Sport NFL Free Agency 2018 Guide and Tracker

20:50  14 february  2018
20:50  14 february  2018 Source:   si.com

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The 2018 NFL free agency period is nearly upon us, with many big-name players hitting the market. Below is PFF’s 2018 free agent tracker *, updated with the latest offseason updates. The PFF Free Agent Guide is available now. Not a member? Sign up for EDGE to download your copy!

Draft Guide . Season Pass. Baseball Daily Dose. Free Agency Update Articles. :: NFL Futures Deals. :: Divisional Round Matchups. :: 2018 NFL Free Agent Tracker .

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On these lists, “difference makers” are players who can change the dynamic of an offense or defense in and of themselves, whereas the other players listed would have to be plugged into specific schemes or surrounded by the right kind of talent.

Dates to remember: The franchise tag deadline is 4 p.m. on March 6. The “legal tampering” period for free agents starts on March 12, and free agents can officially sign deals at 4 p.m. on March 14. Player ages are as of March 1, 2018.

5-star CB Patrick Surtain Jr. commits to Alabama over LSU

  5-star CB Patrick Surtain Jr. commits to Alabama over LSU Alabama pulled in its second five-star player of the 2018 class with Patrick Surtain Jr., the No. 1 cornerback in the country.Surtain, the top uncommitted recruit entering National Signing Day, is the No. 6 overall player in the country and the No. 1 cornerback, according to 247Sports' Composite rankings. He is the Tide's second top-10 player of the class, after weak-side defensive end Eyabi Anoma, the No. 4 overall player in the country.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only. view 3 NFL Cap Tracker .

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

QUARTERBACKS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

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This NFL Free Agents Tracker will be updated as soon as a move is made in free agency . NFL Free Agents : Top 100 Take a look at the top 100 NFL free agents for the 2018 offseason.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

NOTE: Drew Brees is technically a free agent, but it is a virtual certainty he will be retained by the Saints.

Kirk Cousins (29), Washington

It’s unusual to see a quality starting quarterback available in free agency, it’s unheard of for that quarterback to the hit the market in a year when multiple teams (Denver, Minnesota and Jacksonville) have powerhouse defenses that leave them just a QB away from Super Bowl contention. Urgency by those teams could push Cousins’ value through the ethers. As for teams who are more than just a QB away, buyer beware: Cousins is an excellent plug-and-play system guy, but he’s not someone you build your system around.

Case Keenum (30), Vikings

His greatness in 2017 was legitimate—he made plays not just by executing Pat Shurmur’s shrewd designs, but also by improvising when those designs didn’t work. What teams must decide is: Can Keenum do it again, this time without Shurmur?

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Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

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Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Josh McCown (39), Jets

Quietly, McCown had a stellar 2017 campaign in New York (94.5 passer rating). He’s still a viable bridge guy, and maybe even an inexpensive option for a “ready to win now” team that loses out on Cousins.

Tom Savage (27), Texans

He must get more consistent in all facets, but at least he’s willing to stand tall in the pocket. That gives him long-term value as a backup; coaches will believe he can keep their system afloat if he has to come off the bench.

Sam Bradford (30), Vikings

The most talented QB in free agency, but unfortunately the durability concerns have become overwhelming.

Jay Cutler (34), Dolphins

If he wasn’t great in an Adam Gase scheme that he’d thrived in before, what makes you think he’d thrive somewhere else?

Brock Osweiler (27), Broncos

His agents should dismiss his 2016 season in Houston and ’17 season in Cleveland/Denver and sell him as the high-end backup who helped keep the 2015 Broncos’ Super Bowl season on track. If they believe a starting job might still be in his future, then sign a one-year contract for 2018. If they want long-term stability, they’ll pursue a long-term contract as a No. 2.

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Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Geno Smith (27), Giants

Smith is a capable deep-intermediate passer and serviceable enough athlete, but with backup QBs, dependability is more important than talent. That works against Smith.

Teddy Bridgewater (25), Vikings

He hasn’t played in two years and he had arm strength limitations before he got injured.

Matt Barkley (27), Cardinals

Turnovers are a concern, but he had some productive outings in Chicago two seasons ago.

Blaine Gabbert (28), Cardinals

When the pocket is clean, he looks the part. But when the pocket becomes the least bit dirty, or even just threatens to be dirty, he’s a wildcard.

