National Football League
2023 NFL free-agent top-50 rankings: Lamar Jackson atop deep group of QBs
National Football League

2023 NFL free-agent top-50 rankings: Lamar Jackson atop deep group of QBs

Updated Feb. 22, 2023 11:24 a.m. ET

With an epic Super Bowl LVII in the rearview mirror, it's time for teams to start tweaking or outright rebuilding their rosters in an effort to challenge the Chiefs for NFL supremacy. And while the big-name quarterbacks and running backs will garner the most attention, there's a lot of talent across the board in the 2023 free-agent class. 

Here's our ranking of the top 50 free agents who could be available when the new league year begins on March 15.

1. Lamar Jackson, QB

Just a few weeks ago we heard Ravens coach John Harbaugh proclaim that Jackson was "200 percent" their quarterback. There didn't seem to be much chance Jackson would leave Baltimore. Now? With no deal close to done and Jackson reportedly seeking only once-precedented guarantees, the door is open for other teams to woo the former NFL MVP. The Ravens would be silly to let him go. And they know that. But without an agent to temper Jackson's expectations or serve as the go-between with Baltimore ownership, this situation only gets more complicated. 


2. Javon Hargrave, DT

He has become one of the NFL's best interior pass rushers, with 11 sacks this season and 17.5 over the past two years. His three-year, $39 million deal signed in 2020 turned out to be a steal for the Eagles. At 30 years old and durable — he's missed two games with injuries in seven years — Hargrave should be one of the NFL's premier free agents, commanding more than $20 million per year.

3. Daron Payne, DT

The 25-year-old Payne was already one of the NFL's best run-stuffing defensive linemen. Then he broke out as an interior pass rusher with 11.5 sacks last season. It helps that he plays next to Jonathan Allen, but Payne has shown an ability to create pressure all on his own. He is a strong candidate to get the franchise tag ($18.9 million) from Washington. The Commanders would love to sign him to a long-term deal, but ownership issues could complicate that.

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4. Orlando Brown Jr., LT

Brown earns a top-five ranking for his Super Bowl parade shirt alone. He and other members of the Chiefs offensive line wore simple T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase "0 Sacks" in reference to the fact that against Philly's league-best defensive line, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not sacked in Super Bowl LVII. Now add in the fact that Brown is one of the best tackles in the league and doesn't have a long-term deal. The Chiefs are expected to franchise tag the 26-year-old as they try to keep both Brown and RT Andrew Wylie, but they'll also need to pay Brown or he'll land right back on this list next year.

5. Geno Smith, QB 

The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, Smith finally arrived as a franchise quarterback seven years after his last stint as a starter with the Jets. He was one of the NFL's biggest surprises, throwing for 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions while leading the Seahawks to the playoffs. Seattle wants him back, and Smith says he wants to stay. If not, he could end up as one of the hottest players on the market. His age (32) is a factor, but someone is going to pay him over $30 million per year.

6. Derek Carr, QB

It wasn't a great year in Las Vegas, there's no denying that. Expectations were through the roof in what was supposed to be the best division in football. It wasn't. And the middling Raiders have released Carr, making him a free agent, allowing him to choose where he goes next. He also has a two-week head start on the rest of free agency. The cherry on top of this bizarre season for Carr is that he ended up making the 2023 Pro Bowl. It was as an alternate, sure, but he made it. And now another team could scoop him up without having to forfeit any assets. Carr threw for 3,522 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 15 games. Teams could do a lot worse. Quarterbacks don't only rise in the draft; they rise on this list, too.

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7. Jessie Bates III, FS 

Bates has quietly been one of the best safeties in the league for three years running. He had a career-high four interceptions this season and has topped 100 tackles in three of his five seasons in the league. Spotrac has his market value listed at $14 million per year, which is a slight bump from his previous $12 million salary. Bates was already given the franchise tag last season. The Bengals won't place it on him again, which means he should be highly sought-after by multiple teams.

