NFL

Everything to Know About NFL Free Agency and Top Available Players

USA Today

Everything you need to know before 2022 NFL free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The offseason can be nearly as exciting as the on-field action, with trades, free agency and the draft consuming the spring and summer months.

That excitement, of course, has only been heightened in 2022 with several high-profile quarterbacks in the news.

In the first month following the Super Bowl, four major quarterback dominos have fallen. Tom Brady retired (and then unretired), Aaron Rodgers re-signed with the Packers, Russell Wilson was traded from the Seahawks to the Broncos and Carson Wentz was traded from the Colts to the Commanders.

Here’s a full look at NFL free agency, including information on the salary cap and some of the top available players:

When does NFL free agency start?

Free agency in the NFL began immediately when the new league year began. This year, that fell on March 16, 2022, at 4 p.m. ET.

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Teams were able to begin speaking with free agents two days before free agency began during the legal tampering period. Beginning on Monday, March 14, 2022, at 12 p.m. ET, clubs were permitted to contact and negotiate with players who were set to become unrestricted free agents two days later. Players and teams were able to agree to deals, but they couldn’t be signed until the new league year began.

Which NFL teams have the most cap space?

The salary cap is a tricky thing in the NFL. Unlike the NBA, football players do not have fully guaranteed salaries. Between bonuses, incentives and void years, there are plenty of loopholes that teams use to clear cap space.

As of April 4 at 7 p.m. ET, here’s a look at the 10 teams with the most top-51 salary cap space (per Spotrac):

  1. Carolina Panthers: $50,439,040
  2. New Orleans Saints: $26,412,758
  3. Indianapolis Colts: $22,044,847
  4. Miami Dolphins: $21,820,337
  5. Cleveland Browns: $21,029,751
  6. Houston Texans: $20,912,612
  7. Los Angeles Chargers: $18,827,843
  8. Detroit Lions: $18,308,648
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: $18,147,266
  10. Philadelphia Eagles: $15,825,547

Plenty of teams aren’t in a good position to begin the new league year. Here are the 10 teams with the least amount of top-51 cap space as of April 4 at 7 p.m. ET:

  1. New England Patriots: $-334,097
  2. San Francisco 49ers: $1,716,895
  3. Tennessee Titans: $2,190,722
  4. Buffalo Bills: $3,698,532
  5. Atlanta Falcons: $4,477,473
  6. Arizona Cardinals: $6,582,562
  7. Las Vegas Raiders: $6,596,736
  8. New York Giants: 6,754,475
  9. Baltimore Ravens: $7,048,465
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars: $7,413,220

Who are the best NFL free agents for 2022?

Like every year, there are a number of difference-making free agents. How many of them actually reach the open market remains to be seen, as teams can use the franchise tag or negotiate a new deal before the legal tampering period in March.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the best players set to hit free agency:

Quarterbacks

  • Jameis Winston, Saints: Winston reportedly re-signed a two-year deal worth $28 million, including $21 million guaranteed with the Saints.
  • Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos: Bridgewater reportedly agreed to a one-year deal to be the Dolphins’ backup quarterback. 
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, Commanders
  • Cam Newton, Panthers
  • Marcus Mariota, Raiders: The Falcons signed Mariota to a two-year, $18.75 million deal with $6.75 million guaranteed.
  • Mitchell Trubisky, Bills: Trubisky reportedly agreed to a two-year deal to become the Steelers’ new starting quarterback.
  • Jacoby Brissett, Dolphins: Brissett is joining the Browns on a one-year contract to serve as Deshaun Watson’s backup.
  • Andy Dalton, Bears: Dalton signed a one-year deal with the Saints to play behind Jameis Winston.
  • Tyrod Taylor, Texans: Taylor reportedly agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal, including $8.5 million guaranteed with the Giants.
  • Trevor Siemian, Saints: Siemian signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Bears.
  • Brian Hoyer, Patriots: Hoyer reportedly agreed with the Patriots on a two-year, $4 million deal that includes $3 million guaranteed and incentives.

