Top NFL free agents of 2023: Lamar Jackson, Tom Brady lead the charge

The list of 2023 NFL free agents is incredibly full right now. That includes former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and one of the best to ever play the game, Tom Brady.

Obviously, this list will dwindle as top-end players sign contract extensions. The NFL franchise tag will also play a role in who hits the open market in March of 2023.

As it stands, here’s our list of the NFL free agents for 2023. This includes a positional break down.

Related: Updated NFL trade rumors

1. Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

top 2023 nfl free agents
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson and the Ravens continue to be at a standstill with reports surfacing that the quarterback is not in a rush to sign an extension with Baltimore. This is complicated by the fact that he’s represented by his mother in contract talks.

What we do know is that Jackson is highly unlikely to hit the NFL free agent market. The former first-round pick from Louisville has been absolutely dynamic throughout his four-year NFL career — accumulating 105 total touchdowns against 31 interceptions. Look for him to be extended here soon despite rumors to the contrary.

Related: Baltimore Ravens ‘mystified’ by lack of Lamar Jackson contract talks

2. Quenton Nelson, guard, Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis-Colts-Quenton-Nelson
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As far as NFL free agents go, Nelson would be among the most-coveted non-quarterbacks on the market in modern history. Too bad for other teams it’s just not going to happen.

The No. 6 overall pick of Indianapolis back in 2018, this former Notre Dame standout has earned All-Pro honors in each of his first four NFL seasons. He’s legitimately already one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. If he does hit the open market, Nelson would get paid left tackle money.

3. Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa-Bay-Buccaneers-Tom-Brady
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Retired. Unretired. Committed to the Buccaneers. Looking for a way out. The narratives surrounding Brady have been absolutely insane since the 2021 NFL season came to an end.

What we do know is that the seven-time Super Bowl champion is likely going to be a free agent next March. He’ll obviously be one of the biggest NFL free agents on the market. He could also retire. So many unknowns here.

Related: Tom Brady and NFL’s top QBs of 2022

4. Orlando Brown Jr., offensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs

Oct 24, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57) lines up during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Projected to be one of the top NFL free agents of the 2022 cycle, Brown saw the franchise tag placed on him. He’s now a potential holdout after the Pro Bowler and his team failed to come to terms on a contract extension ahead of the deadline.

5. Derwin James, safety, Los Angeles Chargers

top 2023 nfl free agents
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Needless to say, James would be among the best defensive NFL free agents next March. The question here is whether Los Angeles will let its play-making safety hit the open market? He’s recorded 19 passes defended and five interceptions in three seasons, acting the part of one of the better cover safeties during that span.

Related: Highest-paid NFL players of 2022

6. Roquan Smith, linebacker, Chicago Bears

NFL: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams
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Smith, 25, jumped on to the scene big time as a rooie back in 2018, recording 121 tackles, five sacks and five passes defended. After some struggles as a sophomore, he’s picked it up over the past two seasons. That includes consecutive second-team All-Pro honors. This past season also saw Smith yield a mere 76.8 passer rating when targeted.

7. Elgton Jenkins, offensive line, Green Bay Packers

2023 nfl free agents
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Underrated. That’s the best way to describe what Jenkins has been since the Packers made him a second-round pick back in 2019. He can play both tackle and guard positions — earning a Pro Bowl spot playing the latter a season ago. He’ll be among the most-coveted NFL free agents should the Mississippi State product hit the open market next March.

8. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos

2023 nfl free agents: bradley chbb
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, injuries have been the name of the game for Chubb since jumping on to the scene with 12 sacks as a rookie. Over the course of the past three seasons, he’s missed 24 games to injury. This could lead to him becoming one of the top NFL free agents next March with Denver not wanting to exhaust a long-term deal on the talented edge rusher. It’s something to watch.

9. Daron Payne, defensive tackle, Washington Commanders

2023 nfl free agents: daron payne
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

For the better part of his four-year career, Payne has performed at a Pro Bowl level. This span has seen the Alabama product record a combined 35 quarterback hits and 14.5 sacks. That’s tremendous production from the defensive tackle position. However, it might not be enough for him to remain in D.C. long-term.

10. Jessie Bates, safety, Cincinnati Bengals

2023 nfl free agents: jessie bates
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A second-round pick out of Wake Forest back in 2018, Bates has started all 63 games that he’s appeared in over four seasons with the Bengals. He recorded 100-plus tackles each of his first three seasons with a whopping 35 passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, Bates had the highest grade among all NFL safeties in 2020. Unfortunately, Cincinnati didn’t sign Bates to an extension ahead of the deadline. He’ll now have to play under the franchise tag and could opt to hold out.