Matt Moore (33), Dolphins

A proven backup, his landing spot could be decided by how teams view him as a mentor.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (35), Bucs

His next contract will likely make him just the fourth QB in history to play for a quarter of the NFL’s teams. (The others: Josh Johnson, Josh McCown and J.T. O’Sullivan.)

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Blake Bortles (Jaguars), Matt Cassel (Titans), Andy Dalton (Bengals), Mike Glennon (Bears), Matt Schaub (Falcons), Tyrod Taylor (Bills)

Allen Robinson, Jaguars have not talked contract since training camp

  Allen Robinson, Jaguars have not talked contract since training camp It is still early in the offseason, but it is worth pointing out there is currently a lack of communication between the Jacksonville Jaguars and impending free agent, wide receiver Allen Robinson. According to Jaguars beat writer, Mike Kaye, the two parties have not discussed a contract extension for Robinson since training camp last year.During my conversation with #Jaguars WR Allen Robinson, we discussed his impending free agency. He told me the two sides haven't had contract negotiations since last year's training camp. Keep in mind, it's still early in the offseason and those negotiations still could happen.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

New England Patriots' Dion Lewis runs against Jacksonville Jaguars' Telvin Smith during the AFC Championship NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.© Winslow Townson/AP Photo New England Patriots' Dion Lewis runs against Jacksonville Jaguars' Telvin Smith during the AFC Championship NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018.

RUNNING BACKS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

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Team Cap Tracker . Free Agent Tracker . Tracking the status and signings of all 2018 NFL free agents . This tool includes all signings that happen during the Free Agency window only.

Le'Veon Bell (26), Steelers

Still the best out-of-backfield creator in football, but would you believe Bell’s longest run last year gained just 27 yards?

Carlos Hyde (27), 49ers

Not a dynamic receiving threat, but Hyde is a good enough first- and second-down runner to warrant three-down starter money on the open market.

Isaiah Crowell (25), Browns

A sustaining ballcarrier who has a touch more speed and power than you’d guess.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Dion Lewis (27), Patriots

Lewis is a reliable, professional runner. What will be interesting is whether teams see him as a potential receiving threat. He didn’t have to be that in New England thanks to James White, but Lewis’s shifty quickness suggests he could be that kind of threat for a different team.

Rex Burkhead (27), Patriots

His James White-style skillset can add dimension to an offense. That makes him more valuable to teams with smart veteran QBs who can take advantage.

Frank Gore (34), Colts

He can still slither through small cracks as a first- and second-down runner, though that’s the extent of his abilities at this point.

Jerick McKinnon (25), Vikings

His production in Minnesota never quite matched his scat back attributes, but could the right team and system change that?

LeGarrette Blount (31), Eagles

He’s like an old pickup truck that looks worn down but still runs and hauls just fine. Blount is much more valuable in an interior run scheme, which shortens his list of suitors.

Damian Williams (25), Dolphins

A viable receiver who can align almost anywhere in the formation.

Shane Vereen (29), Giants

A viable receiver, though mostly just out of the backfield (and maybe the slot).

Charles Sims (27), Bucs

Yet another pass-catching back, and with more lateral agility than Williams or Vereen. Sims is coming off a disconcertingly quiet 2017 campaign, though.

Terrance West (27), Ravens

His running style fits most systems, but occasional indecisiveness is a concern.

Orleans Darkwa (26), Giants

He flashes intriguing short-area east-west movement and some stop-start ability, but it never quite came together in New York.

Jeremy Hill (25), Bengals

Will his 1,124-yard, 5.1-ypc rookie season from 2014 lead a team to take a flyer? Or will that success only make eyebrows scrunch even further when looking at his disappointing 2015, ’16 and ’17 seasons?

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Matt Forte (Jets), Mike Gillislee (Patriots), Marshawn Lynch (Raiders), DeMarco Murray (Titans), Latavius Murray (Vikings), Adrian Peterson (Cardinals), Bilal Powell (Jets), Jonathan Stewart (Panthers), Robert Turbin (Colts), T.J. Yeldon (Jaguars)

FULLBACKS

SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Anthony Sherman (29), Chiefs

He can handle the ball in select situations, giving some small, pleasantly surprising oomph to an offense’s two-back packages.

Mike Tolbert (32), Bills

He’s no longer the wrecking ball runner he was in the early 2010s, and he has never been a pure lead-blocker.

