We haven’t closed the door on 2023 NFL free agency just yet — Bobby Wagner and Odell Beckham Jr. lead a list of top players still available — but we’re already glancing ahead to the potential of the 2024 class. At the moment, it looks loaded at a bunch of positions.
That said, things will change before free agency opens next year. The majority of the top players currently primed for 2024 free agency will sign contract extensions well before next March. Another handful will end up with the franchise tag. So take what follows — a way-too-early look at the ’24 class — with a grain of salt because the free agent class will look very different next spring. We broke down the best of the best currently slated to hit the open market across a few different categories, including big-name quarterbacks and impact defenders. Each player’s age, positional value, expected future production and scheme versatility are factored in here, and restricted and exclusive free agents are not included. Let’s jump in.
Note: Players who are eligible for a fifth-year option in 2024 — first-round picks from the 2020 draft class — are not included. That includes quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, receivers Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, and defensive end Chase Young, among others.
QBs | Bank-breakers | ’23 franchise tags
Offensive playmakers | Impact defenders
Quarterbacks to watch
2023 team: Philadelphia Eagles | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Don’t expect Hurts to be available in free agency; he should cash out with a multiyear extension that keeps him in Philadelphia next year and beyond. He has a prime fit in the Eagles’ offense, which caters to his throwing traits and dual-threat ability. In addition to his 760 rushing yards and 13 rushing TDs in 2022, Hurts logged 3,701 passing yards. And his 68.5 QBR on pocket throws ranked third overall in the NFL. He’s a rapidly ascending player who has jumped into the conversation of top-tier quarterbacks.
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2023 team: Minnesota Vikings | Age entering 2024 season: 36
Cousins should be targeted as a mid-tier starter who can produce passing numbers in a schemed NFL offense and find success off play-action elements. He has now topped the 4,000-yard passing mark in seven of his past eight seasons. And while the decision-making can sometimes be questioned (34 interceptions over the past three seasons), Cousins will have multiple suitors if he hits the market.
2023 team: Tennessee Titans | Age entering 2024 season: 36
In 12 games last season, Tannehill threw for 2,536 yards, 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. His 49.1 Total QBR was 24th in the NFL — one spot behind Cousins’ 49.9 — and his worst since 2018, when he was in Miami. He’s a rhythm thrower who thrives on clean platforms and within play-action structure to deliver the ball with timing. Tennessee might be looking to make a change at quarterback, so Tannehill could certainly be among the top veteran QB options for another team next March.
Stars who could break the bank
2023 team: San Francisco 49ers | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Bosa is a highly skilled technician with the power and short-area juice to create consistent pocket disruption. And he will alter other teams’ protection schemes. With 34 sacks over his past two seasons, he is one of the top edge players in the league, and a contract extension in San Francisco should be on the horizon. Bosa finished last season with a 20.9% pass rush win rate off the edge (10th-best) and a league-leading 18.5 sacks en route to Defensive Player of the Year honors.
2023 team: Kansas City Chiefs | Age entering 2024 season: 30
Jones had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2022, registering 15.5 sacks and 22.5 disrupted dropbacks (both top-five numbers). And his pass rush win rate of 21.0% ranked No. 2 in the NFL among defensive tackles behind Aaron Donald. Jones is a premier player, and interior defenders who can rush the passer get paid big-time money.
2023 team: Tennessee Titans | Age entering 2024 season: 27
A dominant interior presence with game-wrecking traits, Simmons posted a run stop win rate of 40.9% last season, 12th in the NFL. He also piled up 7.5 sacks and 27 pressures from the interior. I see a complete player here who can alter opposing offensive game plans. He should be in the future plans for Tennessee, and the likely high price of a contract extension will reflect his value.
2023 team: New York Jets | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Like Bosa and Simmons, an extension should be in play before Williams even has a chance to reach the open market. The defensive tackle is a key piece for Robert Saleh’s system in New York, with the first-step quickness and upfield burst to create chaos. In 2022, Williams produced a career-high 12 sacks, which ranked 11th overall. He has game-changing ability.
