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NFL · 12 days ago

Ranking Top 10 2024 NFL Free Agents

Ben DiGiacomo

Ben DiGiacomo

Ranking Top 10 2024 NFL Free Agents

We’re through Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season, but it’s never too early to look ahead at the offseason.

Here are the top ten free agents that will be hot commodities on the open market next spring.

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1. Brian Burns, EDGE, Carolina Panthers

Pass rushing is a premier position in the NFL, and no better pass rusher is about to hit the market than Brian Burns of the Carolina Panthers. The two parties have tried to negotiate a contract extension, but no deal has been finalized, raising the possibility of the Panthers using the franchise tag. The 25-year-old is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl selections and could be looking for upwards of $25 million.

2. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals and Tee Higgins failed to agree on a contract extension this past summer. Higgins has elected not to negotiate with the team throughout the season, making it likely that Higgins will hit the open market in 2024. Teams needing elite wide receiver production could look to Higgins, as he’s averaged north of 1,000 yards per season over his brief three-year career and will only be 25 this spring. With Ja’Marr Chase expected to demand north of $30 million annually when he is due for an extension, the Bengals appear ready to let Higgins walk.

3. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the summer of off-ball linebackers, Devin White and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have failed to agree on a contract extension. There has been tension between both sides throughout negotiations regarding White requesting a trade out of Tampa over the summer. Both sides mended leading into the 2023 season, but it shows that the Bucs could be willing to dish out $100 million to an All-Pro caliber linebacker.

4. Patrick Queen, LB, Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are financially unable to extend Patrick Queen as they just made Roquan Smith the highest-paid off-ball linebacker with his recent five-year $100 million extension, so a bidding war very well could play out on the open market for Queen. He’ll be looking for a deal to make him one of the highest-paid off-ball linebackers in football, higher than the four-year, $72 million deal Tremaine Edmunds received from the Chicago Bears last offseason.

5. Calvin Ridley, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Calvin Ridley needs 2023 to redefine his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being suspended for the entire 2022 season after violating the NFL’s anti-gambling policy. He’s already off to a hot start in Jacksonville and easily could play himself into a serious payday in the range of $25 million annually.

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6. Josh Allen, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Sticking in Jacksonville, Josh Allen has fallen off after a dominant rookie season where he logged double-digit sacks. Injuries partly to blame, Allen only recorded 17.5 sacks from 2020-2022, which still is fair production, but not enough given the hype and draft expectations surrounding him. After starting 2023 with a three-sack performance in Week 1, Allen could be on his way to reclaiming elite edge rusher money. 

7. Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks

From all indications, the Seattle Seahawks are committed to finding a way to lock Jordyn Brooks up long-term, but his services are in high demand. Totaling 345 tackles in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Brooks is one of the more productive linebackers in the NFL and the anchor of a young, rising Seahawks defense. He’ll be looking for Roquan Smith-type money, as all off-ball linebackers will be looking to reshape the market when it’s their turn.

8. Danielle Hunter, EDGE, Minnesota Vikings

Danielle Hunter is one of the older names on this list, dropping him lower in the rankings, but he has been very productive off the edge as the anchor of the Minnesota Vikings’ front. Over his last three full seasons, Hunter has combined for 39.5 sacks and a Pro-Bowl nod each year. It’ll be interesting to see how teams value him, given that he’ll be 29 next spring.

9. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have failed to agree on a contract extension despite his pleas that he wants to be a Buc for life. The 30-year-old wide receiver has been as reliable as they come, exceeding 1,000 yards in each of his nine seasons in the NFL thus far. If Tampa Bay does not re-sign Evans, he could still find himself with a salary exceeding $20 million comfortably, but it may not be for the length he’d prefer.

10. Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings

I’m not a Kirk Cousins fan, but he’ll have value this offseason. It’s unclear what the Minnesota Vikings’ plans will be at quarterback in the 2024 season, but if they fail to make the postseason this year, they’ll likely turn in another direction. Cousins will still be capable of giving competent play at the quarterback position next fall, but it’ll probably be for a team looking for a bridge starter until they find their next young quarterback.

Running Backs

Given the current state of the running back market around the NFL, we’d be remiss to include running backs on our list if teams around the league don’t have running backs on their list. This offseason will feature multiple premier backs available on the market.

Jonathan Taylor, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Tony Pollard, Derrick Henry, and Josh Jacobs are all top ten running backs in the sport but aren’t under contract for the 2024 season. Who knows what the running back market will look like when March comes around, but these guys can play, so we’ll see if teams around the league change their tune about dishing out serious money to the position. 

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