8. James Bradberry, CB

He missed out on free agency last year because the Giants didn't cut him until May, and he was forced to take a one-year, $7.5 million deal from the Eagles. This time, Bradberry will cash in. The 29-year-old had three interceptions and was, at times, the best player in the Eagles' NFL-best secondary. His previous free-agency deal was three years, $45 million three years ago. As the best corner in free agency, he should top that.

9. Daniel Jones, QB

The Giants think he's their franchise quarterback and say they will retain him even if they have to use the franchise tag ($32.4 million). They've already opened negotiations on a long-term deal, hoping to lure him back with a deal worth around $35 million per year, according to sources. But Jones, 25, is coming off a breakout season during which he dragged the Giants to the playoffs despite throwing to a terrible receiver corps. On the open market, Jones knows he'd top $40 million per year.

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10. Saquon Barkley, RB 

For the first time since his rookie season, the 26-year-old Barkley looked like the "gold-jacket player" the Giants always expected him to be, with 1,312 rushing yards and another 338 receiving. New York wants him back, too, and offered a deal worth around $12 million per year, a source said. Barkley wants more, possibly in the range of Christian McCaffrey's $16 million average. The Giants could give Barkley the $10.1 million franchise tag, but only if they don't use it on their quarterback first.

11. Josh Jacobs, RB

The veteran running back market is a little crowded this offseason. With the aforementioned Barkley expected to command the most money, how many teams will find value in paying top dollar for a back? Now, Jacobs had a fantastic year yet again. In fact, he set career highs in rushing yards with 1,653, which was the most of any player league-wide, and had 12 rushing touchdowns. He's the youngest of the veteran options too, at just 25 years old, so he may be worth investing in more than the others. The Raiders could see that, too, and end up reaching a long-term deal before he ever ends up on the open market.

12. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, SS

One of the Eagles' best acquisitions, Gardner-Johnson brought an aggressive, hard-hitting force to their secondary at safety. He also tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions, despite missing five games with a lacerated kidney. He can play slot corner, too. He turned down a contract extension in New Orleans before the Saints traded him. The Eagles want him back, but his price tag could exceed $12 million per year.

13. Mike McGlinchey, RT

He has never been as dominant as expected of a top-10 pick, but he's one of the best tackles in this market. McGlinchey is considered to be a perfect fit in the 49ers' wide-zone blocking scheme, which more than a dozen NFL teams now run. He said he wants to stay in San Francisco, but he also wants to get paid because, as he says, "I'm not an idiot." Top right tackles are worth $15 to $17 million per year.

14. Jamel Dean, CB

As much as the Buccaneers may want to keep the homegrown talent, their cap situation may not be so conducive. Dean worked his way into becoming a full-time starter this past season and would provide any team with a now-experienced, lengthy outside corner. He doesn't have the versatility of some of his counterparts in the Bucs' secondary, but he's smart, anticipatory and well-suited for a zone or man scheme. The only issue is that he may come with expectations that fellow Bucs CB Carlton Davis set when he signed a three-year, $44.5 million deal with $30 million in guarantees last offseason. Dean will surely want to command at least that, meaning he almost certainly will have to move on to get it.

15. Lavonte David, LB

It's hard to imagine David, a routinely underrated linebacker and leader, anywhere else but Tampa. It's the only home he's known in his professional life after the Buccaneers drafted him in 2012 out of Nebraska. He may have just one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro nod to show for his time so far, but no other active player has more tackles since he came into the league (1,346 combined). David has shown scheme versatility in both 4-3 and 3-4 systems and could fit anywhere if he ends up being a cap casualty for Tampa Bay. His prior contract was two years for $25 million, but at age 33, his market value is now under $10 million a year. The Bucs, however, may not be able to afford even that.

16. Dalvin Tomlinson, DE

The Vikings have voided both Tomlinson and CB Patrick Peterson's contracts, allowing them to hit free agency. If that seems like the kiss of death, it is — at least for their time in Minnesota. The Vikings are turning over a new leaf with the hiring of defensive coordinator Brian Flores, and Tomlinson is no longer in the plans. At 28, the former second-round pick still has a lot to give as part of an interior rotation. He doesn't show up so much on the stat sheet, but he'll be a value-add to any franchise that needs to fortify its unit up front for a modest $8.5 million or so per year.

