NFL Waiver Wire 2020: Best Team Fits for Notable Free Agents

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 28, 2020

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (90) looks on during an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Philadelphia. Seattle won 17-9. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Even in late August, the NFL's free-agent pool has yet to be picked clean.

Impact additions are still available on both sides of the ball. Whether teams are in the market for an elite pass-rusher, a ball-hawking safety or a ball-carrier with multiple double-digit touchdown efforts on his resume, there's a free agent to scratch that itch.

We will spotlight three of the best unsigned players and figure out their ideal team fits below.


Jadeveon Clowney, DE

The No. 1 pick in 2014, Jadeveon Clowney has made a career out of living in opponents' backfield and getting his hands on the quarterback. He has tallied 21.5 sacks and forced seven fumbles over the past three seasons.

The 27-year-old is a highly sought-after player, but it seems he's firm on an asking price no team has met. As ESPN's Jeremy Fowler recently reported on SportsCenter that it's getting close to the time when Clowney must consider either lowering that price or consider sitting out the campaign (via B/R's Rob Goldberg):

"I've spoken to several teams and they believe his asking price is still around $17 million per year. Now they haven't heard exactly just yet because he's been pretty quiet, but nobody's willing to pay that right now. He's gotten multiple offers from multiple teams, anywhere from Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks. He hasn't budged on that asking price. He's coming up to a situation where he's gotta decide if he wants to play this year or could he wait out the entire season, and there's still several teams heavily monitoring this."

In Clowney's mind, the best fit might well be the team with the deepest pockets. From a football sense, though, maybe he could follow the path of another former No. 1 pick and join the New England Patriots (as Cam Newton, 2011's top selection, has this offseason).

New England has taken several hits along the front seven through free agency (Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy) or players opting out of the season (Dont'a Hightower). If Clowney relents a bit on his asking price, he would get a lot of mileage out of bookending the lines with Chase Winovich on a Bill Belichick-led defense.

Best Fit: New England Patriots


Earl Thomas, S

If you remember Earl Thomas as an annual Pro Bowler and one of the leading members of the Seattle Seahawks' famed Legion of Boom secondary, well, he's not exactly that player anymore.

He did make another Pro Bowl appearance this past season, which marked his seventh such honor in 10 years. So there aren't many questions about his ability, even with his 31st birthday occurring in May.

But fit is about more than talent. The Seahawks knew he was talented and still let him walk in 2019 free agency. The Baltimore Ravens, who inked him to a four-year, $55 million deal that March, turned around and released him earlier in August following a fight at practice with co-starting safety Chuck Clark. As CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported, Baltimore's Leadership Council pushed for Thomas' release.

Any team that signs him must factor in these red flags, but talent typically wins out in this league.

While this feels right up the Patriots' alley of getting a distressed asset for cheap, this might be opportunity knocking and finally grant Thomas' wish of joining the Dallas Cowboys. Owner Jerry Jones has already refuted a report that the Cowboys aren't interested, and Thomas' addition could allow Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Xavier Woods to have more flexible roles in the secondary.

Best Fit: Dallas Cowboys


Devonta Freeman, RB

As the latest example of NFL life comes at you quick, the 28-year-old Devonta Freeman might already be fighting against Father Time.

A Pro Bowler in 2015 and 2016, he gave the Atlanta Falcons 11 rushing touchdowns in each of those campaigns. But he only supplied a total of nine over the past three seasons. Injuries limited him to just two appearances in 2018, and while he played 14 games this past season, he averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per rushing attempt.

That could mean his days as a featured back are finished, but he might find a second life as a complementary option. A weapon as both a rusher and a receiver (257 career receptions for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns), he could be an instant-impact asset as an RB2.

The Philadelphia Eagles make a lot of sense. Starting running back Miles Sanders was recently designated as week-to-week with a lower-body injury, and his primary backups (Boston Scott and Corey Clement) aren't exactly insurmountable obstacles. A healthy, re-energized Freeman might be the best option to spell Sanders.

Best Fit: Philadelphia Eagles