Predicting where each of the top-30 NFL free agents will sign

The NFL offseason will be here before you know it, which means it's time to take a look at the top free agents and where they might land.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes to wide receiver Mike Evans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes to wide receiver Mike Evans / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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25. Za’Darius Smith
Previous Team: Cleveland Browns
Future Team: Chicago Bears

We see a very busy season coming from the Chicago Bears. The tide is starting to turn on the Justin Fields talk, and it seems like he is going to get traded (although things can change in an instant). The Bears hold the number-one overall pick, but the front office can’t afford another full rebuild. They need to build around (presumably) Caleb Williams immediately. A good defense is a great way to keep his responsibilities in check. 

The Bears had a pretty good defense in 2023. They led the league in interceptions with 22, but they still gave up too many points. Teams scored a total of 31 touchdowns against them. Part of the reason is the Bears cannot get to the quarterback. They finished the season with 30 sacks, with only the lowly Panthers below them. 

Smith isn’t coming off his best season with the Cleveland Browns, but it’s almost like he was too much of a good thing. After a 10-sack season in 2022, Smith recorded just 5.5 sacks this season. Two of those sacks came against the Texans in the regular season, but he failed to make an impact in the playoffs.

The Bears need regular season impact. They need a player who will come in and do his job, especially if that job is sacking the quarterback. There’s a reason why everyone was happy when the Vikings decided to give Smith away to Cleveland. He comes with a pass-rushing pedigree. Sure, he’s on the wrong side of 30 (he turns 32 in September), but he still has enough left in the tank to be a model defender for the Bears.