The top players available in the second wave of NFL free agency

Technically, the new league year is just a day old. And yet so damn much has happened, partly due to the fact teams and agents were able to negotiate contracts well ahead of the official start to free agency on Wednesday. That means we’re already into the second wave of the process.

Here, entering “Day 2,” are the top unrestricted free agents still up for grabs.

1. Safety Eric Weddle: The 31-year-old had a rough 2015 season but he wasn’t happy in San Diego. The two-time first-team All-Pro is surely in high demand, and he should bounce back in a major way wherever he signs.

2. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: Being a semi-reliable veteran quarterback automatically gets you on this list. Fitzpatrick’s numbers are never particularly pretty, but he’s battle-tested and he nearly led the Jets to the playoffs in 2015.

3. Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum: The 26-year-old was one of the best pass protectors in football in 2014 before missing the majority of the 2015 campaign due to a torn ACL

4. Safety Reggie Nelson: The 32-year-old made his first Pro Bowl with an eight-interception 2015 campaign. He might have less gas in his tank than Weddle but is just as strong a player and a better playmaker.

5. Defensive end Robert Ayers: The underrated former first-round pick had 14 sacks despite starting only 12 games the last two years with the Giants. At 30, he might still be on the rise.

6. Safety Walter Thurmond: The versatile playmaker can sometimes be a liability in coverage and is injury prone. At 28, though, he’ll have a chance to start somewhere.

7. Cornerback Patrick Robinson: The 28-year-old former first-round pick really excelled in coverage during his first year in San Diego and should be viewed as a solid No. 2 corner in his prime.

8. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley: The 28-year-old former first-round pick was fantastic in a limited role with the the Rams. He might finally be ready to live up to his potential.

9. Cornerback Leon Hall: The 31-year-old actually had a stronger season than teammate Adam Jones in coverage. And he’s younger to boot.

10. Cornerback Prince Amukamara: Can he stay healthy? If so, the 26-year-old former first-round pick could flourish in a new setting.

11. Offensive tackle Russell Okung: His free agency experience has been complicated by the fact he’s representing himself. In other words, it just started on Wednesday. The veteran left tackle is a bit overrated but would probably still be an upgrade on at least a handful of rosters.

12. Defensive end Chris Long: The former No. 2 overall pick put up stellar numbers between 2011 and 2013 but has disappeared since. Is he done at the age of 31? He seems motivated to get back on track, so we’ll see what a new setting does for him.

13. Outside linebacker Nick Perry: The 26-year-old former first-round pick obviously has a lot of talent. He hasn’t been very productive during his first four years in Green Bay but did register 3.5 sacks in two 2015 playoff games.

14. Offensive tackle Andre Smith: He had a bad 2015 season and is 29, which has me wondering if he’ll linger on the market for a while. Still, he’s got the ability to excel as a top-10 right tackle in the right setting.

15. Running back Ronnie Hillman: He’s only 24, and his productivity has jumped in each of his first four seasons.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.