NFL free agency 2023: 10 top players still available and teams they could help

We’re nearly a full week into NFL free agency, and after a flurry of action during the negotiation window, the pace has slowed. But plenty of talented players remain unsigned.

Recognizable names remain in search of the right fit and financial arrangement that will allow them to continue the next leg of their football journeys. Some could find those situations any day now. Others may have to wait longer as the market settles.

Here’s a look at 10 of the best players still on the market.

Best remaining available: The Athletic’s top 150 free agents
Live updates: News, predictions, analysis and updates
Free agency grades: The Athletic’s Mike Jones grades key signings
Does free agency work? Evaluating value from 2020 to 2022

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 1.

Baltimore franchise-tagged the Ravens star, so he isn’t technically a free agent who can sign with any team of his choosing. But it’s believed Baltimore would entertain offers for the 2019 unanimous NFL MVP. Thus far, things have been quiet on this front. But if a team truly wants to change its fortunes and land a game-changing face of the franchise, it should pick up the phone and truly take Jackson off the market.

Teams that might have a need: Falcons, Commanders.


Lamar Jackson’s market remains unclear with new league year set to begin

LB Bobby Wagner

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 5.

Father Time has nothing on the longtime Seattle Seahawks linebacker, who last year as a member of the L.A. Rams had his 11th consecutive 100-plus tackle season at the ripe old age of 32. Wagner (140 tackles and 10 for a loss) also added a career-high six sacks, plus two interceptions and five pass breakups.

Teams that might have a need: Bills, Lions.

DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 11.

Any team looking for a turnover machine should seriously consider adding the fast-rising Gardner-Johnson to its secondary. After making the transition to safety, Gardner-Johnson tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions while also tallying 67 tackles for the Eagles.

Teams that might have a need: Eagles, Bengals.

DE Frank Clark

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 23.

The three-time Pro Bowl defensive end has seen his sack production dip, but he remains an active and impactful pass rusher. He had five sacks and 13 quarterback hits last season for the Chiefs and this year turns 30. But in the right situation, he could make his presence felt.

Teams that might have a need: Chiefs, Browns.

WR Adam Thielen

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 28.

The nine-year Vikings veteran turns 33 this year, and his 113-catch season in 2018 is in the rearview. He remains, however, a reliable and consistent contributor, with 70 receptions for 716 yards and six touchdowns in 2022.

Teams that might have a need: Cowboys, Bills.

WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 29.

His recovery from a torn ACL took longer than he would’ve liked, but he’s reportedly healthy and eager to help another team chase a Super Bowl. Despite still working his way back into football shape, Beckham looked pretty good in the workout he held for teams last week, according to multiple talent evaluators, who spoke on condition of anonymity so they didn’t telegraph their teams’ plans. Beckham’s dominant days are behind him. But he could still serve as a reliable No. 2 option.

Teams that might have a need: Cowboys, Chiefs.

Dalton Schultz has spent his entire five-year career with the Cowboys. (Andrew Nelles / USA Today)

TE Dalton Schultz

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 30.

Talented tight ends aren’t always easy to come by, so teams shouldn’t wait too long if they want to sign Schultz, who has averaged 10 yards per catch in each of the last two seasons for the Cowboys. After a 2021 season in which he recorded 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns, Schultz last year had 57 receptions for 577 yards and five touchdowns on 89 targets. A change of scenery probably would do Schultz some good.

Teams that might have a need: Packers, Commanders.

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 35.

He isn’t regarded as an elite pass rusher, but Ngakoue is very good and very consistent, averaging 9.3 sacks a year during his seven seasons in the league. Last season, the 27-year-old recorded 9 1/2 sacks and eight tackles for a loss in 15 games for Indianapolis.

Teams that might have a need: 49ers, Dolphins.

RB Kareem Hunt

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: No. 136.

After splitting time with Nick Chubb the last four seasons in Cleveland, Hunt is eager for an opportunity to be a feature back, and he’s fresher than some of the other veterans on the market. It’s a deep running back draft class, but if a team decides it prefers to sign a veteran, Hunt might be its best bet.

Teams that might have a need: Bills, Chargers.

RB Ezekiel Elliott

Rank, The Athletic’s top 150 free agents: NR.

The Cowboys this week released Elliott, designating him as a post-June 1 cut. He no longer boasts the juice he once did, but there’s a place for him in the NFL, particularly on a team that features a two-headed rushing attack. Elliott still is highly effective in short-yardage situations where he can put his strength to use. Despite averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per carry last season, Elliott was one of only eight NFL backs with more than 10 rushing touchdowns (12).

Teams that might have a need: Bills, Bears.


Dak Prescott: It’s ‘tough’ losing Ezekiel Elliott, who the Cowboys released this week

(Top photo of Odell Beckham Jr.: Harry How / Getty Images)

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