An Updated Look at the 2020 NFL Free-Agent Class Ahead of Training Camp

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2019

An Updated Look at the 2020 NFL Free-Agent Class Ahead of Training Camp

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    The 2020 NFL free-agent class has the early look of a juggernaut capable of reshaping the league as fans know it. 

    Granted, plenty of time has to pass before the floodgates open, and along that journey, extensions and other happenings will prevent the 2020 class from going all NBA on the NFL. 

    But as of right now, a stacked class might just one-up the 2019 offering headlined by Nick Foles, Trent Brown, Le'Veon Bell and others. With a handful of franchise quarterbacks due for new contracts and absolutely loaded offensive skill positions, 2020 could be more dramatic than usual. 

    These are some of the notable players set to hit the open market in 2020. 

           

Quarterback

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    1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

    2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

    3. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

    4. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

    5. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

    It doesn't get much bigger than this. The 2020 class has Super Bowl-contending veterans like Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady leading the way. It also has prove-it-year notables like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. 

    Then there is Dak Prescott, who could end up outpacing everyone at the position financially at this point. There is seemingly little chance the Dallas Cowboys let him get away despite having some tough calls to make on guys like Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott over the next two years, too. 

    Keep in mind retirements and extensions will change the complexion of this list. That Eli Manning didn't even make the cut, as well as perhaps Teddy Bridgewater, says it all. Teams in need next offseason might have strong options besides the draft. 

Running Back

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    1. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

    2. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers 

    3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

    4. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns

    5. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

    Like quarterback, running back projects to have interesting depth and a little something for everyone. 

    LeSean McCoy's numbers were ghastly in 2018, but the fact he's 31 years old shouldn't change much in terms of opportunities if he hits the open market. In a committee-minded league, his versatility and history of usage that demands more than what Buffalo offers will find him a home. 

    Melvin Gordon has reportedly demanded a trade if he doesn't get an extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, so what happens there will dramatically change the outlook. But otherwise, Giovani Bernard is one of the best passing-down backs in the league and Derrick Henry is one of the better sledgehammers. Don't forget Kareem Hunt, who averages 4.7 yards per carry for his career so far. 

Wide Receiver

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    1. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

    2. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals 

    3. Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys

    4. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

    5. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

    Were it not for quarterback, wideout might have ended up commanding the most money in 2020. 

    A.J. Green is bound to get another deal with the Cincinnati Bengals just as it is hard to see Larry Fitzgerald ever leaving the Arizona Cardinals. 

    But after those two, it gets muddier. 

    Amari Cooper is a clear-cut top wideout after arriving in Dallas and pairing well with Dak Prescott. Michael Thomas just put up 1,400-plus yards and nine scores on a league-leading 125 receptions, giving him 321 of the latter over three seasons. He could outpace everyone listed in terms of money. 

    Adding to the intrigue of the position is the Tyreek Hill factor in Kansas City, where a versatile wideout with 3,000-plus yards and 25 touchdowns in his first three seasons could become available. Keep in mind other names such as DeVante Parker, Robby Anderson and Devin Funchess, to name a few. 

Tight End

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    1. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts

    2. Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

    3. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers

    4. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers

    5. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts

    Tight end is the big "what if?" position in 2020. 

    Leading the way is Eric Ebron, who popped up with the Indianapolis Colts after years of misuse in Detroit and caught 13 touchdowns in a situational role. Tyler Eifert offers similar upside but had yet another season-ending injury. Hunter Henry, a blossoming 6'5" target, scored 12 times over two seasons before missing all of 2018. 

    As an aside, it is a top-heavy class. Names like Vance McDonald and Jack Doyle would land somewhere if they hit the open market, but they aren't potentially transcendent producers like the first three on the list. 

Offensive Line

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    OT

    1. Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams

    2. Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts 

    3. Daryl Williams, Carolina Panthers

    As usual, the budding trend here likely assures that these guys aren't leaving their respective teams unless they decide to outright hang up the cleats. 

    The college game hasn't been churning out quality offensive tackle prospects consistently, putting a bigger emphasis on veterans. A gamble like Trent Brown this year resulted in eye-popping money, so expect these teams to retain the top three. 

         

    OG

    1. Brandon Scherff, Washington Redskins

    2. Kyle Long, Chicago Bears

    3. Clint Boling, Cincinnati Bengals 

    Guard isn't flashy, but it sure gets paid like it. 

