Plenty of free agent help, especially on defense, still available


Tuesday brought some news, lots of rumors and a handful of players re-signing with their own teams before becoming eligible to hit the free agent market when it opens Wednesday.

It also brought Malik Jackson a lot of money. The former Broncos defensive tackle agreed to terms with the Jaguars on a contract worth $90 million, $42 million guaranteed. After teams used their franchise tags last week, Jackson was the top potential free agent left.

Of the top 13 players on PFT’s Hot 100 Free Agent list, only No. 6 Olivier Vernon (transition tag, Dolphins) and No. 12 Damon Harrison don’t have some level of certainty as to where they’ll be playing next year. Vernon might end up with the Dolphins, but their signing of Mario Williams Tuesday indicates they may be willing to move on.

There’s still drama involved with the 4 p.m. ET Wednesday start of free agency, though, because lots of teams have money to spend. While offensive linemen Alex Mack, Andre Smith and Mitchell Schwartz are still in line for big contracts, more defensive players figure to find homes quickly. Sean Smith and Janoris Jenkins are the top available cornerbacks, while behind Harrison the top defensive linemen are Jaye Howard, Ian Williams, Robert Ayers and Nick Fairley.

Tuesday was a good day for pass rushers — Bruce Irvin, Williams, Jason Pierre-Paul and Charles Johnson landed big-money deals — and teams are still looking for help in that area. On the offensive side, running back Chris Ivory agreeing to sign with the Jaguars should help set the market for Doug Martin and Lamar Miller.