The NFL season just ended, but that doesn’t mean we’re finished talking about football. Truthfully, the NFL offseason can be one of the more exciting times in the sport, with free agency, the draft, and trades, not to mention the rumors and speculation swirling around these events. The legal tampering period for the NFL begins in a week, on March 14, and the gold rush officially begins on March 16 – so we don’t have much time left before free agency hits.

In the final installment of this series, we tackle the defensive lineman position (pun intended). While some of the top five are no longer spring chickens, they offer valuable experience and have shown they can still play at a top level when they are on the field. A younger team in need of a veteran presence could be very interested in the following five players.





While Akiem Hicks was injured for most of the 2021 season, he still totaled five sacks, five quarterback hits, and five hurries in nine games – showing he still has gas in the tank at almost 33 years old. He’s coming off of a four-year, $48 million dollar contract, but last year’s injury is likely to be brought up frequently by teams trying to offer a low-ball deal. The Bears have plenty of cap space if they want to re-sign Hicks to a shorter deal, but they might instead turn their attention to bringing in some offensive weapons to support Justin Fields. If Hicks doesn’t re-up with Chicago, the Chargers could be a prime landing spot after struggled against the run last season. LAC has cap space and Hicks has history with head coach Brandon Staley.




At 35 years old, Calais Campbell continues to impress teams with his defensive abilities – grading ninth among interior defensive linemen in overall defense during the 2021 season. He only had one sack, but he hurried the quarterback 19 times and had 34 solo tackles – making him a great run defense asset to the Ravens. He’s not likely to command any kind of long-term contract at his age, but he should continue to be able to play on one-year deals until he retires. The Ravens have been open about bringing him back if he wants to return but, if he doesn’t, the Patriots could make room for the veteran on their line.






After being traded from the Giants to the Bengals prior to the 2021 season, B.J. Hill put up career numbers. He ended the season with 12 combined sacks and 40 tackles, and he also intercepted Patrick Mahomes during an overtime thriller in the AFC Championship Game. At just under 26 years old, Hill has plenty of playing time left in him to command a multi-year contract. The Bengals have the cap space to sign him to a deal, and they should if they’re trying to repeat as AFC Champions. However, if they elect to spend on the offensive line instead, Hill could end up in Dallas with question marks surrounding the return of several of its defensive linemen.




The 49ers kept D.J. Jones on a one-year deal after his rookie contract expired in 2020, but they could be regretting that decision after the season he just had. He ranked 21st among all interior linemen in overall defensive grade for the 2021 season as he tallied three sacks, 20 hurries, and 48 solo tackles. The 49ers have some cap-space issues and may not work out a new deal with Jones. The Chargers, Browns, and Raiders could all offer up favorable multi-year contracts to lock down one of the top defensive linemen in the league.




Folorunso Fatukasi had a down season in 2021 compared to his previous two with the Jets, but he still managed to rack up 47 combined tackles and a career-high 16 quarterback pressures. The Jets have cap space to offer him a deal, but recent reports have indicated that they aren’t looking to to do so for 2022. In the event Fatukasi walks, the Cowboys or Chargers may be interested in his skill-set.

Information for the free agent series was collected from Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Over the Cap, and Spotrac.




NFL Top Free Agents By Position

Check out the rest of our Top 5 Free Agent series with breakdowns of each position on both offense and defense!



Looking for the rest of the top unsigned free agents? Check out the links below for what's been published already: