.  Would expect a moderate one year contract knowing big money awaits next year.
22Eric ReidS49ers27740Versatile player that can do a lot on the field but has been a bit lost in the 49ers shuffle the last few years. Team could get a big bargain here if in the $8M range.
23Star LotuleleiDTPanthers29590Solid defensive tackle will get a lot of looks from teams looking for an affordable player that can play both run and pass.
24AJ McCarronQBBengals2826Somehow I have a feeling his stock increased by never playing and the Browns almost making a ridiculous trade for him. Still hard to see him breaking the bank in a crowded field of options this year.
25Kenny VaccaroSSaints27618Salary may be based more on where he was drafted and potential than anything done on the field. Still upside gets players paid in free agency.
26Morgan BurnettSPackers29728Should gain interest as a second safety similar to the crop of players who all got contracts in the $7 million range last season
27Tre BostonSChargers261041Plays pretty much every down and doesn’t make many blatant mistakes. Doesn’t have the kind of upside other might.
28Brent GrimesCBBuccaneers35781Part of me wants to say his age should put him down in the $3 million range, but hes been good enough to probably hold out and wait for something close to the $6.5M he earned last season.
29Jay CutlerQBDolphins35764If Cutler had a better attitude hed be locked in somewhere at close to $20 million a year. Since he doesn’t I guess the question is will he play for $7 million in 2018?
30Bennie LoganDTChiefs29574One year gamble didn’t hurt or help him. Probably lands on a 43 team looking for a situational player.
31Isaiah CrowellRBBrowns25536Consistent year to year and some teams may see more upside since he put up all his numbers on the worst team in the NFL. Can he break the $6m barrier?
32Teddy BridgewaterQBVikings269Another enigma because of injury, but a 1st round guy who certainly didn’t bust should be worth between $6 and $7 million for a year or two. Could be a steal if healthy.
33Josh McCownQBJets39819McCown had best year of his career before his annual injury cut it short. Still its hard to see his stock improving any from last year given age.
34Trey BurtonTEEagles27300High upside tight end should get more action than Graham though not as much money. Should top $6M and $7m is a possibility given the way teams pay for tight ends.
35Paul RichardsonWRSeahawks26816Should have established himself in the lower second tier of receivers. Intriguing because of down field ability and chance to thrive in a different style offense.
36TJ CarrieCBRaiders281024Should get the top slot money this year unless teams see him playing the outside. If he sticks with Raiders his money could go up based on how they paid others.
37Marqise LeeWRJaguars27738Decent second target on a team with a top level 1 to draw defenses. Likely doesn’t have the big play upside to see stock rise despite lack of top options this year.
38EJ GainesCBBills26654Had a good year in Buffalo and should have no problems earning similar to the $6-$6.5M contracts the decent slot guys have received in recent years.
39Bashaud BreelandCBRedskins26856Has the physical tools to score a big contract and it would not stun me is someone reached big for him, but more likely he’ll earn a mid/lower level 2nd corner contract.
40Aaron ColvinCBJaguars27705Everything about Gaines pretty much applies here.
41NaVorro BowmanLBRaiders30999Often injured and doesn’t play a position that typically gets paid big, but he plays big enough when healthy to top the $6 million a year mark.
42Nigel BradhamLBEagles29923Had a great year for the Eagles and was in almost every play, but position rarely gets paid big in free agency. Maybe he will be the exception.
43Adrian ClaybornDEFalcons30533Most of his top line production all came in one game so his overall numbers will be discounted because of that. Still a solid veteran that can rush the passer should get a decent raise over his current $4.25M per year deal.
44Morris ClaiborneCBJets28921Had a solid year with the Jets but had to be near top of the NFL in defensive holding calls.  Affordable second corner but teams wont look for upside.
45Carlos HydeRB49ers27786Shown that he can play in all phases of the game over last two seasons and three down players will break $5 million.
46Weston RichburgCGiants27239The best available center, though season ending on IR with a concussion could scare some teams off.
47Ryan JensenCRavens271086Had a good season in his walk year and overall effort week in and out will make him a solid 2nd tier center.
48Byron MaxwellCBSeahawks30584Play looked worse because of his contract but veteran players like Maxwell can usually find in the mid $5 million range.
49Denico AutryDTRaiders28592Productive pass rusher. If teams think he can start and be more consistent could be worth more.
50Austin Seferian JenkinsTEJets26655Expect ASJ to get paid based on narrow salary band at position and his draft status.
51Kyle WilliamsDTBills34758Veteran DT should be able to score a nice two year contract in Buffalo or elsewhere.
52Mike WallaceWRRavens32714Wallace is still productive as a secondary target and is a known quantity. He should be able to be in the $5 million range again on a short term deal.
53Josh KlineGTitans291023Not a difference maker, but a solid professional that can solidify the guard position.
54Kony EalyEdgeJets27452Enigma player. Has ability to be one of best bargains in the NFL if he develops or wasted cap space if he doesn’t.
55Paul PoslusznyLBJaguars34481Aging linebacker should earn close to what he did last season, likely with the Jaguars.
56Chris HubbardRTSteelers27781Made the most of opportunity last season and should have a chance to earn a low end starting contract for a right tackle.
57Dion LewisRBPatriots28404Solid run at the end of the season to improve his stock. If teams think he can catch he should find a nice market.
58Patrick RobinsonCBEagles31710Really good season for the Eagles, but at 31 and an up and down career the ceiling is pretty limited.
