Oct 4, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) hugs Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown (78) during warmups prior to the Ravens'game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Field Level Media’s Top 50 Free Agents

Running backs, defensive backs and defensive linemen could be popular when free agency begins in March.

The top players scheduled to become free agents are likely to be heavily considered for the franchise tag this month, including Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, before shopping can officially begin at 11:59:59 p.m. ET on March 15.

Teams face a March 7 deadline for the franchise tag.

Speculative free agents, such as players with looming contract negotiations that could lead to their release or a trade — Raiders quarterback Derek Carr or Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan — are not included.

Field Level Media’s top 50 unrestricted free agents for 2023:

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
Former MVP isn’t going anywhere. Self-represented and negotiating without an agent, Jackson is using the fully guaranteed $230M deal Deshaun Watson signed with the Browns last year as his guidepost. Will the Ravens blink? Jackson is 26, but the Ravens might not have the salary cap room to use the exclusive franchise tag, which blocks other teams from negotiating with him, but runs $45 million compared to $32.5 million for the non-exclusive tag.

2. Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Chiefs
Jackson’s former teammate in Baltimore and a member of the same Ravens’ 2018 draft class, Brown has outperformed his draft slot (83rd overall) and contract. Unless general managers wait for the draft, the OT market is slim pickings. Brown has plenty of leverage. Tagged last spring at a value of $16.62 million for 2022, Brown declined a six-year, $139 million deal with a $30.25 million signing bonus last July.

3. Daron Payne, DT, Commanders
The 25-year-old might not make it out of Washington. If he does, a salary of $20 million is highly likely.

4. Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders
Not going anywhere, the Raiders plan to keep Jacobs after his bounceback 2022 season.

5. Jessie Bates, S, Bengals
All too familiar with the franchise tag ($12.9M last year), Bates held out until Aug. 23 last summer when the two sides couldn’t reach a long-term agreement.

6. Javon Hargrave, DT, Eagles
The ideal fit in Philadelphia’s front after leaving a more restrictive role with the Steelers, Hargrave can command top dollar in free agency after posting a career-best 11 sacks last season.

7. Mike McGlinchey, OT, 49ers
With big contracts clogging the 49ers path to a huge raise for the 28-year-old, McGlinchey will not offer a home-town discount to stay.

8. Daniel Jones, QB, Giants
Jones is the priority for the Giants this offseason as stated by the head coach and GM, and could be a tag candidate. Last season, 14 quarterbacks were paid at least $29.7M in total outlay, making the $32.5 million tag rate for Jones look more palatable.

9. Geno Smith, QB, Seahawks
Maybe trust Seahawks GM John Schneider to balance the books, eh? Smith made a measly $3.5 million in 2022, a career year in which he outperformed expectations and Seattle’s ex-QB, Russell Wilson. By the way, Wilson signed a new five-year deal in 2022 that averages $48,517,647 per year.

10. CJ Gardner-Johnson, S, Eagles
A trade heist in 2022 brought Gardner-Johnson to the Eagles for mid-round draft picks. Keeping him won’t be quite as simple with the Jalen Hurts contract around the bend, but Philadelphia has a pair of first-round picks in 2023.

11. Jamel Dean, CB, Buccaneers
At 26, the former third-round pick can nearly name his price in a shallow pool of young free agent corners. Cap-strapped Tampa can’t afford to keep him.

12. Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Barkley likes his fit in the Brian Daboll system and the Giants are interested in retaining the former No. 2 overall pick if the price is right. He turned 26 on Feb. 9, but other first-rounders have seen relative or dramatic letdowns on their second NFL contracts. Todd Gurley is only 28 and flat-lined two seasons ago with 6,082 career rushing yards. Ezekiel Elliott turns 28 in July and is showing severe wear and tear.

13. Lavonte David, LB, Buccaneers
Limited capital likely renders the Buccaneers as non-players in the David Sweepstakes, unless he’s willing to go with a team-friendly deal at age 33.

14. Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles
Depth in the free agency class and upcoming draft takes some of the leverage out of Sanders’ hands. He turns 26 a week after the NFL draft and has low mileage for a four-year pro. In 94 total games over the past seven pro and college seasons since enrolling at Penn State, Sanders has only 975 regular-season carries. By comparison, his predecessor at Penn State — Saquon Barkley — has 954 in 60 NFL games the past five seasons and tore his ACL in 2020.

15. Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys
Critical without a steady No. 2 wide receiver, the Cowboys might be willing to look toward the draft for his replacement or let understudy Jake Ferguson (fourth round, 2022) step into the lead role.

16. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Bills
Drafted at 20 years old, Edmunds might not reach the Roquan Smith stratosphere of $20M annually, but $15 million per season isn’t out of the question. That’s too rich for the Bills, who are over the cap and signed linebacker Matt Milano to a new deal.

17. Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
Pollard was in the lead role for the Cowboys for only part of his fourth season, which ended at San Francisco in the playoffs due to a broken leg. His calling card is speed, and even with the focus on his physical recovery, there will be teams ready to bet on Pollard being their big-play back next season.

18. Jakobi Meyers, WR, Patriots
An undrafted free agent who became a nightmare matchup in the slot, Meyers should benefit from the rising market value for good and sometimes-great wide receivers.

19. James Bradberry, CB, Eagles
Before the holding penalty in Super Bowl LVII, Bradberry had one of the best seasons in pass coverage in the NFL. He’ll be coveted, but too pricey for the Eagles to retain.

20. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Proven starter but unproven finisher with an expanding history of injuries. Garoppolo is 44-19 as a starter and the 31-year-old fits as a short-term option for teams potentially in transition (Buccaneers, Jets, Packers).

21. Evan Engram, TE, Jaguars
22. Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Colts
23. Jason Kelce, C, Eagles
24. Ben Powers, OG, Ravens
25. Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Broncos
26. Kaleb McGary, OT, Falcons
27. Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Vikings
28. Marcus Peters, CB, Ravens
29. Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns
30. David Montgomery, RB, Bears
31. Marcus Davenport, DE, Saints
32. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Chiefs
33. Isaiah Wynn, OT, Patriots
34. Isaac Seumalo, OG, Eagles
35. Rodney Hudson, C, Cardinals
36. Jadeveon Clowney, DE-OLB, Browns
37. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles
38. Fletcher Cox, DT, Eagles
39. Drue Tranquill, LB, Chargers
40. Allen Lazard, WR, Packers
41. Ethan Pocic, C, Browns
42. Dalton Risner, OG, Broncos
43. Cam Sutton, CB, Steelers
44. David Long, LB, Titans
45. Jordan Poyer, S, Bills
46. Mike Gesicki, TE, Dolphins
47. Devin Singletary, CB, Bills
48. Baker Mayfield, QB, Rams
49. Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
50. Odell Beckham Jr., WR, N/A

–Field Level Media

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Joe Thomas, Darrelle Revis lead Pro Football Hall of Fame class

First-time Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists Joe Thomas and Darrelle Revis lead the nine-member Class of 2023 that will be inducted in Canton, Ohio, in August.

The results of voting were announced Thursday night during the NFL Honors show in Phoenix. Players needed 80 percent approval from the Selection Committee, which met online this week.

The class also includes three finalists from the Seniors category: Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko and Ken Riley, along with Don Coryell, a finalist in the coach/contributor category.

Also elected were DeMarcus Ware, Ronde Barber and Zach Thomas. It was Ware’s second year as a finalist, Barber’s third and Zach Thomas’ fourth.

Joe Thomas was an offensive tackle for the Cleveland Browns from 2007-17. Revis, a cornerback, played two stints with the New York Jets and one each with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Kansas Chiefs from 2007-17.

