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Omar Kelly: The 30 top free agents still available for NFL teams shopping for help

Some of the players still available during free agency might be just as good as those who got signed in last week’s first wave.

Many are still available because of their age or injury history. But plenty of them can still be impactful NFL players.

In fact, the quality and caliber of players still available to sign might be talented enough to build a playoff contender if a team’s quarterback is good enough.

Here’s a look at the best players still searching for a new team as of Sunday:

Offensive tackle Terron Armstead — The Saints rarely let players they want to retain get away, which explains why Armstead’s still on the market after a week. The 30-year-old has consistently been one of the best tackles in football since joining the league in 2013 but he has battled numerous injuries, including a knee injury he played through in 2021.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu — Mathieu’s knack for consistently being around the ball delivered two consecutive Pro Bowl seasons with Kansas City. The fact that the Chiefs has signed another safety indicates he’ll be moving on, and will probably try to land with a title contender.

Pass rusher Za’Darius Smith — Smith was a force with the Packers, recording 26 sacks in 2019 and 2020 season, but he only played one game for Green Bay last year because of a back injury. If the 29-year-old checks out medically he could be the steal of the 2022 free-agent class. But everyone is wondering why a deal with the Ravens didn’t get done last week.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner — Wagner had produced 10 straight seasons of 100 or more tackles, and had a career-high 170 last season for the Seahawks before he was released to create cap space. He might not be the elite player he once was, but Wagner is a solid option for teams looking for an experienced, instinctive playmaker.

Pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney — The former Pro Bowler has totaled at least nine sacks in three of his past four seasons, and has recorded 41 sacks in the 97 games he’s played the past eight seasons. He’ll be 29 this season, which means there’s possibly more production coming from this former No. 1 overall pick.

Receiver Jarvis Landry — This five-time Pro Bowler has been one of the NFL’s premiere slot receivers for most of his eight-year career. The 29-year-old has scored 42 touchdowns on his 688 receptions and 40 carries, but he must prove last year’s injury-impacted season was an aberration, and not the new norm.

Center J.C. Tretter — Tretter has started all but one game the past five seasons, where he’s been the leader of the Browns’ forceful rushing attack. This Cornell product recently turned 31, but he still has the skills and leadership needed to help an offensive line improve.

Offensive tackle Trent Brown — Brown has had success on both the left and right sides of the offensive line. He can move people in the run game, even though he’ll have his share of losses. He’s been one of the better pass-blocking tackles in the league over the past few years, but his weight and injury concerns have slowed down his free agency process.

Linebacker Anthony Barr — Barr, who contributed 72 tackles, 2.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and pulled down three interceptions in the 11 games he played last season, is the type of versatile linebacker who fits into every scheme. A knee injury limited him last season, but he just turned 30 so he could still be productive for another two or three seasons.

Receiver Cole Beasley — Beasley is one of the NFL’s most accomplished, and savvy slot receivers. He caught 82 passes in each of the past two seasons, and for his three-year tenure in Buffalo he had 231 catches for 2,438 yards and 11 touchdowns. If he gets with the right quarterback and offense he could be dynamic playmaker.

Safety Marcus Williams — Williams was a steady, well-rounded free safety for the Saints, pulling down 15 interceptions in his first five seasons. The 25-year-old has got a nose for the ball in coverage, but had his best season against the run last season.

Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks — The 32-year-old has been a run-stuffing force for the past five seasons, but he’s also managed to produced 40.5 sacks in 138 games he’s played. He battled groin and ankle injuries last year that limited him to nine games.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower — His 18 quarterback pressures ranked fourth among off-ball linebackers last season. Hightower will be 32 years old, but he took the 2020 season off so his body is relatively preserved. Problem is, most Patriots standouts fizzle when they leave New England.

Pass rusher Trey Flowers — Flowers played 14 games the past two seasons, and contributed only 10.5 sacks in his three seasons with the Lions, who released him last week. The 28-year-old needs to find the right scheme to prove he’s still a forceful outside linebacker.

