Arizona Cardinals DE Zach Allen among NFL’s top 2023 free agents, per PFF

Jan 22, 2023, 11:30 AM
Zach Allen #94 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a sack against the Los Angeles Chargers in the f...
Zach Allen #94 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a sack against the Los Angeles Chargers in the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium on November 27, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Allen progressed into a key disrupter up front in his first four NFL seasons and is entering free agency for the first time.

Allen, a 2019 third-round pick, was second to J.J. Watt in sacks in 2022 with 5.5 for Arizona and picked up 19 quarterback hits.

His production landed him on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 upcoming free agents to hit the market when the new league year starts on March 15.

PFF ranked Allen No. 23 overall, fifth among defensive linemen.

Allen has taken advantage of mentorship from future first-ballot Hall of Famer J.J. Watt early in his career, and he took a big leap in 2022. Allen earned his first run-defense grade above 60.0 and first pass-rush grade above 70.0, with a career-best 35 quarterback pressures and 8.3% pressure rate.

Allen could be a big benefactor of the pending market explosion among interior defenders, though he will land in the second or third tier of the position group.

Allen, 25, was one of two Cardinals to make the list, as right tackle Kelvin Beachum landed at No. 42 after starting all 17 games in 2022.

On an offensive line that changed constantly due to injuries, he was a constant.

Beachum earned his 10th straight season-long pass-blocking grade above 70.0 and showed few signs of slowing down at 33 years old, logging over 1,100 snaps with a revolving door of lineman teammates at each of the other four positions all season long.

The Cardinals have 29 unrestricted free agents, a new general manager in Monti Ossenfort and are interviewing head coaching candidates. The team could look very different next season.

Fellow upcoming Cardinals free agents include cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., kicker Matt Prater and offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Rodney Hudson — both of whom disused retirement before the season — none of whom made PFF’s list.

Spotrac evaluated Allen’s estimated market value based on similar players at two years, $12,684,800 for an average of $6,342,400, which would rank No. 35 in the league for a defensive end.

Beachum’s projected value on the market is $7,466,486 over two seasons.

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Arizona Cardinals DE Zach Allen among NFL’s top 2023 free agents, per PFF