Best available NFL free agents this preseason

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Best available NFL free agents this preseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It's been over four months since the NFL's 2022 free-agent period began. From Von Miller joining the Buffalo Bills on a major blockbuster signing to Julio Jones and Tom Brady teaming up in Tampa Bay, there has been no shortage of entertainment this offseason.

Yet some big names remain unsigned.

As preseason gets underway across the National Football League, several notable players still don't have a camp to actually report to. That group includes multi-time Pro Bowlers like wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and cornerback Joe Haden, among others.

So should a team decide in the leadup to the regular season that it needs a veteran boost, here are the best available players to choose from:

WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham Jr’s injury situation is the only reason he’s still a free agent. The three-time Pro Bowler suffered a torn ACL in the Los Angeles Rams’ Super Bowl triumph back in February. OBJ, who turns 30 later this year, should have several suitors assuming he’s able to make his return sometime this season. Following a dramatic midseason exit from the Cleveland Browns, Beckham Jr. finished the 2021 campaign strong in Los Angeles. He hauled in 48 catches for 593 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 total games with the Rams, earning a Super Bowl ring in the process.

OT Eric Fisher

Another durable, multi-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle with tons of NFL experience. Fisher suited up for a team other than the Kansas City Chiefs for the first time last season, making 15 starts for the Indianapolis Colts. The former No. 1 overall pick managed to reach the 15-game mark for the seventh time in his nine-year career despite coming off a major injury. Fisher went down with a torn Achilles in the 2020 AFC Championship Game while playing for Kansas City.

DE Trey Flowers

The Detroit Lions released Flowers at the beginning of free agency in a cost-cutting move, saving over $10 million by parting ways with the two-time Super Bowl champ. Flowers struggled with injuries in the final two of his three seasons in Detroit as he missed 19 total contests. That ended a four-year stretch where he was both durable and productive. From 2016-19, Flowers totaled at least 6.5 sacks and 14 games played each season. Flowers turns 29 in August.

WR Will Fuller

Fuller's first season with the Miami Dolphins didn't go as planned. He appeared in just two games due to a suspension, personal issue and broken finger after joining Miami on a one-year, $10 million contract. The speedy wideout hasn't played in more than 11 games since his 2016 rookie season. Fuller, 28, did have a strong 2020 performance with the Texans, tallying 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games.

CB Joe Haden

A former No. 7 overall pick of the Cleveland Browns, Haden has racked up 148 starts and three Pro Bowl appearances across his 12-year career. Haden, 33, was limited to 12 games with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021 due to a Lisfranc injury as he recorded six passes defended, one forced fumble and 38 total tackles. Last season was the first time Haden didn’t come up with at least one interception since 2015, when he played in only five games. Haden spent the last five seasons in Pittsburgh.

WR T.Y. Hilton

A neck injury kept Hilton out of the Colts’ lineup for the first five games of last season, and he struggled to make an impact upon his return. The four-time Pro Bowler caught 23 of 37 targets for 331 yards and three touchdowns over 10 games, marking the third straight season where he failed to reach 1,000 yards. Hilton, who turns 33 later this year, has played his entire career in Indy, and the Colts haven’t ruled out bringing him back for 2022 just yet.

LB Dont’a Hightower

After opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, Hightower wasn't the same player in his return to the New England Patriots. The linebacker made his second career Pro Bowl in 2019 with 5.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, 71 total tackles and 13 QB hits, but his numbers dipped to 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, 64 tackles and four QB hits last season. Hightower, 33, has won three Super Bowls with the Pats since being drafted in the first round by New England in the 2012 draft.

C J.C. Tretter

Like Flowers, Tretter was a cap casualty earlier this offseason. Tretter signed with the Browns in 2017 and missed just one game over his five seasons with the franchise. But the Browns moved on from him to save over $8 million in cap space. Tretter, who is president of the NFLPA, was the No. 7-ranked center by Pro Football Focus last season.