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NFL Free Agency: Top 25 Available Players and Predictions on Where They'll Sign

J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots

As the No. 1 cornerback available and arguably the top player period, J.C. Jackson is poised for a massive payday in free agency

The franchise tag deadline has come and gone and one of the most unique and dramatic periods of free agency is set to unfurl across the National Football League. With a number of quarterback trades already executed, a fascinating draft class ahead and the wide expectation that the cap will shoot up over the coming years, this could make for one of the more unique groups of free agents to hit the market and find a new home.

Related: Top 10 Free Agent Quarterbacks and Predictions on Where They'll Sign

So, what players top every franchise's wish list? And where might they really wind up when pen meets paper?

With all that in mind, here are the top 25 NFL free agents in 2022 and which teams could land them:

1. J.C. Jackson, CB, New England Patriots

The Pats electing not to franchise tag Jackson was a curious decision given the way he's morphed into one of the game's best cornerbacks. He attacks the ball, comes up with turnovers, and is as capable of anyone of being left out on an island. A return to New England can't be ruled out but there will be no shortage of suitors set to drive up the price.

Prediction: New York Jets

2. Terron Armstead, OT, New Orleans Saints

A history of injuries and missing time could be the only thing that scares general managers off of offering one of the true mega deals for an offensive lineman but Armstead will still land a whopper where the only question is how many years. He's on the short list of top left tackles in the league, will be just 31 this season, and can help in the locker room the moment he's signed. Needy teams like the Bengals and Panthers will make a hard run but few can match the need and cap space like the Colts.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts

3. Brandon Scherff, OL, Washington Commanders

It's not often interior linemen earn a franchise tag yet Scherff is coming off two such tags before hitting the market. He's notched five Pro Bowls before turning 30 and was one of the few bright spots amid the turnover in D.C. There's a bit of an injury history but teams know what they're getting and how much of an upgrade he can be.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals

4. Von Miller, Edge, Los Angeles Rams

Miller has keyed two impressive postseason runs that have ended with him raising the Lombardi Trophy and he remains as dangerous as ever even if he's not quite as quick as he once was off the edge. This will likely be his last shot a big deal but he brings so much to a defense beyond chasing after the QB that he'll be an early call for many front offices.

Prediction: Denver Broncos

5. Chandler Jones, Edge, Arizona Cardinals

Jones is a year younger than Von Miller and remains one of the best veteran pass rushers in the game (see five sacks in one outing last season). He continued to put up numbers despite not having much of a running mate on the opposite side of the field and could have a number of ultra-productive years left in the tank.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns

6. Marcus Williams, S, New Orleans Saints

Incredibly he's just 25 and already established as one of the best at his position with plenty of years left in his prime. Williams is set to ask for and receive a long-term deal as a result but either way he'll cash in from somebody in a big way after notching 15 picks since joining the Saints. Just as big of a selling point is the fact that he's stayed on the field more than some of his peers too.

Prediction: New York Jets

7. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Kansas City Chiefs

Front offices are bound to nitpick some of Mathieu's film over the years but there's just a rare ability for the Honey Badger to find the ball or diagnose a play that have made him one of the biggest thorns in opposing QB's sides. He's a key locker room force and brings that extra edge that you have to have if you want to win the biggest games in the postseason.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs

8. Carlton Davis III, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After winning a Super Bowl with the Bucs, it's now time for Davis to cash in as the likely consolation prize for CB-needy teams who can't land Jackson. His ability to stay on the field is a bit in question but when healthy, he's go the numbers to back up being a No. 1 guy on just about every defense thanks to the combination of speed and instincts.

Prediction: Carolina Panthers

9. Stephon Gilmore, CB, Carolina Panthers

Injuries limited his effectiveness in Carolina but when he's on, this is one of the best cover guys in the game. He probably won't be able to match the $65 million on his previous deal since he's turning 32 in addition to those injury concerns but for a contender who thinks they are close, this is the type of vet who can come in and make an impact.

Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers

10. Ryan Jensen, C, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winning a Super Bowl with Tom Brady is always going to be a reputation enhancer but Jensen has continued to elevate his game with each passing season. In addition to doing so much at the line, he's also a big presence in the locker room and capable of elevating an offense in multiple ways. As much as the Bucs would love to have their leader in the middle back, he may command too big of a price tag with a number of suitors ready to beat down the door.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals

11. Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears

There are stretches where Robinson looks almost unguardable and the type of receiver you know could be a clear No. 1. There are other times where you'll go for a long time without hearing his name. Was that the byproduct of playing with an erratic Mitchell Trubisky and rookie Justin Fields though? Somebody will take a chance on Robinson and be rewarded with a player who still has several good years ahead of him.

Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars

12. De'Vondre Campbell, LB, Green Bay Packers

Campbell knows the free agency life well but should firmly be in the mix for a long-term deal this go around after a fantastic 2021 campaign that saw him notch nearly 150 tackles to go with his pair of picks and interceptions. He's able to stay on the field all three downs the way he covers and is scheme-versatile given his size and ability.

