NFL free agency 2022: Odell Beckham Jr. headlines top remaining players at each position

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The first week of free agency was a doozy, to say the least. A number of the NFL’s high-profile free agents that were on the market came off the board this week and inked massive contracts. The likes of J.C. Jackson, Chandler Jones, and Von Miller all agreed to sizable deals with a boatload of guaranteed money, while receivers like Mike Williams, Christian Kirk, and Allen Robinson all cashed in as well. Oh, and if you were looking for trades, those came in bunches as well with Davante Adams, Khalil Mack, and Deshaun Watson all finding new homes. Like I said, it was a wild week. 

Despite all these moves, there are plenty of notable names still sitting on the open market as we conclude the opening week of action. Below, you’ll find the top players are each position that are still searching for a deal in free agency.  

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With the Saints losing out on the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, it seems extremely likely that Jameis Winston will be heading back to New Orleans. Even though Sean Payton is no longer at the helm as head coach, the team retained several coaches — including offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael — as they elevated former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach. Winston knows the system and was playing well in 2021 before he suffered a torn ACL in Week 8 against the Bucs. It makes sense for both sides to seek a reunion at this stage. 

Running back: Leonard Fournette

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Fournette has been in the league for so long that some many not realize he’s only 27, meaning there’s still plenty of high-caliber play in front of him. With Tom Brady coming out of retirement to rejoin the Buccaneers, Fournette may also look to head back to Tampa Bay to make another run at a Lombardi. That said, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see multiple teams vying for his services. After all, he’s a three-down back that averaged 4.5 yards per carry in 2021 while catching 69 of his 84 targets. 

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Odell Beckham Jr.’s free agency was already going to be interesting after the veteran receiver suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl, which will likely limit his availability to begin the 2022 season. However, with the Rams signing Allen Robinson to a big contract this week, it does make one wonder if a reunion in L.A. is still in the cards. Would the Packers be a team interested in Beckham now that they traded Davante Adams to Las Vegas? 

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With Tom Brady coming out of retirement and rejoining the Buccaneers, it feels inevitable that Rob Gronkowski will find his way back to Tampa Bay. The tight end even recently said that “there’s a very good chance” he re-signs with the Bucs, so this does seem to be a matter of when rather than if.

Interior offensive lineman: J.C. Tretter

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Tretter was a cap casualty by the Browns this week, but the 31-year-old should have a solid market for himself after having the second-highest pass blocking grade in the NFL in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. 

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Terron Armstead is the top free agent still on the market for my money and should command a massive contract. It’s possible the 30-year-old was waiting to see how the situation with Deshaun Watson unfolded and whether or not he landed with his former team in the New Orleans Saints before making a major splash. Regardless, Armstead is viewed as the top offensive tackle in free agency and should see a lucrative deal coming his way. 

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With the Chiefs signing safety Justin Reid this week, Tyrann Mathieu’s time in Kansas City looks like it has reached its end. While the safety may be embarking on a new chapter in his career, he’s still playing at a high level, which should garner him some interest throughout the league. Mathieu put together another Pro Bowl season in 2021 where he totaled 76 tackles, had six pass breakups and three picks. 

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With Gilmore being the top veteran corner on the market, younger defensive backs like J.C. Jackson and Carlton Davis were likely going to come off the board first to further dictate his market. He was limited to just nine games last season due to a groin injury and contract dispute with New England that resulted in a trade to the Panthers, but the 31-year-old played well when he was on the field in 2021. He allowed a passer rating of 80.7 while also recording two picks in Carolina. How Gilmore views his next stop will be interesting as he could simply go to the highest bidder or try to land with a contender to add another Super Bowl title to his résumé.

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Wagner instantly became the top inside linebacker on the market after his stunning release from the Seattle Seahawks. He should command a strong market across the league, especially after a 2021 season where he recorded a career-high 170 tackles. 

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For a minute, it looked like Za’Darius Smith was going to be heading back to the team that drafted him in the Baltimore Ravens. The veteran pass rusher agreed to a four-year, $35 million contract with the club that had a max value of $50 million, but instead decided to back out of the deal and remain a free agent. The two-time Pro Bowler was released by the Packers on the first day of the legal tampering period and is still searching for that next club. 

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At 32, Akiem Hicks is no spring chicken, but he’s still a valuable piece to any defensive line. He was limited to nine games last season due to injury but did play well when he was on the field. He recorded 3.5 sacks during the year along with 11 total pressures. He also isn’t that far removed from his Pro Bowl season in 2018.  

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