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Kirk Cousins and Chris Jones head an NFL free agents list filled with star-quality players

Need a Pro Bowl quarterback, an All-Pro defensive lineman or a future Hall of Fame wide receiver?

NFL teams could find one of these guys and plenty more star-quality players when the free agency period begins on March 13. Kirk Cousins, Chris Jones and Mike Evans are among the best players who will be available on the open market unless their teams use a franchise tag by March 5. The Bengals already used it on wideout Tee Higgins.

They’ll be joined by running backs Derrick Henry, Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs, edge rushers Josh Allen, Brian Burns and Danielle Hunter and several other talented players at various positions, including wide receiver, safety and linebacker.

Defensive line is the deepest position while offensive tackle has the fewest starting-caliber players on the list.

Here are the top 25 players set to become free agents:

1. KIRK COUSINS, QUARTERBACK, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The four-time Pro Bowl QB was having an excellent season before he tore an Achilles tendon in October. He has said he wants to stay in Minnesota and coach Kevin O’Connell reiterated the team feels the same way.

“I believe Kirk wants to be a Viking, and we’re going to work to try and make that the outcome,” O’Connell said Tuesday.

2. CHRIS JONES, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: The two-time All-Pro is a game-changer, as evidenced in Kansas City’s win over San Francisco in the Super Bowl. It would cost the Chiefs about $32 million to use the franchise tag on Jones again this season, a decision they haven’t yet made.

“That’s certainly a guy we want back and love,” general manager Brett Veach said. “We want to see him finish his career here in Kansas City.”

3. JOSH ALLEN, EDGE RUSHER, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Allen had a career-high 17 1/2 sacks in his contract year. Allen is Jacksonville’s best defensive player. They can’t afford to let him leave but many teams will be interested.

4. CHRISTIAN WILKINS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, MIAMI DOLPHINS: Already one of the best run defenders in the NFL, Wilkins had a career-best nine sacks to increase his value on the open market.

5. JUSTIN MADUBUIKE, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, BALTIMORE RAVENS: Madubuike had more sacks last season (13) than his first three seasons combined. His breakout season will land him a significant deal, and perhaps a franchise tag.

6. BRIAN BURNS, EDGE RUSHER, CAROLINA PANTHERS: He’s been the best defensive player on a terrible team and would seem eager to get a fresh start elsewhere but the Panthers aren’t going to let him get away easily.

GM Dan Morgan already said the team would likely use the $24 million franchise tag on Burns.

“We would definitely use it if we had to use it,” Morgan said. “We love Brian.”

7. ANTOINE WINFIELD JR., SAFETY, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: The versatile Winfield had an All-Pro season, helping the Buccaneers win a third straight division title and advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Buccaneers are aiming to sign Winfield to a long-term deal instead of giving him the franchise tag at $17.1 million.

8. L’JARIUS SNEED, CORNERBACK, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: A tough, physical cornerback, Sneed didn’t allow a touchdown and was an instrumental part of Steve Spagnuolo’s championship defense. The Chiefs could use the franchise tag, which is about $19 million for cornerbacks.

9. MIKE EVANS, WIDE RECEIVER, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: He’s the only player to start his career with 10 seasons with 1,000 yards receiving. Evans turns 31 in August but hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. The Buccaneers want to keep him but he’d be a great fit for several teams.

10. DANIELLE HUNTER, EDGE RUSHER, MINNESOTA VIKINGS: The four-time Pro Bowl pick had a career-best 16 1/2 sacks, his fifth season reaching double digits in eight years.

11. JAYLON JOHNSON, CORNERBACK, CHICAGO BEARS: He’s physical, consistent and has the ability to be a lockdown player.

12. MICHAEL PITTMAN, WIDE RECEIVER, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: Pittman had a career-best 109 catches and 1,152 yards receiving. He’ll be 27 in October and is a candidate for a franchise tag.

13. SAQUON BARKLEY, RUNNING BACK, NEW YORK GIANTS: The two-time Pro Bowl pick could get the franchise tag for the second straight season. If not, Barkley should get plenty of interest in free agency despite the league’s overall devaluing of the running back position.

14. TYRON SMITH, LEFT TACKLE, DALLAS COWBOYS: After being limited to just 17 games over the previous three seasons, Smith started 13 and returned to his dominant form.

15. BAKER MAYFIELD, QUARTERBACK, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: After bouncing around in 2022, Mayfield signed a one-year deal to replace Tom Brady in Tampa Bay and had the best season of his career. He wants to remain with the Buccaneers and they want to keep him.

16. DERRICK HENRY, RUNNING BACK, TENNESSEE TITANS: The 30-year-old four-time Pro Bowl pick has plenty of wear and tear but he just started 17 games, ran for 1,167 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He’s had five 1,000-yard seasons in the last six years, including 2,027 yards in 2020, and he’s scored double-digit TDs six straight years. He’s a perfect fit on a contender.

17. LEONARD WILLIAMS, DEFENSIVE TACKLE, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: A tough run defender, Williams was a force rushing the passer last year. He cost Seattle two draft picks in a trade so the Seahawks will make a strong push to keep him.

18. KENDALL FULLER, CORNERBACK, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: He’s a versatile defensive back with ability to play outside, in the slot or at safety.

19. JOSH JACOBS, RUNNING BACK, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: Struggled to follow up an All-Pro 2022 season but finished strong.

20. KYLE DUGGER, SAFETY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Excels against the run but needs more consistency in pass coverage.

21. MIKE ONWENU, RIGHT TACKLE, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: He has versatility to play guard and be a bookend tackle.

22. CALVIN RIDLEY, WIDE RECEIVER, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Put up solid numbers — 76-1,016-8 — in his first season back from a suspension and would be an excellent fit on a team that already has a star No. 1 receiver.

23. STEPHON GILMORE, CORNERBACK, DALLAS COWBOYS: The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year has played for four teams in the past four seasons but still is among the top guys at his position.

24. MARQUISE BROWN, WIDE RECEIVER, ARIZONA CARDINALS: Still waiting for that breakout year after his best season with Baltimore in 2021. Has game-changing deep speed that will interest many teams.

25. BRYCE HUFF, EDGE RUSHER, NEW YORK JETS: Huff goes from undrafted to a big payday after recording a career-best 10 sacks last season. He still needs to develop as a run defender to be more than a pass-rush specialist.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press