Who are the best available NFL free agents? Justin Simmons, Mike Williams lead list

With one week behind us, NFL free agency has entered the value stage of the process. Most of the top players are off the board, and teams now have more leverage, but there is still plenty of talent out there.

Who are the best available players for your team to sign? We’re tracking all of them right here.

This story will be updated as free agents agree to deals and as other players are released. The number preceding a player’s name shows where he landed in our rankings before the start of free agency. Players who were released on March 11 or later will not have a ranking. Ages (in parentheses) are as of Sept. 5, the scheduled date of the 2024 season opener.

Live updates: Free-agent news from across the NFL
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Grades: Best and worst of free-agent deals


NFL free agency: Best and worst deals of the last 4 years and where all 32 teams rank

A surprising cap-related release by the Broncos, Simmons is one of the few safeties who has both size and speed. He’s a very good tackler, but he also excels in coverage. He keys and diagnoses well, showing good anticipation and reactions. He still has fluid hips and transitions easily in space, although he’s not as adept at man-to-man coverage as he was early in his career. He should be sought after by multiple teams. — Randy Mueller



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Williams played in only three games last season before tearing his ACL. He was targeted 25 times and had 19 catches, so the production was there. But health is a big question mark, as he has played a full season just once in seven years and entered the league with back concerns, and he doesn’t have the suddenness to separate or the fifth gear that he did earlier in his career. His size is a positive in his entire game — he does an excellent job of presenting a big catch radius and using his body to screen off defenders on slants and other inside routes. It also helps him as a blocker and running after the catch, where he can break tackles. I think his skill set would fit in a Shanahan or McVay offense where the route tree complements his strengths. — Mueller

Don’t dismiss Reynolds because of his key drops in the NFC Championship Game — per PFF, he had only three drops during the whole regular season. He has size and a solid catch radius and made big grabs for his team all season long. He is physical, fighting through contact and drawing his share of pass interference calls. His speed is not elite, but he has the body control to get in and out of breaks very well for a big man. He should be a solid No. 2 WR in the league. — Mueller

27. Jadeveon Clowney, Edge, Ravens (31)

Baltimore proved to be the perfect fit for Clowney, who was looking to resurrect his career. He said he’d love to return, but he certainly earned a far bigger payday than the $2.5 million deal he signed with the Ravens last fall. In past offseasons, Baltimore has avoided spending big bucks at outside linebacker. — Jeff Zrebiec

Dugger, a 2020 second-round pick from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne, improved slowly through his first few seasons. He nabbed two pick sixes in a standout 2022 season, but 2023 wasn’t quite as good. He offers precisely what many modern defenses seek, with the size of a linebacker and the athleticism to drop deep as a safety. The Patriots used the transition tag on Dugger, giving them the ability to match any offer, but they will not receive compensation if they decline to match an offer. — Chad Graff



Patriots transition tag Kyle Dugger

Opportunities and targets were limited for OBJ this season, but his skills and talent are still evident. He can run, he has the explosive ability to separate and he draws pass interference penalties as well as any other player in the NFL. He adjusts well to off-target throws and catches with his hands on par with the league’s elite. Even with his injury history, there is plenty more in the tank here if he should desire to move teams again. — Mueller

Peat is a guard by trade but filled in well enough at left tackle this year that we are leaving him in the tackle group, but some might still see him as a guard. He is strong, powerful on impact and can lock on to sustain in both the run and pass game. He’s not fleet of foot but imposes his will with his frame and physical presence. He’s a better player than a lot of right tackles in the league, although all of his NFL experience is on the left side. — Mueller

The Macon, Ga., native enjoyed playing close to home and had his best season since 2020. Dupree can play outside linebacker or a more traditional defensive end spot (like he did for the Falcons), which might make him a good fit for more teams. — Josh Kendall

Hubbard was the Titans’ starter and full-time right tackle for nine games before injuring biceps and missing the balance of the season. He lacks ideal size but has excellent quickness and agility, particularly his lateral agility. He’s not well known around the league but is tough and consistent, and I love the way he competes. I think he can produce regardless of his measurables, even in the back end of his career. — Mueller

53. Laken Tomlinson, G, Jets (32)

Tomlinson, who was released by the Jets, can still be productive for a team if the price is right. He has adequate body control and balance to recover and even get out in space in the run game, and he has a strong punch and good anchor against the bull rush in pass protection. He’s also been very durable, missing just one game in his nine-year career, way back in 2017. —Mueller

Despite not signing with the Ravens until Week 4, Van Noy had one of the best seasons of his career, playing on a one-year, $1.4 million deal. He showed he has plenty of juice left, meaning he probably won’t have to wait as long to find his 2024 team. — Jeff Zrebiec

Maye, who was released by the Saints, is athletic, smart and tough. He will take chances and chase shiny objects at times, but his instincts are usually pretty good. He just needs to stay healthy, which has been an issue over the last three seasons (28 games missed). — Mueller

Already a veteran of four teams, Nelson is a more experienced option at cornerback who had a solid body of work in 2023. He understands how to play and positions himself accordingly. He still is very light on his feet, can mirror in man-to-man coverage and closes with top-flight suddenness. — Mueller

Campbell started all 17 games and contributed to the Falcons’ defensive turnaround. He finished the season playing at a high level and said he would like to play at least another year if the circumstances are right. His chances of re-signing in Atlanta declined upon defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen’s move to Jacksonville. — Josh Kendall

The Cowboys would probably love to have Gilmore back for another season. He played well in 2023. But already having Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland means Dallas will likely not be willing to spend much on its No. 3 cornerback. Gilmore would have to be willing to take something very team-friendly. Jourdan Lewis is also a free agent. — Jon Machota

Coming off of a torn ACL in 2021 and a torn Achilles in 2023, White is not as fast or agile as he once was, which shows up in man-to-man coverage. Given his decline in athleticism, he’s now best suited to play more zone, where he can use his instincts and reactions while playing with a cushion. He could still provide value, but his injury history is hard to look past. — Mueller



Bills cut 3 cornerstones as offseason of change starts to take shape

Renfrow was a Pro Bowler in 2021 after posting career highs of 103 receptions, 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns while catching 80.5 percent of his targets. But he has just 61 catches for 585 yards and two TDs since, as he missed time due to injury in 2022 and saw his role shrink with Jakobi Meyers’ arrival in 2023. That said, he remains a good route runner who could play a significant role in a high-volume passing attack. — David DeChant

Cole plays smart and positions himself well. He can bend and adjust to moving targets with enough quickness, agility and balance to be a functional starter. He lacks the mass to knock people back and doesn’t stay connected long enough in the run game at times, but he should not have a problem gaining employment after being released for cap purposes in Pittsburgh. — Mueller

Blackmon is a very good athlete with range, easy and fluid hips and the ability to cover ground in the deep part of the field. He is what we call a “run and hit” guy. His center-field tracking and ball skills are top-notch, although his injury history is lengthy, including a torn ACL in 2019 at Utah, a torn Achilles in 2021 and a shoulder injury in 2023. — Mueller

Zeke can still pick his way through traffic and put his foot in the ground to accelerate with conviction and pop. He still breaks arm tackles but might be lacking the breakaway speed he once had. He’s very good in the pass game on screens and dump-offs, getting yards on his own. He moves the chains effectively and could easily be considered a starting back for many NFL teams. — Mueller

Approaching 31 with a cap number of $25 million, Howard was released by Miami for salary purposes. His ability to mirror receivers in man-to-man coverage slipped in 2023, maybe because he wasn’t 100 percent healthy (he missed four games). His speed and suddenness to catch up was only evident in flashes. He would fit best in a zone scheme where he can play off technique and use his above-average ball skills and reactions to make plays. — Mueller

Bakhtiari has been a great player for a long time, and he probably still would be if healthy. But he’s played in just 13 of a possible 51 games over the last three seasons, as his surgically repaired knee has not cooperated. I’m not sure he’ll ever be fully healthy, which would make it hard to make the math work on a contract. — Mueller

Becton is a large man who can create space on impact and cover up defenders on contact. He lacks ideal lateral range and the ability to recover when off-balance. His inconsistencies show consistently. His injury history is also concerning, even though he started 16 of 17 games in 2023, predominantly at left tackle — Mueller

A regular starter in Jacksonville in 2019 and 2020, Herndon has been relegated to the third cornerback role since 2021, playing predominantly in the slot. He doesn’t have an interception since 2019, but his experience and versatility will offer value somewhere. — DeChant

Best suited as a backup at this stage, Tannehill can still process coverage, but his release seems to have slowed a bit. He is athletic and can be deceptively effective while extending plays or tucking and running for a first down. His arm velocity is average at this point in his career, and the ball does not jump off his hand. He can stand in the pocket, if protected, and make most NFL throws. — Mueller

A one-time Pro Bowler and longtime starter, Leno has faded some after 10 years in the league, but he has 141 starts under his belt, almost all at left tackle. He missed four games in 2023 and is having offseason hip surgery, so he might not be in high demand. — DeChant

Even though Lucas played less than 25 percent of the snaps for Washington (all on the left side) in 2023, his length and technique have proven to be very effective at combatting speed rushes and protecting on an island at tackle. He might just be a starting option for a needy team, or at least as a third offensive tackle. — Mueller

Gallup was a big-play threat early in his career, highlighted his 66 catches for 1,107 yards (16.8 average) and six touchdowns in 2019. But he tore his ACL in 2021 and hasn’t been the same since, averaging just 11.5 yards per reception on 73 catches over the last two seasons. The Cowboys released him after being unable to find a trade partner. Gallup had his best game of the 2023 season in the playoffs (six catches, 103 yards), so perhaps he can reboot his value on a one-year deal somewhere. — DeChant