Running backs

  • Chase Edmonds, Cardinals: Edmonds reportedly is headed to Miami on a two-year, $12.6 million deal that includes $6.1 million guaranteed.
  • James Conner, Cardinals: Cardinals reportedly plan to re-sign Conner on a three-year, $21 million deal that could grow to a maximum of $25.5 million and includes $13.5 million fully guaranteed.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons: Patterson will return to Atlanta on a two-year deal worth $10.5 million.
  • Devonta Freeman, Ravens
  • Damien Williams, Bears: Williams reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Falcons.
  • Melvin Gordon, Broncos
  • David Johnson, Texans
  • Marlon Mack, Colts
  • Darrel Williams, Chiefs
  • Sony Michel, Rams
  • Brandon Bolden, Patriots: Bolden reportedly is joining his former offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, in Las Vegas with the Raiders.
  • James White, Patriots: White reportedly agreed to a two-year, $2.5 million deal to return to the Patriots.
  • Jordan Howard, Eagles
  • Alex Collins, Seahawks
  • Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: Penny is returning to Seattle on a one-year deal worth $5.75 million.
  • Jeff Wilson, 49ers: Wilson returned to the Bay on a one-year deal worth $1.085 million
  • Raheem Mostert, 49ers: Mostert reportedly is headed to the Dolphins on a one-year deal.
  • Giovani Bernard, Buccaneers
  • Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers: Fournette re-signed with the Bucs on a three-year, $21 million deal with $12 million guaranteed.
  • Ronald Jones, Buccaneers: Jones joined the Chiefs on a one-year deal worth up to $5 million.
  • D’Onta Foreman, Titans: Foreman signed a one-year deal with the Panthers after playing for the Titans in 2021.
  • J.D. McKissic, Commanders: McKissic reportedly agreed to a two-year, $7 million deal with upside to $8 million with the Commanders.

Wide receivers

  • A.J. Green, Cardinals: Green is staying in Arizona on a one-year deal.
  • Christian Kirk, Cardinals: Kirk reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with the Jaguars worth up to $84 million.
  • Sammy Watkins, Ravens: Watkins signed with the Packers for a reported one-year deal worth up to $4 million.
  • Emmanuel Sanders, Bills
  • Isaiah McKenzie, Bills: McKenzie reportedly agreed to a two-year deal to remain with Buffalo.
  • Allen Robinson, Bears: Robinson reportedly agreed to a three-year, $46.5 million deal that includes $30.7 million fully guaranteed with the Rams.
  • Cedrick Wilson, Cowboys: Wilson reportedly agreed to a three-year, $22.8 million deal that includes $12.75 million guaranteed with the Dolphins.
  • Michael Gallup, Cowboys: Gallup reportedly agreed to a deal with the Cowboys for five years and $62.5 million.
  • Davante Adams, Packers: Adams reportedly agreed to a five-year, $141.25 million deal with the Raiders after the Packers traded him for a first- and second-round pick.
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers: The Kansas City Chiefs are reportedly signing Valdes-Scantling to a three-year, $30 million deal that can go up to $36 million with incentives.
  • Danny Amendola, Texans
  • T.Y. Hilton, Colts
  • D.J. Chark, Jaguars: Chark reportedly will join the Lions on a one-year deal worth up to $12 million with $10 million fully guaranteed.
  • Byron Pringle, Chiefs: Pringle reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $4 million guaranteed and $2 million more in incentives.
  • Demarcus Robinson, Chiefs: Robinson signed with the Raiders on a one-year minimum deal worth $1.137 million fully guaranteed.
  • Mike Williams, Chargers: Williams reportedly agreed to a deal with the Chargers for three years and $60 million.
  • Odell Beckham Jr., Rams
  • Zay Jones, Raiders: Jones reportedly agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with the Jaguars.
  • Will Fuller, Dolphins
  • Tre’Quan Smith, Saints: Smith is staying in New Orleans on a two-year contract with a base value of $6 million.
  • Braxton Berrios, Jets: New York reportedly agreed to bring Berrios back on a two-year, $12 million deal that includes $7 million fully guaranteed.
  • Jamison Crowder, Jets
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers: The Kansas City Chiefs added Smith-Schuster to a one-year, $3.25 million deal. It will also include an incentive package that can result in another $7.5 million. 
  • Antonio Brown, Buccaneers
  • Chris Godwin, Buccaneers: Godwin reportedly agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal to return to the Bucs after they used the franchise tag on him.
  • Adam Humphries, Commanders

Tight ends

  • Zach Ertz, Cardinals: After being traded from Philly to Arizona midseason, Ertz reportedly is sticking with the Cardinals on a three-year, $31.65 million contract.
  • Maxx Williams, Cardinals: The Cardinals reportedly are bringing back Williams on a one-year deal.
  • Hayden Hurst, Ravens: Hurst agreed to a one-year deal with the Bengals.
  • Jimmy Graham, Bears
  • C.J. Uzomah, Bengals: Uzomah reportedly agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with the Jets.
  • David Njoku, Browns: The Browns used the franchise tag on Njoku for one year, $10.93 million.
  • Dalton Schultz, Cowboys: The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Schultz for one year, $10.93 million.
  • Robert Tonyan, Packers: Tonyan returned to Green Bay on a one-year deal worth $3.75 million
  • Mo Alie-Cox, Colts: The Colts reportedly re-signed Cox on a three-year, $18 million deal. 
  • Jared Cook, Chargers
  • Mike Gesicki, Dolphins: The Dolphins placed the $10.93 million franchise tag on Gesicki.
  • Tyler Conklin, Vikings: The Jets signed Conklin to a three-year, $21 million contract.
  • Evan Engram, Giants: Engram reportedly agreed on a one-year, fully-guaranteed $9 million deal that could go up to $10 million with incentives with the Jaguars.
  • Gerald Everett, Seahawks: Everett reportedly signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Chargers.
  • Will Dissly, Seahawks: The Seahawks and Dissly reportedly agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal.
  • O.J. Howard, Buccaneers: Howard reportedly agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal worth up to $5 million with the Bills.
  • Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers
  • Anthony Firkser, Titans
  • Ricky Seals-Jones, Commanders: Seals-Jones signed a one-year deal worth $1,187,500 deal with the Giants

Offensive tackles

  • Riley Reiff, Bengals
  • Eric Fisher, Colts
  • Cam Robinson, Jaguars: The Jaguars used the franchise tag on Robinson for one year, $16.662 million.
  • Orlando Brown, Chiefs: The Chiefs used the franchise tag on Brown for one year, $16.662 million.
  • Andrew Wylie, Chiefs: Wylie is returning to the Chiefs on a one-year deal with $2.5 million guaranteed.
  • Joseph Noteboom, Rams: Noteboom reportedly agreed to re-sign with Los Angeles on a three-year, $40 million deal.
  • Trent Brown, Patriots: The Pats retained Brown on a two-year, $13 million deal with $4 million guaranteed.
  • Terron Armstead, Saints: Armstead has reportedly reached an agreement on a five-year deal with the Miami Dolphins worth up to $87.5 million.
  • Morgan Moses, Jets: The Ravens signed Moses to a three-year, $15 million contract.
  • Duane Brown, Seahawks

Offensive guards

  • Max Garcia, Cardinals: Garcia signed a one-year deal with the Giants.
  • Ike Boettger, Bills: Boettger is staying in Buffalo on a one-year contract.
  • James Daniels, Bears: Daniels reportedly agrees to a three-year, $26.5 million deal with the Steelers.
  • Connor Williams, Cowboys: Williams reportedly agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal that includes $7.5 million fully guaranteed with the Dolphins.
  • Andrew Norwell, Jaguars: Norwell signed with the Commanders on a two-year deal worth $10 million with $4.7 million guaranteed.
  • Michael Schofield, Chargers
  • Austin Corbett, Rams: Corbett reportedly will sign with the Panthers on a three-year, $29.25 million contract.
  • Ted Karras, Patriots: The former Patriot agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal with the Bengals.
  • Will Hernandez, Giants: Hernandez signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
  • Trai Turner, Steelers
  • Laken Tomlinson, 49ers: Tomlinson agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $41.2 million with the Jets, according to reports.
  • Alex Cappa, Buccaneers: Cappa is leaving Tom Brady for Joe Burrow, reportedly agreeing to a four-year, $40 million deal.
  • Brandon Scherff, Commanders: Scherff reportedly is headed south to the Jaguars on a three-year deal worth up to $52.5 million with $30 million guaranteed.

