We don’t include restricted or exclusive free agents, for whom the original teams have the right of first refusal. And as always, our ranking is skewed toward players coming off their first contracts — at the free-agent sweet spot of about 26 years old — and considers that some positions are much more valued on the open market than others. Pass-rushers and quarterbacks are more sought after on the market than running backs and off-ball linebackers, at least for most teams, and we’ve tried to keep that in mind in establishing the rankings.
We don’t tend to include many 31-year-olds in these free-agent rankings, especially ones who missed more than half of the previous season and are planning to undergo offseason knee surgery. But if even a serviceable left tackle is available — and Armstead is well above that baseline when healthy — he will be heavily pursued.
You’re not going to find many (soon-to-be) 33-year-olds on a list of top NFL free agents, and Miller’s age is a big reason the Broncos decided to trade him at midseason. But he went on to have the kind of impact teams would hope to receive from a veteran situational pass-rusher, with five sacks in 414 snaps, and ranked No. 12 in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric (20.9%) over eight games.
Mathieu has been named to the Pro Bowl in all three of his seasons with the Chiefs and was named an All-Pro as recently as 2020. He has played out his $42 million deal and is young enough to get another payday, even if his best years are behind him. His 13 interceptions over those three years are tied for the fifth most in the NFL over that period.
After two years on the franchise tag, earning $33 million over that period, Scherff figures to get some kind of longer-term resolution this spring. He was an All-Pro in 2020 and earned his fifth Pro Bowl invitation this season, but he has always had trouble staying on the field. Scherff missed six games in 2021 and hasn’t played a full season since 2016.