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Everything you need to know before the 2022 NFL free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The offseason can be almost as exciting as the action on the field, with trades, free agency and the draft consuming the spring and summer months.

That excitement, of course, has only intensified in 2022 with several high-profile quarterbacks in the news.

In the first month after the Super Bowl, four big quarterback dominoes have fallen. Tom Brady retired (and then didn’t), Aaron Rodgers re-signed with the Packers, Russell Wilson was traded from the Seahawks to the Broncos, and Carson Wentz was traded from the Colts to the Commanders.

Here’s a full preview ahead of NFL free agency, including salary cap information and some of the best players available:

When does NFL free agency start?

Free agency in the NFL begins immediately as the new league year begins. This year, that falls on March 16, 2022 at 4 pm ET.

Teams can begin talking to free agents two days before free agency begins during the legal handling period. Beginning Monday, March 14, 2022 at 12 p.m. Players and teams can make deals, but they can’t be signed until the new league year starts.

Which NFL teams have the most salary cap space?

The salary cap is a tricky thing in the NFL. Unlike in the NBA, soccer players are not fully guaranteed salaries. Between bonuses, incentives and null years, there are plenty of loopholes that teams use to free up salary-cap space.

As of March 14, here’s a look at the 10 teams with the most salary-cap space out of the top 51 (per Spotrac):

  1. Indianapolis Colts: $69,998,729

  2. New York Jets: $48,546,254

  3. Miami Dolphins: $48,097,187

  4. Seattle Seahawks: $45,819,954

  5. Jacksonville Jaguars: $39,310,872

  6. Chicago Bears: $36,878,225

  7. Cincinnati Bengals: $33,784,907

  8. Las Vegas Raiders: $29,778,638

  9. Carolina Panthers: $29,043,261

  10. Pittsburgh Steelers: $27,107,716

Many teams are not in a good position going into free agency, as nine teams are over the salary cap. Here are the 10 teams with the least amount of salary-cap space in the top 51 as of March 14:

  1. Green Bay Packers: $-43,737,681

  2. Los Angeles Rams: $-20,214,599

  3. San Francisco 49ers: $-8,914,605

  4. New Orleans Saints: $-6,644,619

  5. Kansas City Chiefs: $-6,280,943

  6. New York Giants: $-3,803,322

  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $-3,244,139

  8. Cleveland Browns: $-3,036,433

  9. Minnesota Vikings: $-1,642,397

  10. Tennessee Titans: $350,472

Who are the best free agents in the NFL for 2022?

Like every year, there are a series of free agents that make a difference. How many of them will actually hit the open market remains to be seen, as teams can either use the franchise tag or negotiate a new deal before the legal tampering period in March.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the top players poised to hit free agency:

quarterbacks

  • James Winston, Santos

  • Teddy Bridgewater, Broncos

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington

  • Cam Newton, Panthers

  • Marcus MariotaRaiders

  • Mitch TrubiskyBills

  • Jacoby Brissett, Dolphins

  • Andy Dalton, Bears

  • Tyrod Taylor, Texans

  • Trevor Siemian, Santos

  • Brian Hoyer, Patriots

runners

  • Chase Edmonds, Cardinals

  • James Conner, Cardinals

  • Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons

  • Devonta Freeman, Ravens

  • Damien Williams, Bears

  • Melvin Gordon, Broncos

  • David Johnson, Texans

  • Marlon Mack, Colts

  • Darrel Williams, Chiefs

  • Sony Michel, Rams

  • Brandon Bolden, Patriots

  • James White, Patriots

  • Jordan Howard, Eagles

  • Alex Collins, Seahawks

  • Rashaad Penny, Seahawks

  • Jeff Wilson, 49ers

  • Raheem Mostert, 49ers

  • Giovani Bernard, Buccaneers

  • Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers

  • Ronald Jones, Buccaneers

  • D’Onta Foreman, Titans

  • J. D. McKissic, Washington

wide receivers

  • AJ Green, Cardinals

  • Christian Kirk, Cardinals

  • Sammy Watkins, Ravens

  • Emmanuel Sanders, bills

  • Isaiah McKenzie, Bills: McKenzie signed a two-year contract to remain with Buffalo.

  • Allen Robinson, Bears

  • Cedric Wilson, Cowboys

  • Michael Gallup, Cowboys: Gallup re-signed with the Cowboys to a five-year, $62.5 million deal.

  • Davante Adams, Packers: The Packers used the franchise tag on Adams for one year, $20.415 million.

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers

  • Danny Amendola, Texans

  • T.Y. Hilton, foals

  • DJ Chark, Jaguars

  • Byron Pringle, Chiefs

  • DeMarcus Robinson, Chiefs

  • Mike Williams, Chargers: Williams re-signed with the Chargers on a three-year, $60 million deal.

  • Odell Beckham Jr., Rams

  • Zay JonesRaiders

  • Will Fuller, Dolphins

  • Tre’Quan Smith, Santos

  • Braxton Berrios, Jets

  • Jamison Crowder, Jets

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers

  • Antonio Brown, Buccaneers

  • Chris Godwin, Buccaneers: The Bucs placed the $19.18 million franchise tag on Godwin.

  • Adam Humphries, Washington

tight ends

  • Zach Ertz, Cardinals: After being traded from Philadelphia to Arizona midway through the season last year, Ertz stays with the Cardinals on a three-year, $31.65 million deal.

  • Maxx Williams, Cardinals

  • Hayden Hurst, Ravens

  • Jimmy Graham, Bears

  • CJ Uzomah, Bengalis

  • David Njoku, Browns

  • Dalton Schultz, Cowboys: The Cowboys used the franchise tag on Schultz for one year, $10.931 million.

