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NFL Free Agency 2020: Start Date, Rumors and Early Predictions

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tosses the football on the sideline in the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

With Super Bowl LIV officially a part of history—congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs—the NFL world can flip its attention to the 2020 offseason.

For many players and teams, this means focusing on free agency. The market will officially open March 18, though teams will be permitted to contact players two days earlier—and many will probably do so through back channels even before that.

With high-profile players like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Jadeveon Clowney and A.J. Green scheduled to become free agents, the market is shaping up to be an exciting one.

PFF.com listed its top available 20 free agents entering the offseason:

1. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

2. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

3. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

4. Philip Rivers, QB, Los Angeles Chargers

5. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Tennessee Titans

6. Amari Cooper, WR, Dallas Cowboys

7. Chris Jones, DL, Kansas City Chiefs

8. Anthony Harris, DB, Minnesota Vikings

9. Byron Jones, DB, Dallas Cowboys

10. Chris Harris Jr., DB, Denver Broncos

11. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

12. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

13. Jadeveon Clowney, EDGE, Seattle Seahawks

15. Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

16. Cory Littleton, LB, Los Angeles Rams

17. Anthony Castonzo, OL, Indianapolis Colts

18. Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets

19. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, New Orleans Saints

20. Justin Simmons, DB, Denver Broncos

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

             

Raiders Expected to Pursue Brady

Brady's future with the New England Patriots will be one of the hottest stories of the entire offseason. While he is nearing the end of his career at 42 years old, he's also still capable of playing at a high level.

For a team that is close to title contention, adding the veteran would make a ton of sense. The Las Vegas Raiders may not be there quite yet, but they are expected to go after Brady if he becomes available, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter:

"One of the teams expected to be leading the way if Brady gets to free agency is the Raiders, whose coach, Jon Gruden, is a long-time admirer of the three-time MVP and six-time Super Bowl champion. The two have a good relationship, and league sources believe that Gruden, who is known to be a highly effective recruiter, wants Brady on the Raiders."

It does feel like the Raiders are close to moving on from 2014 second-round pick Derek Carr. While he has played well at times, he hasn't been a high-level starter on a consistent basis. If Gruden is looking for consistency, there isn't a better target than Brady.

Brady likely wants to finish his career with a contender. If he doesn't view Las Vegas as a quarterback away from being that, he isn't likely to sign. With the Patriots willing to offer him more than $30 million per year—according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport—money won't be a deciding factor.

Prediction: Raiders add a quarterback, but not Brady.

          

Cowboys Likely to Tag Prescott

Another quarterback the Raiders could target is Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys.

According to Schefter, Dallas and the quarterback are "headed straight toward a situation" that will involve the use of the franchise tag.

This only means that Prescott will be completely off the market if the Cowboys use the exclusive-rights franchise tag. If Dallas opts for the non-exclusive tag, teams can negotiate with him, giving up two first-round picks to the Cowboys if their offer isn't matched.

In the latter scenario, Las Vegas could make a run at Prescott. It has two first-round picks this year, making the price tag for landing him seem a little more affordable.

Other teams are also likely to make Prescott an offer if he is given the non-exclusive tag. He is a two-time Pro Bowler coming off a 4,902-yard, 30-touchdown season. He's also just 26 years old, meaning he could be a team's franchise quarterback for the next decade.

The Cowboys could still match, though, which may ultimately be the way they get a long-term deal done after more than a year of failing to do so.

Prediction: Dallas applies the non-exclusive franchise tag.

            

Olsen Interested in Washington

While Brady may or may not stay in New England in the offseason, tight end Greg Olsen is not returning to the Carolina Panthers. He could continue playing, though, and may try to reunite with former head coach Ron Rivera.

According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, Olsen would consider joining the Washington Redskins if he does opt to play in 2020. Rivera, who was fired by the Panthers during the 2019 season, was hired by Washington shortly after Week 17 wrapped.

Washington could have a need for the 34-year-old, too. Tight end Vernon Davis announced his retirement Sunday, while Jordan Reed missed all of 2019 after suffering a concussion in the preseason. Olsen, who had 52 catches and 597 yards this past season, could make an immediate impact on the team's offense.

Assuming Rivera sticks with Dwayne Haskins as his starting quarterback, Olsen would give the young signal-caller a reliable veteran target. Naturally, his familiarity with the head coach would also be a plus.

Prediction: Washington brings in Olsen.

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