NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars

The NFL Combine may have dominated the football world this past week, but before the players measured and tested have a chance to get drafted, the league's 32 teams will go through the free agency process, trying to round their rosters into appropriate shape so that they can draft the best players possible rather than merely to fill needs.

In just over one week's time, the new league year will begin, and plenty of players around the league will change teams. We've spent the past couple weeks previewing all aspects of free agency, and in the space below, we'll look at the top 10 interior defensive linemen who are set to hit the open market.

This has become an increasingly important position in recent years as teams have begun to value interior pressure nearly as much as edge pressure, and players who can rush the passer from the inside are now highly valued. Run defenders still have a role to play as well, but if you get you a man who can do both, that's ideal.  

Here's our top 10, listed in reverse order (10-1).

(Note: Some players might agree to deal between now and the start of free agency).

Player2023 TeamPositionSnap %AgePrevious AAV
Tim SettleBillsIDL35%27$3 million
DaQuan JonesBillsIDL16%33$7 million
Calais CampbellFalconsIDL63%38$7 million
Fletcher CoxEaglesIDL59%34$10 million
Denico AutryTitansIDL67%34$7.7 million
Grover StewartColtsIDL38%31$10.3 million
D.J. ReaderBengalsIDL49%30$13.3 million
Leonard WilliamsSeahawksIDL76%30$21 million
Christian WilkinsDolphinsIDL81%29$3.9 million
Chris JonesChiefsIDL68%30$20 million

Spotrac projects a three-year, $85.45 million deal ($28.48 million AAV) for Jones. That would make him the second-highest-paid interior defender in the league behind only Aaron Donald, and the third-highest-paid defender overall behind Donald and Nick Bosa. There is "growing optimism" that Jones will re-sign in Kansas City, per recent reports, and this type of deal could make that happen.

Justin Madubuike and Wilkins also command sizable deals, with the former checking in at four years, $81.28 million ($20.3 million AAV) and the latter projecting for four years, $80.98 million ($20.2 million AAV). They are each franchise-tag candidates if they can't come to an agreement with their respective teams ahead of free agency.

Note: Madubuike was franchise tagged by the Ravens

Williams (three years, $50.16 million ($16.7 million AAV) and Reader (three years, $44.75 million ($14.9 million AAV) come in slightly behind that duo, but still are projected for significant contracts in free agency. 

Fittingly, given that the latter half of our top-10 list is filled mostly with late-career veterans, the only two of them with a contract projection from Spotrac are Jones (one year, $6.82 million) and Settle (two years, $7.6 million, $3.8 million AAV). We'd expect Autry, Cox, and Campbell to get one-year deals as well, though with Stewart still being only 31, he could land a multiyear pact.

Our free agency primer lists the Cardinals, Ravens, Bills, Panthers, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Texans, Colts, Jaguars, Chiefs, Raiders, Chargers, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Eagles, Seahawks, Buccaneers and Titans as teams with a potential need on the defensive interior. That's 25 (!) of the league's 32 teams. Even if Jones, Madubuike, and Wilkins take the Chiefs, Ravens, and Dolphins out of the market, it's still nearly 75% of the league looking for help inside, including most of the teams with significant cap room. There should be a robust market for all of these players, including for the guys likely seeking one-year deals with contenders.