Zach Line (27), Saints

Prototypical plug-in fullback.

Derrick Coleman (27), Falcons

Another plug-in fullback, just not quite as strong or dependable as Line.

Jarvis Landry© (Getty Images) Jarvis Landry

WIDE RECEIVERS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Jarvis Landry (25), Dolphins

As an excellent short-area receiver who can also threaten intermediately inside, he can certainly enhance a quick-strike offense. The question is whether teams think he can upgrade a more traditional offense, sort of like Golden Tate did in Detroit. There are questions about maturity and route running discipline.

Sammy Watkins (24), Rams

Certainly better than his 593 yards in 2017 suggest, but he’s not a true No. 1 receiver. If he avoids the franchise tag, his open market value will be fascinating to see.

Allen Robinson (24), Jaguars

Two concerns: He’s coming off an ACL injury, and he was bad against press coverage in 2016. But prior to that, he was as intriguing of a downfield perimeter receiver as you’ll find. Someone will risk big money in hopes of capturing that.

John Brown (27), Cardinals

Speed and stop-start quickness can make him lethal … if he stays healthy enough to consistently display it.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Paul Richardson (25), Seahawks

An acrobatic vertical receiver who is tough to evaluate as an every-down weapon given that he comes from an unusual Russell Wilson-led Seahawks offense.

Jaron Brown (28), Cardinals

Coaches love plugging in track star wideouts because of how they can control safeties. That opens up the rest of your designs.

Dontrelle Inman (29), Bears

From a mechanical standpoint, he’s one of football’s 10 best route runners.

Danny Amendola (32), Patriots

At times was invaluable in his slot role with New England. Many teams will fear that’s the extent of what he can offer, though.

Marqise Lee (26), Jaguars

He can be very good underneath (especially on crossing patterns), but he needs clean access off the line of scrimmage. The fact that he’s not quite a pure slot receiver complicates things.

Taylor Gabriel (27), Falcons

A worthwhile No. 4, and maybe a No. 3, since he infuses an offense with speed.

Donte Moncrief (24), Colts

Ultimately a disappointment in Indy, but he has a neat enough toolkit for someone to take a short-term gamble on.

Jordan Matthews (25), Bills

A big, slow interior possession target. There are places for him, but not as many as there were 20 years ago.

Albert Wilson (25), Chiefs

Can run complimentary dig and corner routes as part of a multi-receiver design.

Mike Wallace (31), Ravens

Presents only two things to defend: go routes (which he executes speedily but inconsistently) and shallow crossing routes.

Ryan Grant (27), Washington

He possesses subtle shiftiness, but not enough to be much more than a puzzle piece.

Terrelle Pryor (28), Washington

His regression in Washington was disappointing and off-putting. He’s at his best running in-breaking routes, but we haven’t’ seen that since his 2016 season in Cleveland.

Eric Decker (31), Titans

Every now and then he separates on the outside thanks to deceptive mechanics, but you sign him for his ability to beat zone coverage from the slot.

Kendall Wright (28), Bears

Not quite shifty enough to create matchup problems in the slot, and not quite big or polished enough to regularly contribute outside.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Dez Bryant (Cowboys), Randall Cobb (Packers), Michael Crabtree (Raiders), Allen Hurns (Jaguars), Brandon LaFell (Bengals), Jeremy Maclin (Ravens), Brandon Marshall (Giants), Jordy Nelson (Packers), Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos), Torrey Smith (Eagles), Markus Wheaton (Bears) TK

Ahead of free agency, Seahawks have had talks with TE Jimmy Graham: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 31: Tight end Jimmy Graham #88 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against cornerback Tramon Williams #25 of the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 31, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks 26-24.© Getty Images SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 31: Tight end Jimmy Graham #88 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against cornerback Tramon Williams #25 of the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on December 31, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Seattle Seahawks 26-24. TIGHT ENDS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Jimmy Graham (31), Seahawks

If teams believe he can still win out wide and from the slot, a contender could pay big money in hopes of pushing their offense over the edge.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Tyler Eifert (27), Bengals

As athletic and versatile as almost any tight end, but 41 missed games in five seasons raise a big red flag.

Trey Burton (26), Eagles

He brings value to an offense that features multiple tight ends because he can operate from anywhere inside the painted field numbers.