Related: Ideal Jessie Bates trade scenarios

Top NFL free agent of 2023: Underrated stars

11. Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Carolina Panthers

Baker Mayfield
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

Where to start with Mayfield? The former Heisman winner is coming off a disastrous 2021 season. He’s since been replaced by Deshaun Watson as the Browns’ starting QB and was just traded to the Carolina Panthers. It will be interesting to see how he performs in 2022.

12. Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Currently in limbo with the 49ers, there’s still a great chance Garoppolo will be calling another city home this season with Trey Lance slated to take over under center. If so, an extension will likely be in the cards to lower his cap number in 2022. During his four-plus year run in San Francisco, Garoppolo has been a mere average starting quarterback (66 TD, 38 INT). He’s also injury prone. However, the 30-year-old’s 33-14 career record as a starter could be appealing to quarterback needy teams.

Related: San Francisco 49ers grant Jimmy Garoppolo permission to seek a trade

13. Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants

2023 nfl free agents: saquon barkley
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Despite finding himself injury plagued over the past two seasons, Barkley would be one of the most intriguing NFL free agents of the 2023 cycle. The former Penn State star recorded a combined 3,469 yards and 23 touchdowns at a clip of 5.6 yards per touch in 2018-19.

14. Josh Jacobs, running back, Las Vegas Raiders

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals
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Jacobs put up north of 1,300 total yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie in 2019 before earning Pro Bowl honors as a sophomore. Sure Jacobs had somewhat of a down 2021 season, but he’s seen as one of the better young backs in the game.

15. Diontae Johnson, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Johnson’s first three NFL seasons has been nothing short of spectacular. He’s improved each year after Pittsburgh made the former Toledo standout a third-round pick back in 2019 — recording 107 receptions for 1,161 yads and eight touchdowns in 2021. At 25, there’s a lot to like here. The only question is whether Johnson will produce at the same level with Mitchell Trubisky tossing him the rock instead of Ben Roethlisberger.

16. Mike Gesicki, tight end, Miami Dolphins

2023 nfl free agents: mike gesicki
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Playing under the franchise tag this season, Gesicki has an opportunity to earn a large pay day. He’s been awesome since Miami made the Penn State product a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Over the course of the past two seasons, Gesicki has hauled in 126 receptions for 1,483 yards while catching 64% of his targets. He’ll be among the top NFL free agents next spring.

17. Jack Conklin, offensive tackle, Cleveland Browns

nfl free agents: jack conklin
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Legitimately one of the best right tackles in the NFL when he’s healthy, Conklin missed 10 games due to injury in 2021. That came after he earned All-Pro honors with Cleveland in 2020. If Conklin can stay healthy in 2022, he’ll have a huge market next March.

18. J.J. Watt, EDGE, Arizona Cardinals

NFL: Arizona Cardinals Training Camp
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Injuries have derailed Watt’s already Hall of Fame-worthy career. He missed 10 games in his first season with Arizona. Watt, 33, also has not racked up double-digit sacks since recording 16 when he was a member of the Houston Texans back in 2018. If he can stay healthy this season, there’s still going to be a market here.

19. Marcus Peters, cornerback, Baltimore Ravens

nfl free agents: marcus peters
Andrew Nelles / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Speaking of injuries, Peters missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL. Still only 29, he can rebuild his value in 2022. The three-time Pro Bowler has recorded 31 interceptions in 91 NFL games. Back in 2020, Peters yielded a 78.0 QB rating when targeted.

20. Jordan Poyer, safety, Buffalo Bills

NFL: Buffalo Bills Minicamp
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Poyer’s emergence to elite status took some time. He was a cast off of both the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles before joining Buffalo back in 2017. Since then, it’s been all about an upward trajectory. Last season alone, Poyer yielded a 42.2 QB rating.

