Top 50 NFL free agents

2023 top 50 nfl free agents

30. Donovan Smith, T. Age in Week 1: 30

The Buccaneers both did their eight-year tackle a favor by releasing him more than a week before free agency and boosted the market. Right tackle still presents more depth, but blindside-seeking teams now have Orlando Brown Jr. (for left tackle-needy teams with money) and Smith (for the rest) available. Smith is the second-longest-tenured left tackle in Bucs history, and he should still have a few years left. Playing a premium position, that should translate to free-agency interest.

Smith signed three Bucs contracts from 2015-21 — his rookie deal and respective accords worth $13.75M and $15M per year — and he has 124 career starts on his resume. Washington gave Charles Leno a three-year, $37M extension less than a year after the Bears cut him. Leno was 30 when he signed that deal. D.J. Humphries signed a three-year, $51M Cardinals extension at 29. Smith has excelled more as a pass protector than run-blocking presence; fortunately, the former skill is more valuable at his position.

Teams plan ahead more at left tackle than they do on the other side, leaving fewer vacancies. Smith could be a much cheaper Brown replacement for the Chiefs. The Jets have big questions at tackle, with Duane Brown turning 38 this year and Mekhi Becton one of the league’s least reliable players. The Titans just released Taylor Lewan; it would surprise if a team that (for now, at least) remains committed to Ryan Tannehill would not inquire on Smith. The Steelers have given Dan Moore two seasons; Smith would be an upgrade.

Best fits: Chiefs, Steelers, Jets

31. Allen Lazard, WR. Age in Week 1: 27

The Packers’ attempt to vault Lazard from a No. 3 wideout to a No. 1 piece predictably backfired, and it will be fair to question how the 6-foot-5 target would fare without Aaron Rodgers at the controls. Long praised by the future Hall of Fame quarterback, Lazard will not be this market’s wide receiver prize. But he will not be lacking for interest, either.

Even in a wildly disappointing Green Bay season, Lazard cleared his previous career yardage high by more than 200. He totaled 788 and has 14 touchdown receptions since 2021. The Iowa State product’s lack of separation ability will cap his value, but PFF graded him a top-10 run-blocking wideout in 2022. Teams do not shell out big cash for the latter skill, but it will help sell Lazard to a franchise in need of a supplementary talent with a consistent track record of finding the end zone.

The Titans would need Kyle Philips to come through in the slot were they to pair Lazard with Treylon Burks, and the Ravens’ past issues with convincing higher-caliber receivers to join their run-crazed attack could lead them to a Lazard-level performer. The volume of Rodgers-Big Apple smoke would connect Lazard to the Jets. He would come slightly cheaper than Corey Davis, whom the team could cut to create $10M in cap space. A deal north of Tim Patrick’s three-year, $30M accord would be a reasonable Lazard target.

Best fits: Titans, Ravens, Jets

32. T.J. Edwards, LB. Age in Week 1: 27

As the Eagles doled out payments and made trades to bolster their other defensive positions, they relied on a former UDFA to anchor their second level. The plan became cost-effective for the NFC champions, who have three-fourths of their defense up for free agency. Considering Edwards’ position and his undrafted status, he will need to strike now. It should be expected he will price himself out of Philly, but the top Eagles linebacker wants to stay.

The Eagles non-tendered Alex Singleton as an RFA last year, keeping Edwards in place. The latter rewarded the team with a 159-tackle campaign that included 10 tackles for loss, in the top 10 among off-ball linebackers, along with two sacks and seven passes defensed. PFF slotted Edwards sixth at the position, a year after assigning him a top-10 grade. That assessment has not meant an automatic path to free-agency dollars, as Alexander Johnson’s path showed last year, but three-down ‘backers are valuable. Edwards is one of the best available.

Best fits: Eagles, Giants, Steelers

33. Connor McGovern, C. Age in Week 1: 30

The NFL is sending both its Connor McGoverns into free agency. This scenario will be ripe for photo misidentification, but the elder of the forever-linked interior O-linemen will be in better position. The Mizzou product played all 1,114 Jets offensive snaps last season; another McGovern-Jets agreement would be sensible.

Brought over from the Broncos in 2020, McGovern missed just two games as a Jet. He inked a three-year, $27M deal that ended up benefiting a team that experienced issues everywhere else up front during his tenure. The stability McGovern provided would be valuable to a team that believes it is on the cusp of a spectacular quarterback upgrade and one set to welcome back a talented running back (Breece Hall) coming off ACL surgery.

Will the Jets be willing to do another $9M-AAV contract here? They have only one upper-echelon O-line contract on the books (Laken Tomlinson’s), and other teams will be in need at center. The Seahawks and Texans just saw their starters retire, with the Cardinals expecting Rodney Hudson to follow suit. This exodus will benefit McGovern, but there are other snapping options available as well.

Best fits: Jets, Seahawks, Texans

34. Nate Davis, G. Age in Week 1: 26

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Publish Date:2023-03-11 14:00:21

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