  • Robert Tonyan, Packers

  • Mo Alie-Cox, Foals

  • Jared Cook, Chargers

  • Mike Gesicki, Dolphins: The Dolphins placed the $10.93 million franchise tag on Gesicki.

  • Tyler Conklin, Vikings

  • Evan Engram, Giants

  • Gerald Everett, Seahawks

  • Will Dissly, Seahawks

  • OJ Howard, Buccaneers

  • Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers

  • Anthony Firkser, Titans

  • Ricky Seals-Jones, Washington

offensive tackles

  • Riley Reiff, Bengals

  • Eric Fisher, Foals

  • Cam Robinson, Jaguars: The Jaguars used the franchise tag on Robinson for one year, $16.662 million.

  • Orlando Brown, Chiefs: The Chiefs used the franchise tag on Brown for one year, $16.662 million.

  • Andrew Wylie, Chiefs

  • Joseph Noteboom, Rams: Noteboom re-signed with Los Angeles on a three-year, $40 million contract.

  • Trent Brown, Patriots

  • Terron Armstead, Santos

  • Morgan Moses, Jets

  • Duane Brown, Seahawks

offensive guards

  • Max Garcia, Cardinals

  • Ike Boettger, Bills

  • James Daniels, Bears

  • Connor Williams, Cowboys

  • Andrew Norwell, Jaguars

  • Michael Schofield, Chargers

  • Austin Corbett, Rams

  • Ted Karras, Patriots

  • Will Hernandez, Giants

  • Trai Turner, Steelers

  • Laken Tomlinson, 49ers

  • Alex Cappa, Buccaneers

  • Brandon ScherffWashington

centers

edge runners

  • Chandler Jones, Cardinals

  • Dante Fowler Jr., Falcons

  • Justin Houston, Ravens

  • Pernell McPhee, Ravens

  • Jerry Hughes, bills

  • Hasson Reddick, Panthers

  • Jadeveon Clowney, Browns

  • Takarist McKinley, Browns

  • Randy Gregory, Cowboys

  • Alex Okafor, Chiefs

  • Melvin Ingram, Chiefs

  • Uchenna Nwosu, Chargers

  • Von Miller, Rams

  • Emmanuel Ogbah, Dolphins: Ogbah returns to Miami on a four-year, $65 million contract with $32 million guaranteed.

  • Everson Griffen, Vikings

  • Derek Barnett, Eagles

  • Ryan Kerrigan, Eagles

  • Rasheem Green, Seahawks

  • Jason Pierre-Paul, Buccaneers

  • Harold Landry, Titans: Landry re-signed with the Titans to a five-year, $87.5 million deal with $52.5 million guaranteed.

defensive linemen

  • Brandon Williams, Ravens

  • Calais Campbell, Ravens

  • Akiem Hicks, Bears

  • BJ Hill, Bengalis

  • Malik Jackson, Browns

  • Jarran Reed, Chiefs

  • Linval Joseph, Chargers

  • Sebastian Joseph-Day, Rams

  • Gerald McCoy, Raiders

  • Solomon ThomasRaiders

  • Sheldon Richardson, Vikings

  • Danny Shelton, Giants

  • Folorunso Fatukasi, Jets

  • Al Woods, Seahawks

  • Ndamukong Suh, Buccaneers

linebackers

  • Foyesade Oluokun, Falcons

  • Alec Ogletree, Bears

  • Keanu Neal, Cowboys

  • Leighton Vander Esch, Cowboys

  • Kenny Young, Broncos

  • De’Vondre Campbell, Packers

  • Christian Kirksey, Texans

  • Kamu Grugier-Hill, Texans

  • Kyzir White, Chargers

  • KJ Wright, Raiders

  • Dont’a Hightower, patriots

  • Ja’Whaun Bentley, Patriots

  • Jamie Collins, Patriots

  • Kwon Alexander, Santos

  • Bobby Wagner, Seahawks

  • Rashaan Evans, Titans

  • Jon Bostic, Washington

cornerbacks

  • Levi WallaceBills

  • Stephon Gilmore, Panthers

  • Bryce Callahan, Broncos

  • Kyle Fuller, Broncos

  • Rasul Douglas, Packers

  • Xavier Rhodes, Foals

  • District Charvarius, Chiefs

  • Casey HaywardRaiders

  • Chris Harris Jr., Chargers

  • Darious Williams, Rams

  • Justin Coleman, Dolphins

  • Patrick Peterson, Vikings

  • JC Jackson, Patriots

  • Joe Haden, Steelers

  • DJ Reed, Seahawks

  • Sidney Jones, Seahawks

  • Carlton Davis, Buccaneers

  • Richard Sherman, Buccaneers

  • K’Waun Williams, 49ers

securities

  • Duron Harmon, Falcons

  • Tashaun Gipson, Bears

  • Jessie Bates III, Bengalis: The Bengals used the franchise tag on Bates for one year, $12.911 million.

  • Jayron Kearse, Cowboys

  • Kareem Jackson, Broncos

  • Justin Reid, Texans

  • Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs

  • Devin McCourty, Patriots: McCourty is back for at least one more year with the Pats, returning for a $9 million contract in 2022.

  • Marcus Williams, Santos

  • Jabrill Peppers, Giant

  • Marcus Maye, Jets

  • Rodney McLeod, Eagles

  • Anthony Harris, Eagles

  • Quandre Diggs, Seahawks

  • Jordan Whitehead, Buccaneers

  • Bobby McCainWashington

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