2023 team: Carolina Panthers | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Burns has the traits and production to get paid big bucks. He has a long frame at 6-foot-5 and the lower-body flexibility and closing speed to heat up opposing quarterbacks. Burns notched 12.5 sacks last year, giving him 38 over his four-year career. He also recorded 51 pressures in 2022, fourth-most in the NFL. That kind of production results in huge money.
2023 team: Dallas Cowboys | Age entering 2024 season: 25
You pay up for on-the-ball production in the NFL, and that’s what Diggs has put on tape over three pro seasons. Since getting drafted in 2020, the Cowboys’ 6-foot-2 corner has logged 17 interceptions (tied for first) and 49 pass breakups (second). He’s aggressive in coverage and makes plays, though that play style can sometimes hurt him. As the nearest defender last season, his 64.9% completion percentage allowed was more than two points higher than expectation, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
2023 team: New York Giants | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Lawrence is an interior force at 6-4, 342 pounds who can stone opponents’ run game and create pocket production given his power and foot quickness. In 2022, Lawrence posted a career-highs in tackles (68), sacks (7.5) and pressures (43). His 16.7% pass rush win rate was also fourth-best on the interior. Simply put, Lawrence has the size and traits to change the dynamic of any NFL defensive front.
2023 franchise-tagged players
If these players do not sign extensions before July 17, they would be eligible once again for free agency in 2024.
2023 team: Baltimore Ravens | Age entering 2024 season: 27
Jackson is likely to have a contract extension in place before the start of the 2023 season, either with the Ravens or another team. Obviously, if he were to play on the tag in Baltimore this season and hit free agency next spring, Jackson would be the No. 1 player on the market. Before a left knee injury sidelined him for the final six games of the 2022 season, Jackson had 2,242 passing yards, 17 touchdown passes, 764 rushing yards and three rushing scores. The league’s most electric player, Jackson has an upper-tier dynamic skill set that creates consistent conflict for opposing defenses.
2023 team: New York Giants | Age entering 2024 season: 27
Barkley had 32 rushes of 10 or more yards this past season — sixth most in the league — and finished with 1,650 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. He has regained his explosiveness and suddenness after injuries limited him to 15 total games over the 2020-21 seasons, and I consider him a top-three back — especially since he also brings pass-catching ability.
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2023 team: Dallas Cowboys | Age entering 2024 season: 27
Pollard posted 1,474 total yards in a rotational role for Dallas this past season. He fractured his left fibula in the playoff loss to the 49ers, but if healthy in 2023, Pollard will take over the Cowboys’ backfield after the club released Ezekiel Elliott. And he has the traits of a No. 1 back, with big-play juice and formation flexibility in the pass game.
2023 team: Las Vegas Raiders | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Jacobs had career highs in rushing attempts (340), rushing yards (1,653) and receiving yards (400) in 2022 with coach Josh McDaniels running the show in Las Vegas. He’s a downhill runner with explosive play chops and the lateral agility to slip tacklers; he had 41 rushes of 10 yards or more last season. And the receiving traits are there, too. Jacobs hauled in 53 of 64 targets last year. Given his age and the tape, Jacobs will see a multiyear deal next offseason if he produces another season of high-level production.
2023 team: Jacksonville Jaguars | Age entering 2024 season: 30
In coach Doug Pederson’s offense last season, Engram was used as moveable target in the route tree, catching 77 passes for 766 yards and four touchdowns. And 60 of those receptions were logged when Engram was flexed from the formation. The veteran tight end can be set up on catch-and-run targets, and the ability is there for him to stretch defenses at the third level of the field.
2023 team: Indianapolis Colts | Age entering 2024 season: 25
Taylor played in 11 games for the Colts last season, but he rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and is averaging more than five yards per carry over his career. He has rushed for 33 touchdowns as a pro, too. A physical runner with solid top-end speed, Taylor has the big-play chops to flip the field, and he has already logged 106 rushes of 10 yards or more. When healthy, Taylor is easily a top-10 back in the NFL.