Howley, a linebacker, played two seasons for the Chicago Bears and 13 for the Dallas Cowboys in a career that ended in 1973. Klecko spent 11 years with the Jets and a final season with the Indianapolis Colts in 1988. Riley, elected posthumously, spent his entire 15-season career with the Bengals, from 1969-83.

Coryell was a head coach for 14 seasons, first with the then-St. Louis Cardinals from 1973-77 and then from 1978-86 as the architect of “Air Coryell” for the then-San Diego Chargers.

Ware, a linebacker/defensive end, played for the Cowboys and Denver Broncos in a career that ran from 2005-16. Barber spent his entire 16-season career with the Buccaneers, 1997-2012. Zach Thomas played 13 seasons, the first 12 with the Miami Dolphins before finishing with the Cowboys in 2008.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor paces the sideline in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl with a 23-20 win over the Bengals.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Afc Championship Jan 29 803

Bengals return home feeling sting of AFC runner-up finish

The day after was not easy for the Cincinnati Bengals.

A 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night ended the Bengals’ bid to return to the Super Bowl as Cincinnati closed out the 2022 season with a 14-5 overall record.

But Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knows a bounce or call in the other direction was all that stood between Cincinnati and one more game.

“It can still sting, and you can be really proud of what we did this season,” Taylor said Monday. “We were 4-4 at Halloween and ended the season 14-5 with back-to-back AFC North titles.”

The Chiefs advanced to Super Bowl LVII with a 45-yard field goal from Harrison Butker with 3 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

On the previous play, quarterback Patrick Mahomes scrambled to the sideline and went out of bounds after picking up a first down. With both feet over the sideline and his momentum taking him out of bounds, Mahomes was shoved by Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai. Officials tossed a 15-yard penalty that put Butker’s attempt in closer, near-automatic range.

But Taylor said that play didn’t decide the game.

Cameras caught linebacker Germaine Pratt as he entered the locker room shouting, “Why would you touch the quarterback?”

“I was emotional, I was in the moment. I was wrong. I wasn’t a great teammate in that moment,” Pratt said Monday. “I’m going back to work.”

Defensive tackle B.J. Hill stood to Ossai’s left in front of his locker Sunday night and helped guide questions and deflect criticism. Taylor said that’s the tight-knit family image he’ll take away from the loss.

“It was awesome to see the guys support each other in a real tough moment,” Taylor said. “That’s the team we’ve always been.”

Pratt is one of the players headed for free agency in March if the Bengals don’t address their contracts. Starting safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates and cornerbacks Eli Apple and Tre Flowers are also unrestricted free agents.

No matter will garner more attention than quarterback Joe Burrow’s contract. He has two years, including the fifth-year option in 2025, remaining on his rookie contract as the No. 1 pick in 2020. But here’s why Burrow’s deal is most important entering the offseason: the first four years of that deal — worth under $37 million total — will very likely be less than Burrow’s future annual salary.

Burrow’s cap hit in 2023 is just $11.5 million. By comparison, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has a $54.9 million cap hit and Mahomes’ is $46.8 million.

–Field Level Media

Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay greets Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury after the Rams defeated the Cardinals 34-7 during a game on Dec. 1, 2019 in Glendale, Ariz.

Los Angeles Rams Vs Arizona Cardinals 2019

Reports: Sean McVay not retiring, will coach Rams in 2023

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay committed to coaching in 2023 following days of speculation that he planned to resign the post.

McVay and general manager Les Snead plan to meet to discuss staff changes, according to reports Friday. One such move could be bringing in former Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, per reports.

Sportico reported McVay is the NFL’s third-highest paid coach at $14 million per season, with only Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll netting more per season. McVay and Snead signed contract extensions through the 2026 season last summer.

Coming off a Super Bowl victory last February, McVay admitted he considered leaving coaching for a multitude of reasons.

McVay again shared his reluctance to commit to the Rams for 2023 in his season-ending press conference on Monday, taking the unprecedented step of permitting assistant coaches to interview elsewhere.

