NFL Free Agency 2020: Predictions for Where Cam Newton, Top Players Will Land

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJune 16, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2019, file photo, Seattle Seahawks outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) watches during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. Jameis Winston, Cam Newton and Clowney didn't have to wait long at all to find homes in the NFL when they came out of college. The three former No. 1 overall draft picks are finding things moving much more slowly as they search for new homes or contracts this offseason. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Since the NFL free-agency period opened in March, many players remain unsigned as uncertainty continues to surround the sports world as a whole and the league specifically.

On March 16, in a memo sent to franchises, the NFL banned free-agent travel, halting many would-be deals in their tracks as teams lost the opportunity to meet with players or check on their health at their facilities. 

As a result of that, and, in some cases, because of other personal unknowns, players like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, quarterback Cam Newton, tackle Jason Peters, cornerback Darqueze Dennard and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan all remain available. 

Let's take a closer look at the top players still hoping to get a call from one of the league's teams and predict where they could end up should that call come this offseason. 

    

Predictions for Top Free Agents

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Jadeveon Clowney, DE

No doubt the best player still available in free agency, Clowney has had no lack of interest in free agency, but the financials haven't worked out to date.

The former No. 1 overall pick came into the year looking for a deal worth $20 million per year, as ESPN's Dianna Russini had reported. Teams appeared to balk at that figure, and it's not too hard to figure out why.

Last year, with the Seattle Seahawks, Clowney played in 13 games and notched 27 total tackles and three sacks, both career lows, as well as three passes defensed and one pick. (He did, however, score his first career touchdown.)

Defensive ends who made around the $20 million mark in 2019, like DeMarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark, were more productive in total and individual tackles as well as sacks, though it's worth noting that both those players' sack totals fell off last season as well. 

But Clowney's market has warmed up a bit this week, with the Cleveland Browns reportedly willing to offer him up to $15 million for a one-year deal, per the MMQB's Albert Breer. The 27-year-old has already turned down a previous offer from the Browns and the Tennessee Titans. 

Compromising on his original asking price and leveraging a one-year deal into a springboard for a more lucrative, longer-term contract makes a lot of sense for Clowney, who has to convince teams that he's willing to rely on more than just his sheer physical strength to become a productive starter. 

Prediction: Clowney signs with the Browns.

     

Cam Newton, QB

The NFL quarterback carousel hardly spins at all now, as most of the league has options for Week 1 starters and developmental prospects alike. While Clowney may be the best player still available in free agency, Cam Newton is surely the biggest name.

It's hard to believe he won't be suiting up for a team in 2020 (or when the next season is played), but it's also hard to see a good opening for him anywhere in the league. 

To be clear, some teams still have questionable quarterback rooms. Oddsmakers previously believed the Jacksonville Jaguars were the favorites to sign Newton this offseason. However, they're now ranked sixth, per recent figures from OddsShark, with Washington and New England as the new favorites. 

The Jaguars appear ready to roll with Gardner Minshew II to start the season and have options behind him in recently signed free agent Mike Glennon and Joshua Dobbs.

The Patriots could certainly use more experience in their quarterback room, but they have the league's least amount of salary-cap room to play with.

Meanwhile, Washington would present an obvious opportunity for a reunion between Newton and former head coach Ron Rivera, but the team appears to be putting its full support behind Dwayne Haskins. It's not clear at this point that Newton is willing to go into a situation when he would certainly be the backup. 

If he gets the call, Newton certainly looks ready to go. He recently kept his skills sharp in a workout with Odell Beckham Jr. 

Prediction: Newton signs with a team after a training-camp injury. 

     

Jason Peters, OT

Offensive linemen aren't the splashiest free agents, but when you need one, you'd better address it. At 38 years old, Jason Peters' best seasons are behind him, and yet he continues to get the job done and consistently defies his age. 

Unable to travel to team facilities to show off his stuff, Peters put out this workout video he hopes will seal the deal for an interested team. 

Peters has been in Philadelphia for the last 11 seasons, and it's not out of the question that a reunion could still be possible. 

In May, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that the Eagles have remained in contact with Peters throughout the offseason, as have the Browns, New York Jets and Denver Broncos. According to Garafolo, neither side is in a rush to make a decision.

The Eagles could hand the keys entirely to 2019 first-round selection Andre Dillard, who started in place of Peters three times last season and looked good. However, when he had to fill in for an injured Lane Johnson at right tackle, his play cratered, and he was ultimately benched. 

Philadelphia traded up to select Dillard, and the team has to commit to him as the left tackle of the future. But re-signing Peters for the right price to provide more security along the offensive line in the event of injuries would be a savvy move, and the Eagles should still have enough cap space (seventh-most) to do it. 

Prediction: Peters re-signs with Eagles.