    Granted, players of Brandon Scherff's caliber are more important than ever given the growing number of interior defenders capable of creating pressure all by their lonesome. 

         

    C

    1. Rodney Hudson, Oakland Raiders

    2. Mike Pouncey, Los Angeles Chargers

    3. J.C. Tretter, Cleveland Browns 

    This class doesn't look as good as the 2019 offering led by Matt Paradis even before one starts to think their respective teams won't let them walk. Struggles by recent high-profile draftees at the position such as Billy Price must also be considered.

Defensive Line

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    DE

    1. Ezekiel Ansah, Seattle Seahawks 

    2. Dante Fowler Jr., Los Angeles Rams

    3. Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings

    4. Robert Quinn, Dallas Cowboys

    5. Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons

    Defensive end was always going to have a hard time matching the 2019 free-agent pool led by Trey Flowers and others. Ezekiel Ansah was among them, and he could end up earning one of the biggest 2020 market contracts if he stays healthy. It's a similar story for names like Everson Griffen and Vic Beasley, who have talent in droves but haven't always put it all together. One season changes that. 

         

    DT 

    1. Grady Jarrett, Atlanta Falcons

    2. Marcell Dareus, Jacksonville Jaguars

    3. Gerald McCoy, Carolina Panthers

    4. Michael Brockers, Los Angeles Rams

    5. Michael Pierce, Baltimore Ravens

    The 2020 free-agent period could be a great year for teams looking to bolster their interior—whether in the form of adding beef or a stout pass rush.

    Grady Jarrett is a franchise player in Atlanta for a reason given the way he collapses pockets. Gerald McCoy had a massive market after slipping to free agency at an unexpected time. A space-eater like Michael Pierce still plays a big role in multiple looks. All of the above just need to do more of the same before cashing in.

Linebacker

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    OLB

    1. Von Miller, Denver Broncos 

    2. Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans

    3. Jabaal Sheard, Indianapolis Colts 

    4. Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans

    5. Terrell Suggs, Arizona Cardinals

    The pressure creators make the big dollars, and it doesn't get much bigger than Von Miller. 

    Miller is only 30 years old yet has 98 sacks to his name. Another double-digit outing like he's had in each season dating back to 2014 and in seven of his eight seasons in the league seems inevitable. Only Jadeveon Clowney will come close in stats and money, though his status remains firmly up in the air before the new season even begins. 

         

    ILB

    1. Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks 

    2. Danny Trevathan, Chicago Bears

    3. Darron Lee, Kansas City Chiefs 

    4. Deone Bucannon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    5. Myles Jack, Jacksonville Jaguars

    The 2020 class was never going to be able to match last year's headed up by C.J. Mosley and Kwon Alexander. 

    Still, 2020 boasts a heavyweight in the form of Bobby Wagner, who remains arguably the best all-around inside 'backer in the NFL. It is hard to imagine Seattle will let him slip away, yet that seemed like the obvious narrative before the Seahawks let Earl Thomas walk, too. 

Cornerback

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    1. Chris Harris, Denver Broncos 

    2. Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens

    3. Logan Ryan, Tennessee Titans

    4. Joe Haden, Pittsburgh Steelers

    5. Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals

    Like the 2019 class, it is hard to imagine teams will let the best or even middling cornerbacks slip to market. 

    There is too much at stake in today's pass-happy league for teams to refuse to pay their top corners. Chris Harris is one of the best the NFL has to offer at the position and should reset the market no matter where he ends up. 

    The other guys listed can't say the same from a money standpoint. But they are also names most other teams wouldn't hesitate to bring on board if all goes well in 2019. Well, meaning Jimmy Smith gets on the field consistently, Logan Ryan is healthy and Joe Haden keeps performing after turning 30. 

Safety

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    Chris Cecere/Associated Press

    1. Devin McCourty, New England Patriots

    2. D.J. Swearinger, Arizona Cardinals 

    3. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Chicago Bears

    4. Rodney McLeod, Philadelphia Eagles

    5. Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers

    On the defensive side of the ball, this is starting to sound like a cliche broken record—2020 can't match 2019. This year featured Landon Collins, Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu, for starters. 

    The 2020 safety class isn't as convoluted or deep. Most of the guys are 30 or older. In some cases, like Devin McCourty, it could be a matter of whether they want to keep playing. For someone like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, it's a matter of showing out after this year's stacked class shoved him into a one-year agreement. 

    A depth-minded position in 2020, safety will be a nice value spot for teams looking for help. 

         

    Contract info courtesy of Spotrac