Newton, Gronkowski, Beckham Jr: Top 10 NFL free agents still on the market

Odell Beckham of the Los Angeles Rams

With the 2022 NFL Draft in the books, plenty of teams feel like they have everything they need for the season ahead.

However, despite the flurry of activity, not just within the draft but also in the trade world with the likes of A.J Brown and Marquise Brown leaving the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens to join the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals respectively, there’s still plenty to come.

With the 2022 NFL season not set to start until September, there is still plenty of time for things to change though with teams. Players could still be traded, they could get injured, they might decide to retire early.

All of this would leave a gap in the team that would need to be filled, and that spot could very well be filled with one of the many free agents that are still without a team after last season.

Here GiveMeSport look at who we think are the ten best players still on the market and what they could bring to the table:

10 – Jason Pierre-Paul

Team last year – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As part of a Buccaneers defence that featured a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball like Shaquill Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea and Devin White, it was always going to be hard to stand out, but he still but up some impressive numbers.

31 tackles including 3 that were for loss to go along with 2.5 sacks, and this was despite playing just 12 of their 17 games in the regular season as he dealt with a torn-rotator cuff during the campaign.

Assuming it doesn’t give him any problems, then he could really come to the rescue of someone in need of a veteran presence on the defensive line. 

9 – Kyle Van Noy

Team last season – New England Patriots

Despite only starting eight games last season, the inside linebacker certainly didn’t let that stop him as he proved incredibly effective in the middle of the field, racking up a total of 66 combined tackles in the regular season to go along with 5 sacks and 10 pass deflections and this pick-six against Atlanta in Week 11.

His contributions helped the Patriots rank 4th in the league in terms of yards allowed and would serve as an excellent anchor to pretty much any linebacking group in the country, even if it is just on a short-term basis. 

8 – Rob Gronkowski

Team last season – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Injuries played their part in making sure that Gronk’s season didn’t exactly flourish in the way it has in the past. But even with the few games that he missed, he was still able to put up over 900 yards across the regular and postseason as well as 7 touchdowns.

He would be a lot higher on this list, but given his comments in the past about only wanting to play with Tom Brady, there might not exactly be the biggest market out there for him.

But who knows, if the Bucs don’t want him, which after adding two more tight ends during the draft might be a big indicator, then another team might just be able to tempt him back into the game. 

7 – Cam Newton

Team last season – Carolina Panthers

It certainly has been something of a crazy two years for the former league MVP, ending up with the New England Patriots in 2020 before being usurped by Mac Jones and having to find solace back with the Carolina Panthers after being cut in preseason.

But in that short stint with the Panthers he showed that he still has some of that magic that made him league MVP to begin with, passing for 684 yards and 4 touchdowns whilst also rushing for 230 yards and 5 touchdowns. 

Whilst chances of him being a starter are probably out the window, as a veteran backup or someone that can be used in certain packages, especially near the goal line, then he’s 100% worth considering being added back onto an NFL roster. 

6 – Dont’a Hightower 

Team last year – New England Patriots

Having skipped the 2020 season due to health concerns, the linebacker came back with a vengeance in the 2021 season, racking up a total of 64 combined tackles to go along with 1.5 sacks during a major bounce-back year for the Patriots

Whilst he might be getting on a bit at age 32, he would certainly offer a major boost for a team on a short-term contract that needs help on the outside, whilst also being able to bring in the winning mindset that comes with a decade under the stewardship of Bill Belichick.

5 – Ndamukong Suh

Team last year – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Very much one of the veterans in this free-agent class at the age of 35, but even despite getting on a bit he’s still managed to show what he can do when he was in Tampa Bay last year.

27 combined tackles, 13 QB hits and 6 sacks certainly isn’t bad going, especially in a Tampa Bay defence that was stacked on that side of the ball.

But he is certainly someone that you can see being used in rotation, perhaps on 3rd-and-short or goalline situations and could be a very good pickup for a team seeking a plug in the middle of their line. 

4 – Julio Jones 

Team last year – Tennessee Titans

Another player who struggled when it came to having to compete with multiple options on his team last year after years of being a number one in Atlanta.

He too was the victim of a run-heavy team, this one led by Derrick Henry, whilst also competing with A.J Brown for targets through the air, but still managed to have 31 catches for 434 yards, averaging out at 14 yards a reception. 

Whilst there was a run on wide receivers in this year’s draft, there might still be that one team that will want to have a veteran presence in the locker room to help guide them through, and Jones can certainly provide that role. 

3 – Jarvis Landry

Team last year – Cleveland Browns 

Someone who had something of a struggle last year when it came to catching the ball with just 52 receptions.

But in a team that relied on the run so much and had a number of decent weapons to choose from like Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Odell Beckham Jr and Rashard Higgins, he was never likely to put up anything spectacular, even with these impressive hands from training camp last year.

However for a team that could use a more effective #2 or even #1 receiver, then Landry certainly needs to be put into consideration for someone around the league. 

2 – Jadeveon Clowney

Team last year – Cleveland Browns

Clowney is coming off one of the most productive years of his career in the NFL, his 9 sacks were the joint-second most he’s been able to put up behind his 9.5 from 2017 with the Houston Texans

That’s to go along with 37 total tackles and 2 forced fumbles which along with Myles Garrett on the other flank made the Browns one of the most-feared defensive lines in the country.

Put him across from another top pass-rusher, especially one that needs constant double-teaming and he can wreak havoc on pretty much anyone and would really bolster a lot of defensive fronts. 

1 – Odell Beckham Jr

Team last year – Cleveland Browns/Los Angeles Rams 

Whilst OBJ may well be labeled with off the field problems, things that have played a part in him leaving both the New York Giants as well as the Cleveland Browns last season, he showed late in the season that he is still able to be of use to someone out there with his play on the field.
He scored the first touchdown in the Super Bowl, but even before the big game, he managed to put up 5 touchdowns for the Rams following his trade from the Cleveland Browns. 

He failed to finish the Super Bowl due to injury, but having had the offseason to heal, at the age of just 29 he’s someone that would really be an asset to any team in the league for the next few years.

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