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Ideal landing spot for top-10 NFL free agents on the market, including Ezekiel Elliott

Even after a very active opening of free agency, there’s still a ton of top end NFL free agents remaining on the board.

Running backs and wide receivers were not to be found as the market opened. That changed when the second tier of free agency hit. Meanwhile, we saw several defensive tackles go off the board with big money contracts. Will EDGE rushers follow suit?

Below, we look at the top-10 remaining NFL free agents while providing you with a top landing spot for each one.

10. Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight offseason, Clowney finds himself still on the market with the NFL Draft approaching. He didn’t re-sign with the Cleveland Browns until late May of last year. We expect teams to circle around back to him at about that same time in 2023. After putting up nine sacks and 19 QB hits in 2021, he took a major step back this past season (four QB hits, two sacks).

Even then, a contending team will take a chance on Clowney moving forward. We like him as a fit for the San Francisco 49ers. They lost a whole plethora of pass rushers in free agency. A second-round pick last year, Drake Jackson is the second leading returning sack getter for the 49ers behind Nick Bosa. Signing the likes of Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant doesn’t change the dynamcis too much here.

  • Ideal Jadeveon Clowney landing spot: San Francisco 49ers

9. Kareem Hunt, running back

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After finishing dead last in the NFL in nearly every rushing category, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to do something to address one of their biggest weaknesses this offseason. First-year offensive coordinator has expressed a desire to establish the ground attack next season, using more than one back, but we have yet to see the Buccaneers’ front office back up their new playcaller’s desires.

Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt somehow remains available in free agency in what’s been an extremely slow market for running backs. Last year Hunt reportedly requested a trade, seeking a bigger contract and a better opportunity, but he didn’t get it. Now a free agent with the chance to decide where he wants to play, why not the Buccaneers, who should have a role available for the 27-year-old former Pro Bowl back.

  • Ideal Kareem Hunt landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Related: NFL mock draft 2023: Latest Round 1 projection for 2023 NFL Draft

8. Ezekiel Elliott, running back

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Released by the Dallas Cowboys after seven seasons, the 27-year-old Elliott is a shell of his former self. He put up a career-worst performance in 2022, averaging a mere 3.8 yards per rush. Despite this, Zeke was still able to score 12 touchdowns on the ground. He could be a solid short-yardage option.

As of right now, there are reportedly three teams vying for his services with the Philadelphia Eagles jumping out as a potential fit. Philly lost Pro Bowl running back Miles Sanders in free agency and is looking to add more depth.

  • Ideal Ezekiel Elliott landing spot: Philadelphia Eagles

Related: 5 best moves of NFL free agency so far: 49ers, Eagles and Steelers find great value

7. Ben Jones, center

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans
George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Jones, 33 has started all 140 games in which he’s appeared since the start of the 2014 season. He just earned Pro Bowl honors for the Tennessee Titans this past season before being a surprise cap casualty.

We love what Jones would bring to the table for multiple contending teams. However, the New York Giants seem to be a great fit. An inexperienced Ben Bredeson is slated to start at center in 2023. Adding someone who has a wealth of starts under his belt would help recently extended quarterback Daniel Jones big time.

  • Ideal Ben Jones landing spot: New York Giants

Related: 5 worst moves of NFL free agency so far

6. Dalton Risner, offensive line

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 27-year-old Risner might not be elite by any stretch of the imagination. But his flexibility should be attractive as one of the top remaining NFL free agents on the market.

In four seasons with the Denver Broncos, Risner started all 62 games in which he appeared. He played both guard positions and can suit up at right tackle if need be. With Isaiah Wynn currently a free agent and after signing veteran Riley Reiff, the New England Patriots make sense as a destination.

  • Ideal Dalton Risner landing spot: New England Patriots

5. Leonard Floyd, EDGE

top remaining nfl free agents: leonard floyd, los angeles
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Houston spent the first day of NFL free agency attempting to find scheme fits on defense for new head coach DeMeco Ryans. This included adding two former San Francisco 49ers defenders in that of defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and safety Jimmie Ward to the mix.

Perhaps, Houston looks to continue adding proven players on that side of the ball with Leonard Floyd. Ryans got a first-hand view of what this veteran pass rusher brought to the mix when the two were competing in the NFC West. In his three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Floyd recorded 59 QB hits, 28 tackles for loss and 29 sacks. He could fit Houston’s 4-3 as a smallish defensive end.

  • Ideal Leonard Floyd landing spot: Houston Texans

4. Donovan Smith, offensive tackle

top nfl free agents: donovan smith, tampa bay buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A salary cap casualty of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier in March, Smith has proven himself to be among the most-consistent left tackles in the NFL. He started all 124 games in which he appeared with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite some regression this past season, Smith is still only 29 years old and yielded just one sack back in 2021. He’s among the top NFL free agents remaining on the board.

That’s where the Pittsburgh Steelers come into play. Current left tackle Dan Moore gave up a whopping seven sacks to Steelers quarterbacks a season ago. He’s best suited for either right tackle or inside. Having already added Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson to the mix, doubling down in NFL free agency would make sense.

  • Ideal Donovan Smith landing spot: Pittsburgh Steelers

Related: Top 2023 NFL free agents

3. Marcus Peters, cornerback

top remaining nfl free agents: marcus peters
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The torn ACL Peters suffered ahead of the 2021 season and his regression this past year has the three-time Pro Bowler as one of the least talked about NFL free agents on the market. But for a good six-year span earlier in his career, he was among the best ball hawks in the game.

Some team is going to take a chance on the 30-year-old Peters in free agency based on his track record alone. It makes perfect sense for the Minnesota Vikings to come calling. They lost Patrick Peterson to the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier in NFL free agency and have a real hole here.

  • Ideal Marcus Peters landing spot: Minnesota Vikings

2. Frank Clark, EDGE

top remaining nfl free agents: frank clark, kansas city chiefs
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City’s decision to release Frank Clark earlier in the offseason wasn’t too surprising. It saved the defending Super Bowl champs north of $20 million against the cap. With that said, some team will value a player who earned three consecutive Pro Bowl before a down 2022 season. Clark, 29, registered 46 QB hits, 24 tackles for loss and 18.5 sacks from 2019-21.

As for a potential landing spot, we like Clark as a fit with the New York Jets. They do have a youngster in Jermaine Johnson to go with Carl Lawson. But adding a legit pass-rush threat on obvious passing downs would make sense.

  • Ideal Frank Clark landing spot: New York Jets

Related: 2023 NFL free agent tracker

1. Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE

top remaining nfl free agents: yannick ngakoue
Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

One of the most underrated NFL free agents of the cycle, Ngakoue has racked up a whopping 39 quarterback hits and 19.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Dating back to his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2016-19), the former Maryland star has proven he can get to the quarterback on a consistent basis.

At issue here are struggles against the run. Most teams view Ngakoue as a mere pass-rush specialist, impacting his market in a big way. With that said, a squad like the New Orleans Saints could make sense. They lost Marcus Davenport to the Minnesota Vikings during NFL free agency and have a need opposite Cameron Jordan.

  • Ideal Yannick Ngakoue landing spot: New Orleans Saints

Related: 2023 NFL salary cap tracker

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