NFL Free-Agency Rumors 2020: Latest on Byron Jones, Christian Kirksey, Raiders

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 14, 2020

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 22: Byron Jones #31 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles in the game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

While most of the NFL free-agency focus is on the available quarterbacks, there are a handful of quality defenders on the market.

Defensive back Byron Jones and linebacker Christian Kirksey are part of the collection of stars looking for new deals.

Jones is one of the most coveted secondary players on the market, and he could command a high figure. Kirksey was recently let go by the Cleveland Browns, and since then, a handful of teams have displayed interest in his services.


Latest Rumors

Byron Jones

According to Yahoo's Charles Robinson, the market for Jones will begin at around $16 million-$17 million per year.

Jones is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he made 46 tackles and earned six passes defended. In most years, the Dallas Cowboys would have made re-signing Jones a priority, but they have to focus on getting deals done for Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.

Since Dallas' focus is elsewhere, Jones will likely sign with a new team after spending five years with the team that drafted him. There is a chance the Cowboys try to bring him back, but the salary-cap gymnastics may be too tricky.

Plenty of teams will be after Jones' services, and there is a chance he could remain in the NFC East if the Philadelphia Eagles are interested. The Eagles dealt with a long list of secondary injuries in 2019, and they could be looking to solidify the position in either free agency or via the NFL draft.

The Denver Broncos and the New York Giants could also be landing spots because of their needs at the position and cap space.

Whichever team ends up signing Jones will have to justify splashing that much money on a lock-down corner.

While it may seem like a large expense for someone with two career interceptions, Jones has proved over the past few years that he is worth the large price tag with his coverage skills.


Christian Kirksey

The suitors for Kirksey have been lining up since his release from the Cleveland Browns.

ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Friday that Kirksey was in line for a visit with the Buffalo Bills. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport added to that by reporting Kirksey previously met with the Las Vegas Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

If the Bills land Kirksey, it would be adding to an already strong defensive unit that conceded the third-fewest total yards in 2019. Bringing in a proven linebacker would only solidify the Bills defensively, and it could help them to challenge the New England Patriots atop the AFC East.

Green Bay and Las Vegas need help in the middle of defense to improve their numbers. The Packers were 18th in total defense, while the Raiders were 19th.

No matter where he lands, Kirksey is expected to plug holes in the rushing defense, as he owns a pair of 100-tackle seasons from 2016 and 2017.

Kirksey has dealt with injuries in each of the past two years, but if he returns to form in 2020, he could be one of the better defensive acquisitions made this offseason.

Las Vegas could be an intriguing option for not only Kirksey but also other top free agents.

The Raiders possess more than $47 million in cap space and are moving to a state with no income tax. Head coach Jon Gruden thinks the allure of playing in Las Vegas could draw more players, per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez:

"But players want to come play for the Raiders, I think, because of the Silver and Black and their tradition to start with. But the stadium, the excitement, Las Vegas, it really gives us, I think, an outstanding vehicle to recruit players and, hopefully, it all works out for us."

Kirksey may not be the biggest name the Raiders target, but he could be an important piece who begins a strong roster build if he is drawn to them.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference