Best Players Available at Each Position After 1st Week of 2020 NFL Free Agency
The first few waves of free-agency moves have come and gone, and several big-name players are off the board. But it's the teams that find value at this stage that have the best chance at sustained success in the NFL.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the top available players who could still make big impacts in 2020.
Most of the free agents listed are younger players who have proved themselves. Some good older players were knocked down because of their ages.
For each position, we'll examine potential fits with teams that could still be interested in adding free agents.
1. Jameis Winston
2. Joe Flacco
3. Blake Bortles
4. Trevor Siemian
5. Geno Smith
For the most part, the game of musical chairs among the quarterbacks has come to a screeching halt. The majority of teams, aside from the New England Patriots, have found their 2020 starter or are waiting for the NFL draft to happen. As of right now, there just aren't many openings for a starting quarterback.
The top quarterback left on the market is Jameis Winston, who led the NFL in passing yards last season. But he also led the league in interceptions, meaning not many teams are lining up for his services. He will likely need to take a short deal and hope for a Ryan Tannehill type of situation in 2020 since he probably won't begin the year as QB1. Look for teams such as the New York Giants or Jacksonville Jaguars to take a chance on Winston.
It's also important to note that this position could get deeper, as players like Andy Dalton and Cam Newton could soon hit the market as well. The Cincinnati Bengals and Carolina Panthers, respectively, are going in different directions at the quarterback position, which could free up those two veterans to hit the open market in the near future. Most of the quarterbacks on this list will have to wait until after the draft and/or an injury to earn a roster spot.
1. Devonta Freeman
2. Carlos Hyde
3. Dion Lewis
4. Lamar Miller
5. LeSean McCoy
As expected, the free-agent running back market hasn't been particularly strong. The only big-name player to come off the board has been Jordan Howard, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. It's a buyer's market, and it wouldn't be a surprise if several of the names listed above are still available well into the summer.
Devonta Freeman could gain some interest over the upcoming days as a runner who could function well in of a committee. While he has had some injuries over the last few seasons, teams such as the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions could use Freeman at the right price.
Lamar Miller missed last season, but he has been productive and efficient when given opportunities. He will likely need to be a part of a committee, but he could find a home after the draft with a team looking for a veteran.
1. Robby Anderson
2. Breshad Perriman
3. Devin Funchess
4. Nelson Agholor
5. Phillip Dorsett
Wide receiver is one of the weakest positions in free agency, as many of the top players were franchise-tagged or retained. That left Robby Anderson and Breshad Perriman as the best available. They are good, but neither is a No. 1.
Anderson is the best receiver on the market because of his age, 26, and ability to make downfield plays (15 yards per reception in 2018 and 2019). While he may not command the amount of money he'd hoped, several teams could use his services. However, his best fit remains with the New York Jets, as he would continue to be their No. 1 receiver. Expect him to re-sign soon.
Perriman had a career year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, catching 36 passes for 645 yards with six touchdowns. However, it seems likely he will return as Tom Brady could use a reliable No. 3 receiver to go with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Look for him to be scooped up relatively quickly, and likely by the Buccaneers.
1. Jordan Reed
2. Tyler Eifert
3. Delanie Walker
4. Nick Vannett
5. Geoff Swaim
After Austin Hooper signed early in free agency with the Cleveland Browns, the tight end market came to a screeching halt. The class is littered with former stars and high draft picks just waiting for another chance to show they can produce in the right situation.
Investing at this stage is risky, as Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert and Delanie Walker all have significant injury histories. While each could still contribute, they could also still be waiting to find a home after draft. Don't expect their market to heat up any time soon.
Blocking tight ends Nick Vannett and Geoff Swaim could find teams faster, as they project more as role players rather than starters. Both players could catch on as second tight ends because of what they can do in the running game and their experience in the passing game. However, neither will be all that appealing to teams needing receiving threats.
1. Jason Peters
2. Kelvin Beachum
3. Daryl Williams
4. Cordy Glenn
5. Germain Ifedi
One of the latest free-agency trends has been an upturn in the offensive line market. Good-to-very good players such as Jack Conklin are being paid elite money (three years, $42 million), and even below-average linemen such as George Fant (three years, $27.3 million) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (five years, $50 million) are being paid like high-end starters.
After just a few days of free agency, the cupboard is bare of capable O-linemen.
Arguably the best player left is veteran tackle Jason Peters, who turned 38 in January. On top of his age, he carries injury concerns after he missed three starts in 2019 and nine in 2017. He's not a long-term option anymore but could be a good bridge for a team that seeks a solid tackle, such as the Los Angeles Chargers or Buffalo Bills.