“Take the next couple of days, really be able to reflect and a lot of conversations that will dictate and determine the decision that’s best for me and my family,” McVay said Monday of when he would know his plans for next year.

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has multiple interviews lined up to become a head coach again, including with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

Kingsbury was fired Monday as Arizona cleaned house, and the Rams lost offensive coordinator Liam Coen on Tuesday. He returned to Kentucky to be the Wildcats’ OC, a position he held in 2021 before jumping to the Rams.

McVay’s coaching tree is vast, especially when considering his age. He became the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl last February at age 36 — beating former assistant Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals for the Lombardi Trophy. Days later, McVay lost offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, who was hired by the Minnesota Vikings.

Other former McVay assistants include Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley and University of Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch.

McVay was hired as head coach of the Rams in 2017 as a 30-year-old offensive wunderkind with NFL bloodlines. McVay said he considered not coaching in 2022 and reportedly was offered as much as $100 million over five years to join the Amazon Prime NFL broadcast team.

That, along with getting married and the death of his grandfather — John McVay — have all been factors for the Rams’ coach.

Los Angeles went 5-12 in 2022, a season marred by injuries to quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Munich, Germany; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts before an NFL International Series game against the Seattle Seahawks at Allianz Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Tom Brady considering ‘all options’ for 2023

“All options are on the table” for Tom Brady in 2023, NFL Network reported Sunday.

The report cited multiple sources close to the 45-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback.

One of the options presumably includes joining his favorite team growing up — the same team Brady faces Sunday as the Bucs (6-6) visit the San Francisco 49ers (8-4) in a battle of division leaders.

According to the report, Brady was likely leaning toward (another) retirement earlier this season when Tampa Bay dropped five of six games.

But with the team winning three of its past four and in position for the seven-time Super Bowl champion to perhaps add to his unparalleled jewelry collection, Brady’s passion is said to have been reignited.

Brady leads the NFL in pass completions (347) and attempts (524), throwing for 3,332 yards with 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 12 starts in his 23rd NFL season.

The San Mateo, Calif., native has a nine-figure broadcasting deal with Fox Sports awaiting him whenever he elects to hang up his helmet.

Brady has until the start of free agency in mid-March to decide whether to re-sign with Tampa Bay or explore other options such as San Francisco.

The longtime New England Patriots star’s legacy as the greatest quarterback of all time is already secure with NFL career records for wins (249), passing yards (87,852) and touchdowns (640).

–Field Level Media

Jul 14, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders outside linebacker Tyree Wilson is interviewed during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech OLB Tyree Wilson to enter 2023 draft

Texas Tech outside linebacker Tyree Wilson said he will pass on his final college season to enter the 2023 NFL Draft.

He is a projected first-round draft pick and is done for the season with a foot injury sustained in the Nov. 12 win against Kansas.

“I fully intended to finish this season with my brothers on the field, but unfortunately, I broke a bone in my foot and despite my best efforts to work through it, multiple doctors have advised me to get it fixed immediately,” Wilson posted to Twitter Sunday night. “Although I have to stay off my foot for the next couple of months, I will be 100% healthy and prepared for the NFL Draft workouts where I plan to continue to prove that I’m the best defensive player in this upcoming draft.”

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Wilson is listed as the No. 2 defensive prospect in the draft by ESPN analysts.

Wilson transferred to Texas Tech from Texas A&M before the 2020 season. He ends his Red Raiders career with 109 tackles (29 for loss), 15.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 32 games.

In 10 games this season, he had 61 tackles (14 for loss) and seven sacks.

–Field Level Media

Sep 15, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Logo for Amazon Prime Thursday Night Football on television camera pictured at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Amazon to stream first-ever Black Friday game in 2023

A Black Friday NFL game will make its debut in 2023.

Amazon and the NFL announced Tuesday that Prime Video will stream the first-ever traditional shopping-day game on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at 3 p.m. ET.