59Trent MurphyEdgeRedskins280Spent the year on IR and was also suspended. Lost a chance to cash in because of that but should get 3rd tier rusher money with incentives to increase.
60John BrownWRCardinals28898Ultimate boom or bust type. Numbers down the last two seasons but could find that 1,000 yard form with new setting. Could see him earning more if teams get hot for him.
61Ross CockrellCBGiants27681Should add solid depth to a secondary. Has started the last two years more often than not, but ultimate role will probably be as an extra DB.
62DaQuan JonesDETitans27437Fills the role of professional lineman on a team with talent.  Paired with right personnel could surprise.
63Jordan MatthewsWRBills265092017 was a lost year. If teams discount the season expect him to earn in the $6-7M range, but if they don’t hell stick here in the $4.5M range.
64Avery WilliamsonLBTitans26654Jack of all trades linebacker, but unless you standout its hard to breakout in free agency as a linebacker.
65Jack MewhortGColts27313Solid player that could hit the $6 million range, but injuries have derailed him and he didn’t stand out enough when not injured. Could be a 1 year deal.
66Tahir WhiteheadLBLions28950On the field nearly every down and a pretty sure tackler. Id imagine a new contract very similar to last extension at $4 million.
67Alex OkaforEdgeSaints27486Was on track to potentially have a career year but a late Achilles ended his chances. If teams think he is healthy he should double his salary from last year.
68Taylor GabrielWRFalcons27508Bit of a niche player that didn’t stand out enough this year to move into the 2nd WR tier, but should be in the 3rd tier of players.
69Marcus GilchristSTexans30817Did enough this past season to remove stigma of Jets years and move back into solid veteran money.
70Zach BrownLBRedskins29834Not a lot of interest last year at a big money number and cant see anything this year that will change that.
71Jerick McKinnonRBVikings26528Good receiever and receiving skills are always sought after and paid for in free agency.
72Anthony HitchensLBCowboys26547Flashes at times and that could push his price up a little but should settle in the $4 to $5 million range.
73Zach FultonG/CChiefs27794Utility interior lineman that should be an affordable part of a good line.
74Justin EllisDTRaiders28462This the price range for most interior players who can log 40% playtime.
75Demario DavisLBJets291118Good season in his return to the Jets, but its hard to picture any more interest than when he was a free agent a few years back.
76Antonio GatesTEChargers38500Nearing the end of his career but can still fill a role for a team if he doesn’t call it quits.
77Julius PeppersEdgePanthers38500Can still dominate in the pass rush and is worth more, but he signed in this range last year and given his age expect it to be the same.
78Todd DavisLBBroncos26522Good run defender in the Broncos defense. Probably doesn’t do enough other things to have big value elsewhere.
79Albert WilsonWRChiefs26538Had a big standout game at the end of the season, but overall has been too inconsistent to earn more than 3/4 money.
80Tyler EifertTEBengals28104$8 million talent in an $8 body. Hasn’t been able to hold up to NFL grind and its only his talent level that will have a team take a risk for more than the minimum.
81Rashaan MelvinCBColts29552Had best season of his career, but only 10 games and has already bounced around the NFL.
82Spencer LongCRedskins28394Injury kept him from enhancing status but he should be able to break out from the $3M and under players.
83Nickell Robey-ColemanCBRams26658Decent 3rd or 4th corner whose salary is probably a bit compromised based on prior contracts.
84Connor BarwinEdgeRams32659Since this is not a big year for free agent rushers expect Barwin to sign a similar one year contract for a team needing a steady presence.
85Kareem MartinEdgeCardinals26458Intriguing prospect is only 26 and could find a team to gamble in the $3M tier for a season.
86Beau AllenDTEagles27422Didn’t have the kind of year he needed to make a free agent splash, but he still plays a role that is valuable around the league.
87William HayesEdgeDolphins33274Struggled in Miami but probably has enough name value to get a one year deal in the $3 million tier but with a low guarantee.
88Barkevious MingoEdgeColts28501Mingo is pretty much settled into this group now as a part time jack of all trades but with a very limited upside.
89Dontrelle InmanWRBears29457I could see him moving up a tier but nothing stands out enough for me to really justify it.
90Terrelle PryorWRRedskins29378Awful season and his expectations are going to be terribly low this year as he takes another one year contract to try to salvage his career.
91Ryan FitzpatrickQBBuccaneers36299Probably the top rated backup available.
92Bradley McDougaldSSeahawks28681Think he is worth more than this but something turned teams off last season and has that really changed?
93Tramon WilliamsCBCardinals35670Veteran had a good season last year which should set him up for a 3rd corner kind of contract.
94Haloti NgataDTLions34145No idea if Ngata wants to keep playing for a low price but expect a $3 millionish base value with incentives based on playtim.
95Jaron BrownWRCardinals28415May draw more interest than this based on skillset but hard to picture a team really going in too deep.
96Kendall WrightWRBears29580Should find a home as a third target on a team with a bad or young group of receivers.
97Erik WaldenEdgeTitans33581Veteran that can still rush the passer a bit should find a home on a pass rush needed team.
98Terrence NewmanCBVikings40560Ageless player seemingly signs almost the same contract every season.
99Brandon FuscoG49ers301088End of stay with the Vikings probably damaged him too much but should be a cheaper option to plug in on a good line and he wont hurt you.
100Ryan GrantWRRedskins28616Does just enough to have a role for a team but not enough for a team to overreach on him.

