NFL: Top Offensive Free Agents

Free Agency is a very important and exciting part of the NFL’s off-season. Teams invest in players in the hope of bulking up their depth to increase strength. Large blockbuster contracts are a big part of free agency. Teams literally compete to make a big free-agent signing. It’s safe to say that free agency is simply an auction. An auction to the highest bidder.

These are the top Offensive FAs in 2020;

Quarterback

In a bizarre turn of events, there are several high profile veteran FA QBs who are dominating the storylines. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers could all be with new teams in 2020 after each spending the last decade (or more) with one team. Yet the biggest name at the position is Dak Prescott, who is negotiating a renewal with the Dallas Cowboys. If Prescott isn’t signed, he’ll get the biggest contract of all the FA QBs. But with a high likelihood of Prescott, Brady and Brees all returning to their respective teams, Rivers likely becomes the next-best option.

Following Rivers, there are a handful of QBs who have been starters but might need to settle for backup roles. Ryan Tannehill played well as a starter for the Tennessee Titans in the second half of 2019 and could garner another starter role. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston are both not receiving new contracts and while teams could be intrigued by their potential, they are more likely to be signed as top backups, akin to Nick Foles a few years ago. Finally, Teddy Bridgewater went undefeated as New Orleans Saints starter and could have done enough to remain in the conversation as a viable starter.

Offensive Linemen

There are almost enough talented OL to make two high-quality starting rosters. Center is the weakest of the spots, with Connor McGovern topping the list after an impressive 2019. Just behind him in terms of desirable starters are A.Q. Shipley and Ryan Kalil, both long-term starters in the league and more than backups.

At Guard, the top FAs are a pair of 2015 draft picks in Brandon Scherff and Andrus Peat. Both will command high value, especially with a majority of teams needing help on the OL. Behind them are long-term starters Mike Iupati and Earl Watford, as well as 2016 draft picks Graham Glasgow and Austin Blythe, who have been multi-year starters. Joe Thuney and Xavier Sua Filo are other Guards with starter experience, although they haven’t performed at the same level as the other names at the position.

If not for Scherff and Peat, the best available FA OL is tackle Jason Peters. Other than his age, the 9-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All-Pro would command one of the biggest FA contracts in 2020. Andrew Whitworth is in a similar position, as is Donald Penn, who are both over 35. Kelvin Beachum, Anthony Castonzo, and Bryan Bulaga are each 30 or over, with several years as quality starters for their respective teams, and could get major contracts. Meanwhile, Jack Conklin and Germain Ifedi are the best tackles under 30 available but aren’t necessarily the same quality as Beachum or Castonzo.

Running Back

FA RBs have been an interesting decision for teams in recent years. While former top FA RBs like DeMarco Murray garnered large contracts, the league is cooling on giving too much money to RBs that have had a lot of use. Derrick Henry is the top name on the list after finishing 2019 as the league leader in rushing yards, but the size of his contract is unclear. While the Tennessee Titans could offer him a suitable contract, other RBs won’t sign until he establishes what the market will look like.

Behind Henry are several young RBs who have been successful over multiple years. Melvin Gordon, Carlos Hyde, Jordan Howard, and Kareem Hunt are all available but are unlikely to crack the 4 year/$60 million contract set by Todd Gurley last year. The last tier of RBs are players who have been solid contributors or backups. They will have interest from teams, but predominantly for depth and smaller roles. LeSean McCoy, Lamar Miller, Austin Ekeler, Bilal Powell, Devontae Booker, Gus Edwards, and Matt Breida will be picked up by teams for different roles, but none as starters or three-down backs.

Wide Receiver

This year’s WR FA class lacks young stars. While veterans AJ Green and Emmanuel Sanders are off-contract, there are concerns about their health and age/loss of speed, respectively. The next tier of FAs consists of players who have flashed promise but have been inconsistent from week to week and year to year. Amari Cooper and Robby Anderson have shown themselves to be capable of being a WR1. But with a strong WR draft class, they could be limited in their offers.

The other FA WRs are all limited to WR2 or WR3 roles. These players should earn sizeable contracts and will be in demand, but vary in what they can command for guaranteed money. Teams will take risks on Allen Lazard, David Moore, Nelson Agholor and Demarcus Robinson, who had productive 2019s in ranging roles. However, Laquon Treadwell and Devin Funchess are recognizable names and just make the list, but may have to wait until after the draft.

Tight End

If the FA WR class is lacking in substance, the TE group is worse. There are two categories of TEs available: injured veterans with recent struggles, and young players with the potential to make the leap. Hunter Henry is one of the most talented TEs in the league but has missed substantial time with injury. He will attract plenty of suitors who hope they can get the most out of him. Just behind Henry is Austin Hooper, who has steadily improved each season, but has never been a game-changing weapon. Eric Ebron had a standout 2018 but hasn’t lived up to his first-round selection.

The other top TEs are established names but haven’t had productive seasons for a few years. Greg Olsen was one of the top players at the position in the mid-2010s but hasn’t been at that level for a while. Likewise, Vernon Davis was a dynamic TE earlier in his career, and his contract will reflect the limited role he can play. Tyler Eifert could be of interest to teams, but with an injury-riddled history, he could find himself settling for a reduced contract than he could have earned a few years ago.

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