The top available guard is Andrus Peat, who was a Pro Bowl selection for the Saints in 2018 and 2019. However, he has yet to make it through a 16-game season unscathed, missing nine contests over the past two seasons. Still, he is talented and only 26 years old. Don't expect him to be available for much longer.
2. Everson Griffen
3. Markus Golden
4. Jabaal Sheard
5. Michael Bennett
As we saw during last year's free agency, players who can become stars in the right situation remain on the market. A few days into 2019's frenzy, Shaquil Barrett inked a one-year prove-it deal with the Buccaneers and went on to lead the NFL in sacks with 19.5.
This year's top option is Jadeveon Clowney, who is searching for a deal of $20 million per season, according to Dianna Russini of ESPN. But after recording just three sacks and suffering a groin injury in 2019, Clowney could take a one-year deal and hit the open market again next offseason. Expect Seattle to remain interested in bringing him back.
One of the more underrated available defensive ends is Michael Bennett. The Patriots traded him to the Cowboys last season, and he recorded 6.5 sacks as a do-everything lineman. At age 34, he will likely be picky about where he signs, but Bennett can still make a major impact at a cheap price. Look for 4-3 teams, specifically the Seahawks and Eagles, to be interested in bringing back the three-time Pro Bowler.
Interior Defensive Line
1. Shelby Harris
2. Derek Wolfe
3. Ndamukong Suh
4. Timmy Jernigan
5. Damon Harrison
Entering the new league year, the interior defensive line group was one of the deepest in the class. It had a lot of early buyers, as players such as Javon Hargrave (Eagles, three years, $39 million), D.J. Reader (Bengals, four years, $53 million) and Jordan Phillips (Cardinals, three years, $30 million) signed big deals with new teams.
While the market has been picked over, several available players could contribute in a variety of ways.
The biggest name left is Ndamukong Suh, who recorded just 2.5 sacks for the Buccaneers last season. While he has failed to record more than six sacks in a single campaign since 2014, he can still impact a game with his ability to stop the run and demand double-teams. However, don't expect him to receive a big contract.
Another interesting available tackle is Damon Harrison. He doesn't offer much as a pass-rusher, but he is arguably one of the NFL's best run defenders and has the flexibility to play in a 4-3 and 3-4 defense. Teams searching for a complementary defensive tackle at a cheap price should be all-in on Harrison.
1. Patrick Onwuasor
2. Nigel Bradham
3. Tahir Whitehead
4. Mychal Kendricks
5. Darron Lee
Linebacker also drew a lot of interest in the first few days of free agency. Players such as Cory Littleton, Joe Schobert, Blake Martinez, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy all signed deals worth at least $10 million annually. Most of the starters are off the board, but there are still a few players left who can contribute.
The remaining linebacker with arguably the highest-ceiling is Patrick Onwuasor, who has started 32 games in four seasons with the Ravens. Onwuasor has problems as a run defender, but he can play as a nickel 'backer, as he excels in coverage. He likely won't command top dollar but could be a nice stopgap.
1. Jimmy Smith
2. Logan Ryan
3. Ronald Darby
4. Nickell Robey-Coleman
5. Daryl Worley
Much like every other year in free agency, the top cornerbacks came off the board early at exorbitant prices. Byron Jones and James Bradberry signed deals worth at least $15 million per season. Even Trae Waynes and Bradley Roby received pacts worth in excess of $10 million per year.
The market doesn't have any No. 1 cornerbacks left, but several quality players are still available. The top name is Jimmy Smith, who was the Ravens' No. 1 corner for years. While he has struggled to stay on the field, his talent has never been in question. Look for a team in a championship window, such as the Kansas City Chiefs or New Orleans Saints, to take a gamble on Smith's skills.
Another intriguing name is slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had his contract option declined by the Rams in a salary dump. He is still just 28 years old and remains one of the NFL's best slot defenders. Teams such as the Colts or Vikings could be interested in bringing him in.
1. Vonn Bell
2. Damarious Randall
3. Tony Jefferson
4. Eric Reid
5. Will Parks
Over the last few offseasons, the safety market has been strong, and values have been found late into the process. 2020 will likely be the same, as there are several quality starters left in all shapes and sizes.
A player who could still contribute in a big way is Tony Jefferson. After he injured his knee in 2019, the Ravens moved on from the box safety despite his solid seasons in 2017 and 2018. While he isn't a great athlete, his ability to help in the run game and shouldn't be overlooked. Even if he's just a part-time player, Jefferson should still be a big contributor somewhere in 2020.
Eric Reid, who is coming off a strong season with the Carolina Panthers, should also draw interest. Reid recorded four sacks, along with six pass deflections, while playing both free and strong safety for the Panthers. He would be a plug-and-play starter for several teams.
All reported deals via NFL.com's free-agency tracker unless otherwise noted.