Top-5 NFL Free Agents and the Teams That Need Them
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NFL Free agency starts soon (March 18, 2020), and there are some big names still on the available list, however, this is now the period of the offseason where the action starts to really heat up.
While there are certain talented free agents who expect to start a bidding war between their current team and other suitors, there are just as many players hoping to remain exactly where they are and will most likely stay put and sign a new deal or extension that makes them happy.
Here we take a look at the top-5 NFL free agents currently available and the teams that could use their skill sets, but first, we examine all the big names on the list who will most likely stay exactly where they are.
And that starts with:
4 Veteran Quarterbacks Destined to be Re-Signed
As tantalizing and talented as these four veteran free-agent quarterbacks are, chances are they’re going nowhere fast, at least as far as their home team goes.
Drew Brees, 41 years old
The ‘old’ man who just made his 13th Pro Bowl appearance told the media in no uncertain terms that if he does decide to return for his 20th NFL season, it would absolutely be with the New Orleans Saints.
Dak Prescott, 26 years old
After rejecting a $33 million / year that the Dallas Cowboys offered him back in September, Dak put together the best season of his career in 2019, so the delay in re-signing him will cost owner Jerry Jones a whole lot more money than that…but he’ll most likely pay the man new head coach Mike McCarthy calls “our franchise quarterback.”
Tom Brady, 42 years old
The GOAT is apparently “operating under the belief that he will enter free agency,” according to ESPN, with suspected interest from the Las Vegas Raiders, the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Tampa Bay Bucs, but chances are New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will ante up for at least another season or two and Brady will be back under center in Foxborough to begin his third decade in the NFL.
Ryan Tannehill, 31 years old
The Tennessee Titans got considerably better once Tannehill took over in Week 7 of the 2019 season, the team going from 2-4 at that point to a 9-7 finish, which was good enough to snag a Wild Card playoff spot that the Titans almost turned into an AFC Championship win, a Tennessee run that Tannehill will most likely get a chance to repeat in 2020.
2 Free Agent Lineman Who Won’t Stray Far
Re-signing Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones, 25 years old, is said to be a total priority for the Super Bowl champions, and given the value of quarterback hunters in the NFL, Jones, with 33 sacks and 72 quarterback hits in his four pro seasons, should be able to name his price.
Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo, 31 years old, just informed the team that, contrary to the ongoing speculation that he was going to retire from the NFL, he will in fact be returning to the Colts in 2020 and the two sides are now working up a contract that will make that happen, retaining a talented player for a tough OL position for any team to fill.
2 Free Agent Wide Receivers Least Likely to Fly
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys, 25 years old
The Dallas Cowboys new head coach Mike McCarthy made it perfectly clear on Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine that the Cowboys do not want Cooper “going to a new team,” so expect owner Jerry Jones to make a solid offer sometime before free agency officially begins.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, 31 years old
According to the Bengals second-year head coach Zac Taylor, the team is “very confident” that speedy deep threat receiver A.J. Green will be in Cincinnati next season, so it is just a matter of time before a deal is made, most likely before the official beginning of free agency.
So those were some of the better free agents that most likely won’t be available once the official start date arrives, and now we look at the best five players that are searching for a new home and will probably be buyable (for a price) soon.
Let’s start by looking at:
#5) 3 Veteran Quarterbacks Rejected By Their Prior Teams
All good things must come to an end, they say, and it’s absolute truth for these three veteran quarterbacks who could not get the job done for their prior teams.
Suddenly, these three men of a certain football age find themselves looking for a new NFL franchise to call home, and we list a few of the teams that could be interested.
Philip Rivers, 38 years old
Rivers has been a Charger since he entered the NFL back in 2004, their starter since 2006, but after failing to lead his team to the postseason in five of the last six seasons, Rivers has been told his services are no longer needed in Los Angeles.
The teams that could use the aging veteran with the odd-looking throwing motion – the Indianapolis Colts, the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, all teams who are moving on from their current quarterback and who could use a veteran like Rivers to help whatever young star they draft get acclimated.