Antonio Gates (37), Chargers

Watching him run these days is not unlike watching frozen honey leave that plastic bear-shaped bottle, but remember: Defenders must react to his tempo. They all can, but not all of them can handle his savvy, nuanced mechanics.

Luke Willson (28), Seahawks

A plug-and-play No. 2 tight end who can work in almost any package.

Virgil Green (29), Broncos

He has become much more of a blocker than receiver. Will teams see him as an H-back?

Richard Rodgers (26), Packers

Soft hands, but not much twitch or power.

Anthony Fasano (33), Dolphins

One of those guys who keeps getting on the field because coaches know he won’t make mistakes.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (25), Jets

Don’t fall for his flirtations.

Ben Watson (37), Ravens

If a team needs a No. 2 receiving tight end who can learn a playbook quickly, his career will continue.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Dwayne Allen (Patriots), Brent Celek (Eagles), Eric Ebron (Lions), James Hanna (Cowboys), Marcedes Lewis (Jaguars), Vance McDonald (Steelers)

Giants' Justin Pugh among PFF's top 15 impending free agents: Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants tackle Justin Pugh (67) in a preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.© Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants tackle Justin Pugh (67) in a preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. OFFENSIVE TACKLES

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Nate Solder (29), Patriots

He’s too up-and-down in pass protection to be elite, but has the nimbleness to continue being a quality starting left tackle.

Justin Pugh (27), Giants

His stubbier body type lends itself better to guard, but he brings decent athleticism to the right tackle position, which is better than what most teams have.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Chris Hubbard (26), Steelers

The Steelers did not miss a beat when he filled in for injured/suspended right tackle Marcus Gilbert for 10 games last season.

Cameron Fleming (25), Patriots

He improved steadily as a backup the last few years in New England. Will someone take a flyer hoping he’s the next Marcus Cannon?

LaAdrian Waddle (26), Patriots

He’s too lumbering to ever be more than a plug-in right tackle, but to his immense credit, he was a very reliable plug-in right tackle for the Pats in 2017.

James Hurst (26), Ravens

He has the body of a tackle, but not the body control. Ideally, you’re signing him to be a utility backup.

Andre Smith (31), Vikings

You have to assume he’ll play no more than 10 games. But hey, at least he can play those games at any position (except center).

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Duane Brown (Seahawks), Bryan Bulaga (Packers), Cordy Glenn (Bills), Ben Ijalana (Jets), Zach Strief (Saints), Jared Veldheer (Cardinals), Menelik Watson (Broncos)

GUARDS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Andrew Norwell (26), Panthers

Not as good as his befuddling first-team All-Pro accolade suggests, but he plays with the balance, dexterity and physical strength to improve a team’s man-blocking running game.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Jack Mewhort (26), Colts

A solid, reliable starter … if he can stay on the field. He has missed 17 games over the last two years.

Josh Kline (28), Titans

He’ll be as good as the guys around him.

Shawn Lauvao (30), Washington

He can be vulnerable in pass protection, but is a decent mover for his size, which boosts a zone-running game and backfield screen game.

Zach Fulton (26), Chiefs

He quietly started 46 games in four years with the Chiefs. Some team that’s solid up front but has been shaky at one of its guard spots will want him.

D.J. Fluker (27), Giants

It’s hard to understand how a player with his size and north/south plowing ability hasn’t had a better career.

Jonathan Cooper (28), Cowboys

He was surprisingly sturdy in Dallas, where he played between superstars Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. History says he’ll disappoint if not playing under such favorable circumstances.

Kevin Pamphile (27), Bucs

Last season he had several highlight reel plays, both for the offense and defense.

Senio Kelemete (27), Saints

He held up admirably as a fill-in guy for many years in New Orleans.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Jeff Allen (Texans), Zane Beadles (49ers), Ronald Leary (Broncos), Andy Levitre (Falcons)

CENTERS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Weston Richburg (26), Giants

A very good second-level blocker, and he has the necessary athleticism to get out in front on most screens.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Spencer Long (27), Washington

One of the league’s better-moving centers. Can be a quality starter in an outside zone run-based offense?

John Sullivan (32), Rams

His football IQ is off the charts, which was huge for the Rams and young QB Jared Goff last year.

Travis Swanson (27), Lions

He has the tools of a first-stringer, but has missed two, four and five games over the last three seasons.