Centers

  • Bradley Bozeman, Ravens: Bozeman signed a one-year deal with the Panthers worth up to $2.8 million.
  • Matt Paradis, Panthers
  • Austin Blythe, Chiefs: The Seahawks added Blythe on a one-year, $4 million contract.
  • Brian Allen, Rams: Allen reportedly agreed to return to the Rams on a three-year, $24 million deal.
  • Billy Price, Giants
  • Ethan Pocic, Seahawks
  • Ryan Jensen, Buccaneers: Jensen is staying in Tampa on a three-year, $39 million deal.
  • Ben Jones, Titans: Jones reportedly agreed to re-sign with the Titans on a two-year deal worth $14 million.

EDGE rushers

  • Chandler Jones, Cardinals: The Raiders reportedly agreed to a three-year deal worth $52.5 million with $34 million guaranteed.
  • Dante Fowler Jr., Falcons
  • Justin Houston, Ravens
  • Pernell McPhee, Ravens
  • Jerry Hughes, Bills
  • Hasson Reddick, Panthers: Reddick reportedly is heading to Philadelphia on a three-year, $45 million deal with $30 million guaranteed.
  • Jadeveon Clowney, Browns
  • Takkarist McKinley, Browns
  • Randy Gregory, Cowboys: Gregory reportedly signed with the Denver Broncos on a five-year deal worth $70 million.
  • Alex Okafor, Chiefs
  • Melvin Ingram, Chiefs: Ingram reportedly agreed to a deal with the Dolphins.
  • Uchenna Nwosu, Chargers: Nwosu agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal, including $10.5 million guaranteed with the Seahawks.
  • Von Miller, Rams: Von Miller reportedly agreed to a six-year deal for $120 million with the Bills. The deal includes over $51 million guaranteed.
  • Emmanuel Ogbah, Dolphins: Ogbah is reportedly returning to Miami on a four-year, $65 million deal with $32 million guaranteed.
  • Everson Griffen, Vikings
  • Derek Barnett, Eagles: The Philadelphia Eagles will reportedly re-sign Barnett to a two-year deal.
  • Ryan Kerrigan, Eagles
  • Rasheem Green, Seahawks
  • Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers
  • Harold Landry, Titans: Landry reportedly plans to re-sign with the Titans for five years, $87.5 million with $52.5 million guaranteed.

Defensive linemen

  • Brandon Williams, Ravens
  • Calais Campbell, Ravens: Campbell is reportedly staying in Baltimore on a two-year deal worth $12.5 million that can reach $16.5 million.
  • Akiem Hicks, Bears
  • B.J. Hill, Bengals: Hill reportedly agreed to a three-year, $30 million with $15 million in year one deal with the Bengals.
  • Larry Ogunjobi, Bengals: Ogunjobi initially agreed to join the Bears on a three-year, $40.5 million deal with $26.35 million guaranteed but failed his physical and remains a free agent.
  • Malik Jackson, Browns
  • Jarran Reed, Chiefs: Reed and the Packers agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $4.5 million.
  • D.J. Jones, 49ers: Jones and the Broncos reportedly agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with $20 million guaranteed.
  • Linval Joseph, Chargers
  • Sebastian Joseph-Day, Rams: Joseph-Day reportedly agreed with the Chargers on a three-year, $24 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.
  • Gerald McCoy, Raiders
  • Solomon Thomas, Raiders: Thomas reportedly agreed to a deal with the Jets.
  • Sheldon Richardson, Vikings
  • Danny Shelton, Giants
  • Folorunso Fatukasi, Jets: Fatukasi reportedly agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with the Jaguars that includes $20 million guaranteed.
  • Al Woods, Seahawks: Woods reportedly will return to Seattle on a two-year deal worth up to $9 million with $4.75 million guaranteed.
  • Ndamukong Suh, Buccaneers
  • Arden Key, 49ers: Key reportedly signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Jaguars

