Sneaky-Good 2023 NFL Free Agents Teams Should Be Eying Down the Stretch

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent INovember 26, 2022

Sneaky-Good 2023 NFL Free Agents Teams Should Be Eying Down the Stretch

0 of 8

    Colts WR Parris Campbell
    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Can you believe we're already in Week 12 of the 2022 NFL season? Time has flown by since the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams opened the campaign on September 8. We're now almost exactly halfway between that game and Super Bowl LVII.

    After the Super Bowl, the big focus will be on 2023 free agency, and you can bet that some teams are already looking ahead to the open-market period. Players like Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown Jr. and Saquon Barkley headline a loaded free-agent class, and we can expect them to command hefty contracts once teams are allowed to negotiate.

    However, teams looking for bargains can find value in players who aren't among the top-ranked fee agents of 2023. It's this group of value free agents that we're here to examine.

    Below, you'll find a list of eight impending free agents who could be sneaky-good additions this offseason. We'll examine what sort of value each can add and why teams should be tracking them over these final few weeks. Production was the main factor under consideration here, though age, past performance, player health and positional value were also considered.

    Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Vonn Bell, S, Cincinnati Bengals

1 of 8

    CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 06: Cincinnati Bengals Safety Vonn Bell (24) lines up for a play during the NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals on November 6, 2022, at Paycor Stadium, in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III made our list of top 2023 free agents, and the 25-year-old—who is playing on the franchise tag this season—should be a coveted defender this spring.

    However, teams shouldn't sleep on teammate and fellow safety Vonn Bell.

    Bell has typically performed well as a box safety and struggled in coverage. Last season, for example, he racked up 97 tackles and five tackles for loss but allowed an opposing passer rating (OPR) of 113.6 in coverage. Over his past four seasons, Bell has never allowed an OPR below 98.9.

    However, the 27-year-old has seemingly morphed into a dangerous ball hawk this season. Bell has logged five passes defended, a career-high four interceptions and allowed an OPR of only 45.2.

    Teams will want to track Bell for the remainder of the season to see if he continues his strong play or reverts to being a subpar cover man. He's been fantastic thus far and will quickly rise up free-agent wish lists if his early-season breakout is no fluke.

Parris Campbell, WR, Indianapolis Colts

2 of 8

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 13: Parris Campbell #1 of the Indianapolis Colts runs during an NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium on November 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    If you haven't followed the Indianapolis Colts closely this season, you may not realize to what extent Parris Campbell has emerged.

    The 2019 second-round pick out of Ohio State was largely a disappointment in his first three seasons. The injury bug was the culprit, as Campbell landed on injured reserve in 2019 (broken foot), 2020 (MCL and PCL injury) and 2021 (broken foot).

    However, Campbell has been healthy this season and has emerged as a viable No. 2 receiver opposite Michael Pittman Jr. The 25-year-old has caught 44 passes for 440 yards and three touchdowns while providing a passer rating of 96.5 when targeted.

    Campbell probably won't crack the coveted 1,000-yard mark in Indianapolis' 17th-ranked passing attack, but his production and reliability will draw interest on the open market.

    The big question is whether Campbell stay healthy for an entire season. If Campbell makes it to free agency without another significant injury, he should get plenty of looks from teams seeking a dependable second or third receiver.

Samson Ebukam, Edge, San Francisco 49ers

3 of 8

    INGLEWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 30: San Francisco 49ers defensive end Samson Ebukam (56) defends during an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams on October 30, 2022 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    San Francisco 49ers pass-rusher Samson Ebukam has missed the last two games while dealing with quadriceps and Achilles ailments. Teams will want to track him to see if he gets healthy and resumes the strong play he showed early in the season.

    Ebukam has never been a top-tier edge-rusher, but he's quietly been very good. He logged 4.5 sacks in each of his previous three seasons, two with the Los Angeles Rams and one with the 49ers in 2021.

    Through the first eight weeks of this season, the 27-year-old notched 3.5 sacks to go with 29 tackles and eight quarterback pressures. He did so while largely playing on a rotational basis (63 percent of the defensive snaps).

    The 2023 class isn't exactly loaded with top-end pass-rushing talent; Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue and Marcus Davenport are among the top names. If Ebukam returns to the field and to form, he could be a very valuable addition for teams not looking to overpay for a more well-known name.

Mack Hollins, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

4 of 8

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 13: Mack Hollins #10 of the Las Vegas Raiders lines up during an NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium on November 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    The 2023 receiver class is also a little underwhelming, with players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Lazard and Jakobi Meyers headlining the market. Because of a relatively shallow player pool, we're likely to see some second-tier wideouts getting comparatively large contracts.

    Teams not looking to overpay should be keeping a close eye on Las Vegas Raiders receiver Mack Hollins.

    The 29-year-old has flashed his playmaking ability in the past. In 2021, for example, he was a field-stretcher with the Miami Dolphins, averaging 15.9 yards per reception and scoring on four of his 14 receptions. This season with the Raiders, though, he has emerged as a reliable perimeter target.

    Hollins has set career highs in receptions (36) and receiving yards (469) while catching two touchdowns and providing a passer rating of 97.3 when targeted. Interestingly, Hollins has provided a passer rating above 97 in each campaign since 2020.

