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Top three 2024 NFL free agents at each offensive position: Ryan Tannehill, Donovan Smith among best available

NFL free agency has passed its third wave as the top players have already signed, and the next crop of free agents have found a home for 2024 after the draft concluded. There are still some good players available heading into the summer, but most of these players likely won’t sign until training camp. 

Compensatory picks no longer factor into the equation. Players who should be rostered are still available for the taking. 

These are the top three free agents available at every position. 

Quarterback

The best of the free agent quarterbacks remaining, Tannehill is likely awaiting an opportunity compete for a starting job given his resume. Tannehill has 151 career starts in his 12-year career (81-70 record), throwing for 34,881 yards and 216 touchdowns with a 91.2 rating. 

Tannehill, 35, likely will have to wait until after the draft to sign with a team, as his veteran presence as a starter or backup makes a quarterback room better. Tannehill can still compete for a starting job, even after his benching in Tennessee last season. 

Hoyer actually made a start with the Las Vegas Raiders last season, as the 38-year-old quarterback has 41 starts to his resume. A prototypical backup quarterback at this stage of his career, it remains to be seen if Hoyer wants to continue playing after 15 seasons. 

Las Vegas released Hoyer in March. If Hoyer wants to continue playing, he’ll likely end up as quarterback depth somewhere. 

Gabbert’s days in Kansas City are over after Carson Wentz signed with the Chiefs, so the former first-round pick is looking for a new team. The 34-year-old has started 49 games in his career, but only one over the last four seasons (Week 18 game last season in which he completed 50% of his passes and threw three interceptions). 

A veteran of 13 seasons, Gabbert is one of the most experienced backup quarterbacks remaining. 

Running back

Hunt was a red zone force as a No. 2 running back in Cleveland last season, scoring nine touchdowns in 15 games. He rushed for 411 yards and averaged just 3.0 yards per carry, but still adds value to a running back room looking for versatility (he has 226 career receptions averaging 8.4 yards per catch) and a boost in short-yardage situations. 

A restricted free agent who wasn’t tendered by the Vikings, Akers is recovering from his second torn Achilles tear. He finished with 60 carries for 167 yards and two touchdowns (2.8 yards per carry) before going down in Week 9. 

The Chiefs have appeared to move on from the 32-year-old McKinnon, who is more of a receiving threat out of the backfield at this stage of his career. He finished with 25 catches for 192 yards and four touchdowns last season. 

Wide receiver 

A team needy for a slot receiver or WR3 could target Renfrow, who is still on the market heading into the summer. Renfrow had a career-low 25 catches for 255 yards and no touchdowns last season, three years removed from a 1,000-yard campaign. 

Injuries have limited the 31-year-old Thomas since 2019, as he finished with 39 catches for 445 yards and a touchdown in 13 games (10 starts) last season. Thomas hasn’t been the same since he set the NFL record for receptions in 2019 (149). 

Gage suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee in 2023, not playing a down in the regular season. He last played in 2022, notching 51 catches for 426 yards and five touchdowns (8.4 yards per catch). 

Tight end

Graham is mulling retirement based on the Saints‘ desire to retain him, even though he is technically a free agent. Graham had six catches for 39 yards and four touchdowns last season. 

Slim pickings for the tight ends, as Swaim had 10 catches for 94 yards with the Cardinals last season. Swaim would be signed for tight end depth. 

The veteran tight end remains on the market after playing eight games in 2023 with the Miami Dolphins. Kroft didn’t record a catch, nor was he targeted. 

Tackle

One of the best tackles in the game when healthy, Bakhtiari has missed 38 games over the last three seasons. A First Team All-Pro in 2020, Bakhtiari made five straight All-Pro teams prior to injuries catching up to him. He allowed just one sack and 10 pressures in 11 games in 2022. 

A veteran starter in the league, Smith allowed two sacks and 36 pressures in 476 pass-blocking snaps last season (7.6% pressure rate). Smith, 30, has started all 136 games he’s played in the league, all at left tackle. 

Released by the Commanders in March, Leno hasn’t found a home with a new team yet. Leno allowed three sacks and 30 pressures last season (5.0% pressure rate allowed per dropback). 

Guard

Glowinski started just six games for the Giants, allowing seven sacks and 18 pressures in 283 pass-blocking snaps (6.0% pressure rate allowed per dropback). While having starting experience, Glowinski may not sign until training camp starts. 

Gates started 10 games and allowed five sacks and 21 pressures for the Commanders last season. He was released in March, Year 1 of a three-year deal. 

A swing tackle who can also play guard, Vaitai allowed a sack and three pressures in 116 pass-blocking snaps last season. A back injury was the reason for Vaitai’s departure from the Lions

Center

Another interior lineman who can play guard and center, Williams is arguably the best center left in free agency. The 26-year-old Williams allowed just one sack and six pressures in nine games last season with a 2.9% pressure rate before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December.

The Steelers released the 28-year-old Cole in March, a year after he allowed two sacks and 28 hurries in 569 pass-blocking snaps. Cole has started 73 of 94 career games played. 

McGovern allowed one sack and 17 pressures in 227 pass-blocking snaps last season. The 31-year-old McGovern has started his last 61 games played at center, having his 2023 season cut short with a knee injury. 

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Author: Jeff Kerr
June 14, 2024 | 1:35 pm

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