With the draft coming and going, teams have mostly filled out their rosters with the exception of a few slots dedicated to undrafted free agents, any veterans who remain from the early parts of free agency, and/or any players who are on the move via trade.
Names like Jarvis Landry and Baker Mayfield among others come to mind, but the list is a lot more extensive than just these two players. Here are the top-5 remaining available players at each position after the draft:
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (Trade Candidate )
- Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (Trade Candidate)
- Gardner Minshew, Philadelphia Eagles (Trade Candidate)
- Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers (Trade Candidate)
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, UFA
At the top of this list is former first overall pick Baker Mayfield who has already requested a trade from Cleveland after the Browns made a blockbuster deal for Deshaun Watson. Mayfield only has one year left on his contract, but the market appears to be thinning out for the former Heisman Trophy Winner, especially after the draft.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Gardner Minshew, Jordan Love, and Ryan Fitzpatrick round out the top-five. Garoppolo has succeeded every year he has started, with the exception of 2018 where he suffered a season-ending injury. He has led the 49ers to two NFC Championship appearances in the last three years; however, it is entirely possible that the 49ers decide to start second-year QB Trey Lance who is seen to have more upside than Garoppolo.
Jordan Love is an interesting trade candidate, especially with the Packers signing Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension. It doesn’t seem like the Packers are quite ready to start Love, so a team could still take a flier on him if they so choose.
- Sony Michel, UFA
- Justin Jackson, UFA
- Darrel Williams, UFA
- David Johnson, UFA
- Alex Collins, UFA
While the running back market is a little thin after the draft, there are still a number of players who can contribute this upcoming season.
At the top of the list is Sony Michel who had a solid season with the Los Angeles Rams as he compiled 208 CAR for 845 YDS and 4 TDS. Since coming into the league in 2018, Michel has had one season where he recorded less than 800 rushing yards—this was the 2020 season where Michel suffered an injury early in the season and lost his starting role to Damien Harris.
After Michel, the running back group drops off a bit, but each player has still shown flashes of being a solid starter at some point in their careers. Justin Jackson had three games down the stretch where he had 11 or more carries, and in those three games, he had 36 CAR for 191 YDS and 2 TDS. He also had 5.0 or more yards per carry in two of those outings.
Darrel Williams also showed flashes of being a reliable running back, especially in the passing game, during the 2021 season in the absence of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Even though David Johnson and Alex Collins are not as big of names as they used to be, they can still provide solid depth in the relief of some of the game’s best backs and produce.
- Odell Beckham Jr, UFA
- Jarvis Landry, SFA
- Julio Jones, SFA
- Will Fuller, UFA
- Emmanuel Sanders, UFA
The wide receiver is interesting, especially in the top-four of Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Julio Jones, and Will Fuller. Beckham was electric for the Rams after being released by the Browns as he had 27 REC for 305 YDS and 5 TDS in 8 games for the defending Super Bowl Champions.
However, a torn ACL in the Super Bowl has appeared to make a lot of teams wary to sign Beckham at the moment. Meanwhile, Jarvis Landry had a down year in 2021, but still managed to reel in 52 catches for Cleveland. He remains an intriguing option for any team that desperately needs a consistent receiver from the slot.
As far as Julio Jones and Will Fuller are concerned, it is unclear which versions of these players teams will be getting. Neither one has been able to stay healthy the past few seasons, but if they are able to get back to at least 50-60% of their peak, they can hold some value for a team trying to take the next step.
Lastly, Emmanuel Sanders rounds out the top-five as a veteran who may not have the gaudiest numbers, but will certainly contribute in ways that are not shown in a box score.
- Rob Gronkowski, UFA
- Blake Jarwin, SFA
- Jared Cook, UFA
- Eric Ebron, UFA
- Kyle Rudolph, SFA
Former All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski leads this group of players. He still appears to have a little bit left in the tank, and he can certainly be an intriguing option for two of the teams that he is rumored to want to play with: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Blake Jarwin is another interesting option as he hasn’t been able to reach his full potential due to a number of injuries he has suffered throughout his career.
The latter three tight ends on this list are certainly players who can help to carve out some type of role with a playoff-caliber team. It starts with the ageless wonder Jared Cook who, despite being 35 years old, was still able to put up respectable numbers during the 2021 season.
Moreover, Eric Ebron and Kyle Rudolph may not be as productive as they once were earlier in their careers, but they are still capable of opening things up for more prominent players in some of these offenses.
Interior Offensive Line:
- JC Tretter, SFA
- Darryl Williams, ERFA
- Matt Paradis, UFA
- Ereck Flowers, UFA
- B.J. Finney, UFA
In the top-five for interior offensive lineman, we see a number of veterans who can contribute right away. JC Tretter was a solid player for the Browns prior to being cut by the franchise. He can certainly step in right away and be a nice starter for a playoff team. The same goes for Darryl Williams who has showcased his versatility on the offensive line the past couple of seasons in Buffalo.
Matt Paradis, Ereck Flowers, and B.J. Finney are all players who are capable of being starters even though they could be just depth players at this point.