Ryan Jensen (26), Ravens

He’s a fighter, which some believe is enough to make you a quality interior O-line starter.

Russell Bodine (25), Bengals

Over the last two years he had too many negative plays, particularly in the running game and against designer pass-rush tactics.

Potential Cap Casualty: Joe Hawley (Bucs)

Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) reacts after a sack during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Detroit.© Jose Juarez, AP Detroit Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (94) reacts after a sack during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Detroit.

EDGE PLAYERS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Demarcus Lawrence (25), Cowboys

There’s almost zero chance he gets past the franchise tag. Too bad for teams needing a proven edge guy—the gap between Lawrence and No. 2 (Ziggy Ansah) is substantial.

Ezekiel Ansah (28), Lions

Long and talented, but also injury-prone and enigmatic. In 2016 he was excellent but had only two sacks. In 2017, he was subpar (by star standards) but had 12 sacks. It will be fascinating to see what kind of offers he draws.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Julius Peppers (38), Panthers

According to his age, he should be washed up. But that’s been true for five years now. As a situational pass rusher, he’s still in the NFL’s upper echelon.

Alex Okafor (27), Saints

He was having a career year in New Orleans before tearing his Achilles last November.

Trent Murphy (27), Washington

He needs to be in a hybrid 3-4 style scheme that allows him to align in different positions, a la Jarret Johnson for the Ravens in the 2000s.

Barkevious Mingo (27), Colts

Warning to potential suitors: Don’t think you can be the one who finally turns him into a true edge rusher. He found his home as a move-around joker piece for the Colts last year, where he had responsibilities as a blitzer, spy and occasional zone coverage dropper. That must be his permanent role.

Adrian Clayborn (29), Falcons

A disruptive in-line run defender who can also make noise as a pass rusher (especially against an overmatched backup left tackle!).

Connor Barwin (31), Rams

At this point he’s the duct tape or WD-40 of football players. As a complementary short-term problem-solving piece, and he’s excellent, both in a 4-3 and a 3-4. But if you need a building block (even a short-term one), look elsewhere.

Jerry Attaochu (25), Chargers

He never fully blossomed as a Charger, in part due to injury. He has loose hips, a long frame and supple body control. Could he be a Jerry Hughes-type who finds his footing midway through his career?

Kony Ealy (26), Jets

Or could he be a Jerry Hughes type? The Patriots and Jets already took a chance on Ealy, and determined no. He’s hoping one more team will give it a shot.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Cliff Avril (Seahawks), Robert Ayers (Bucs), Allen Bailey (Chiefs), Elvis Dumervil (49ers), Tamba Hali (Chiefs), Clay Matthews (Packers), Shea McClellin (Patriots), Pernell McPhee (Bears), Brooks Reed (Falcons), Terrell Suggs (Ravens), Cameron Wake (Dolphins), Willie Young (Bears)

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Star Lotulelei (28), Panthers

He possesses excellent short-area power and the athleticism to shoot gaps as a pass rusher. He’s not Fletcher Cox or Aaron Donald, but he could be the missing piece that makes a good defensive line great.

Sheldon Richardson (27), Seahawks

The talent is irrefutable. The question is, given his history, who wants to make him uber-rich and then hope he grows up?

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Dontari Poe (27), Falcons

The Falcons sold him on their team last year by arguing that their scheme would increase his opportunities to get upfield and accumulate value-rising sacks. It didn’t quite go that way—he had 2.5 sacks on the season—but plenty of teams will still want his combination of size and light feet.

Shamar Stephen (27), Vikings

An above-average run defender who blended in along Minnesota’s rich defensive line, someone could pay him surprisingly big money to become a fulltime starter.

Bennie Logan (28), Chiefs

His quiet season in Kansas City suggests he’s better suited for a 4-3 nose-shade role, as opposed to a true nose tackle or 3-4 defensive end role. For multiple years as a nose shade, his lateral movement ability brought unique playmaking prowess to Philly’s run defense.

DaQuan Jones (26), Titans

He can beat bad blockers off the snap, and at times he has flashed as a run defender.

Kyle Williams (34), Bills

The wear and tear of 12 outstanding seasons will make some teams leery. But there will be others who trust that his tenacity and technique can produce a 13th outstanding season.

Brent Urban (26), Ravens

He was quietly one of football’s better run-stoppers before his Week 3 Lisfranc injury last year.

