National Football League
Ezekiel Elliott, Frank Clark highlight top 10 NFL free agents still available
National Football League

Ezekiel Elliott, Frank Clark highlight top 10 NFL free agents still available

Updated May. 24, 2023 1:20 p.m. ET

NFL free agency comes in waves each year. We're now more than two months removed from the wild, free-spending opening week, long past the bargains of a second wave and even beyond the initial post-draft cycle of veterans finding spots not claimed by rookies.

And yet there are still good players available for NFL teams, and those teams still have a collective $200 million in salary-cap space available, though they can always roll over some for next year. Some of these players are complicit in their unemployment, having been through enough summer workouts that they are content to wait until mid-July and the start of training camp before finding a new team.

It's reasonable to say these players didn't have the market they had hoped for, and lukewarm offers can make 30ish veterans wait to make sure they're finding the best match, both in compensation and role but also in postseason chances.

So here are 10 of the best available NFL free agents, trying to bring in a variety of positions rather than just having seven edges who might draw the most money of the remaining options. Signings will trickle in over the next three weeks as teams go through OTAs and minicamp and their lingering needs are easier to see, but some of these players will wait all the way to late July when camps open.


Yannick Ngakoue, edge, age 28
Last year: 9.5 sacks among 29 tackles for Colts

Remarkably consistent, Ngakoue has at least eight sacks (but more than 10 only once) in each of his seven NFL seasons. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better player so well-traveled — he could be joining his sixth team in five years, bouncing from his Jaguars heyday to the Vikings and Ravens in 2020, Raiders in 2021 and Colts in 2022. How does someone so productive not stick around for a second season anywhere? He has made $13 million in each of the past two seasons and is the youngest of the top available edges, so he might command the largest contract among who's left.

Potential match: The Bears, who had an NFL-low 20 sacks last year and have the most remaining cap space.

Frank Clark, edge, 29
Last year: Five sacks, eight tackles for loss among 39 tackles for Chiefs

Clark had four years in Kansas City after four years in Seattle, making three Pro Bowls from 2019-21. His production hasn't been as good with the Chiefs: After having at least nine sacks in each of his last three years with the Seahawks, he never had more than eight in Kansas City and averaged 5.2 over the last three years. He made $17.8 million a year in Kansas City but will be lucky to draw half that on a new deal. He turns 30 on June 14.

Potential match: The Lions, who didn't use a high draft pick to land an impact starter opposite Aidan Hutchinson.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, 27
Last year: Rushed for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns with Cowboys

Pushed out by Tony Pollard's emergence in Dallas, Elliott was a step slower in 2022. His average of 3.8 yards per carry was the lowest of 22 NFL backs to get 200 carries or more, and his career low in seven NFL seasons. Elliott is only 27, but in mileage-not-years terms, his 1,881 career rushing attempts are the most of any active NFL player. He was on a contract paying $15 million but will do well to get a third of that on a one-year, bounce-back deal. If he's looking for a starting job, he might have to wait to see if Minnesota moves on from Dalvin Cook and compete with returning options there.

[Ezekiel Elliott's former position coach: Zeke must accept huge pay cut]

Potential match: The Bengals, who could use him for depth whether they stick with Joe Mixon or not.

Skip Bayless: "Ezekiel Elliott was a one-year wonder"

Leonard Floyd, edge, 30
Last year: Nine sacks and 59 tackles with Rams

Floyd had at least nine sacks in each of his three years in Los Angeles, after totaling 11.5 his last three years in Chicago. His 22 quarterback hits in 2022 were a career high and put him in the top 20 in the league. Durability isn't a given at his position, but Floyd hasn't missed a game in five years. He signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Rams and played three years. He won't draw that much now but should challenge Ngakoue for the best money of the available free agents.

Potential match: The Colts, who didn't bring back Ngakoue and his team-best 9.5 sacks from last season.

Marcus Peters, CB, 30
Last year: One interception and two forced fumbles in 13 games for Ravens

He has 32 career interceptions and leads all active players with 822 career interception return yards — nobody has made it to 1,000 since Ed Reed in 2013. Peters has bounced back from the torn ACL that cost him the 2021 season and just finished a three-year deal paying $14 million a season. For a team seeking a proven ballhawk at corner, he's the best available option. A cool streak to keep an eye on: Peters has made the playoffs every year of his NFL career, despite playing for three different teams. 

Potential match: The Raiders, who could use a veteran leader in a young secondary.

Akiem Hicks, DL, 33
Last year: One sack and 22 tackles in 11 games with Bucs

Hicks isn't the interior pass-rusher he was in his prime, totaling 23 sacks from 2016-18, but he's still massive and stout against the run. His durability is a concern — he averaged just 10 games over the past four years — but he was a presence for Tampa Bay when healthy. He made $8 million in his one year with the Bucs and is the best defensive tackle available this summer.

Potential match: The Packers, who could bring the former Bear back to the NFC North.

Dalton Risner, G, 27
Last year: Started 15 games for Broncos

He has started at least 15 games in all four of his NFL seasons, but Denver opted to spend big in adding guard Ben Powers from Baltimore in free agency and Risner still hasn't found a landing spot. He was rated by Pro Football Focus as the league's No. 42 guard last season, which is to say an NFL starter but not an above-average one. 

Potential match: The Giants, for whom he'd be an upgrade on left guard Ben Bredeson as part of an upgraded offensive line.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, 30
Last year: Four TDs, four INTs with two starts (both losses) for Dolphins

This will be five teams in five years for Bridgewater, who remains one of the league's best backups. His going 5-0 filling in for Drew Brees in 2019 is the model for stepping in and winning as a short-term replacement, but he's also 11-20 as a starter in three years since. Bridgewater made $6.5 million for one year in Miami, good money for a backup, but will likely draw less in 2023.

Potential match: The Cardinals, who could use an upgrade on Colt McCoy until Kyler Murray is back from injury. Another option would be Green Bay, which needs an established backup behind new starter Jordan Love.

[With Kyler Murray out with ACL injury, what's the QB plan for Cardinals?]

John Johnson, S, 27
Last year: Started 17 games with 101 tackles, one interception for Browns

In 2020, PFF graded Johnson as the league's third-best safety, but that dropped to 34th in 2021 and 57th this past season. He's still only 27 and solid in pass coverage, and he forced two fumbles last year after totaling two in his first five NFL seasons, and his four tackles for loss were also a career high. Can he get back to his prime years with the Rams? He should be much less expensive than the $24 million he earned in two years in Cleveland.

Potential match: The Chargers, reuniting him with former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.

Jadeveon Clowney, edge, 30
Last year: Two sacks, four tackles for loss among 28 tackles in 12 games with Browns

Clowney is a former No. 1 overall pick, but he hasn't made a Pro Bowl since 2018. Can you name his post-Texans stops? That's three sacks with Seattle in 2019, zero sacks in eight games with Tennessee in 2020, and 11 sacks in two years in Cleveland. He earned at least $8 million in each season, though he's unlikely to get that for 2023. He's still only 30, and his nine sacks in 2021 were a half short of his career high, with eight forced fumbles over the past four years.

Potential match: The Falcons, who have 23 fewer sacks than any other NFL team over the past two years and still have money to spend.

Honorable mention: T Taylor Lewan, DT Matt Ioannidis, QB Carson Wentz, C Chase Roullier, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Julio Jones, LB Deion Jones, edge Justin Houston, C Ben Jones, RB Leonard Fournette

Greg Auman is FOX Sports’ NFC South reporter, covering the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his 10th season covering the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having spent time at the Tampa Bay Times and The Athletic. You can follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.

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