Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Best NFL Free Agents Still Available Ahead of Preseason

Alex Ballentine

All 32 teams have officially started training camp but there are still a handful of potential impact players who have not found a home.

The market for some of the veterans who have been left out in the cold is starting to warm up. The Buccaneers snagged Julio Jones off the market, signing the former All-Pro receiver to a one-year contract a week after signing Kyle Rudolph.

As training camp gives teams a better idea of who they have on the roster and as injuries occur, it's safe to assume there are going to be more opportunities coming for free agents.

Here's a look at the best options available based on recent production, health and potential impact in 2022 and which teams should be interested.

8. LB Anthony Barr

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Anthony Barr is not the playmaker he once was as a four-time Pro Bowler; that doesn't mean the 30-year-old couldn't help an NFL defense right now.

Barr is a step slower than he used to be but he was still a functional player for the Vikings last season. He led the team with three interceptions and racked up 72 tackles in 11 games.

Most importantly, he proved that he can stay relatively healthy. After missing all but two games in 2020 with a torn pectoral muscle, he rallied to play 11 games in the 2021 campaign.

Barr's versatility and well-rounded game help him crack the list. He still has some juice as a pass-rusher with 10 total pressures last season and he doesn't get completely lost in coverage.

He isn't going to turn around a defense but a team that could use depth in their linebacker rotation could do worse.

Best Fits: Dallas Cowboys, Washington Commanders, New England Patriots

7. OT Duane Brown

Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Age is a major concern for Duane Brown at this point in his career. He'll be 37 years old this season and brings with him 14 seasons' worth of mileage on his odometer.

That has not prevented him from being on the field and playing at a consistently high level thus far. Last season he made 17 starts for the Seattle Seahawks, earning a respectable 71.5 grade from PFF.

According to ESPN, Brown ranks seventh among all offensive tackles in pass-blocking win rate since 2018.

There are plenty of teams who could benefit from having an experienced left tackle with starting potential. However, Brown's free agency just got more complicated. He was arrested on July 10 for allegedly possessing a concealed weapon and is scheduled to appear in court August 3.

That might hurt his chances of finding a team before the matter is resolved. However, if he is still cleared to play, he would make sense for a few teams that could use veteran competition at the tackle position.

Best Fits: Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets

6. WR Will Fuller V

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Will Fuller V is a significant health risk. The 28-year-old receiver has a laundry list of injuries throughout his career and had as many ailments in 2021 as he did catches (four).

Still, when Fuller is healthy, he's a dangerous deep threat capable of taking the top off of a defense.

The last time he was healthy he posted a career-high 11.7 yards per target and a stat line of 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020. Then again, he still only played in 11 games as he dealt with hamstring and groin injuries.

Last season, a broken finger ended Fuller's season. So it isn't like all of the injuries have been the kind that will linger into the next year.

At this point, Fuller is worth the risk. He would be a great addition for any team that is thin on receiver or in need of a burner. Even if he misses a handful of games in 2022 he could help a team come playoff time.

Best Fits: Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts

5. OT Eric Fisher

Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It's interesting that Eric Fisher is still available given his solid play with the Colts last season.

The former Chiefs tackle has never been an elite option but he has been solid throughout his career. This year, he ranked 46th among all tackles graded by PFF.

The biggest thing Fisher had to prove in 2021 was that he could get healthy and play at a reasonable level. After suffering a torn Achilles in 2020 there was reason to doubt he could still be a starter.

He ended up making 15 starts for the Colts as part of the offensive line that paved the way for Jonathan Taylor to have 1,811 yards on the ground, proving he's still a viable tackle.

Now he's waiting for the call from a team willing to give him a shot again. At this point, it might take an injury but there are still some teams that could benefit from Fisher coming in and competing for a spot.

Best Fits: Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins

4. T/G Daryl Williams

AP Photo/Winslow Townson

At this stage of the game durability, consistency and versatility are in-demand traits when it comes to offensive linemen.

That's why Daryl Williams comes in as one of the top-ranked free agent linemen available.

Williams is not a dominant blocker. He's never been a Pro Bowler or All-Pro selection. However, if he's the weak link in the offensive line, it's a good unit.

The 29-year-old has played in every possible game in each of the last three seasons so durability isn't an issue. Within those games, he has been serviceable as both a tackle and guard, offering the kind of positional versatility that can be huge up front.

Williams was at his best in 2020 when he only gave up three sacks and was graded out at 79.4 by PFF.

That would be an upgrade for several teams at right tackle. Even if he can't usurp the starter at that position he offers a strong option at guard as well. Anyone with uncertainty on the right side of the line should look into Williams.

Best Fits: Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans

3. Edge Trey Flowers

Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Trey Flowers' stint in Detroit was a disappointment. There's no way around that. But compared to the rest of the free agents left on the market Flowers has one of the best combinations of age, production and experience.

Flowers' numbers with the Lions are bad when viewed in the light of his five-year, $90 million contract he signed in 2019. However, when you think about the kind of pay he's likely to get this time of year, he could be a steal.

The edge defender's pass-rushing numbers have been disappointing. He only had 3.5 sacks over his last two injury-plagued seasons. However, he posted a PFF grade of 83.3 in 2020 thanks to his work defending the run.

Flowers dealt with knee and shoulder injuries last season so his health is a concern. But there's still a chance he gets everything right and returns to form in 2022 on a bargain contract.

That's a scenario a team that needs depth on the edges should be willing to bet on.

Best Fits: New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals

2. C J.C. Tretter

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Center is not generally considered to be a premium position along the offensive line, but J.C. Tretter is one of the best in the league.

The fact that a center of Tretter's quality is still available is a surprise. Last season, he was ranked seventh among all centers by PFF. He only gave up one sack and committed just five penalties while earning a 78.7 grade from PFF.

Tretter is a strong run-blocker and elite in pass protection. He has had to have his workload managed in practices but he has played 100 percent of the offensive snaps in 16 games for each of the last six seasons.

That's the kind of consistency and durability that many teams would be lucky to have at the epicenter of the offensive line.

Tretter makes too much sense for a team that either needs to replace their center or has a center who could upgrade the line by moving to guard.

Best Fits: San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins

1. WR Odell Beckham Jr.

AP Photo/Doug Benc

To understand what Odell Beckham Jr. can bring to the table as a late addition free agent look no further than the 2021 playoffs.

OBJ emerged as a key component of the Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl run. He had 21 catches on 26 targets for 288 yards and two touchdowns, giving Matt Stafford a reliable No. 2 receiver opposite Cooper Kupp.

Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl which is likely the reason he remains unsigned.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported on an episode of Get Up in June that it could be October or November before the receiver is 100 percent recovered from his injury. That leaves plenty of questions but the teams who are interested in getting in the Beckham business are not the ones that care too much about winning games in September.

Instead, it's the teams that have everything in place to make a Super Bowl push but could use one more playmaker. That includes his previous team but also a few others that could make sense as the season gets going.

Best Fits: Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs


Read 0 Comments

Download the app for comments Get the B/R app to join the conversation

Install the App
Bleacher Report