Denico Autry (27), Raiders

Has shown intriguing traits as a pass rusher, though not often enough to warrant big long-term money. If the market proves soft, would he bet on himself with a one-year deal? One thing’s certain: He’ll maximize his value wherever he goes. His effort always stands out on film.

Tyrunn Walker (28), Rams

He only played 15-20 snaps a game off the bench, but always stood out on film.

Haloti Ngata (34), Lions

The Lions run defense went kerplunk after he tore his biceps in Week 5. Durability and age are a concern, but all it takes is one team to believe he can compensate with his considerable football IQ.

Jay Bromley (25), Giants

He was a steady puzzle piece along a strong run-stopping interior Giants D-line.

Justin Ellis (27), Raiders

Little more than a space-eater.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Tyson Alualu (Steelers), Sharrif Floyd (Vikings), Abry Jones (Jaguars), Brandon Mebane (Chargers), Domata Peko (Broncos), Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets)

STACK LINEBACKERS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Nigel Bradham (28), Eagles

He has developed into a quality three-down contributor with some playmaking prowess, both in run and pass D.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Tahir Whitehead (27), Lions

He can be very disruptive when pinning his ears back and pursuing the ball—needs to be a piece in a linebacking unit, not its headliner.

Avery Williamson (26), Titans

He rarely came off the field in Tennessee thanks to his gap-soundness in run D and serviceability against the pass.

NaVorro Bowman (29), Raiders

It’s hard to imagine the Raiders not making a strong run at re-signing him given the way he saved their decrepit linebacking corps last year. It is, however, a new coaching staff there…

Zach Brown (28), Washington

His pursuit speed is excellent, but he’s not immune to misreads.

Paul Posluszny (33), Jaguars

He doesn’t run like he used to, but is so smart and fundamentally sound (flawless?) that it often doesn’t matter.

Todd Davis (25), Broncos

He’s higher on this list because he’s so stingy against the run, but his vulnerability in coverage could leave him with less money than guys below him (like Hitchens, Pierre-Louis and maybe even Bynes).

Anthony Hitchens (25), Cowboys

The talent is evident, but he couldn’t secure an every-down role last season. Why?

Preston Brown (25), Bills

Average in every sense of the word.

Demario Davis (29), Jets

He’s too young to be washing up, but where was he down the stretch?

Karlos Dansby (36), Cardinals

One of those guys who does everything right, which makes coaches comfortable. That’s why he’ll always crack the starting lineup if he’s on the roster.

Kevin Pierre-Louis (26), Chiefs

Kansas City’s defense at times looked better when he rotated in for an aging Derrick Johnson.

Jon Bostic (26), Colts

He’s by no means dynamic, but has developed good awareness in zone coverage.

Josh Bynes (28), Lions

Multiple times for the Lions and Cardinals he did a stellar job as a fill-in first-teamer. He’s worth considering as a passing-down specialist.

Will Compton (28), Washington

A few times he’s earned playing time ahead of more talented players. He’s worth signing as a source of quality depth.

Christian Jones (27), Bears

Most of his snaps have come as a passing-down specialist. Given how much nickel teams play these days, could he garner low-end starter money?

Devon Kennard (26), Giants

Brings value as a strong-side ’backer who can get physical with tight ends off the snap.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Ray-Ray Armstrong (49ers), Jerrell Freeman (Bears), David Harris (Patriots), Derrick Johnson (Chiefs), Vincent Rey (Bengals)

CORNERBACKS

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Trumaine Johnson (28), Rams

He has traveled with No. 1 receivers at times in recent years and won more battles than he’s lost. That he can travel in man and zone coverage should raise his value.

Malcolm Butler (28), Patriots

Did you know he didn’t play in Super Bowl LII? Teams will find out what’s behind that and shape their offer accordingly. If he has a clean image, he’ll get top-10 corner money.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Vontae Davis (29), Colts

Injuries have become so routine that it’s hard to envision anyone offering him more than No. 2 money, even though, when he’s healthy, his physical nature can contest with many No. 1s.

Aaron Colvin (26), Jaguars

He’s overshadowed by the litany of stars on Jacksonville’s defense, but a closer look reveals him as one of the league’s best slot corners. That’s an important—and difficult—position to fill.

Kyle Fuller (26), Bears

His first year in Chicago was tremendous, and so was much of his last. It’s those years in between that might make teams slow to pull the trigger. Whoever signs him will be getting a quality ball-in-air outside defender.

