Top 10 2020 Free Agents
Free Agency is just days away. The Combine is in the rear mirror and the NFL Draft is six weeks away. That means we need to fill the time, and column inches. Luckily for us, we have what is arguably the most important period of the off-season to talk about. This time last year, we all saw Free Agent signings being made that turned nearly runs into playoff contenders, and playoff contenders into Super Bowl teams. These next three to four weeks will change the course of the 2020 season and will have significant impact as to who will be playing for the Super Bowl in Tampa in February. It is with this in mind that I have decided to talk about the Top 10 Free Agents in 2020. Now, I should preface this with the fact I do not think these are the 10 best players. However, for one reason or another, they are integral to how the rest of Free Agency and the season plays out. Therefore, this is why they are ranked how they are. So without further ado, here are the top 10 Free Agents of this 2020 class:
1) Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
Potential Landing Spots: 49ers, Titans, Buccaneers, Raiders, Chargers, Colts
Murf’s Prediction: Remains in New England
I appreciate that I might get some heat on this. He’s 42, looking like his best days are behind him and he will only play for 2 more years, 3 at the most. However, the entire “Quarterback Carousel” is dependent on Tom Brady. And it is unlikely anyone will be signed without Brady’s future being resolved. The new CBA will also play a huge part in this, with players unlikely to sign any deals prior to the CBA being agreed and signed by all parties. The last thing a player like Brady will want to do, after taking team friendly deals for the last decade, is to sign a deal that impacts him in what will likely be his last payday in the league. At the cornerstone to 5 or 6 other signings, he has no option other than being my number 1 player in Free Agency.
2) Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Potential Landing Spots: Titans, Buccaneers, Raiders, Chargers, Colts
Murf’s Prediction: Remains in Dallas with a new deal
Dak Prescott has been underpaid for a very long time. He is arguably the most consistent and safest bet of all the Quarterbacks available in this Free Agency period. Dak is looking for a deal. Not a team friendly deal, not a high value, low guarantee deal, but an almost fully guaranteed that will make him in the top 3 Quarterbacks paid in the league. Prescott feels he has paid his dues. He has earned less than $4 million since coming into the league four years ago and that chip on the shoulder means he will probably get what he wants. He will be annoyed Zeke got paid before him, however Dallas knows they need him, probably more than Dak needs Dallas and I can’t see them doing anything other than paying up for their Franchise Quarterback.
3) Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Giants, Bills, Broncos, Patriots
Murf’s Prediction: Franchise Tag by Dallas
Before Cooper was traded to Dallas, there were real questions that this former 1st round pick would perhaps never reach his potential. However, after an impressive 18 months in Dallas, he has shown that he is a supreme talent. He runs great routes, has great hands and has explosive Yards after Catch ability. Had the Cowboys, who gave up a 1st round pick themselves to acquire Cooper, not had to pay both Zeke and Prescott, this deal would probably have already been done. However, it looks like a Franchise Tag with the use of the 2021 Salary Cap increase being required to get this deal done next season.
4) Shaq Barrett, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Potential Landing Spots: Cardinals, Giants, Titans, Ravens
Murf’s Prediction: Remains at the Buccaneers either on the Franchise Tag or with a new deal.
12 months ago, Shaquil Barrett was number 42 on NFL.com’s Top 101 Free Agents in 2019 article. This year both them and I have Barrett at number 4. The 2019 NFL Sack leader absolutely smashed it on his 1 year prove it deal and will want to be paid as a top 5 in the position on the back of his 19.5 sack season. Bruce Arians has made it abundantly clear that re-signing Barrett is his number one priority in this Free Agency Period. If they need to use the Franchise Tag on him to get this done, they will. However, that will mean former number one overall pick Jameis Winston will be heading out of the door to at least test the market. So by combining ability plus the knock-on consequence, Barrett is an important jigsaw piece in this 2020 Free Agency puzzle.
5) Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE, Seattle Seahawks
Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Colts, Eagles, Ravens
Murf’s Prediction: Signs with the Colts
Clowney has been a high profile in the league for some time. The four-time Pro Bowler has had splashes in the league of elite production, but rarely does it for a full season. On his day, he’s potentially the best at his position. However, injuries and inconsistencies mean he never puts this together for 16 games. I don’t see the Seahawks tagging him or coming to an agreement on a deal, so I expect the Colts to get a deal done quickly and allow Clowney the chance to get one over his former employers, the Houston Texans and return to the AFC South.
6) Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos
Potential Landing Spots: Buccaneers, Cowboys, Eagles
Murf’s Prediction: Franchise Tag to remain with the Broncos
Justin Simmons is the best safety in Free Agency by a country mile. He is coming off a 93 tackle, 4 interception season and is a standout safety in the NFL. As a result, there is almost zero chance John Elway will allow Simmons to leave big D. There is a chance they come to an agreed deal, especially as Simmons has hired a new agent to get a deal done. However, I would predict the Tag will come first.
7) Yannick Ngakoue, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Potential Landing Spots: Cardinals, Giants, Titans, Ravens, Seahawks
Murf’s Prediction: Tagged by the Jaguars before then being traded to the Giants for a 2nd round pick.
Ngakoue has been a real leader on a bad football team for some time now. He is desperate to leave and has threatened to not play under the Franchise Tag. Ngakoue is a disruptor who raises havoc, draws double teams, hits the Quarterback a lot and causes fumbles. He is an asset to any team at this stage and will be an instant upgrade. He will cost a pretty packet to sign. And, being honest, I see the Giants paying up for him. I see them trumping the market with a high second round pick and then signing Ngakoue to a high value contract with a lot of guaranteed money.
8) Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans
Potential Landing Spots: Raiders, Chargers, Colts
Murf’s Prediction: Signs a new, improved deal in Tennessee
If I had written this twelve months ago, I think people would have thought I was writing some form of coded message to notify loyal podcast listeners and my family that I have been kidnapped. The improbable, unheralded rise for the 2019 NFL Comeback Player of the Year was not predicted by anyone. Yet, after being the second most productive Quarterback over the final seven games of the season, he has earned a shot at being a starter in the league for the foreseeable future. Therefore, if the Titans miss out on Brady, then I can’t see them doing anything else but getting a deal with Tannehill done. Expect this one to be done as soon as Brady’s future is announced.
9) Brandon Scherff, OG, Washington Redskins
Potential Landing Spots: Vikings, Buccaneers, Rams, Jets
Murf’s Prediction: Signs a deal in Minnesota
Scherff has been one of the rare bright spots in that Redskins team over the last few years. However, the downside to his game has been injuries. Scherff has not played more than 700 snaps in each of the last two years. Therefore, this is why he is at number 9 on this list as opposed to number 3 or 4. He is an elite run blocker. So for those teams who pound the rock, like the Vikings, this is an essential signing. Get Scherff on the field more and the investment will pay dividends immediately.
10) Byron Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Raiders, Eagles
Murf’s Prediction: Signs a deal with the Eagles
Jones is one of the best shutdown corners in the business. Week after week, he stifles and wears down the best Wide Receivers in the game. In any other year, Dallas would manage to probably get a deal done or use a Tag. However, with cap being stretched thin and the Tag likely to be used on Cooper or Prescott, it seems like Jones will be allowed to test the market. If that is the case, I really expect the Eagles to lock down Jones and give him the deal he deserves. The Eagles are just a few pieces away from making a strong playoff push and a shutdown corner is very much near the top of the needs. Add to that the lack of shutdown corner talent in this 2020 Draft class and it seems all signs will point to a very large payday for Jones this month.
These are my predictions for the upcoming few weeks. If you have any questions, get in touch with me on twitter @5yardrush and ask me anything.
However, until then, strap yourselves in and prepare to enjoy the show. Because these ten players will be among the first to get their futures resolved. It will then be the knock-on effect of where these ten land that will make the rest of March extremely exciting.
5 YARD RUSH
NFL & CFB Analyst
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