Top three 2024 NFL free agents at each defensive position: Justin Simmons and Stephon Gilmore top available

One month after NFL Free agency came and went as the league moved through its second wave of offseason signings. He The best players have already signed.and the next generation of free agents has found a home for 2024. There are still some good players available, but the market has dried up significantly in recent weeks.

Teams are focusing on the draft before free agency moves into its third wave, when compensatory picks are no longer a factor in the equation. Players who should be on the roster are still available to be taken, if any team can’t wait until after the draft.

These are the three best free agents available at each defensive position. To see the best offensive players still available, Click here.

edge runner

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Ngakoue, the best pass rusher available, is coming off a bad season by his standards. He finished with career lows in sacks (4.0), pressures (34) and pressure rate (8.7%), breaking a streak of seven consecutive seasons with 8+ sacks.

Ngakoue signed later in the summer of last season, so perhaps signing earlier could return him to his 2016-2022 form.

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Ogbah had just 19 pressures and 5.0 sacks last season, but the numbers were deceiving as he had a 13.9% pressure rate. He played just 240 snaps in 15 games and can still get to the quarterback as a rotational pass rusher.

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A torn Achilles tendon limited Lawson’s productivity in New York in terms of games played, but he bounced back from that with 49 pressures and 7.0 sacks in 2022 (11.9% pressure rate). The Jets essentially relegated Lawson to a backup role after a back injury last August, as he did not record a sack and played just 98 snaps.

A healthy Lawson would be a nice find for a team that needs help rushing the passer.

Interior defensive lineman

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While Campbell lines up on the edge and inside, the 37-year-old’s ability to play both makes him the best interior defender in a weak group of remaining free agents. Campbell had 42 pressures and 6.5 sacks last season with a 10.8% pressure rate, with the majority of his snaps being played from the edge.

Still strong against the run, this is where Campbell makes his presence in the A and B gaps.

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Ridgeway, a former starter in San Francisco, played only three games in Houston before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season. Ridgeway had a calf injury before the Achilles tear, and he only had one pressure in 27 snaps played.

If healthy, Ridgeway provides valuable interior depth.

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Mone was out for the entire 2023 season due to a knee injury and was released by Seattle in March. It has been more than a year since he tore his ACL, suffered after a 2022 season in which he started three games.

If you are healthy, it is worth taking a flyer in Mone. He is still only 28 years old.

off-ball linebacker

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Cunningham was a surprise at Philadelphia linebacker last season after signing in August, finishing with 85 tackles and four passes defensed in 13 games (10 starts). Even as a starter in the league at age 29, Cunningham’s biggest problem is staying on the field.

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The former Pro Bowl linebacker played in just nine games for Pittsburgh last season, with 41 tackles (five for loss) and a sack as the No. 3 linebacker. Alexander is a solid backup linebacker for Mike at this stage if he can stay on the field .

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Woods started seven games for Arizona last season and had 61 tackles, proving he’s more than just a good special teams player. While Woods offers excellent play on special teams, he also showed that he can make regular plays on a defense.


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Howard isn’t the cornerback who had 23 interceptions in a four-year span between 2018 and 2021, but the 30-year-old only allowed two touchdown passes and a 64.2 passer rating in coverage last season.

Even as a starter in the league, Howard can still line up against the best receivers in the game.

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Gilmore, 33, had another solid season in coverage, allowing just four touchdown passes and a grade of 60.3 while making two interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks had just a 49% completion rate targeting Gilmore.

Gilmore has been to four teams in three years, but remains a starter.

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Nelson had his best season in coverage in 2023, a perfect time to earn appearances in free agency. He allowed just one touchdown pass and a 40.4 passer rating when targeted, while earning four interceptions.

Being 31 years old could be a reason why Nelson hasn’t signed with a team yet. He could wait until after the draft.


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The 30-year-old Simmons, the best free agent left on the market, is coming off a season that ended with 70 tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defensed. He earned his third consecutive Second Team All-Pro selection, as opposing quarterbacks targeting Simmons had just a 58.4 passer rating.

Simmons is the best safety among a host of free agents at the position.

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Hyde’s coverage skills have declined over the past two seasons (87.2 rating), however, the 33-year-old has started 128 games in 11 seasons. A neck injury limited Hyde in 2022, but he returned to total 54 tackles and two interceptions in 14 games.

Hyde continues to be a good starter in the league and a natural leader on defense.

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Adams, just 28 years old, has played just 10 games over the past two seasons, thanks to a torn quadriceps tendon and lingering knee issues. Adams had 48 tackles in nine games last season, playing primarily strong safety.

Injuries have significantly limited Adams, who can still attack the run. He also hasn’t had a sack in three years after setting a record for defensive backs in 2020 (9.5).

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