17. Tony Pollard, RB

His stellar 2022 season, in which he ran for 1,007 yards, added 371 receiving yards and overshadowed Ezekiel Elliott in the Dallas backfield, had Pollard headed toward a monster deal. Then he broke his leg and sprained his ankle in the playoffs. He should be recovered by the summer, but that will surely make some suitors skittish. He's a franchise tag candidate ($10.1 million), too.

18. Dre'Mont Jones, DE

Jones is high on multiple teams' wish lists. After all, Denver's defense wasn't its problem last year. The Ohio State product had 6.5 sacks in 2022, which just about matches his average the past three seasons. He will be coming off a hip injury, but he's only 26, which should ease some teams' concerns.

19. Dalton Schultz, TE

His production dipped this season (57-571-5), but the Cowboys also went five games without QB Dak Prescott. He was still Dallas' second-best pass-catcher, and the 6-foot-5, 244-pound tight end is still only 26. After playing on the $10.9 million franchise tag last season, Schultz will be looking for more than that.

20. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

Does anyone know what to make of Jimmy G? He'll be coming off his broken foot, and he clearly isn't the Niners' first choice. There wasn't exactly a trade market for him last season, but perhaps there will be interest in the free-floating waters of free agency.

21. Marcus Davenport, DE

There are tons of concerns with Davenport, including his injury history (hand, calf in 2022) and the fact that he had just a half sack for the Saints (down from nine in 2021). He's a good run-stopper, though, and he creates a lot of pressure, even if he doesn't often finish it. The upside: He's only 26, and this is a generally terrible edge-rusher class.

22. Yannick Ngakoue, DE

Ngakoue will be 28 when the 2023 season kicks off, but he has hovered around double-digit sacks the past two years. He had 9.5 for the Colts as one of their only bright spots of last season. But another team would be his sixth in his seven-year career, and he was in Jacksonville for the first four years of it. So maybe he ends up staying in Indy.

23. Odell Beckham Jr., WR

He already had a free agency/publicity tour in December, with no takers. On talent alone, OBJ is by far the best of a bad free agent crop of receivers. But he's 30 years old, tore his ACL twice in two years and didn't play last season. There's lots of potential, but no one knows how much is left.

24. Kaleb McGary, RT

The Falcons have enough cap space to keep McGary and they should. If he hits the open market, though, he could command a sizable contract.

25. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR

The Super Bowl undoubtedly helped resurrect Smith-Schuster's career, along with his 933 receiving yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs in the regular season. He can now command a heck of a lot more in the open market, especially with how receiver contracts keep trending.

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26. Jordan Poyer, SS 

He'll be 32 by the time the season starts, but Poyer is coming off yet another Pro Bowl year in which he combined for 63 tackles and four interceptions. There's a market for that kind of experience and productivity, and it looks like the Bills are going to let him test it.

27. Mike Gesicki, TE

A dangerous receiver when used in the slot in 2021, he was a terrible fit in Mike McDaniel's offense. He needs to get out of Miami and into the right system, and he could be good for 50 catches and 700 yards.

28. Patrick Peterson, CB 

Peterson's contract was voided by the Vikings. The 32-year-old had five interceptions in Minnesota last year, though, and Spotrac assigns a $6.4 million market valuation.

29. Vonn Bell, SS

He's been a terrific run stopper for the Bengals and is exceptional when it comes to covering tight ends. His four interceptions last season should boost his value over $10 million per year.

30. Allen Lazard, WR

The Packers need all the help and experience they can get in the wideout room, and letting Lazard walk would be ill-advised, no matter who ends up under center. Running back Aaron Jones restructured his deal to save the Packers some cap space. They should be able to keep Lazard, too. 

31. Isaac Seumalo, RG

He proved his worth after two injury-plagued seasons in Philadelphia, starting all 17 games and excelling as both a run- and pass-blocker. Seumalo's future with the Eagles may depend on whether center Jason Kelce returns or retires.