Pringle isn’t a household name, but he has a great combination of size and speed, plus reliable hands when throws come his way (69.5 catch rate in his career). He also has some juice as a kick returner. He could fit nicely in an offense that needs a speedy third or fourth receiver. — DeChant

The 2020 first-round pick, who has battled injuries throughout his career, wound up being the Chiefs’ primary backup to Isiah Pacheco. He really has a knack for making defenders miss after the catch, averaging 13.4 YAC per reception, tops in this group. He is quicker than he is fast and can gain yards when plays are not blocked as designed. — Mueller

Williams battled nagging injuries in college and early in his NFL career, and then he missed the second half of 2023 with a torn ACL. He has shown impressive stretches while playing guard and center, but durability is a significant concern. — DeChant

A quality player for several years in Seattle, Diggs was released for cap purposes. He still has very good instincts to key and diagnose run or pass, as well as excellent ball skills. But at age 31, he’s lost a step in coverage, and his tackling skills were inconsistent in 2023. In a deep safety class, his small frame and declining speed might lead some teams to look elsewhere. — Mueller



Seahawks release Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs

Gipson has been a revelation for the 49ers since they signed him during the 2022 preseason following Jimmie Ward’s injury. The Niners retained Gipson for $2.9 million last season. With Talanoa Hufanga rehabbing from a torn ACL, another one-year deal might make sense if Gipson chooses to continue playing. — David Lombardi

Released by the Giants, Glowinski can still be effective in a zone scheme. He is smart, has good instincts and takes good angles in the run game. He’s not going to knock anyone off the ball but stays engaged and positions his body well to sustain. He’s a tough competitor who should make sense for some as a third guard option. —Mueller

Risner hit the open market last offseason and was not as sought after as he hoped. He signed with Minnesota three weeks into September and became a starter at left guard in Week 7. Pass protection is his strength. The Vikings are likely to want Risner back, but they won’t be the only team interested. — Alec Lewis

Wallace had six interceptions and 24 passes defensed in his two seasons with the Steelers, who would love to have him back but won’t consider him a high priority. He shouldn’t be in high demand, which would allow the Steelers to snoop around for somebody younger with more upside. — Mark Kaboly

Swaim is the best and most consistent run blocker of all tight ends in this class. He’s physical, strong and very willing — which should not be assumed as a given, even at the NFL level. He does the dirty work. — Mueller

Released by the Vikings, Cook flopped with the Jets before being waived, then went unclaimed on waivers and played sparingly for Baltimore in one playoff game. As low as his stock is now, he averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2022 and doesn’t turn 30 until August 2025. — DeChant

Injured for most of the 2023 season, Henderson — who was a first-round pick by the Jaguars on 2020 — has the height, weight and skill set to be a quality cornerback. He just needs a larger body of work. He would rank higher if healthy. — Mueller

127. Krys Barnes, LB, Cardinals (26)

Untendered by the Packers as a restricted free agent last offseason, Barnes joined the Cardinals and flashed as a part-time starter, logging 55 tackles and six passes defensed in only 408 defensive snaps. Arizona has plenty of cap space if it wants to keep him. — DeChant

Jackson is coming off his worst season with the Giants since signing a three-year, $39 million contract in 2021. His durability concerns (18 games missed from 2020 to 2021) continued in New York, as he missed 14 games in three seasons. He can still cover, and his flexibility to play in the slot adds value, but he struggles with tackling. — Dan Duggan

All signs point to the end in Cincinnati for Boyd, who should have a market among teams searching for a slot receiver. His reliability and savvy will be gold for any team grooming a young quarterback. He’ll probably end up with a multiyear deal in the $7-9 million per season range, which would be too rich for the Bengals’ balance sheet. — Paul Dehner Jr.

Gregory is still a talented pass rusher. He can turn the corner, but he can also turn straight-line speed into power. He struggles to hold a disciplined edge and maintain leverage against ball carriers and scrambling QBs, getting caught inside consistently. But his effort with the 49ers was good, and he could provide value as a situational pass rusher on a cheap deal somewhere. — Mueller

Sturdily built with strong hands, Gholston has been a quality run defender throughout his career, playing base end in a 4-3 scheme or five- and three-technique in a 3-4. His snaps dipped in 2023, but he should still contribute to a rotation somewhere. — DeChant

145. Josh Jones, OT, Texans (27)

Jones filled in at left tackle, left guard and right tackle for Houston last season, allowing just one sack on 144 pass blocking snaps, per TruMedia. He could start or be a valuable backup elsewhere. — DeChant

150. Jamal Adams, S, Seahawks (28)

When healthy, Adams can still make plays, although he is really more of a Will linebacker than a safety at this point in his career. The problem is his injury history, which (combined with his salary) made his release in Seattle inevitable. Most concerning is that the torn quadriceps tendon he suffered in the 2022 opener lingered well into 2023, which would give me significant pause before I would consider signing him. — Mueller



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(Photos of, from left to right, Mike Williams, Justin Simmons and Josh Reynolds: Stephen Maturen, Harry How, Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

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