Below are the top 50 free agents currently available. Keep in mind a number of these players will be slapped with a franchise tag in short order which will significantly reduce their availability to other teams. In addition, there are numerous salary cap casualties that could improve the market. Even without them, many feel this is one of the best free agent classes ever. There’s certainly a high number of players that could greatly improve some rosters.
1 Justin Houston, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs
After barely hitting the double digit benchmark for sacks in 2012 and 2013, Houston exploded for an NFL best 22 sacks in 2014. His value contract expiration comes at the perfect time and Houston is in line to get an enormous contract. Unfortunately for him, he seems as likely to get slapped with the franchise tag as anyone.
2014 salary: $1,598,812 (note salary numbers include bonuses)
Possible landing spots: Chiefs, Falcons, Chargers
2 Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
It seemed like his time in Detroit was as good as done but recent speculation suggests the Lions may use the tag on him. If he hits the open market, Suh is a game changer who has made it clear he’ll go to the highest bidder. 36 career sacks in 5 seasons as an interior lineman is outrageous and says it all.
2014 salary: $22,412,500
Possible landing spots: Lions, Browns, Broncos
3 Mike Iupati, G, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have salary cap issues which clouds the likelihood they would franchise their superstar guard. The 3 time Pro Bowler would without question be the best offensive lineman on the market.
2014 salary: $4,625,863
Possible landing spots: 49ers, Chargers, Raiders
4 Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
One would think the likelihood of him wanting to return to the Broncos would partially hinge on Peyton Manning’s decision to stay or retire. That’s not to say the Broncos can’t retain him even without Manning, though, and a franchise tag is quite likely for him too. He’s gained over 1,400 yards and scored at least 10 touchdowns in each of the last three seasons so the Broncos really can’t afford to lose that production either way.
2014 salary: $4,700,000
Possible landing spots: Broncos, Colts, Vikings
5 Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys
It seems more likely the Cowboys would franchise Bryant than Murray at this point. Bryant has made it clear he wants to return.
2014 salary: $3,148,500
Possible landing spots: Cowboys, Broncos, Jaguars
6 DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys
With 1,845 yards rushing he was by far the best rusher in 2014 (next best was Le’Veon Bell with 1,361). Could he hit the open market with Bryant possibly getting the franchise tag instead? If so, even with running backs no longer commanding much, it seems likely many teams will make an exception for a player like this.
2014 salary: $1,596,625
Possible landing spots: Cowboys, Titans, Raiders, Colts
7 Darrelle Revis, CB, New England Patriots
He’ll be 30 by the time the season starts, but he was a major impact player on the Super Bowl champion. Clearly he’s still one of the best cover guys in the league. The Jets are already showing interest. He’s more likely to land somewhere on a shorter term deal, but it will be pricey.
2014 salary: $25,000,000
Possible landing spots: Patriots, Jets, Bills
8 Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina Panthers
Hardy’s trial starts very soon and until that situation is resolved it seems teams would shy away from approaching him. It’s a safe assumption the Panthers won’t franchise him again, though, and it’s hard to imagine he won’t be tempted by the allure of an open market even if the right thing to do is come back at a hometown discount. Hardy made over $12 million to sit at home last year. One thing is for sure, you’re getting an elite defensive end if he’s able to play.
2014 salary: $13,116,000
Possible landing spots: Panthers, Falcons, Chargers
9 Devin McCourty, FS, New England Patriots
It’s most likely the Patriots will franchise either McCourty or kicker Stephen Gostkowski. McCourty has not been able to duplicate his monster rookie season, but he’s still a dangerous ballhawk and only 27.
2014 salary: $5,115,000
Possible landing spots: Patriots, Falcons, Jets
10 Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants
Pierre-Paul quietly put together a 12.5 sack season and revived his career at the perfect time after suffering through two really disappointing seasons. When he’s right he’s an elite pass rusher, but the Giants have also seen him go through poor spurts and may be reluctant to tie up franchise tag money in him. On an open market he will not come cheap.