Linebackers

  • Foyesade Oluokun, Falcons: The former Falcon reportedly is headed to Jacksonville on a three-year, $45 million deal with $28 million guaranteed.
  • Alec Ogletree, Bears
  • Keanu Neal, Cowboys
  • Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys: Vander Esch is returning to the Cowboys on a one-year deal with a max value of $3 million.
  • Kenny Young, Broncos
  • De’Vondre Campbell, Saints: De'Vondre Campbell and the Packers reportedly agreed on a five-year deal worth $50 million.
  • Christian Kirksey, Texans: Kirksey is returning to Houston, securing a two-year, $10 million deal with $4 million guaranteed.
  • Kamu Grugier-Hill, Texans: Grugier-Hill re-signed with Houston on a one-year deal worth up to $4 million.
  • Kyzir White, Chargers: The Eagles signed White to a one-year contract worth up to $5 million.
  • K.J. Wright, Raiders
  • Dont’a Hightower, Patriots
  • Ja’Whaun Bentley, Patriots: The Patriots reportedly will bring back Bentley on a two-year deal worth a maximum of $9 million.
  • Kyle Van Noy, Patriots
  • Jamie Collins, Patriots
  • Kwon Alexander, Saints
  • Bobby Wagner, Seahawks: Wagner inked a five-year, $50 million deal with the Rams
  • Rashaan Evans, Titans: Evans reportedly reached an agreement with the Falcons on a one-year deal
  • Jon Bostic, Commanders

Cornerbacks

  • Levi Wallace, Bills: Wallace is joining the Steelers on a two-year deal worth up to $8 million.
  • Stephon Gilmore, Panthers: Gilmore reportedly agreed to a two-year, $23 million deal with the Colts, including $14 million guaranteed.
  • Bryce Callahan, Broncos
  • Kyle Fuller, Broncos
  • Rasul Douglas, Packers: The Packers re-signed Douglas to a three-year, $21 million deal that could be worth up to $25.5 million.
  • Xavier Rhodes, Colts
  • Charvarius Ward, Chiefs: The former Chief reportedly agreed to a three-year, $42 million deal with the 49ers that includes $26.7 million guaranteed.
  • Casey Hayward, Raiders: Hayward reportedly agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal with the Falcons.
  • Chris Harris Jr., Chargers
  • Darious Williams, Rams: Williams and the Jaguars reportedly agreed on a three-year, $30 million deal with $18 million guaranteed.
  • Justin Coleman, Dolphins: Coleman, a former Seahawk, rejoined Seattle on a one-year minimum contract.
  • Patrick Peterson, Vikings: Peterson returned to the Vikings on a one-year, $4 million deal
  • J.C. Jackson, Patriots: Jackson reportedly agreed to a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Chargers that invoices $40 million guaranteed.
  • Joe Haden, Steelers
  • D.J. Reed, Seahawks: Reed signed a three-year, $33 million deal with the New York Jets.
  • Sidney Jones, Seahawks: Jones reportedly will return to Seattle on a one-year deal worth $3.6 million.
  • Carlton Davis, Buccaneers: Davis reportedly agreed to re-sign with the Buccaneers on a three-year, $45 million deal.
  • Richard Sherman, Buccaneers
  • K’Waun Williams, 49ers: Williams joined the Broncos on a two-year, $5.2 million deal with $2.5 million guaranteed.

Safeties

  • Duron Harmon, Falcons: Harmon reportedly agreed to a contract with the Raiders.
  • Tashaun Gipson, Bears
  • Jessie Bates III, Bengals: The Bengals used the franchise tag on Bates for one year, $12.911 million.
  • Jayron Kearse, Cowboys: Kearse re-signed with Dallas for two years, $10 million with $5 million guaranteed.
  • Kareem Jackson, Broncos
  • Justin Reid, Texans: Reid reportedly will go from Houston to Kansas City after agreeing to a three-year, $31.5 million deal with $20 million guaranteed.
  • Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs
  • Devin McCourty, Patriots: McCourty is back for at least one more year with the Pats, returning for a $9 million deal in 2022.
  • Marcus Williams, Saints: Williams reportedly is headed to Baltimore on a five-year deal worth $70 million including $37 million guaranteed and $31 million next year.
  • Jabrill Peppers, Giants: Peppers will rejoin his former head coach Joe Judge in New England, signing a one-year deal with the Patriots.
  • Marcus Maye, Jets: The Saints are replacing Williams with Maye, signing the former Jet to a three-year, $28.5 million deal with $15 million guaranteed.
  • Rodney McLeod, Eagles
  • Anthony Harris, Eagles: Harris returned to the Eagles on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million
  • Quandre Diggs, Seahawks: Diggs and the Seahawks reportedly agreed on a three-year, $40 million deal.
  • Jordan Whitehead, Buccaneers: Whitehead reportedly agreed to a two-year deal worth $14.5 million with the Jets.
  • Bobby McCain, Commanders: McCain reportedly re-signed with Washington on a two-year, $11 million deal.
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