Either way, they can help to shore up a shaky interior offensive line situation and help to bring in some much-needed experience for a group that lacks that necessary attribute.
- Duane Brown, UFA
- Eric Fisher, UFA
- Riley Reiff, UFA
- Bobby Massie, UFA
- Bryan Bulaga, SFA
This is another group that has a number of veterans who can contribute at a high level right away. Despite being 37 years old, Duane Brown was still one of the better offensive lineman in Seattle the past few years. Moreover, Eric Fisher is still a reliable player even after his injury that kept him out of Super Bowl LV.
Furthermore, Riley Reiff was one of the more stable presences on what was otherwise an inconsistent Bengals offensive line on their way to nearly winning the Super Bowl this past year.
Although Bobby Massie and Bryan Bulaga are certainly not the youngest players at the position anymore, they are still capable of providing depth to a team that lacks experience along the offensive line. They aren’t the players they used to be, but they can still display flashes of what they once were.
Interior Defensive Line:
- Akiem Hicks, UFA
- Ndamukong Suh, UFA
- Sheldon Richardson, UFA
- Larry Ogunjobi, UFA
- Linval Joseph, UFA
Akiem Hicks and Ndamukong Suh headline this group of players, and while they are certainly getting up there in age, they have still proven that they can succeed in their roles. Both players were productive for their respective teams this past season. Sheldon Richardson is more of a depth player at this point, but he has still shown flashes of what he was once capable of.
Larry Ogunjobi was originally on his way to be a Chicago Bear, but he failed his physical and nixed his deal in the process. He is still an effective player in passing down situations as long as he is healthy.
Linval Joseph rounds out the top-five as a player who is still a force in the run game. He can certainly be brought in for that sole purpose on a team trying to contend for a Super Bowl.
- Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings (Trade Candidate)
- Jadeveon Clowney, UFA
- Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos (Trade Candidate)
- Melvin Ingram, UFA
- Trey Flowers, SFA
This is a loaded edge group even if two of the players could very well be staying put. Danielle Hunter is a force to be reckoned with when he is able to stay healthy. The Vikings restructured his contract in order to make room for Za’Darius Smith, and it’s possible that this move could also pave the way for Hunter to get traded somewhere. His services would be welcomed by many teams in need of an effective pass rusher.
Bradley Chubb is another player who could get traded. He has shown flashes of being an effective player at the NFL level, but he has just not been consistent enough or healthy enough during his tenure in Denver. A change of scenery could be needed for the former first round pick.
Trey Flowers rounds out the top-five as he was released after not performing up to par with his huge contract he signed in 2019. He could help to provide a nice veteran presence for a younger team if he is able to regain his form that he once had in New England.
- Anthony Barr, UFA
- Dont’a Hightower, UFA
- K.J. Wright, UFA
- Joe Schobert, SFA
- Kwon Alexander, UFA
This is a very interesting group of linebackers with the majority of them being towards the end of their careers or having an extensive injury history. Anthony Barr takes the top spot as he has shown flashes of the player that he used to be this past season.
It’s unclear whether Dont’a Hightower will retire or play one more year, but he will at least provide a strong locker room presence for any Super Bowl contending team. His effectiveness has gone down as a result of injuries and age, however.
Joe Schobert was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers despite having a solid season this past year. He is still a starting-caliber player. The most intriguing player on this list is Kwon Alexander. He is an extremely talented linebacker, but he has never been able to stay healthy. He has only played a full season once in his entire career, but a team could still be willing to take a flier on a player of his caliber.
- Bryce Callahan, UFA
- Chris Harris Jr, UFA
- Xavier Rhodes, UFA
- Kyle Fuller, UFA
- Joe Haden, UFA
The cornerback market has gotten smaller with players like Stephon Gilmore and Jason Verett signing contracts recently, and with the draft providing teams with ample amounts of young, explosive corners. However, there are still players like Xavier Rhodes available who have shown that they can still play at a relatively high level in the NFL.
Kyle Fuller is another player on this list to watch as he had a down year during the 2021 season, but he could be in for a bounce back year with the right situation in 2022. Furthermore, Joe Haden is an older player who can help to solidify a shaky cornerback situation this upcoming season, especially on a younger team.
- Landon Collins, SFA
- Jaquiski Tartt, UFA
- Tashaun Gipson, UFA
- Jason McCourty, UFA
- Andrew Sendejo, UFA
This safety group has definitely been diminished with players like Tyrann Mathieu signing recently with new teams. However, there are still some valuable players that can be found on this list starting with former Washington Commander Landon Collins.
He was cut this past year due to contractual disputes, but he can certainly be a worthwhile addition if he is able to get back to his form while he was in New York. Jaquiski Tartt is another interesting option as he was a solid contributor for the 49ers this past season and very nearly helped them to make their second Super Bowl in three years.
The rest of the list is headlined by a number of veterans who could very well be signing their last contract in the NFL. They can still provide a good locker room presence and depth to teams. For instance, Andrew Sendejo, who was a key player on the Colts’ defense this past season, can still shore up a shaky safety situation.