Tailback Leonard Fournette — Fournette gained 812 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season with the Buccaneers. But injuries limited the 27-year-old’s production and playing time. He still has the talent to carry an NFL team’s rushing attack because he’s only 26.

Offensive tackle Duane Brown — Brown, who made it to his fifth Pro Bowl last season, has been a solid and reliable starting tackle for the Texans and Seahawks the past 14 seasons. The 36-year-old is scheme diverse, and might have a season or two of starts left in him.

Offensive tackle Eric Fisher — Fisher, the No. 1 selection in the 2013 NFL draft, had a decent season with the Colts, proving that a torn Achilles he suffered in the playoffs in 2021 wasn’t going to derail his career. But each team must ask how many more starts does the 31-year-old have left?

Tailback Melvin Gordon — Gordon gained 918 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns for the Broncos, while sharing the backfield with rookie Javonte Williams. The 28-year-old, who has averaged 4.2 yards per attempt in his career, still has the talent to carry a team’s rushing attack.

Linebacker Kwon Alexander — Alexander was a force in his early years with the Buccaneers, but injuries watered down his performance until this past season. The 27-year-old contributed 50 tackles, logged 3.5 sacks, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, and pulled down one interception in the 12 games he played for the Saints.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson — One of the best cornerbacks of the past decade, Peterson hoped to revive his career with a fresh start in Minnesota, but his tenure with the Vikings was underwhelming. Injuries impacted him last season, but at 32 it might be time for him to consider a move to safety.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore — The two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler is no longer the most feared cornerback in the NFL. But the 31-year-old, who started three of the eight games he played with the Panthers last season, could use his 11th season to prove he hasn’t lost a step.

Receiver Jamison Crowder — The 28-year-old veteran is a reliable slot receiver who isn’t big, or fast. But he’s experienced, having started 51 games, pulling down 409 receptions for 4,607 yards and 28 touchdowns in his seven seasons.

Pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul — Pierre-Paul still shows flashes, tallying at least two quarterback pressures in six of his nine games last season, but injuries have started to catch up a bit. He’s in Year 12 so his days of being a 1,000-snap defensive lineman are over.

Offensive tackle Nate Solder — Solder returned after opting out in 2020 and shifted over to right tackle for the first time since his rookie season in 2011, logging over 900 snaps. At this point the soon to be 34-year-old is best viewed as a swing tackle.

Defensive lineman Calais Campbell — At this point in Campbell’s 14-year career the only thing missing is a Super Bowl ring. He’s likely trying to latch onto a title contender, and should be able to help them based on the 35-year-old’s recent production. In 15 games with the Ravens last season, Campbell totaled 49 tackles (5 for loss), 16 pressures, 12 quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks.

Receiver Julio Jones — Jones caught 31 passes for 434 yards and one touchdown in his one season with the Titans, where a nagging hamstring injury limited him to 10 games. While the 33-year-old is no longer the most dominant receiver in the NFL, he could still be productive if he can stay healthy and gets with the right quarterback.

Tight end Jared Cook — Cook is still a consistently productive receiving tight end, as he recorded his fifth straight season with at least 35 receptions and 500 receiving yards. The 35-year-old caught 48 passes for 564 yards and scored four touchdowns for the Chargers last season.

Taiback Marlon Mack — Mack hits free agency at just 26 years of age, and has the potential to break off a big play at any moment. Mack tore his Achilles in 2020 but was inactive for stretches this past season just because he had been passed on the depth chart. However, that doesn’t mean he still can’t lead a team’s rushing attack.

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh – Suh might not be the same dominant force he was in his prime, but the 35-year-old still managed 37 quarterback pressures on over 700 snaps, so he may want to keep going. Last year he contributed 27 tackles and six sacks for the Buccaneers.

Receiver Odell Beckham Jr. – Beckham’s run with the Rams proved he’s clearly still a dynamic playmaker, and that his lackluster performance in Cleveland had more to do with the quarterback throwing to him than his talent level. But tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl means he’ll face a 9-12 month rehab, which might stifle his market.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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