2023 NFL free agents: Top offensive player by position

Quarterbacks

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Related: 2022 NFL offseason power rankings

Running backs

top nfl free agents
Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
  • Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
  • Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
  • Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins
  • Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
  • Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
  • Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings
  • Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
  • James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Damien Harris, New England Patriots
  • David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
  • Jeff Wilson, San Francisco 49ers
  • D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns

Fullbacks

2023 nfl free agents: derek watt
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
  • Andy Janovich, Houston Texans
  • Derek Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Nick Bellore, Seattle Seahawks
  • Keith Smith, Atlanta Falcons
  • Jakob Johnson, Las Vegas Raiders

Tight ends

  • Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
  • Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
  • O.J. Howard, Buffalo Bills
  • Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings
  • Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
  • Foster Moreau, Las Vegas Raiders

Wide receivers

Chiefs-Mecole-Hardman
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  • Byron Pringle, Chicago Bears
  • Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers
  • Deonte Harris, New Orleans Saints
  • Jamison Crowder, Buffalo Bills
  • Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots
  • Nelson Agholor, New England Patriots
  • Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
  • DJ Chark, Detroit Lions
  • Marvin Jones, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Cam Sims, Washington Commanders
  • N’Keal Harry, Chicago Bears
  • Josh Gordon, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Jalen Guyton, Los Angeles Chargers

Offensive tackles

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rob Havenstein, Los Angeles Rams
  • Isaiah Wynn, New England Patriots
  • Matt Pryor, Indianapolis Colts
  • George Fant, New York Jets
  • Mike McGlinchey, San Francisco 49ers
  • Ja’Waun James, Baltimore Ravens
  • Chris Hubbard, Cleveland Browns

Related: Full NFL offseason calendar

Guards

nfl free agents: rodger saffold
George Walker IV / Tennessean.co / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • Rodger Saffold, Buffalo Bills
  • Justin Pugh, Arizona Cardinals
  • Isaac Seumalo, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Wes Schweitzer, Washington Commanders
  • Chris Lindstrom, Atlanta Falcons
  • Austin Blythe, Seattle Seahawks
  • Nick Gates, New York Giants
  • Jon Feliciano, New York Giants
  • Cody Ford, Buffalo Bills
  • Will Hernandez, Arizona Cardinals

Centers

2023 nfl free agents: rodney hudson
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rodney Hudson, Arizona Cardinals
  • Bradley Bozeman, Carolina Panthers
  • Mitch Morse, Buffalo Bills
  • Connor McGovern, New York Jets
  • Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Erik McCoy, New Orleans Saints
  • Kyle Fuller, Seattle Seahawks
  • Austin Reiter, Kansas City Chiefs

Related: Ranking NFL’s top defenses

2023 NFL free agents: Top defensive players by position

Defensive ends

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Marcus Davenport, New Orleans Saints
  • Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Yannick Ngakoue, Indianapolis Colts
  • Jordan Phillips, Buffalo Bills
  • Matthew Ionnidis, Carolina Panthers
  • Arden Key, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Dante Fowler Jr., Dallas Cowboys
  • Kerry Hyder, San Francisco 49ers
  • Shaq Lawson, Buffalo Bills
  • Samson Ebukam, San Francisco 49ers
  • Clelin Ferrell, Las Vegas Raiders

Linebackers

2023 nfl free agents: lavonte david
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo Bills
  • Anthony Walker, Cleveland Browns
  • Denzel Perryman, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Jayon Brown, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Jarrad Davis, Detroit Lions
  • Devon Kennard, Arizona Cardinals
  • Nicholas Morrow, Chicago Bears
  • Kyzir White, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Elandon Roberts, Miami Dolphins
  • Cory Littleton, Carolina Panthers
  • Blake Martinez, New York Giants

Cornerbacks

2023 nfl free agents: marcus peters
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
  • James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots
  • Anthony Brown, Dallas Cowboys
  • Bradley Roby, New Orleans Saints
  • Emmanuel Moseley, San Francisco 49ers
  • Cameron Sutton, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Troy Hill, Los Angeles Rams
  • Anthony Averett, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Rock Ya-Sin, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Greedy Williams, Cleveland Browns
  • Patrick Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
  • Sidney Jones, Seattle Seahawks
  • Deandre Baker, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Isaiah Oliver, Atlanta Falcons
  • Mike Hughes, Detroit Lions
  • Byron Murphy, Arizona Cardinals
  • Trayvon Mullen, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Tre Herndon, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • David Long, Los Angeles Rams
  • Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • P.J. Williams, New Orleans Saints

Safeties

NFL: Houston Texans at San Francisco 49ers
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers
  • Adrian Amos, Green Bay Packers
  • Devin McCourty, New England Patriots
  • Vonn Bell, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Eric Rowe, Miami Dolphins
  • Johnathan Abram, Las Vegas Raiders
  • Marcus Allen, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Anthony Harris, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Jabrill Peppers, New England Patriots
  • Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams
  • Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Tarvarius Moore, San Francisco 49ers
  • Geno Stone, Baltimore Ravens
  • Julian Love, New York Giants

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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