Jameis Winston, 26 years old
Jameis is young and talented for sure, the Tampa Bay Bucs’ quarterback since 2015, but after throwing a league-leading 30 interceptions last season (88 total in five years), the team has decided that it would be better off moving on.
The teams that could help save the man who seems to prefer throwing the ball to the defense – the Indianapolis Colts, the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos, the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Chicago Bears are all in the market for franchise quarterbacks – maybe one of those team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach can figure out what’s ailing Winston.
Marcus Mariota, 26 years old
Mariota was the Tennessee Titans’ franchise quarterback for the last four and a half seasons until Week 7 of 2019 when he was replaced under center by Ryan Tannehill, and now Mariota finds himself without a job or football franchise to call home, and with a career record of 29-32, he is no easy sell.
The teams that might have room for a man with a career completion percentage of 62.9 – the Indianapolis Colts, the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos, the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all in the market for quarterbacks – maybe one of those teams is willing to take a chance on Mariota re-finding the magic that earned him the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Manning Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the AP Player of the Yea, the Sporting News Player of the Year, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and a Unanimous All-American in 2014, his last season at Oregon.
#4) Edge Rusher Jadeveon Clowney, 27 years old
The Seattle Seahawks will have a chance to keep star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a former first overall pick who says he would like to return to play for head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks but that he is also “open to new opportunities if it comes down to that.”
Seattle’s general manager John Schneider has made it clear that the team will not use its franchise tag on Clowney, so it will be up to them to offer him a long-term deal or risk losing him to the open market.
Two teams have already expressed serious interest in the former Gamecock – the New York Giants and the Indianapolis Colts, with both teams needing the quarterback hunting help that Clowney potentially provides.
#3) Cornerback Chris Harris, Jr., 30 years old
Four-time Pro Bowl and former All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris helped the Denver Broncos win a Super Bowl five seasons ago and now general manager John Elway has to decide whether he wants to pay to keep Harris on the roster.
This will be Harris’ 10th season in the NFL, and in that time, he has posted 20 interceptions, 86 passes defended, 4.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and 518 total tackles, starting all sixteen games last season for the Broncos’ 10th ranked pass defense.
While the two sides are attempting to create a satisfactory deal for 2020, which would be $15 million per year to keep Harris, other teams have expressed interest, particularly the Philadelphia Eagles, whose pass defense ranked 19th last season and could use a strong DB like Harris in their secondary.
#2) Cornerback Byron Jones, 27 years old
The Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is going to have to spend so much money to keep quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper around (and that’s after having to pay running back Zeke Elliott big money last year), so chances are there will be little cash left to spend on talented cornerback Bryon Jones.
With his skill set in the secondary, Jones is expected to command $15 million per season and that could be too much for a Cowboys team that’s already flirting with salary cap issues.
The Philadelphia Eagles are one team that will be looking at Jones the free agent (two of their cornerbacks will be free agents), but then it comes down to whether they have that kind of money to spend on a cornerback, though it could be worth it to snag such a defensive gem from their NFC East rivals.
#1) Safety Anthony Harris, 28 years old
Minnesota Vikings’ strong safety Anthony Harris had an incredible 2019, with a league co-leading 6 interceptions, 11 passes defended, 60 total tackles and a fumble recovery, so the veteran strong safety free agent has put himself in a position to get paid some serious money.
The Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins are reported to be interested in Harris’ safety help, as are the New England Patriots, whose star safety Devin McCourty will also be a free agent soon.
The team that could really use Harris’ talent, though, is the Cleveland Browns, who are in desperate need of a strong safety and who are now being coached by Kevin Stefanski, the former offensive coordinator for the Vikings, a man who had a front-row seat watching Harris perform his own miracles in Minneapolis all last season.
NFL Free Agency FAQ
When does the NFL free agency start?
NFL free agency begins as scheduled on March 18 at 4 p.m.
When does NFL free agency end?
NFL free agency ends on the same day, March 18 at 11:59:59 p.m.