2014 salary: $4,611,000
Possible landing spots: Giants, Jaguars, Eagles
11 Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos
He’s a very dangerous receiver and an elite red zone target, scoring 24 touchdowns in 2 seasons. With Demaryius being the primary focus for the Broncos, there might be an opportunity to snatch him away from the Broncos at the right price.
2014 salary: $741,000
Possible landing spots: Broncos, Raiders, Browns, Jaguars
12 Jerry Hughes, DE, Buffalo Bills
He’s an excellent pass rusher with back to back 10 sack seasons, but the franchise tag might be a little expensive for his services. Expect him to hit the open market.
2014 salary: $3,995,000
Possible landing spots: Bills, Texans, Cowboys
13 Bryan Bulaga, T, Green Bay Packers
He’s only 25, he’s a Super Bowl champion, and good left tackles are really hard to come by. He has injury history but it will take significant money to lure him away from the Packers, who have enough cap space to be able to retain him if they want to.
2014 salary: $3,829,000
Possible landing spots: Packers, Raiders, Bears
14 Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
He’s finally reached his full potential with 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in a contract year. Good timing as he’ll benefit from a nice contract.
2014 salary: $1,021,179
Possible landing spots: Packers, Titans, Seahawks
15 Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles may franchise him. He’s coming off his best season as a pro and continues to produce in workmanlike fashion.
2014 salary: $5,468,750
Possible landing spots: Eagles, Browns, Colts
16 Jason Worilds, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
He played pretty well this season with 7.5 sacks as a first full time starter, but the transition tag placed on him last year was a big surprise and it would be equally surprising to see the Steelers do it again since the tag would now come at a 20% increase.
2014 salary: $9,754,000
Possible landing spots: Steelers, Jets, Redskins
17 Jared Odrick, DT, Miami Dolphins
He’s a solid interior player that combines pass rushing push with good run stuffing ability.
2014 salary: $2,779,548
Possible landing spots: Dolphins, Colts, Eagles
18 Nick Fairley, DT, Detroit Lions
With Suh in limbo and Fairley having a down year, it seems more likely he’d be the one to walk. If Fairley is healthy he could be a steal.
2014 salary: $3,146,500
Possible landing spots: Lions, Raiders, Jaguars
19 C. J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Spiller is an explosive player that has only really put one magical season together in 5 years. It’s a buyer beware situation, but if he’s put in the right platoon system that allows him to showcase his strengths he could be an extremely valuable pickup.
2014 salary: $5,916,666
Possible landing spots: Bills, Saints, Colts
20 Byron Maxwell, CB, Seattle Seahawks
The big question with Maxwell is whether or not he was a product of his environment. Some think he’s an underrated superstar, others question whether he would really flourish if surrounded with lesser players. The Seahawks will be pre-occupied with maxing out Russell Wilson and extending Marshawn Lynch for starters, so Maxwell could bolt as some team will undoubtedly overpay for him.
2014 salary: $673,363
Possible landing spots: Seahawks, Falcons, Jets
21 Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints
Ingram went to his first Pro Bowl and enjoyed the best season of his career, finishing just short of 1,000 yards. He’s a tough runner and a physical player. He’s not as versatile as some teams like at that position these days, though, and the market should be relatively soft for him. A good opportunity to get a rising player for less.
2014 salary: $2,359,875
Possible landing spots: Saints, Ravens, Giants
22 Brian Orakpo, OLB, Washington Redskins
He’s returning from a torn pectoral injury that cost him half the season and he wasn’t playing well prior to the injury. He’s a declining player, but at the right price there’s no question a guy of his caliber is worth a low risk investment.
2014 salary: $11,455,000
Possible landing spots: Redskins, Texans, Cowboys, Patriots
23 Justin Forsett, RB, Baltimore Ravens
He’s 29 and has been a backup his whole career. Out of nowhere he rushed for 1,266 yards this season against all odds filling in for Ray Rice. Running backs come cheap these days and he’s coming off a monster season.