“Thanksgiving is synonymous with football and we’re excited to give our fans another day of NFL action during this holiday weekend,” said Hans Schroeder, chief operating officer for NFL Media. “Amazon is uniquely positioned to partner with us for this game as Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for their business.”

Three NFL games are played on Thanksgiving day, including one in prime time.

Amazon is in its first season of streaming Thursday night games as part of a deal that runs through the 2033 season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 30, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; A general view of a Miami Hurricanes helmet in the end zone prior to the game between the Miami Hurricanes and the Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Blue-chip edge rusher Jayden Wayne commits to Miami

Edge rusher Jayden Wayne, a top-50 prospect in the Class of 2023, committed to Miami.

From Washington state, Wayne now plays for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Miami coach Mario Cristobal, previously the head coach at Oregon, managed to lure him away from the Ducks, as well as his other suitors — Alabama, Georgia, Michigan State and LSU.

Wayne is ranked No. 6 at his position and No. 41 overall by the 247Sports composite.

His commitment represents another recruiting coup from the Northwest for Cristobal. Last week, four-star Riley Williams, an Oregon native, committed to the Hurricanes.

Williams also plays at IMG Academy.

With Wayne’s commitment, Miami now has the ninth-ranked class for 2023, according to the 247Sports composite.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; A view of the field with the ACC logo in the second quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

ACC to scrap divisions after 2022 season

The 2022 season will be the last featuring divisions in the ACC, which announced a new scheduling format Tuesday.

The league is adopting a 3-5-5 format beginning in 2023, when every team will play three permanent rivalry games each season and rotate through the other 10 teams every other year.

“The future ACC football scheduling model provides significant enhancements for our schools and conference, with the most important being our student-athletes having the opportunity to play every school both home and away over a four-year period,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement. “In the end, it was clear this model is in the best interest of our student-athletes, programs and fans, at this time.”

At the end of the regular season, the top two teams (by conference winning percentage) will meet in the ACC title game on the first Saturday in December.

The ACC is the latest league to do away with divisions, joining the Big 12 (2011), American (2021), Pac-12 (2023) and Mountain West (2023).

According to ESPN, Pittsburgh will have the easiest slate against permanent rivals while Georgia Tech the toughest.

ACC permanent rivalries:

Boston College: Miami, Pitt, Syracuse
Clemson: FSU, Georgia Tech, NC State
Duke: UNC, NC State, Wake Forest
Florida State: Clemson, Miami, Syracuse
Georgia Tech: Clemson, Louisville, Wake Forest
Louisville: Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia
Miami: BC, FSU, Louisville
North Carolina: Duke, NC State, Virginia
NC State: Clemson, Duke, UNC
Pitt: BC, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
Syracuse: BC, FSU, Pitt
Virginia: Louisville, UNC, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech: Pitt, Virginia, Wake Forest
Wake Forest: Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech

–Field Level Media

Jan 25, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA;  New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks during a press conference at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Panthers eyeing Sean Payton for 2023 season

The Carolina Panthers reportedly are eyeing former NFC South rival Sean Payton to be their head coach in 2023.

Payton, 58, stepped down after 15 seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 25.

Citing sources, Front Office Sports reported Thursday that the Panthers are considering Payton to replace current head coach Matt Rhule.

Payton had three years remaining on his contract with the Saints when he announced his retirement.

The Panthers issued a statement denying the report.

“We would not talk to — or consider — a coach who’s under contract with another team,” the Panthers said.

Payton is expected to work in broadcasting during the 2022 season and is reportedly juggling offers from FOX Sports and Amazon.

Payton, who was suspended for the 2012 season over his role in the “Bountygate” scandal, compiled a 152-89 record in the regular season and a 9-8 mark in the playoffs with the Saints. He led New Orleans to a 31-17 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

The Panthers are 10-23 in two seasons under Rhule, 47. The Panthers hired him before the 2020 season, signing him to a seven-year, $62 million deal and paying $6 million to buy him out of his contract at Baylor.

–Field Level Media