NFL 2024 free-agent rankings: Top 5 defensive lineman group includes plenty of quality players

Some positions have very few tantalizing options in free agency this offseason. If you want an impact tight end, you're not going to find one in March.

But for teams looking for defensive line help, there are some intriguing players hitting free agency.

Defensive line (including edge rushers) is the strongest position in free agency. In our top 25 overall free agents as the offseason began, six of the top eight were on the defensive front including No. 1 free agent Chris Jones of the Kansas City Chiefs. Jones signed a big extension before the legal tampering period started, but there are still many intriguing talents about to hit the market.

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 linemen/edge rushers in free agency:

1. Miami Dolphins DT Christian Wilkins

(UPDATE: Agreed to four-year deal with Raiders)

Wilkins has been a good, dependable player since being a first-round draft pick out of Clemson. The Raiders swooped in and struck a deal while the Dolphins are dealing with salary-cap issues. Wilkins is good against the run and had nine sacks last season. He's at a prime age and just got paid very well, a reported $110 million deal for four years.

2. Minnesota Vikings EDGE Danielle Hunter

(UPDATE: Agreed to two-year deal with Texans)

Double-digit sacks is pretty much an expectation for Hunter. He has had at least 10 sacks in four of his last five seasons, and it would have been five-for-five if he wasn't limited to seven games in 2021 due to injury. He's about to turn 30 years old this season but that didn't stop Houston from agreeing to bring him in on a two-year deal with $48 million guaranteed.

3. Seattle Seahawks DL Leonard Williams

(UPDATE: Returning to Seahawks on three-year deal)

Last season, the Seahawks were pushing for the playoffs and traded a second- and fifth-round pick to the New York Giants for Williams. That speaks to Williams' value, even as he enters his age 30 season. He's a proven, versatile veteran, which is why Seattle is bringing him back on a reported three-year deal averaging $21.5 million per year.

4. New York Jets EDGE Bryce Huff

(UPDATE: Reportedly agreed to three-year, $51.1 million deal with Eagles)

Huff is a fascinating player. Before last season he was an undrafted defender with 8.5 sacks in three seasons. Then he exploded for 10 sacks last season and the advanced stats confirmed he had a true breakout season. He'll be just 26 years old next season for the Philadelphia Eagles, who are reportedly betting big on him via free agency. They just have to worry about the risk of paying big for a player who had one huge season practically out of nowhere.

5. Houston Texans EDGE Jonathan Greenard

(UPDATE: Reportedly agreed to four-year, $76 million deal with Vikings)

Greenard picked a good time to set a career high in sacks. He had 12.5 last season right before hitting free agency. Greenard, a third-round draft pick in 2020, has been a quality defender his entire NFL career when he has been healthy. He'll turn 27 in May and be a nice addition to the Vikings' pass rush. Greenard's deal with Minnesota is valued at $76 million, with $42 million guaranteed, his agent told ESPN's Adam Schefter.