Here are the best remaining NFL free agents originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Draft season is over.
The 2022 NFL Draft wrapped up on Saturday, with all 32 teams adding young talent over the course of the three-day event in Las Vegas.
Now that the draft is in the rearview, the focus shifts to free agency — and not just undrafted free agency.
Nearly two months into the NFL’s free-agent period, several big-name players are still unsigned. One of those players got scooped up quickly post-draft, as the New Orleans Saints reportedly struck a deal with star safety Tyrann Mathieu.
From Odell Beckham Jr. to Jadeveon Clowney and more, here’s a look at some of the best players who remain on the open market.
After a dramatic midseason exit from the Cleveland Browns, Beckham Jr. Played a key role in the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI run. In eight regular-season games with Los Angeles, the three-time Pro Bowler hauled in 27 catches for 305 yards and five touchdowns. Then, in the postseason, Beckham Jr. caught 21 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns across four games, which included a score in the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, Beckham Jr., 29, went down with a torn ACL during the Rams’ Super Bowl over the Cincinnati triumph Bengals, which will certainly have some effect on his market. With Allen Robinson now in the fold, a return to LA for OBJ seems less likely, though the Rams reportedly still hope to retain him.
If we’re just talking about talent, Brown is certainly one of the best available players. The 33-year-old wideout tallied 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns in just seven games last season.
But he was limited to seven games due to being suspended for misrepresenting his COVID-19 vaccination status and being released for quitting on the Bucs mid-game at MetLife Stadium, in addition to an ankle injury. Brown claimed his infamous outburst against the New York Jets was due to the Bucs wanting him to play through the ankle injury, while head coach Bruce Arians said it was over a lack of targets.
Brown clearly can still play at a high level, but will any team take a chance on him? For what it’s worth, the wideout does seem interested in joining forces with Deshaun Watson in Cleveland.
With Terron Armstead joining the Dolphins, Brown is the top offensive tackle. In his age-36 season, Brown started all 17 games for the Seahawks en route to his fifth Pro Bowl appearance. The 2021 campaign was actually the third time in the past four seasons that Brown has played a full season and the eighth time overall in his 15-year career. Brown, a 2008 first-round pick of the Texans, has spent the past four-plus seasons in Seattle.
Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE, Cleveland Browns
Clowney enjoyed a nice bounce-back season with the Browns in 2021. The three-time Pro Bowler tallied nine sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 32 quarterback pressures in 14 games. It was by far his best season since 2018 with the Houston Texans. With Chandler Jones, Von Miller and Haason Reddick already signed, the 29-year-old Clowney is the top available edge rusher.
Even at age 32, Gronkowski continued to produce like one of the game’s top tight ends. Gronk posted the seventh-most receiving yards (802) among tight ends while appearing in 12 games last season. That 12-game output put him on pace for a 1,100-yard-plus season. Gronkowski has never played an NFL season without Tom Brady as his quarterback and that appears likely to remain the case in 2022.
Hicks has struggled with injuries in recent seasons, missing 11 games in 2019 and another eight last season. But when he’s been on the field, Hicks has been a difference-maker along the defensive line. In nine games last season, he had 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and 11 quarterback pressures. The one-time Pro Bowler has been with the Bears since 2016 and is entering his age-33 season.
Melvin Ingram, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
Following a nine-year run with the Chargers, Ingram began last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He tallied one sack and eight quarterback pressures over eight games before being traded midseason to the Kansas City Chiefs. Ingram, 32, then put up the same numbers — one sack, eight QB pressures — while playing 58% of the snaps in nine games with the Chiefs. The three-time Pro Bowler may not be the every-down player he used to be, but the Ingram can still be a valuable rotational piece.
Julio Jones, WR
The Julio Jones experiment lasted just one season in Tennessee, with the seven-time Pro Bowler being cut by the Titans in March. Jones, 33, recorded 31 receptions for 434 yards and one touchdown in 2021 as he struggled to stay healthy for a second straight season. After being limited to nine games in his final season with Atlanta, Jones appeared in 10 games with the Titans.
Jarvis Landry, WR
The Browns released Landry in March after the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a contract restructure. The move brought an end to a four-year tenure in Cleveland for the wideout, who made a pair of Pro Bowls from 2018-19. Landry, 29, posted career lows in receptions (52), yards (570) and touchdowns (2) last season as he was limited to just 12 games played. After not missing a single game for the first six years of his career, Landry has sat out of six total over the past two seasons.