While four teams are still left battling in the NFL playoffs, the rest of the league has already turned its focus towards the offseason. With that in mind, we decided to look ahead to free agency and rank the 10 best players available.
Best NFL Free Agents in 2022
1. Davante Adams, WR
Davante Adams is arguably the best receiver in the NFL right now. The Green Bay Packers failed to sign the 29-year-old to a contract extension, so he's hitting free agency at the same time his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, is likely headed out of town.
Adams was brilliant again in 2021, catching 123 passes for 1,553 yards, with 11 touchdowns. Over the past two seasons he leads the NFL in receptions (238) and touchdowns catches (29), while being second in receiving yards (2,927). If Rodgers moves on from Green Bay, it wouldn't be shocking to see Adams join him at his new destination.
2. Orlando Brown Jr., OT
Brown forced a trade from the Baltimore Ravens to the Kansas City Chiefs in order to prove he could play left tackle. Mission accomplished. The 26-year-old earned a Pro Bowl trip this season and Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 75.2.
The Chiefs will work really hard to retain Brown after giving up four draft picks to acquire him. But if he hits the open market, Brown could make a ton of money as a high-end blind side protector.
3. Chris Godwin, WR
Chris Godwin hits free agency while recovering from a torn ACL and sprained MCL, but he's still one of the best players available this offseason. The Penn State product was having a stellar season before going down, having racked up 98 receptions for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns in only 14 games. He played the 2021 season on the franchise tag and it's unlikely the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tag him again.
While not a burner in the open field, Godwin is a great route runner, has excellent body control and possesses really strong hands. He's only 25 and is poised to make a lot of money as a long-term investment this offseason despite his injury woes.
4. Mike Williams, WR
Mike Williams blew up in 2021 as he had a career year for the Los Angeles Chargers across from Keenan Allen. He finished the season with 76 receptions for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns, while averaging 15.1 yards per catch. It's also worth noting 51 of his 76 catches went for first downs. Williams is one of the NFL's most dangerous deep threats and can take the top off of any defense.
The Chargers didn't give Williams an extension and allowed him to play out the fifth year of his contract. That may wind up biting them as he developed excellent chemistry with Justin Herbert and will command far more in salary after what he did in 2021. Expect there to be a bidding war for the 27-year-old this offseason.
5. Terron Armstead, OT
Top tier left tackles rarely hit the market, so like Brown, Terron Armstead should earn a hefty payday. He's behind Brown on this list simply because he's 31 and he's going to undergo offseason knee surgery. But when he was on the field in 2021, Armstead was excellent. The 6-foot-5, 304-pounder earned a 76.6 grade from PFF and allowed just one sack in eight games.
The Saints are facing a salary cap crunch again this offseason and may not be able to retain Armstead. Unless New Orleans gets super creative, the league's other teams will have a chance to land a top blindside protector.
6. Marcus Williams, S
Another New Orleans Saints stalwart the team is unlikely to retain, Marcus Williams should be the top defensive back available this offseason. He played the 2021 season on the franchise tag and will enter free agency as a 25-year-old with big game experience and 15 career interceptions.
PFF gave Williams a stellar grade of 80.1 one this season, showing that he's one of the best safeties in the league. Like Armstead, the Saints will likely attempt to work some salary cap magic to retain him, but it's highly unlikely.
7. Harold Landry III, OLB
In a league that puts premium value on edge rushers, Harold Landry should find a robust market this offseason. The Tennessee Titans will likely attempt to retain the man they selected in the second round in 2018, but the price tag to bring him back may be too high. Landry was at his best during a contract year, racking up a career-high 12 sacks in 2021.
Landry is a versatile player, as the Titans have used him in coverage repeatedly over his four years in the league. He's also generated 165 pressures over the last three seasons, which ranks seventh in the league. He's easily the best of the edge rushing crop available this year.
8. Tyrann Mathieu, S
The Honey Badger is free once more. Tyrann Mathieu is somehow only 29 years old. A three-time All-Pro, he's been named to the Pro Bowl in all three of his seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He still plays at a high level and is looking at another big payday this offseason.
Mathieu is still an excellent playmaker. He's hauled in 13 interceptions over the past three seasons, which ranks fifth in the NFL during that time. He's gone to two Super Bowls with the Chiefs and won one as a key part of the team's defense. Kansas City will try to retain him, but he should have a robust market as a defensive leader with loads of experience.
9. Carlton Davis, CB
The best cornerback on the market, Carlton Davis, only played 10 regular season games for the Buccaneers thanks to a quad injury, but he won't be available long when free agency opens. The 25-year-old has continued to improve and has the size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) to hold up at the position long-term. He has broken up 48 passes and grabbed six interceptions over the last three seasons.
There's a chance the Bucs slap Davis with the franchise tag, or attempt to ink him to a long-term deal. But if he hits the open market, he'll probably set the cornerback market.
10. Jessie Bates III
Jessie Bates failed to match the excellent season he had in 2020 during the 2021 campaign, but his upside is such that he'll get a big contract this offseason. The Cincinnati Bengals elected not to sign the 24-year-old after that stellar 2020 season and he'll hit free agency as one of the league's best young defensive backs.
The Bengals will likely attempt to bring him back, but will face a lot of competition from around the league.