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NFL Free Agents 2020: Top Rumors and Predictions Before Week 17

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2019

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (19) lines up for a play in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Heading into the final weekend of 2019, roughly half of the league (15 teams) is still alive and focused on the playoffs. The rest of the NFL is already looking ahead toward next year.

The 2020 league year begins on March 18. That date also marks the start of free agency, where there is likely to be a flurry of activity at the start. The upcoming free-agent class is chock-full of high-end quality players, many of whom are already rumor-mill staples.

Let's dig into some of the latest 2020 free-agency buzz.

      

Amari Cooper May Be Out in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have several key players scheduled to reach free agency, notably Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Byron Jones.

Cooper, who was acquired during the 2018 season, has emerged as Dallas' No. 1 receiver and developed a rapport with Prescott. His chemistry with Prescott is part of the reason he would prefer to stay, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News.

David Moore @DavidMooreDMN

Amari Cooper, a free agent at the end of the season, reiterated his stance that he wants to stay in Dallas. Big part of lure is he likes playing with Dak Prescott.

Unfortunately, the decision isn't entirely up to Cooper. With Prescott obviously a bigger free-agent priority, the Cowboys may choose to let the receiver walk. According to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, Dallas will likely only keep Cooper with the franchise tag.

"Sources said the only way that Cooper will not hit the market is if the tag is placed on him, but there is obviously only one tag to go around per team. With the receiver market limited by so many top players already signing extensions, and with Prescott set to go from earning less than $5 million in four years to over $33 million a year, the odds of keeping him and Cooper—without Cooper on the tag—are slim."

It's more likely that Cooper hits the open market, where he'll compete with the likes of A.J. Green and Emmanuel Sanders for teams' attention.

Prediction: Cooper signs elsewhere

   

Robby Anderson Looking for High-End Deal

Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Robby Anderson is another receiver teams may target on the open market. While he wouldn't be a potential No. 1 receiver like Cooper, he's a speedster who can stretch the defense and create a generous amount of separation.

At just 26 years old, Anderson would be a perfect fit for a rebuilding team with a young quarterback.

Of course, this is exactly what the New York Jets are, and it would make sense for them to retain Anderson. The fourth-year pass-catcher would like to stay in New York too, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. However, he may be seeking the sort of money that the Jets aren't willing to spend.

"He's going to want more than $10 million per season over the long term," Vacchiano wrote.

Financially, giving Anderson $10 million a year shouldn't be an issue. New York is projected to have more than $67 million in cap space, per Spotrac. A lot will depend on new general manager Joe Douglas. Will he be aggressive or take a conservative approach after watching the Jets spend big on Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder last offseason? This remains to be seen.

However, Douglas should know that to build a contender, it's important to re-sign young key players.

Prediction: Anderson stays in New York

   

Jameis Winston May Have Earned Another Year in Tampa

Like the Cowboys, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a decision to make at quarterback. Unlike the Cowboys, Tampa doesn't have an easy decision.

While Prescott has shown that he can be a reliable, high-end starter, Jameis Winston has only shown glimpses of potential. He's unquestionably talented, but reliability is not Winston's strength. Poor decisions and turnovers have plagued Winston throughout his pro career—he has 28 interceptions in 2019 alone.

The Buccaneers may be willing to give Winston another evaluation year under head coach Bruce Arians.

Though Arians insists that the Buccaneers have made no decision on Winston's future, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport has reported that Tampa Bay is expected to bring him back.

"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to bring back quarterback Jameis Winston for the 2020 season, sources say," Rapoport wrote. "But the mechanism they will use to do it remains undecided."

The franchise tag or the transition tag would make sense if the Buccaneers want another one-year evaluation. A long-term deal would only make sense if they are convinced that Winston can be a franchise quarterback.

Prediction: Buccaneers give Winston the non-exclusive franchise tag