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Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars

13. Randy Gregory, Edge, Dallas Cowboys

After some ups and downs early in his career, Gregory could well have been on his way to the Pro Bowl after being unlocked by new DC Dan Quinn. A leg injury midway through the season hampered that progress but you understand the trajectory he's been on and how much more growth there is left to do. Teams would love to do a hefty amount of incentives with any deal but there could be greater interest in him than many expect.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys

14. James Daniels, OL, Chicago Bears

Daniels was a rare bright spot for the Bears in 2021 in starting a full season after dealing with a pectoral injury the year prior. He's got good versatility at all three interior spots and had his best season in a contract year. The prevalence of the zone-blocking scheme with the Shanahan coaching tree across the league is bound to only enhance his value.

Prediction: Miami Dolphins

Related: 5 Pending Free Agents the Chicago Bears Should Consider Signing

15. Haason Reddick, Edge, Carolina Panthers

Reddick is going to be undervalued by some teams and overvalued by others given his tweener nature that he's carried all the back to when he was a first-round pick by Arizona. He's still young and racked up 23.5 sacks the past two years though, which is currency every front office and coaching staff can work with.

Prediction: Los Angeles Chargers

16. Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge, Miami Dolphins

Ogbah was unleashed in Miami and should parlay his nine sacks per year over the length of his recent deal into a lucrative new offer. He's not exactly the biggest name but has the potential to turn into a key piece for a defense next year not unlike how Trey Hendrickson move to Cincinnati did for the AFC champs.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks

17. Ben Jones, C, Tennessee Titans

Jones will be 33 this season but has played at a high level in recent seasons and should wind up as a tremendous value signing given the traits he brings to the center position. The Titans will do everything they can to keep him but if a needy team misses out on Ryan Jensen, then Jones' price tag could start to escalate quickly given how important his position is and how many more good years he has left.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans

18. Calais Campbell, DL, Baltimore Ravens

If it weren't for that 36 next to his age, Campbell would be in line for a bigger deal with a lot more teams involved. There's still some great value to be had though, especially if he's not going to be a front-line starter for 17 games or on a particularly youthful squad. The Ravens will want to keep the door open as much as possible but landing on a contender seems just as likely.

Prediction: Los Angeles Rams

19. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Smith-Schuster's production has trailed off but he's still going to be just 25 this season with a 1,400-yard campaign to his credit. It's a deep draft at receiver and there are plenty of veteran options but in terms of high upside, low risk signings, Smith-Schuster figures to be up there — especially if it's a one-year prove-it type of deal.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts

20. Jameis Winston, QB, New Orleans Saints

The former No. 1 overall pick will have a fascinating market develop for him. He's hampered somewhat by the fact that he's coming off an ACL tear but the lackluster draft class at the position combined with retirements and trades have left a number of QB-needy clubs out there. He is not every coach's cup of tea but there will be plenty of interest given the flashes he's shown the past few years.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints

21. Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Gallup is one of the big-play threats hitting the (deep) market of receivers but teams will be slightly hesitant given the ACL tear. Dallas would love to keep him and a lot will come down to whether they figure out something with teammate Amari Cooper first.

Prediction: Dallas Cowboys

22. Jadeveon Clowney, Edge, Cleveland Browns

The perception of Clowney dating back to his high school days has often exceeded his actual play on the field and that seems like the case even after racking up nine sacks with the Browns. He benefited greatly by playing opposite Myles Garrett and some team is going to take a chance on him but at this point there's still just a lot of betting on upside as he enters his age-29 season.

Prediction: Cleveland Browns

23. Melvin Ingram III, Edge, Kansas City Chiefs

That sixth-rounder the Chiefs sent to the Steelers to land Ingram looks like a, well, steal given the way he performed and the way he helped transform their defense down the stretch alongside Chris Jones and company. His age will scare away a few teams but his presence alone can help energize a defensive line and he's still on the short list of guys opposing QBs hate seeing across the line.

Prediction: Buffalo Bills

24. Laken Tomlinson, G, San Francisco 49ers

It's a great year if you're a team looking for interior help and Tomlinson is one of those vets that can really help elevate a line from good to great. Though he's best as a run blocker, the former Dukie has elevated his all-around game and is one of the most underrated players on the market.

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals

25. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Los Angeles Rams

OBJ was well on his way toward a Super Bowl MVP performance had he not pulled up on that crossing route and torn his ACL. The controversial wideout still held up the Lombardi Trophy though and will now find himself in one of the more intriguing free-agent situations we've seen. He's obviously got a ton of value but how will teams deal with somebody who can't play until the weather turns cold at the earliest? There will be a lot of suitors for one year deals or incentive-laded contracts but will he accept those as he is approaching 30?

Prediction: Los Angeles Rams

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.