2023 team: Minnesota Vikings | Age entering 2024 season: 27
In 10 games with the Vikings last season — after being traded from Detroit midseason — Hockenson caught 60 of 86 targets for 519 yards and three scores. And we saw how he can be deployed as a versatile receiving target in coach Kevin O’Connell’s offense. Hockenson works the underneath concepts and the middle of the field, but can also flex outside to win matchups. Great route running and production after the catch are the standout traits.
2023 team: Los Angeles Chargers | Age entering 2024 season: 29
Ekeler is currently looking for a new deal from the Chargers after posting 1,637 total yards in Los Angeles last season. He’s a premier pass-catcher out of the backfield, with 177 receptions over his past two seasons. You’ll see screens, swings, angles and more from him, and he shows some open-field juice, too. If Ekeler plays out the final year of his deal and makes it to free agency next spring, he will have options given his dual-threat ability out of the backfield.
2023 team: Tennessee Titans | Age entering 2024 season: 30
Henry had more than 300 carries in three of his past four seasons, and he was on pace to also do it in 2021 before a right foot injury sidelined him after eight games. Henry is an explosive volume runner at 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds — he leads the NFL with 6,042 rushing yards over those four seasons — and he has the long speed to rip off chunk plays. He can simply take over games. But as Henry enters the final year of his contract, his play speed and 2023 tape will determine his market value given his age and the large amount of rushing attempts he has logged over his pro career.
2023 team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Age entering 2024 season: 31
Evans will be in his 30s when his current contract expires, and he’ll be coming off a transition year in Tampa Bay after Tom Brady’s retirement. If the production sticks, though, I can see Evans finding solid interest on the market, given his ability to play as a boundary X receiver and provide red zone upside. Evans has topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark in each of nine pro seasons, and he has at least eight touchdown catches in four of his past five campaigns.
2023 team: Kansas City Chiefs | Age entering 2024 season: 27
Sneed has the versatility to play in multiple pro schemes as an inside/outside corner. Over three seasons in Kansas City, Sneed has produced eight interceptions, 26 pass breakups and 6.5 sacks. He has standout man-coverage traits, but I also see good backfield vision in zone coverage. Sneed’s blitz numbers point to an ability to pressure and get home from slot alignments. His 14 pressures last season led all defensive backs.
2023 team: New England Patriots | Age entering 2024 season: 25
Uche posted a career-high 11.5 sacks last year in New England, tied for 12th in the NFL. We can see his juice off the ball and the natural bend to turn the corner on tape. Uche fits best in schemed fronts where he can produce off stunts or defined one-on-ones. His 18.5% pressure rate topped NFL defenders last season, and his 19.2% pass rush win rate was 14th.
2023 team: Green Bay Packers | Age entering 2024 season: 26
A torn ACL in his right knee limited Gary to nine games in 2022, but the arrow is pointing up on the 2019 first-round pick. In his past 25 games played, Gary has registered 15.5 sacks and 75 pressures. He’s a powerful and explosive edge rusher who has developed a mix of counter moves.
2023 team: Pittsburgh Steelers | Age entering 2024 season: 27
Highsmith’s 14.5 sacks in 2022 were a career-high and ranked sixth in the NFL, and he also added five forced fumbles and 42 pressures. He’s a crafty edge rusher with the footwork to set up blockers and a deep toolbox of countermoves. Highsmith is an easy fit for a 3-4 scheme, and he could cash out after another year of production in Pittsburgh.
2023 team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Age entering 2024 season: 26
Winfield has the post and split-field range to find the ball down the field, along with the versatility to be deployed as a sub-package disruptor. In three pro seasons with the Bucs, Winfield has intercepted four passes, broken up 15 more and recorded nine sacks. He fits the profile of today’s multidimensional safety who can cover, tackle and create on-the-ball production.