    With both Hunter Renfrow (ribs, hamstring) and Darren Waller (hamstring) on injured reserve, Hollins has been a focal point of the Las Vegas passing attack and will be moving forward. He had six receptions for 52 yards in Week 11, and if he can sustain that level of production, he'll be viewed as a starting-caliber receiver when the market opens.

Mike White, QB, New York Jets

5 of 8

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 22:  New York Jets quarterback Mike White (5) during the National Football League game between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons on August 22, 2022 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    OK, so we're cheating a bit here, as New York Jets quarterback Mike White has only been sneaky-good in one game as a pro. However, he was fantastic in that game, a 2021 upset of the Super Bowl-bound Bengals.

    Against Cincinnati, White finished 37-of-45 for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was injured in his next game and had a dismal four-interception performance in his final start of 2021, a blowout loss to Buffalo.

    Still, teams will want to watch White now that he's regained a starting opportunity in New York. The Jets recently announced that White will start over 2021 second overall pick Zach Wilson.

    “He’s won games with us, he does a great job in practice,” head coach Robert Saleh told reporters. “He’s extremely competent as a quarterback, and he’s got the ability to make all the throws on the football field, and run the offense in the manner that we need to."

    Teams will be interested to see which version of White shows up this season. If he plays more like he did against Cincinnati than against Buffalo, he could get some consideration as a 2023 starter. Jackson, Tom Brady and Geno Smith headline the quarterback class, but they're unlikely to be budget options in 2023.

    White could easily play his way into a placeholder gig like Smith with the Seattle Seahawks or Marcus Mariota with the Atlanta Falcons.

Chris Wormley, DL, Pittsburgh Steelers

6 of 8

    PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  Chris Wormley #95 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action on against the Chicago Bears on November 8, 2021 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Chris Wormley doesn't have eye-catching statistics this season—22 tackles and no sacks—which is why the 29-year-old is flying into the offseason under the radar.

    However, Wormley can be far more valuable than raw numbers might suggest. Capable of playing on the edge or on the defensive interior, the Michigan product is incredibly versatile.

    And it's not as if Wormley hasn't been a big-time producer before. Last season, he logged seven sacks and 18 quarterback pressures to go with 51 tackles, two passes defended and a forced fumble.

    Wormley has seen his defensive snap percentage dip from 71 percent in 2021 to 41 percent this season thanks, in part, to the offseason addition of Larry Ogunjobi.

    It's been a bad year overall for Pittsburgh's 28th-ranked defense, but teams should keep an eye on Wormley. If he can flash a little bit of the playmaking ability he showcased a year ago, some team will gobble him up knowing that it's getting a bargain.

Isaiah Wynn, OL, New England Patriots

7 of 8

    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: New England Patriots offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn (76) blocks during the game between the New England Patriots  and the Miami Dolphins, on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Teams should follow New England Patriots offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn for two very important reasons.

    For one, Wynn is nursing a foot injury and missed Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Will he be healthy at season's end? Secondly, teams will want to know if Wynn can rebound from what has been a rough stretch dating back to 2021.

    Last season, Wynn was responsible for nine penalties and six sacks allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. This year, he's been flagged nine times and and given up four sacks while playing right tackle and guard.

    Wynn spent the previous three seasons as a left tackle. He suffered a torn Achilles in the preseason as a rookie in 2018 and missed eight games with a toe injury in 2019.

    While the numbers and injury history are concerning, Wynn will gain a lot of attention if he gets healthy and plays well down the stretch. The Georgia product is capable of playing left and right tackle and at guard, and he's set to turn just 27 in December.

    Behind some uneven production in New England lies a rare combination of youth, upside and versatility, giving Wynn the potential to be a surprisingly valuable 2023 addition.

Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Las Vegas Raiders

8 of 8

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 18: Rock Ya-Sin #26 of the Las Vegas Raiders walks through the tunnel to the field prior to an NFL football game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Arizona Cardinals at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    Michael Owens/Getty Images

    The 2023 free-agent class is shaping up to be deep in the secondary, with players like Bates, Bell, James Bradberry and C.J. Gardner-Johnson scheduled to be available. Raiders cornerback Rock Ya-Sin could join that group.

    Ya-Sin was acquired in the trade that sent Ngakoue to the Colts. With Indy, the 2019 second-round pick got off to a slow start but showed continued growth. As a rookie, he allowed an opposing passer rating of 109.2, but that number dipped in each of the next two seasons to 98.7 in 2020 and 88.8 in 2021.

    However, Ya-Sin also saw a diminished role with the Colts, starting 13 games as a rookie and only 16 games over the next two campaigns.

    With the Raiders, Ya-Sin has reemerged as a starter, and he's been quietly fantastic. He missed Week 4 with a knee injury but has started eight of nine contests and has played 92 percent of the defensive snaps when healthy. He has logged six passes defended and allowed an OPR of just 74.7 in coverage this season.

    Can Ya-Sin continue playing well as a starter in what is largely a lost season for the Raiders? That's what teams will want to know ahead of the offseason. Ya-Sin isn't one of the biggest names set to hit the market, but he could prove to be one of free agency's best values.

    *Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.