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Friday, July 19, 2019

10 best remaining NFL free agents

Ndamukong Suh

After the initial rush of NFL free agency, it turns out there are still plenty of good players available. Sure, they all have flaws, be it age, a part of their game that’s not quite as prominent as teams would like it to be, or an extensive injury history that has teams questioning whether they can stay on the field. But all of these players have had success at the NFL level and can be key contributors in the right situation if they stay healthy and find the right fit.

Here are ten NFL free agents who rank as the best still available.

10) Darqueze Dennard, CB

A slot corner turned starter for Cincinnati last season, Dennard grew into his role in the Bengals’ secondary during his time with the team. Ultimately, his financial demands forced the pair to go their separate ways this offseason. The slot corner market has been robust, and Dennard figures to play heavily into it. There are injury concerns here — Dennard has just one 16-game season to his name in his NFL career thus far — but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a worthwhile investment for someone.

9) Muhammad Wilkerson, DT

Wilkerson lost pretty much all of 2018 after suffering an ankle injury in September that limited him to three games. That has also likely played a role in limiting his market. Wilkerson had a 12 sack season in 2015, but has never quite reached those heights since. Wilkerson can still be a talented pass rusher, and at 29, he’s still young enough that he won’t be regarded as too old to contribute for more than a year or two. He could be a good low-risk addition for someone and may even re-sign with Green Bay.

8) T.J. Yeldon, RB

Yeldon was unexpectedly given a spotlight as Leonard Fournette struggled through an injury-prone season. His 414 rushing yards weren’t amazing, but he did show some potential as a dual threat, with 487 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns. Teams are always in need of serviceable running backs, especially ones with pass-catching potential, and Yeldon certainly fits that bill. Plus, he’s still just 25 years old.

7) Tre Boston, S

Boston is a young, useful player in a deep safety market. He landed with the Arizona Cardinals last year, where the 26-year-old posted a solid season that included three interceptions. Boston has shown himself to be something of a ballhawk, in fact, as he’s tallied up ten picks over the past three seasons with the Panthers, Chargers, and Cardinals. Boston will likely be hoping to land more than the one-year pact he ended up settling for last offseason.

6) Justin Houston, LB

A Kansas City Chiefs cap casualty, Houston figures to be a good pass rusher from the linebacker position for someone. The 30-year-old is fresh off a nine sack season, his second in a row, and has 78.5 career sacks since entering the league in 2011. As of January, Houston is on the wrong side of 30, and he has missed some time with injuries over the past few seasons, a fact which grows more concerning as he gets older. Still, he’s shown he remains capable of putting up the numbers.

5) Jay Ajayi, RB

Ajayi’s 2018 season was wrecked by an ACL injury, but it’s vital not to lose sight of the two seasons he had before that. He was a 1,272-yard rusher for Miami in 2016, and an 873-yard rusher between the Dolphins and the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. Ajayi may have to take a lesser role in 2019 to prove that he’s healthy, recovered, and can take the demands of a full NFL season again. The Indianapolis Colts could be the perfect team to do it with.

4) Ezekiel Ansah, DE

When Ansah is healthy, he generally performs. In 2015, he posted 14.5 sacks, and added a 12-sack season in 2017. His 2016 was a waste, and his 2018 was marred by injury. Ansah is still a physical beast who is just about to turn 30, so he’s not over the hill by any means, but any team signing him needs to feel confident that his body is going to hold up over the course of an entire season. If it does, his new team may be richly rewarded.

3) Jared Cook, TE

Cook is 32 and he’s not a superstar, but he is coming off the most accomplished and successful season of what has, at times, been an inconsistent career. With the Raiders, he caught 68 passes for 896 yards and six touchdowns, all career-highs. Sure, it’s worth mentioning that this happened when he was essentially the focal point of Derek Carr’s offense, but he’s shown he’s got the goods to be a very productive pass-catching tight end. He’d be a good addition for a lot of teams.

2) Eric Berry, S

When it comes to Berry, health is really the only question. He’s played just three total regular season games since the end of the 2016 season, all due to an Achilles injury. He was working his way back toward the end of the 2018 season, but he never really got there with Kansas City. Some team will bet on the talent, and it’s a bet worth taking, even if he did turn 30 in December. One team in need of a safety has already visited with Berry and he could be an ideal fit there.

1) Ndamukong Suh, DT

Suh is what he is at this point. He’s durable — he played in all 16 games last year for the seventh season in a row and eighth out of nine in the NFL. He will attract attention and blockers. He will still get the occasional sack. There will still be some on-field drama. He’s a perfectly good defensive lineman, though not an elite one these days, but Suh expects to be paid like an elite one. That could hold back his market, but he’ll be a very good player for someone once he finds the right deal.



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