Justin Simmons and more remaining top players


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

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

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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 turns 31 this season and has missed a total of seven games over the last two years, but still has plenty of production left.

A team looking to compete like New York could use his help on the back end. He would be an upgrade over their other safeties and, come playoff time, could help in a conference with the last two MVP winners.

Best fit: New York Jets

C.B. 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 unspectacular seasons in Carolina (2021) and Indianapolis (2022), he was on the cusp of becoming a top-25 cornerback in 2023, according to Sports Info Solutions (SIS) data. He allowed a 50% completion percentage when targeted in 2023, his best mark (minimum 11 games played) since his 2019 Defensive Player of the Year season.

Gilmore showed he can play well in man coverage even at age 33 (look no further than his Week 14 performance against AJ Brown). He would be another great flyer for a contender looking to strengthen their position ahead of a hopeful playoff campaign. A team like the Cincinnati Bengals, who are looking to bounce back from 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

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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 employees like 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 December 11, ending his season. His agent Drew Rosenhaus said in March that there was no timetable for his return.

If he can come back, some teams could use some interior help. The Denver Broncos will likely 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 past five seasons. He racked up 41 pressures last year but had a career-high 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 opposite star edge rusher Maxx Crosby that year and could benefit from such a situation this season.

Ngakoue feels like a pass rush specialist who can come in and help an opponent with question marks on the edge. The Baltimore Ravens lost both defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and lead Jadeveon Clowney this season. A return to Baltimore (he played nine games there in 2020) would make sense. Defensive lineman Justin Madubuike has emerged as the kind of star Ngakoue can emerge alongside.

Best Match: Baltimore Ravens

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DL Emmanuel Ogbah

2023 team: Miami Dolphins

Ogbah had nine sacks on the 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 losses last year despite a career-low 240 snaps. He turns 31 in November, but doesn’t have as much wear and tear as you’d expect from a defensive lineman at that age. He took snaps domestically in 2023 after playing mostly at edge in his career, offering some flexibility to a team.

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

Best fit: Chicago Bears

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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 straight All-Pro team. Since then, he has played just 13 games, missing time in 2021 and 2023 due to a knee injury. The Packers released him ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft, in which they took offensive lineman Jordan Morgan in the first round.

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

Best fit: Los Angeles Rams