The name game when it comes to NFC free agents

By Cameron DaSilva | Posted 2 years ago

With the salary cap increasing significantly this year, teams are getting ready to open their checkbooks for the top free agents of 2022. The NFC has plenty to offer in that department, with a handful of top-tier receivers, an elite left tackle and starting-caliber interior offensive linemen at guard and center.


Free agency is only two weeks away and though some of these players will be tagged and re-signed before the market opens, these 13 NFC studs are going to be highly coveted when the new league year begins on March 16.


WR Davante Adams, Packers


Until Cooper Kupp put together his magical 2021 season, Adams was viewed as the best receiver in football – and many still see him that way. The Packers are highly unlikely to let him get to free agency, either by re-signing him or using the franchise tag. Adams is certain to be a hot commodity if he does hit the market. Last season, he set career-highs with 123 catches and 1,553 yards, also scoring 11 touchdowns to bring his career total to 73. He’s had at least 885 yards in each of the last six seasons with double-digit touchdowns in five of those campaigns.


Receivers don’t come much better than Adams and he’s still not 30 years old. He’s a virtual lock to have at least 1,000 yards and 10-plus touchdowns again next season if he remains with the Packers. 


WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers


The Bucs missed Godwin down the stretch after he suffered a torn ACL in December. In 14 games before getting hurt, he caught 98 passes for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns, his fourth straight season with at least 840 yards and five touchdowns. What makes Godwin so good is his ability to line up as an outside receiver or in the slot. He’s an ideal blend of speed, physicality and route running, making him one of the best wideouts in football. The Bucs are unlikely to tag him again after doing so in 2021, but keeping him alongside Mike Evans is a priority.


LT Terron Armstead, Saints


Armstead is a top-tier left tackle – when he’s healthy. He’s never played a full 16-game season in his nine-year career, missing nine games this past season and missing six each in 2017 and 2018. His price tag would be higher if there weren’t durability concerns, still, he’s going to be one of the highest-paid left tackles in football this year. He’s 31 years old but only allowed one sack, 12 pressures and had a pass-blocking grade of 85.6 last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 


OLB Von Miller, Rams


Miller proved that he isn't close to slowing down after helping the Rams win Super Bowl LVI. He starred on Los Angeles’ defense with nine sacks in 12 games, including four sacks in the postseason. Miller was absolutely dominant late in the year and in the playoffs, not only as a pass rusher, but also defending the run. 


Last season was his eighth with at least 9.5 sacks despite missing two games, bouncing back in a big way after sitting out the entire 2020 season with an ankle injury. 


OLB Chandler Jones, Cardinals


Jones is pretty much good for at least 10 sacks per year when he’s healthy. He’s had double-digit sacks every year he’s played at least 15 games, including 10.5 this past season en route to a Pro Bowl selection – the fourth of his career. He has a knack for creating turnovers, too, forcing six fumbles last season after forcing eight in 2019, which led the league. And if you think his play has tailed off at 31 years old, he had 26 quarterback hits in 2021 – tied for the second-most in his decorated career. 


CB Carlton Davis, Buccaneers


Davis is another player with some injury concerns. He missed seven games last season due to a quadriceps injury, which landed him on Injured Reserve in the middle of the year. When healthy, he’s a really solid cornerback on the outside with the size and speed to match up with any receiver. Davis is young, too, after just turning 25 on Dec. 31. For a team seeking help in the secondary, Davis makes a ton of sense – if the Bucs don’t tag him. He’s smart, physical and can play both man and zone coverage. Cornerbacks this talented don’t come available often.


S Marcus Williams, Saints


Some fans will only remember Williams for his costly mistake on Stefon Diggs’ game-winning touchdown in the playoffs, but he’s quietly been one of the more consistent and reliable safeties in football. He’s picked off multiple passes in each of his five seasons and averages nearly five tackles per game. For a deep-coverage safety, Williams helps take away plays over the top but he’s also adept in run support when coming downhill from his safety spot. Having a true free safety who can patrol the deep middle is essential in today’s NFL and that’s exactly the type of player Williams is.


WR Allen Robinson II, Bears


Poor Allen Robinson. He hasn’t had a good starting quarterback in his career, playing with Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky and now Justin Fields – among others – throughout his eight seasons. Yet, he still has three seasons of 1,100-plus yards and averages 64.1 yards per game. If Robinson gets an above-average quarterback with his next team, he’s going to put up at least 1,100 yards and probably score seven plus touchdowns as the No. 1 receiver on his team. He’s the complete package at wide receiver, with great size, speed and length on the outside. 


G Brandon Scherff, Commanders


Injuries have plagued Scherff in recent seasons. He hasn’t played more than 13 games since 2017 and is coming off a season in which he made 11 starts. He’s one of the best guards in football and unquestionably the top one available this offseason, which will get him paid handsomely – either by Washington or another team. Whoever signs him will just have to understand the injury risk and realize that he may not start every game next season. But when he's on the field, the entire offensive line plays better.


C Ryan Jensen, Buccaneers


At 31 years old, there aren’t many centers better than Jensen in the league. And it shouldn’t go overlooked the fact that he hasn’t missed a game since 2016 when he was in Baltimore. In 19 games last season, he only allowed two sacks and 21 total pressures, also excelling as a run blocker in the middle of the Bucs’ offensive line. He helped open plenty of lanes for Leonard Fournette last season and will do the same for whichever team he lands with this offseason.


WR Odell Beckham Jr., Rams


Like Miller, Beckham had a huge impact with the Rams during their Super Bowl run. He scored the opening touchdown in their win over the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI before tearing his ACL, making a great grab over the defender on a fade from the slot. Unfortunately, his knee injury is going to cost him a fair amount of money because it’s not certain he’ll be ready for the start of the season, or even the middle of it. But if a team wants to prepare for the future by giving him a multi-year deal, there’s a good chance Beckham will prove them right with a productive season – so long as he has a capable quarterback.


TE Dalton Schultz, Cowboys


Schultz was in the spotlight with Blake Jarwin out for Dallas, putting together his best season in 2021. He caught 78 passes for 808 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021, becoming one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets in a star-studded offense. Though he’s not much of a blocker, Schultz can create mismatches as a receiver in the middle of the field with his 6-foot-5 frame and wide catch radius. And his impact in the red zone was evidenced by his eight touchdowns. Schultz deserves a nice payday after emerging as a top-10 tight end in the NFL.


OLB Haason Reddick, Panthers


Reddick signed a one-year deal with the Panthers last offseason after breaking out with 12.5 sacks in 2020, betting on himself that he could back up those numbers. He did, posting 11 sacks and a career-high 18 QB hits in 16 games this past season. Now a full-time pass rusher, Reddick has found his fit on the edge and can really wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Still just 27 years old, Reddick should be poised for another 10-sack season in 2022.


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