Patrick Robinson (30), Eagles

He was one of football’s best slot defenders. The Eagles have youth and depth at corner, but they may want to think long and hard before letting him go.

Morris Claiborne (28), Jets

Had some nice stretches as the Jets’ top cover corner last season. A team in need of a No. 2, especially if it runs a mostly zone-based scheme, will want him.

Rashaan Melvin (28), Colts

He performed admirably in difficult circumstances for the Colts last season. He did that down the stretch for Baltimore a few years ago, too.

E.J. Gaines (26), Bills

He’s experienced in a wide range of schemes, both outside and in the slot.

David Amerson (26), Raiders

He had a great stretch in the second half of 2016, but has been erratic for much of his six-year career.

Nickell Robey-Coleman (26), Rams

He’s at his best in attack-mode, including on slot blitzes. Considering this and his adequacy in man coverage, a pressure-based defense should want him.

Prince Amukamara (28), Bears

Ideally, he’s your No. 4 corner, giving you confidence that your defense could survive if a starting outside corner were out for a few weeks.

Nevin Lawson (26), Lions

Another nice plug-in guy who could add valuable depth, especially given that he has the body to play outside or in the slot.

Bashaud Breeland (26), Washington

About as up-and-down as they come. What that means for his open market value remains to be seen.

Leonard Johnson (28), Bills

It seems like he’s become an off-the-street midseason slot starter every year of his career. Was his solid 2017 season in Buffalo enough to get him a permanent home?

Dontae Johnson (26), 49ers

He had too many bad plays in downfield coverage last season. He should consider taking a one-year “prove it” deal and hope to bounce back.

Ross Cockrell (26), Giants

He has played significant snaps in matchup zone schemes for the Steelers and Giants. That’s enough to secure a No. 4 job, with a chance to compete at No. 3.

Davon House (28), Packers

After watching almost every snap of his seven-year career on film, it’s still hard to declare whether he’s good or bad.

T.J. Carrie (27), Raiders

His experience in the slot and as a punt returner will bolster his value as a backup.

Brent Grimes (34), Bucs

Many of us thought he would wash up a few years ago, but then he went to Tampa Bay and prospered. So we say, with a sprinkle of caution: He showed signs of decline last season.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Brandon Carr (Ravens), Marcus Cooper (Bears), William Gay (Steelers), Adam Jones (Broncos), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Giants), Sean Smith (Raiders), Aqib Talib (Broncos)

SAFETIES

DIFFERENCE MAKERS

Eric Reid (26), 49ers

Teams would be foolish to pass on him because of the anthem protests. He’s a playmaker and one of the better multi-tool defenders in football, with significant experience at both safety spots, in the slot and at linebacker.

Lamarcus Joyner (27), Rams

A rangy centerfielder who can cover certain slot receivers in base defense; he’s undersized, but he’s also one of football’s nastiest hitters.

Morgan Burnett (29), Packers

He started 102 games in Green Bay, so the perception is that he’s old. But 29 is middle-age for a smart safety. Adding to his value is that he’s proven to be every bit as versatile as Eric Reid.

OTHER SIGNIFICANT FREE AGENTS

Kenny Vaccaro (27), Saints

He never quite developed the cover skills to fulfill his first-round billing with the Saints, but teams that want to play with three safeties on first and second down will be very interested.

Tavon Wilson (28), Lions

He’s at his best in the box, particularly when rotating down into it after the snap.

Corey Graham (32), Eagles

The former corner’s coverage versatility was critical for Philly. Teams with expansive schemes should look closely at the veteran.

T.J. Ward (31), Bucs

He disappointed last season in Tampa Bay’s zone-based scheme. At 31, can he still cover tight ends man-to-man? How teams answer that question will determine his fate in free agency.

Tre Boston (25), Chargers

He’s not particularly strong or physical, but he’s become a reliable enough centerfielder, assuming he’s playing with good cornerbacks.

Bradley McDougald (27), Seahawks

He held up decently in the Kam Chancellor role with Seattle, and could very well be signed as a backup and wind up winning a starting job.

Potential Cap Casualties (in alphabetical order): Antoine Bethea (Cardinals), Quintin Demps (Bears), Mike Mitchell (Steelers), Da’Norris Searcy (Titans)

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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