2014 salary: $730,000
Possible landing spots: Ravens, Jaguars, Titans
24 Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
Mathews was banged up almost all of 2014 but he has rushed for over 1,000 yards twice in his career and he’s only 27. When healthy he’s a very underrated player.
2014 salary: $3,612,000
Possible landing spots: Chargers, Browns, Broncos
25 Pernell McPhee, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
Coming off a career year with 7.5 sacks, McPhee is a 3-4 pass rushing outside linebacker. For teams in need he could be a nice get.
2014 salary: $681,140
Possible landing spots: Ravens, Jaguars, Titans
26 Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Many seem to think Gore is done but we should all guard against that. He continues to be consistently durable as he rushed for over 1,000 yards this year for the 8th time in 10 seasons! He’ll be 32 this season but someone will benefit from his physical play.
2014 salary: $6,450,000
Possible landing spots: 49ers, Browns, Colts
27 Rodney Hudson, C, Kansas City Chiefs
He’s a very good interior lineman and only 25 years old. The center market is traditionally very soft with tackles and guards getting all the big contracts, so he’s young player available at a possibly more friendly rate.
2014 salary: $1,115,577
Possible landing spots: Chiefs, Chargers, Saints
28 Brandon Flowers, CB, San Diego Chargers
He’ll be 29 this month but he played well for the Chargers this year and has 20 career interceptions. Could be a nice addition at a reasonable price for someone.
2014 salary: $3,000,000
Possible landing spots: Chargers, Jaguars, Buccaneers
29 Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
After an incredible 2013 campaign that saw him go to the Pro Bowl for his 80 catch, 917 yard, 7 touchdown season, he really slumped last year. Concussion and shoulder issues limited him to just 24 catches and the Browns are apparently moving on. If he can bounce back he’s a dangerous pass catcher over the middle. Rumor has it he is not interested in returning to Cleveland.
2014 salary: $1,550,350
Possible landing spots: Chiefs, Falcons, Packers, Steelers
30 Jabaal Sheard, OLB, Cleveland Browns
He’s a starting quality outside linebacker that had a bit of a down year, but he’s only 25 with 4 years of starting under his belt. He had 8.5 sacks his rookie year.
2014 salary: $1,619,625
Possible landing spots: Browns, Steelers, Falcons
31 Terrance Knighton, DT, Denver Broncos
He’s a monster presence and has decent explosiveness for a guy his size. A nice veteran option for any team needing help up the middle. He has said he wants to play for Jack Del Rio again.
2014 salary: $2,750,000
Possible landing spots: Raiders, Broncos, Bears
32 Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins
He’s been a productive pass catcher going for over 600 yards in each of the last two seasons. He’s not a game changer but he’s a nice piece to have to boost the passing game.
2014 salary: $1,459,000
Possible landing spots: Browns, Chiefs, Falcons, Packers, Steelers
33 Stephen Paea, DT, Chicago Bears
He had his best season as a rookie but he’s still viewed as a plus interior player. Has four years of starting under his belt.
2014 salary: $1,172,787
Possible landing spots: Bears, Bengals, Chargers
34 Antonio Cromartie, CB, Arizona Cardinals
If you can get past the character concerns and his age (he’ll be 31), he still has the size and ball skills to help any defense.
2014 salary: $4,000,000
Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Bills, Jets
35 Rey Maualuga, ILB, Cincinnati Bengals
He’s 28 and seems to be a bit on the decline, but he’s still a smart experienced player that could excel in the right system.
2014 salary: $3,828,125
Possible landing spots: Bengals, Giants
36 Derek Newton, T, Houston Texans
He’s been a mainstay on the Texans’o-line the last few years. He’s a solid right tackle that could be had for a decent price.
