While this year’s NFL free agent class is highlighted by superstars Davante Adams and Terron Armstead, they are far from the only high-impact players available for NFL teams to bid on. Each year, there are certain smaller-name free agents that make fundamental differences for the franchise when put in the right situation.
In 2021, an under-the-radar free agent that paid large dividends was Trey Hendrickson, who signed a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals after spending his first four seasons with the Saints. Hendrickson would be a cornerstone of the Bengal’s much-improved defense, recording 14 sacks on the way to a Super Bowl appearance.
In 2022, teams are looking for the next Hendrickson to turn their team around and compete for a championship next season. Here are my top free agents that have not been discussed nearly as often as they should be.
Marcus Williams, Safety
One of the best ten free agents that nobody is talking about, Marcus Williams is one of the elite safeties in the NFL, yet never gets the recognition of one. He is an all-around player, as Williams has been a consistently great player in coverage and in run support for one of the best defenses in all of football.
Williams’ name is still unfairly attached to the Minnesota Miracle, as he was the player who missed a game-ending tackle on Stefon Diggs in the 2017 divisional round, allowing Diggs to score and win the game for the Vikings as time expired. Williams was terrific that season prior to the play and has continued to improve his play since that moment.
Marcus Williams can be a phenomenal addition for the Dallas Cowboys. While Dallas significantly improved their defense this past year under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the team can still use secondary help. Williams’ presence in the backend of coverage can work well alongside cornerback Trevon Diggs.
De’Vondre Campbell, Linebacker
One of the best inside linebackers in the NFL a year ago, De’Vondre Campbell is the epitome of an under-the-radar 2021 free agent who made a much larger impact than expected. This year, he remains a name not often discussed by fans and analysts , and will once again improve any defense he joins.
Campbell was highly regarded by Pro Football Focus, as his 90.7 run defense grade ranked first among all inside linebackers. Campbell can play a high snap count for any team he goes to, as he has been a three-down linebacker since entering the league in 2016.
My best fit for Campbell is the Philadelphia Eagles, who have not been able to get the linebacker position right for a couple seasons.
David Njoku, Tight End
One of the most athletic tight ends of the NFL, David Njoku can be a fun addition to any team’s passing offense after spending his first four seasons in Cleveland. His production will never tell the whole story on how good of a player he has been, as the University of Miami product has been a consistent big play threat and improved run blocker.
He can be a perfect fit for the New York Jets, who will be looking to improve their offense around young quarterback Zach Wilson. Adding him to a receiving corp that already features Corey Davis and Elijah Moore could give New York its most viable passing game in years.
Quandre Diggs, Safety
Quandre Diggs has quietly been one of the best safeties in all of football over the past five seasons. Before his stint with Seattle, Diggs was a terrific player on a struggling Lions’ defense, and since getting to Seattle, has been much improved statistically.
My best fit for Quandre Diggs is the Baltimore Ravens, a team desperate to find a safety. Diggs will instantly improve a secondary that was torched in the second half of the 2021 season, most notably giving up over 500 yards to Joe Burrow in week 16.
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