Defensive Players Dominate 21-30 Group of's 101 Top Potential Free Agents

Posted Mar 12, 2018

The 2018 Free Agency Primer series uses’s Top 101 Free Agents list to break down this year’s class. We will count down the groups of players until March 14 when free agency is scheduled to open. 

The list was composed by Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling of Career stats are taken from and/or and apply to regular seasons, unless noted.

Note: The list may end up changing prior to free agency opening, but this breakdown is updated as of March 5.


91-101: Monday, March 5
81-90: Tuesday, March 6
71-80: Wednesday, March 7
61-70: Thursday, March 8
51-60: Friday, March 9
41-50: Saturday, March 10
31-40: Sunday, March 11
21-30: Monday, March 12
11-20: Tuesday, March 13
1-10: Wednesday, March 14’s eighth grouping of free agents, is defensive-heavy.

The group of 10 players includes two defensive linemen, two linebackers and three safeties, including familiar Vikings foe Morgan Burnett. The veteran has started all 102 of 102 games played for the Packers and has been a force in Green Bay’s secondary since he was drafted in 2010.

The other two safeties, San Francisco’s Eric Reid and New Orleans’ Kenny Vaccaro, also are NFC veterans who are scheduled to become free agents.

Only three offensive players – 49ers RB Carlos Hyde, Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham and Patriots RB Dion Lewis – are included in this grouping.

21. DL Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets

105 career games; 101 starts; 405 tackles; two interceptions; 28 passes defensed; 11 forced fumbles; one fumble recovery; one defensive touchdown; one safety

After seven seasons with the Jets, Wilkerson is set to become a free agent. In 2017, the defensive end recorded 46 tackles (26 solo) and 3.5 sacks. Wilkerson has missed only seven games thus far in his career.

22. RB Carlos Hyde, 49ers

50 career games; 36 starts; 655 carries for 2,729 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 21 rushing touchdowns; 109 career receptions for 634 yards and three touchdowns

Hyde has spent the past four seasons with the 49ers, for whom he came close to 1,000 rushing yards in 2016 and 2017. Last season, the former Ohio State standout recorded a career-high 240 carries for 938 yards and eight touchdowns, which topped his previous season high of six scores. Hyde also recorded the most receiving yards of his career with 350 on 59 catches.

23. TE Jimmy Graham, Seahawks

121 career games; 89 starts; 556 career receptions for 6,800 yards (12.2 yards per reception) and 69 touchdowns

After five seasons in New Orleans and another three in Seattle, Graham is again slated to be a free agent. The five-time Pro Bowler and 2013 All-Pro showed in 2017 he can still be quite effective – Graham recorded 10 receiving touchdowns, tying for the third-highest total of his career and most in any of three seasons with the Seahawks.

24. S Kenny Vaccaro, Saints

68 career games; 67 starts; 385 tackles; eight interceptions; 7.5 sacks; 29 passes defensed; four forced fumbles; one forced fumble; three fumble recoveries; one defensive touchdown

Vaccaro has spent his entire career with the Saints, who drafted him 15th overall in 2013. In 2017, the safety missed four games due to groin and wrist injuries but still snagged a career-high three interceptions and added 1.5 sacks and seven passes defensed.

25. S Eric Reid, 49ers

70 career games; 69 starts; 327 tackles; 10 interceptions; 1.0 sack; two forced fumbles; three fumble recoveries

After five seasons with the 49ers, Reid is due to test the waters of free agency. The former first-round draft pick totaled 66 tackles, two interceptions and four passes defensed during his 2017 campaign, but Reid has missed nine games due to injury in the past two seasons.

26. LB Nigel Bradham, Eagles

88 career games; 69 starts; 447 tackles; two interceptions; 6.5 sacks; 25 passes defensed; five forced fumbles; three fumble recoveries; one defensive touchdown

Bradham started his career with the Bills (2012-15) before spending the past two seasons in Philadelphia. He had a strong year for the Super Bowl-champion Eagles in 2017, recording 88 tackles (61 solo), a sack, eight passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble returned for a touchdown.

27. LB Avery Williamson, Titans

63 career games; 59 starts; 377 tackles; two interceptions; 11.5 sacks; eight passes defensed; three forced fumbles; two fumble recoveries

Williamson played – and started – all 32 games of the past two seasons in Tennessee. The 2017 season marked his fourth in the NFL, and he recorded 92 tackles (52 solo) along with two passes defensed and a pair of forced fumbles.

28. S Morgan Burnett, Packers

102 career games; 102 starts; 717 tackles; nine interceptions; 7.5 sacks; 46 passes defensed; eight forced fumbles; 10 fumble recoveries; one defensive touchdown

Burnett has spent his entire career with the Packers since being selected by Green Bay in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He’s a familiar face for the Vikings, who have faced Burnett 14 times, including one playoff game, in the past eight seasons. The veteran safety missed four games in 2017 but still recorded 68 tackles (48 solo), three passes defensed and a forced fumble.

29. RB Dion Lewis, Patriots

54 career games; 19 starts; 329 carries for 1,584 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and 10 rushing touchdowns; 88 career receptions for 717 yards (8.1 yards per reception) and five touchdowns

After starting his career with two seasons in Philadelphia, Lewis has played the past three seasons with the Patriots and been an option both as a rusher and as a receiver out of the backfield. In 2017, Lewis played all 16 games for the first time in his career. He ran for 896 yards on 180 carries, recording six rushing touchdowns, and added 32 catches for 214 yards and a career-high three receiving touchdowns.

30. DT Star Lotulelei, Panthers

76 career games; 75 starts; 148 tackles; 11.5 sacks; five passes defensed; two forced fumbles; two fumble recoveries

Lotulelei is slated to enter free agency after spending five seasons with the Panthers, during which missed only four games. The defensive tackle doesn’t make many splash plays but has been a major reason the Panthers have ranked in the top six in rush yards allowed in four of the past five seasons.