Ranking NFL’s top 30 free agents and predicting where they’ll sign

If NFL free agents were items stuffed into a stadium vendor’s tray, here is what you would hear on loop: Receivers! Pass-rushers! Blockers! Get your difference-makers here! The next few weeks

If NFL free agents were items stuffed into a stadium vendor’s tray, here is what you would hear on loop: Receivers! Pass-rushers! Blockers! Get your difference-makers here!

The next few weeks won’t match the quarterback movement seen in 2020 free agency, when Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Cam Newton changed teams — or in the recent trade market, when Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford moved around — but the NFL is a passing league, and there is a wealth of elite talent available to make a quarterback’s life easy. Or miserable.

A brutal week of veteran cuts is over, and free-agency negotiations begin Monday during what is considered by many NFL agents to be a bad year for clients to hit the open market, with many teams squeezed by the salary-cap reduction to $182.5 million and looking for bargains. Advantage to the Jaguars, Jets and Patriots, all of whom have $64 million or more in cap space to go on a spending spree.

Here is The Post’s list of the top 30 free agents. Suitors and predictions are based on background conversations with informed NFL personnel as well as an attempt to think along with clubs and players.

1. Trent Williams, LT, age 32

Returned from sitting out 2019 as dominant as ever after a trade from Washington to the 49ers. Future Hall of Famer could reset the market above $23 million per year as tackles continue to play into their late 30s.

Suitors: 49ers, Colts, Chargers, Bengals.

Prediction: 49ers.

2. Shaq Barrett, DE/OLB, age 28

Avoided a second straight franchise tag when the Buccaneers chose Chris Godwin. Notched 27.5 sacks in his past 31 games after an unremarkable first four seasons.

Suitors: Buccaneers, Jets, Bengals, Titans, Jaguars.

Prediction: Dolphins.

3. Kenny Golladay, WR, age 27

Price went up when Lions didn’t tag Golladay, like other top receivers Godwin and Allen Robinson. Back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons gave way to an injury-shortened five games in 2020.

Suitors: Giants, Jets, Patriots, Washington, Dolphins.

Prediction: Dolphins.

4. Joe Thuney, G, age 28

Surprisingly tagged in 2020 but not again, as the Patriots reshuffled parts along the line. Started all 80 games in his career.

Suitors: Jaguars, Jets, Chiefs, Bengals.

Prediction: Jets.

5. Bud Dupree, DE/OLB, age 28

Tagged in 2020, season-ending ACL injury, left for free agency. That’s the risk of contracts in the vicious NFL. Might not be high impact in 2021, but should be over a multi-year deal.

Suitors: Giants, Falcons, Colts, Panthers, Titans.

Prediction: Titans.

6. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, age 24

Me-first on- and off-field persona overshadows some of his production, including nine touchdowns last season. Blocks in the run game, runs routes in traffic and does all the dirty work.

Suitors: Jets, Jaguars, Washington, Cardinals, Lions.

Prediction: Washington.

JuJu Smith-Schuster
Getty Images

7. Yannick Ngakoue, DE/OLB, age 25

Traded twice in the past six months, but has never had fewer than eight sacks in any of his first five seasons. Struggles to set the boundary against the run.

Suitors: Dolphins, Ravens Colts, Bengals, Jets.

Prediction: Jets.

8. Aaron Jones, RB, age 26

Melvin Gordon learned last season that accomplished running backs aren’t in high demand in free agency. Jones took his game to another level the past two seasons, especially as a receiver.

Suitors: Jets, Dolphins, 49ers, Cardinals, Jets.

Prediction: Dolphins.

9. Hunter Henry, TE, age 26

Injuries have lowered a once sky-high ceiling, but he is coming off a career-best 60 receptions. Stretches the middle of the field.

Suitors: Colts, Panthers, Patriots, Titans.

Prediction: Colts.

Bengals proactively replaced him last offseason and have other pressing needs for their spending spree. Is he enough of a ball hawk?

Suitors: Steelers, Bengals, Cardinals, 49ers, Colts, Jets.

Prediction: Cardinals.

25. Trai Turner, G, 27

Five-time Pro Bowler at age 28 was cut for $11.5 million in savings after one injury-plagued season with Chargers and a failed trade market.

Suitors: Giants, Jets, Bengals, Chiefs, Ravens.

Prediction: Bengals.

26. Curtis Samuel, WR, age 24

Drafted by Giants GM Dave Gettleman while with the Panthers. One of Urban Meyer’s favorite players at Ohio State. More of a specialized weapon than a No. 1 receiver.

Suitors: Giants, Patriots, Jaguars, Washington.

Prediction: Jaguars.

27. Haason Reddick, DE/OLB, age 26

Former first-round pick finally broke through with 12.5 sacks (five in one game against the Giants) but also ranked No. 19 in pressures.

Suitors: Giants, Panthers, Falcons, Patriots.

Prediction: Giants.

28. Mitchell Schwartz, RT, age 31

Started 128 straight games from 2012-19 and became an All-Pro. Surprise cap casualty who probably will need to wait to sign until he can pass a physical after back surgery.

Suitors: Bengals, Ravens, Raiders, Seahawks.

Prediction: Seahawks.

29. Patrick Peterson, CB, age 30

Two of the best cornerbacks of the 2010s are available and could have similar markets. Peterson has stayed healthier and gets the edge over Richard Sherman.

Suitors: Chiefs, Raiders, Colts, Packers.

Prediction: Chiefs.

30. Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, age 28

Former top-10 pick is in free agency for the second straight year, but with greater leverage off a career revival with 10.5 sacks for the Rams.

Suitors: Giants, Vikings, Chargers, Titans.

Prediction: Chargers.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Ryan Dunleavy

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