More than half of ESPN's top 100 NFL free agents for 2019 are either signed or committed to a team as the first week of the new league year closes. Now is the time when smart and/or patient teams dig in and start searching for bargains that can help them in defined roles.
Who could those bargains be? Here are 15 of the top remaining players on the open market.
Note: Baked into this list are a number of long-standing market variables. Age, displayed here entering the 2019 season, is a major factor (the sweet spot is 26). Quarterbacks are overvalued for obvious reasons. Teams are more desperate for pass-rushers and outside receivers than they are for safeties or veteran running backs.
1. Ezekiel Ansah, DE
2018 team: Detroit Lions | Age entering 2019 season: 30
Previous ranking: 14
Age and a long injury history will limit his value. Most recently, two shoulder injuries cost him nine games in 2018. But he had 48 sacks in six seasons with the Lions, and a team with a plan to use him situationally could receive big dividends.
2. Justin Houston, DE/OLB
2018 team: Kansas City Chiefs | Age: 30
Previous ranking: 21
Houston hasn't produced double-digit sacks, nor played in 16 games, in a season since 2014. But he remains a force for opposing offenses to account for.
3. Ndamukong Suh, DT
2018 team: Los Angeles Rams | Age: 32
Previous ranking: 35
Suh had a quiet season by his standards in Los Angeles, even while playing next to All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. But Suh remains remarkably durable and hasn't missed a start in the past seven seasons. He has more years left in him as a contributing player, if not an elite one.
4. Eric Berry, S
2018 team: Kansas City Chiefs | Age: 30
Previous ranking: N/A (Berry was released by the Chiefs on March 13)
Injuries have limited Berry throughout his career, most notably forcing him to miss 29 games over the past two seasons and slowing what once looked like a Hall of Fame career. But he has a largely clean bill of health and could still have some gas left in the tank.
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5. Tim Jernigan, DT
2018 team: Philadelphia Eagles | Age: 26
Previous ranking: 36
Back surgery cost him 13 regular-season games, but Jernigan returned to start the final three and both of the Eagles' playoff games in 2018. Philadelphia declined to pick up a $11 million option, but assuming his back is healthy, Jernigan is an attractive target.
6. Clay Matthews, LB
2018 team: Green Bay Packers | Age: 33
Previous ranking: 49
Does anyone want a 33-year-old pass-rusher who has averaged 5.6 sacks over the past four seasons? Those statistics don't tell the whole picture, of course, and the Packers have at times used Matthews at the less visible middle linebacker position. But there is no doubt that it has been a while since Matthews was at his best.
7. Darqueze Dennard, CB
2018 team: Cincinnati Bengals | Age: 27
Previous ranking: 50
A rock-solid slot cornerback is more valuable than you might realize on the open market. Dennard was part of a secondary ranked among the top 10 last season by Pro Football Focus.
8. Jared Cook, TE
2018 team: Oakland Raiders | Age: 32
Previous ranking: 51
After years of wandering, Cook put together the two most productive seasons of his career while with the Raiders in 2017 and 2018. He caught 122 passes for 1,584 yards and eight touchdowns over 30 games during that span and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018. Age and previous durability issues could hamper his value.
9. Isaiah Crowell, RB
2018 team: New York Jets | Age: 26
Previous ranking: N/A (Crowell was released by the Jets on March 14)
Released after the Jets signed Le'Veon Bell, Crowell has rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns over the past three seasons. And at 26 he is young enough to project future production as well.
10. T.J. Yeldon, RB
2018 team: Jacksonville Jaguars | Age: 25
Previous ranking: 55
The Jaguars put a relatively light 636 touches on Yeldon's body over the past four seasons, and he has proved productive in the passing game. But public criticism from Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin late last season will give teams an extra layer to investigate.
11. Corey Liuget, DT
2018 team: Los Angeles Chargers | Age: 29
Previous ranking: 69
Liuget had a rough contract year, serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy and suffering a season-ending torn quadriceps tendon. But if he is healthy, he can be a three-down presence on the defensive line.
12. Danny Shelton, DT
2018 team: New England Patriots | Age: 26
Previous ranking: 72
A starter in 2017 and a backup last season, Shelton at the very least offers teams a strong run-stopper to provide inside depth.
13. Quinton Spain, G
2018 team: Tennessee Titans | Age: 28
Previous ranking: 73
A starter for most of the past three seasons, Spain was benched briefly in 2018 and might need a change of scenery. He is one of a handful of under-30 offensive linemen -- with quality starting experience -- still on the market.
14. Rashaan Melvin, CB
2018 team: Oakland Raiders | Age: 29
Previous ranking: 76
Free agency didn't go as hoped for Melvin last year after his stellar 2017 campaign with the Colts, nor did his one-year stint with the Raiders. He started only seven games and was benched, and he could use another run through the cycle. His 6-foot-2 size will continue to intrigue teams.
15. Morris Claiborne, CB
2018 team: New York Jets | Age: 29
Previous ranking: 77
Claiborne stabilized his career in two seasons with the Jets, even though he has never lived up to the hype of a No. 6 overall draft pick. Most notably, he started 30 of a possible 32 games after a series of injuries during his previous time with the Cowboys.