Justin Simmons leads top remaining NFL free agents. Here’s where they could fit in 2024.

Justin Simmons leads top remaining NFL free agents. Here’s where they could fit in 2024.

play

The NFL offseason continues as all teams wrapped up their mandatory minicamps this week. Rosters are taking shape across the league ahead of the start of training camps in mid-to-late July.

After a flurry of moves in the start of free agency, things have remained relatively quiet since the 2024 NFL Draft wrapped up in late April. Still, there are a number of free agents still available who could contribute to teams in 2024. Here are some of the top players – and where they could fit:

Aaron Rodgers not at minicamp: Jets’ QB misses mandatory minicamp; absence defined as unexcused

New extension in Jacksonville: Trevor Lawrence agrees to $275 million extension with Jacksonville Jaguars

Best remaining NFL free agents

S Justin Simmons

2023 team: Denver Broncos

It remains a surprise that Simmons is still available. Safety is traditionally one of the cheaper positions on a roster (despite Antoine Winfield Jr.’s record-setting extension) and Simmons was a second-team All-Pro player last season. He’ll turn 31 during the season and missed a combined seven games in the last two years but still has plenty of production left.

A team pushing to contend like New York could use his help on the back end. He’d be an upgrade over their other safeties and, come playoff time, could help in a conference featuring the last two MVP winners.

Best fit: New York Jets

CB Stephon Gilmore

2023 team: Dallas Cowboys

Gilmore is four seasons removed from winning Defensive Player of the Year but still had a good year in Dallas. After solid but not spectacular seasons in Carolina (2021) and Indianapolis (2022), he was on the cusp of being a top-25 cornerback in 2023 per Sports Info Solutions (SIS) data. He allowed a 50% completion percentage when targeted in 2023, his best mark (minimum 11 games played) since his Defensive Player of the Year season in 2019.

Gilmore showed he can play well in man coverage (look no further than his Week 14 performance against A.J. Brown) even at age 33. He’d be another great flyer for a contender looking to shore up the position ahead of a hopeful playoff campaign. A team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who are looking to rebound after quarterback Joe Burrow‘s season-ending injury last year, could use Gilmore’s help to provide depth or impact as a starter.

Best fit: Cincinnati Bengals

‘MIA [7]’: Kansas City Chiefs’ $40,000 Super Bowl rings feature typo

IOL Connor Williams

2023 team: Miami Dolphins

Miami’s salary cap situation was one of the worst in the league entering the offseason. That led to contributors like the 27-year-old Williams being let go to save money. After missing just two games from 2020 to 2022, Williams suffered a torn ACL on Dec. 11 that ended his season. His agent Drew Rosenhaus said in March that there’s no timetable for his return.

If he can make it back, a number of teams could use some help on the interior. The Denver Broncos are likely to start rookie Bo Nix at quarterback this season. Williams could provide an upgrade at center and help a young quarterback transition into the league.

Best fit: Denver Broncos

Edge Yannick Ngakoue

2023 team: Chicago Bears

The 29-year-old Ngakoue has played for six different teams over the last five seasons. Last year he tallied 41 pressures but had a career-low four sacks for the Bears in 13 games. His best recent season came in 2021 with 10 sacks, 60 pressures, 10 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles for the Las Vegas Raiders. He played that year across from star edge rusher Maxx Crosby and could benefit from another situation like that this season.

Ngakoue feels like a pass rush specialist who could come help a contender with question marks at edge. The Baltimore Ravens lost both defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and edge Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. A return to Baltimore (he played nine games there in 2020) would make sense. Defensive lineman Justin Madubuike‘s grown into the kind of star Ngakoue can produce next to.

Best fit: Baltimore Ravens

Upgrade in Baltimore: Can Ravens’ offense unlock new levels in 2024? Lamar Jackson could hold the key

DL Emmanuel Ogbah

2023 team: Miami Dolphins

Ogbah had nine sacks per year in 2020 and 2021 before falling out of the starting rotation in 2022 and 2023. He still managed 5.5 sacks and six tackles for loss last year despite a career-low 240 snaps. He turns 31 in November but doesn’t have as much wear as you’d expect for a defensive lineman at that age. He took snaps in the interior in 2023 after primarily playing at edge in his career, offering a team some flexibility.

A productive, under-valued veteran pass rusher would be a good fit in Chicago. The Bears didn’t invest much in defensive line during the draft because of limited draft capital but did trade back in to take Austin Booker in the fifth round. Ogbah could offer depth while Booker and other young players develop.

Best fit: Chicago Bears

‘A better version of me’: What Dan Quinn says he will change in second stint as NFL head coach

T David Bakhtiari

2023 team: Green Bay Packers

In November 2020, the Packers made Bakhtiari the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. He tore his ACL in practice a month after signing that deal and still made his fifth consecutive All-Pro team. Since then, he’s played in just 13 games, missing time in 2021 and 2023 due to a knee injury. The Packers released him prior to the 2024 NFL Draft in which they took offensive lineman Jordan Morgan in the first round.

Still, between his resume and a position that regularly sees players perform well into their mid-30s gives reason to think he can at least provide depth. The Los Angeles Rams invested in their interior offensive line in the draft and free agency over the last two seasons. If Bakhtiari is healthy enough, they could use a veteran option from a similar offensive system.

Best fit: Los Angeles Rams

Related Articles