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2023 NFL free agency: 10 most-underrated players

NFL free agency is slated to open up in March with a ton of top-end individuals set to hit the open market. A lot has been made about the status of former NFL MVP Lamar Jackson as well as star running back Saquon Barkley.

With that said, there’s a number of underrated players set to hit the open market. That’s the focus here.

From a versatile offensive lineman in Denver to a veteran linebacker for the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles, here’s a look at the 10-most underrated players set to his NFL free agency this March. But before that, let’s answer one important FAQ for free agency.

NFL free agency start date

  • The NFL free agency negotiating window opens March 13 at 12:00 PM ET. Teams are able to contact and enter into negotiations with reps for impending free agents. No contracts can be signed.
  • The new league year opens at 4:00 PM ET on March 15 with teams being able to finalize both free-agent contracts and trades.

Related: NFL free agency, a look at the top players available

10. Dalton Risner, offensive line, Denver Broncos

2023 nba free agency; dalton risner
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

A second-round pick of the Broncos out of Kansas State back in 2019, Risner has started all 62 games in which he’s appeared in four NFL seasons. He’s played both guard positions in Denver and has an ability to suit up at right tackle.

This past season saw Risner allow three sacks of Russell Wilson. It was his highest total since his rookie season. With that said, we’re talking about a versatile offensive lineman with a track record of success set to hit NFL free agency. Teams will have interest in that type of player.

9. Jarran Reed, defensive tackle, Green Bay Packers

2023 nfl free agency: jarran reed
Tork Mason-USA TODAY Sports

A second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks back in 2016, Reed has been underrated pretty much throughout his entire career in the league. He recorded a career-high 10.5 sacks with Seattle back in 2018. While the defensive lineman has not put up a similar season since, he’s still been pretty darn productive.

This past season in Green Bay saw Reed register 14 quarterback hits and five tackles for loss while playing a full-time role for a Packers defense that was stellar stopping the run. He’s certainly one of the most-underrated players set to hit NFL free agency.

Related: Bold predictions for NFL free agency

8. Jeff Wilson, running back, Miami Dolphins

nba free agency: jeff wilson
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A former undrafted free agent from North Texas, all Wilson has done since entering the league is produce. From 2020-21 with the San Francisco 49ers, Wilson put up north of 1,000 total yards and 12 touchdowns in a part-time role.

Acquired from San Francisco ahead of the in-season NFL trade deadline, Wilson responded by leading the Dolphins with 392 rushing yards at a clip of 4.7 yards per tote in eight games. While the small-school product won’t be seen as a three-down back in NFL free agency, he’s going to produce moving forward. Some team looking for a running back will find a ton of value.

7. Foster Moreau, tight end, Las Vegas Raiders

nfl free agency: foster moreau
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As Darren Waller’s primary backup the past couple seasons, this former LSU standout has performed at a high level. It’s to the point where the market should receive him as a TE1. Last season alone, the 25-year-old caught 33 passes for 420 yards while hauling in north of 60% of his targets. The one issue here was his 11.1% drop rate. He’ll need to fix that moving forward.

Related: Salary cap situations for all 32 teams heading into NFL free agency

6. Jonathan Jones, cornerback, New England Patriots

nfl free agency: jonathan jones
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

At 5-foot-10, size would typically be an issue for someone who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. We’re not 100% sure about that now that Jones has several years of top-end play under his belt. Last season saw the Auburn product record a career-high four interceptions to go with 11 passes defended.

Opposing quarterbacks completed just 52.7% of their passes for a 73.0 passer rating when targeting the smallish defensive back. At 29, Jones is among the most-underrated players to hit NFL free agency. That’s for sure.

5. Allen Lazard, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

nfl free agency: allen lazard

Green Bay relied on Lazard to up his game with Davante Adams gone a season ago. He did it to an extent, catching 60 balls for 788 yards and six touchdowns. With that said, the former undrafted free agent out of Iowa State likely won’t be seen as a true No. 1 receiver in NFL free agency.

Even then, someone who can contribute at a high level as a secondary option will have value on the open market. Lazard, 27, has shown he can do that with 14 touchdown catches over the past two seasons. Whether it’s with the Packers or another team, Lazard should come in and perform at a high level in 2023.

Related: NFL free agency rumors

4. Jimmie Ward, safety, San Francisco 49ers

nfl free agency: jimmie ward, san francisco 49ers
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco’s longest-tenured player, Ward’s ability to play multiple positions in the secondary can’t go unnoticed. Last season saw the former first-round pick tally three interceptions while yielding a mere 87.4 QB rating.

With that said, Ward’s market in NFL free agency might be impacted some by the fact that he views himself as a full-time safety. He did not like being utilized in the slot a season ago, creating a rift between the small-school product and his organization. Look for Ward to depart the 49ers in free agency and find himself on a team that will use him the way he sees fit.

3. Gardner Minshew, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

nfl free agency: gardner minshew
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Still only 26 years old, it would not be a surprise if Minshew landed a starting job during free agency. At the very least, he should be able to compete to be a QB1 during training camp and the preseason. We’re talking about a former late-round pick who has excelled when given an opportunity under center.

With as many as 12 teams looking for new quarterbacks this offseason, it would not be a surprise if Minshew’s market were strong. Outside of the big names who are unlikely to even become free agents, he’s among the most-intriguing options.

Related: Top landing spots for free agent quarterbacks

2. Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts

nfl free agency: yannick ngakoue
Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s stunning that Ngakoue has played for five teams since entering the NFL back in 2016. For some reason, he’s been cast off like someone who is carrying the plague. In seven seasons, Ngakoue has registered a combined 135 QB hits, 65 tackles for loss and 65 sacks. He was exceptional in his first season with the Colts, too.

There has to be an expectation that the 27-year-old EDGE rusher will finally land a long-term contract and remain with the same team for more than a season. He can play both the 4-3 and 3-4. He has a history of success. He’s one of the most-underrated NFL free agents of the cycle. That much is clear.

1. Kyzir White, linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles

nfl free agency; kyzir white
Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Despite showcasing tremendous ability during his time at West Virginia, White fell to the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After being a part-time starter in Southern California, he landed a one-year contract with the eventual NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Boy, did White respond. He recorded 110 tackles, 10 QB hits, seven passes defended and 1.5 sacks. Opposing quarterbacks also posted a mere 74.4 passer rating when targeting the linebacker. Still only 26 years old, White should land a contract that will pay him like the three-down backer he is.

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