2014 salary: $660,000
Possible landing spots: Texans, Chargers, Jaguars
37 Doug Free, T, Dallas Cowboys
He’s 31 and he’s been durable in recent years before this season when ankle issues prevented him from contributing in the playoffs. At right tackle he could provide an upgrade for some teams.
2014 salary: $6,520,000
Possible landing spots: Cowboys, Jaguars, Raiders
38 Orlando Franklin, G, Denver Broncos
At 6’7” 320lbs he’s a mammoth in size. He’s been a four year starter for a successful team, so he may garner some interest.
2014 salary: $1,386,000
Possible landing spots: Broncos, Chargers, Dolphins
39 Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots
He’s a possible franchise tag candidate, but if the Patriots pass on that distinction he’s one of the best in the business with a career 86.8% success rate and three trips to the Pro Bowl.
2014 salary: $3,800,000
Possible landing spots: Patriots, Buccaneers, Lions, Vikings
40 Da’Norris Searcy, S, Buffalo Bills
Physical player that was a big part of that stingy Bills defense. He’s just 26 and is entering his fifth season.
2014 salary: $1,552,106
Possible landing spots: Bills, Falcons
41 Chris Culliver, CB, San Francisco 49ers
After missing all of 2013 he came back to have the best season of his career in 2014, finishing with 4 interceptions. He has had off the field issues to consider, though.
2014 salary: $1,580,719
Possible landing spots: 49ers, Panthers, Eagles, Bears
42 David Harris, ILB, New York Jets
At his best he’s an absolute beast, but he’s also 31. He’s not the player he once was but there’s no question he could make some team better. He hasn’t missed a start in 6 years, though, and he’s had over 120 tackles in each of the last three seasons.
2014 salary: $7,000,000
Possible landing spots: Jets, Browns, Giants, Jaguars
43 Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston Texans
A pretty solid cover guy with 5 years of experience starting. He has 10 career interceptions and will be 27 this year.
2014 salary: $4,335,000
Possible landing spots: Texas, Falcons, Redskins
44 Sterling Moore, CB, Dallas Cowboys
A role player and backup for most of his young career, Moore received a more prominent role with the Cowboys this past season after injuries and played well.
2014 salary: $645,000
Possible landing spots: Cowboys, Raiders, Chargers
45 Rolando McClain, ILB, Dallas Cowboys
After being labeled as a major bust with the Raiders, the change of scenery did him some good. McClain is coming off a very good season in Dallas. He’ll be just 26 this year.
2014 salary: $700,000
Possible landing spots: Cowboys, Steelers, Browns
46 Lance Briggs, LB, Chicago Bears
Briggs has stated he plans to test free agency and will most likely not return to the Bears. This means his retirement plans are on hold for now. He’s 34 and hasn’t been able to stay healthy the last two years. But since any team picking him up would likely do so at a very low price, it might be worth a look to see if he can dip into the fountain of youth.
2014 salary: $6,500,000
Possible landing spots: Broncos, Patriots, 49ers
47 Brandon Spikes, LB, Buffalo Bills
Playing on a one year contract he never really up to his potential. He’s had his moments in the NFL, though.
2014 salary: $3,250,000
Possible landing spots: Bills, Vikings, Chiefs
48 Derrick Morgan, OLB, Tennessee Titans
He’s got some pass rushing ability with 19 sacks in the last 3 years. He’s just 26 with four years as a starter under his belt.
2014 salary: $3,541,668
Possible landing spots: Titans, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals
49 Dan Williams, DT, Arizona Cardinals
Underrated run stopping anchor of that dominating defense.
2014 salary: $2,185,000
Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Titans, Giants
50 Brian Hoyer, QB, Cleveland Browns
Yes, really, he’s the best quarterback on the open market. At least until guys start getting released. Unless you think Mark Sanchez and/or Michael Vick are better? And with Johnny Manziel now in rehab, how much more likely are the Browns to bring him back?
2014 salary: $1,250,000
Possible landing spots: Browns, Titans, Texans, Bears