Victor Cruz and Giants Butt Heads Over Contract

Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star Ledger has an update on the latest contract negotiations or lack thereof between the New York Giants and star WR Victor Cruz. The piece right now that I found of most interest was this tidbit:

Asked if Cruz’s asking price is unreasonable, Mara said, “Well, right now, but that’s his agent. But that’s what agents do, and we’ve got a lot of time to work something out, and hopefully we’ll be able to come together.

Cruz is in an interesting situation in that the Giants still control his rights to some extent because he only has 3 years of service in the NFL. As a restricted free agent the Giants have the right to tender Cruz a contract worth up to $2.879 million in non-guaranteed base salary for the 2013 League Year. If another team signs Cruz to an offer sheet the Giants can either match the offer sheet or decline to match and receive a first round pick in return for losing Cruz in free agency. Because the price is so steep rarely do we ever see RFA’s sign with other football teams. So clearly the Giants have negotiating leverage in this case.

There are two things that work against Cruz when it comes to getting a high priced extension from the Giants, IMO. One is that the historical precedence as it relates to the RFA tag is that Cruz will not be able to sign a deal with any of the 31 other teams. Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers faced that same dilemma last season when he unsuccessfully tried to find a new home with the RFA tag hanging over his head. Wallace refused to sign his tender and missed almost all of the summer due to his unhappiness with having settle for a 1 year contract worth $2.742 million. Wallace had his worst year since his rookie season and likely damaged his free agency value in 2013. In hindsight he may have been better off signing a contract extension with the Steelers last season or at least reporting to camp on time. These are lessons for Cruz.

When Mara discusses high asking prices another issue that Cruz has to deal with may be the fact that he plays as a slot receiver rather than an outside role. While most people do not pay attention to that it seems to have a significant effect on the paydays received by players. When you look at your premier slot receivers such as Marques Colston of the Saints or Wes Welker of the Patriots their pay is not really in line with their production. Colston ranks close to 20th at the position in salary worth a base value of $7.26 million per year despite year after year 1,000 yard seasons. Welker has been unable to find a long term contract solution from the Patriots. In contrast Vincent Jackson, who puts up around the same yards per year as Colston and less than Welker, received a contract worth over $11 million dollars a season, 4th in the NFL, with $26 million in guarantees. While nobody has hinted at what the starting price that Cruz’ agent is, you can rest assured if its close to Jackson money the Giants are likely going to hang up the phone as soon as they receive the offer.

All in all it makes for an interesting negotiation between the two sides, one in which the Giants hold almost all the leverage to force a deal to happen more to their liking than Cruz’.