32. Fletcher Cox, DT

He came back on a one-year, $14 million deal and had a strong season with seven sacks. But he's 32 and the Eagles have some better, younger DTs to replace him.

33. Rock Ya-Sin, CB

He isn't quite as consistent as you want yet, but he could add a lot to an outside rotation if Las Vegas doesn't end up retaining him.

34. David Long Jr., LB

Long is about as crucial to the Titans defense as anyone, so there's the possibility they could use the franchise tag on him if they can't get a deal done. But he racked up 86 tackles in 12 games and showed a lot of versatility, so if Tennessee doesn't see his value, someone else will.

35. Tremaine Edmunds, LB

Edmunds is a solid, at times unspectacular, defender who made huge leaps in pass coverage in 2022. He led the Bills with 102 tackles, despite missing four games.

36. Zach Allen, DE

He had 5.5 sacks and 35 quarterback pressures in 13 games for the Cardinals. At age 25, Allen is on the upswing and someone will pay a big price for his potential.

37. Byron Murphy Jr., CB

Murphy hasn't completely lived up to expectations, but he did recover two fumbles this past year for Arizona and added 59 return yards off of them. He's only 25 and is still ascending.

38. Miles Sanders, RB

He's coming off easily his best season, with 1,269 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the Eagles. He showed he can carry a rushing attack, though some prefer to give the credit to Philly's powerful offensive line.

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39. Jawaan Taylor, RT

Coach Doug Pederson is on record as saying he hopes the Jaguars can retain Taylor. But in a depleted tackle market, he could perhaps get more elsewhere.

40. T.J. Edwards, LB

He was a steal on a one-year, $2.15 million deal, leading Philadelphia in tackles with 99. The middle linebacker doesn't play a position the Eagles value, though. Someone else will.

41. Ben Powers, LG

No matter who ends up playing quarterback for Baltimore, a reinforced offensive line is never a bad thing.

42. Dalton Risner, LG

Risner was one of the few bright spots for the Broncos on offense in 2022. They'd be wise to try to keep him, but if they don't, someone will pay handsomely for his services.

43. Evan Engram, TE

He escaped New York, found a coach who knew how to use him (Doug Pederson in Jacksonville) and finally showed that he can be a dangerous playmaker. The Jags want him back and could franchise him, too.

44. Andrew Wylie, RT

Super Bowl LVII could have been his biggest endorsement, as he and his offensive line mates allowed no sacks to the vaunted Philly front. With a generational QB, the Chiefs should try to keep their O-line intact as much as possible for as long as possible.

45. Jakobi Meyers, WR

Some say he's the best receiver in this bad market. He's been the best receiver in the underwhelming Patriots offense over the last two seasons, but is probably a No. 2 or 3 receiver on most teams outside of New England.

46. Garrett Bradbury, C

The Vikings had to experience life without Bradbury for a couple of games last season — and it wasn't pretty. They should figure out a way to hold onto him, but if they don't, an underrated center like Bradbury won't last long on the open market.

47. DJ Chark, WR

Chark was a role player in a highly productive offense in Detroit last season. He's going to get pushed a little further down the depth chart as Jameson Williams enters the fold a little bit more next season, so that could be enough to make Chark want to look elsewhere.

48. Brandon Graham, DE

He had 11 sacks as a part-time pass rusher for the Eagles last season. But he'll be 35 in April and probably can't play more than part-time anymore.

49. Jonathan Jones, CB

Mostly considered a slot corner, Jones struggled at times after switching to outside corner last season with the Patriots. His four interceptions help. His 5-foot-10, 190-pound size doesn't.

50. Nate Davis, RG

Davis is an improving guard who played well last season for Tennessee, but he missed five games with injuries. He's only 26, but those injuries could keep his cost down.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.

Ralph Vacchiano is the NFC East reporter for FOX Sports, covering the Washington Commanders, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. He spent the previous six years covering the Giants and Jets for SNY TV in New York, and before that, 16 years covering the Giants and the NFL for the New York Daily News. Follow him Twitter at @RalphVacchiano.

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