NFL 2024 free-agent rankings: Top 5 defensive backs includes newly released Justin Simmons

As the value of No. 1 receivers continues to rise in the NFL, so does the value of those assigned to cover them.

Good cornerbacks are at a premium in the NFL. Do-everything safeties haven't quite caught up to cornerbacks in terms of contracts, but they are still quite valuable. And there are many intriguing safeties in free agency this offseason. There are many more quality safeties than cornerbacks on the market, due to franchise tags to top cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and L'Jarius Sneed.

Yahoo Sports is ranking the top five NFL free agents by position. (Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)
Yahoo Sports is ranking the top five NFL free agents by position. (Mallory Bielecki/Yahoo Sports)

Here are the top five defensive backs in free agency:

1. Washington Commanders CB Kendall Fuller

(UPDATE: Reached two-year deal with Dolphins)

Fuller leads a fairly thin cornerback class. Fuller is versatile, able to play at a high level outside or from the slot. Fuller is 29 but hasn't shown signs of aging. He has the seventh-highest grade among all cornerbacks at Pro Football Focus last season.

2. New York Giants S Xavier McKinney

(UPDATE: Reached four-year deal with Packers)

It's surprising the Giants didn't give the franchise tag to McKinney. He's just 24, a former second-round draft pick and coming off a fantastic season. McKinney had 116 tackles and three interceptions last season. He should be an impact addition for Green Bay.

3. Denver Broncos S Justin Simmons

Simmons was a fan favorite in Denver, but was released by the Broncos. Part of that was the Broncos scraping for cap space after cutting Russell Wilson, some of it was that Sean Payton reportedly believed Simmons' salary was too high for a position he doesn't value. Now Simmons, a two-time Pro Bowler, can be a valuable asset for another team at age 30.

4. Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard

Howard would have been a highly coveted free agent a few years ago. He was once the highest paid cornerback in NFL history. But he's 30 now and dealt with injuries last season. Perhaps Howard isn't a great asset anymore at cornerback, but his past success as a four-time Pro Bowler will probably lead to a team taking a shot.

5. Washington Commanders S Kamren Curl

Curl was a seventh-round pick but quickly got into the Commanders' starting lineup as a rookie. In his four seasons with the team he showed good all-around ability. At age 25, he should get a nice long-term deal.