The new NFL league year begins one month from today on March 18, and it will officially kick off free agency. This should be one of the wildest free-agent periods in recent memory, and these are the top 2020 NFL free agents set to become available. The group appears pretty deep, and the order could vary quite a bit, especially when you consider all the different schemes around the league impacting rankings for each team. Drew Brees is not listed, as he will be returning to the Saints; Antonio Brown is also not listed. [Note: age is for the start of the 2019 season, and only unrestricted free agents are listed.]
1. Tom Brady | QB | Age: 43 | Team: NE
I think Tom Brady will return to New England, but the greatest quarterback ever will be the top player on the market if he becomes available next month. The statistics in 2019 weren’t amazing, but Brady’s play has not fallen off, and he’s still a top-tier quarterback. Teams that probably won’t even consider getting rid of their current younger starter for Brady should give it serious thought in my opinion—all things being equal, the six-time Super Bowl champion still gives you the best shot to win any given game and a championship.
2. Marcus Mariota | QB | Age: 26 | Team: TEN
Anyone that’s followed along here knows we do not try to get attention with “hot takes”, and I really do not care if Marcus Mariota being ranked as the No. 2 free agent is far off the consensus. The former Titans starter is just 26 years old with four-plus seasons of starting experience including a playoff victory at Arrowhead, and he has a complete skillset as a quarterback. Tennessee simply did not play well around their quarterback early last year, and a fresh start could do Mariota wonders. We’ll see what Mariota commands on the open market—I see the Raiders or Patriots signing him, depending on where Brady lands.
3. Dak Prescott | QB | Age: 27 | Team: DAL
This time last year, Dak Prescott was heavily criticized as the quarterback of the Cowboys, and he responded with 4,902 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns in 2019. Prescott threw with more confidence than ever and is a dangerous dual threat that Dallas won’t want to let leave the building (unless maybe they can sign Brady and go all-in on winning a Super Bowl in the next few years, in which case Prescott would command a ton of money from a new franchise). Prescott is strong on intermediate throws, and his deep ball is one of the best in the league.
4. Derrick Henry | RB | Age: 26 | Team: TEN
Among non-quarterbacks on offense, Derrick Henry and Julio Jones are the two primary standout players that have shown they can take over a game and basically carry their teams. The Titans are in a bit of a bind on what to do with the franchise tag, and if the monstrous running back becomes available, he should get a massive contract from a team. Henry might be at his best in a similar offense to Tennessee’s, but he certainly has the ability to dominate in more of a spread-out attack, too—if defenses are light in the box, good luck. He also has underrated receiving skills, particularly on screen passes that get him out as a runaway train in the open field.
5. Jadeveon Clowney | EDGE | Age: 27 | Team: SEA
The sack numbers have not been elite like many expected when Jadeveon Clowney was taken No. 1 overall by the Texans in 2014, but his impact on the game is undeniable. Clowney displays extreme effort defensively—concern about his hustle during his college career at South Carolina is far from an issue today—and sets the edge about as well as anyone in addition to his pressure on the quarterback. Also, Clowney appears to have the right mindset, stating that he only wants to play for a championship contender instead of just collecting a check for 16 games for a bad team. His effort was evident in the second half of last season in particular.
6. Chris Jones | DL | Age: 26 | Team: KC
Chris Jones just got his first Super Bowl ring, and he was a key member of Kansas City’s underrated defense as a disruptive defensive lineman in Steve Spagnuolo’s unit. Jones finds a way to get to the quarterback and finish plays with sacks, recording 9.0 in 2019 after a superb 15.5-sack year the season before. The former second-round pick will turn just 26 this July, and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t get around $20 million per season.
7. Shaquil Barrett | EDGE | Age: 27 | Team: TB
I have always liked Shaquil Barrett during his time in Denver, but I don’t think anyone aside from maybe Barrett himself expected him to explode into a Defensive Player of the Year candidate and record 19.5 sacks in his first season with the Buccaneers. Taking a one-year contract with Tampa Bay was a shrewd move by Barrett, who will now cash in this offseason as one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, whether via the franchise tag or a long-term deal.
8. Melvin Gordon | RB | Age: 27 | Team: LAC
Melvin Gordon’s 2019 was not ideal, and he did not play as well as usual in his return from a contract holdout—but keep in mind that the Chargers were simply not a very good team last season. Gordon is one of the best all-around backs in football, and he has three-down workhorse ability at just 27 years old (next month). The former Badger still knows how to finish drives and is one of the league’s top touchdown-makers.
9. Amari Cooper | WR | Age: 26 | Team: DAL
Given his gambreaking upside, there is definitely a case to be made for Amari Cooper to be higher than this among the 2020 NFL free agents. But inconsistency—there were games where Cooper didn’t look like himself when his team needed him, and perhaps nagging injuries are to blame—could make some teams hesitant to make Cooper near the highest paid receiver in the league. The ceiling is tempting, though, and Cooper will be one of the top players on the market if he avoids the franchise tag.
10. A.J. Green | WR | Age: 32 | Team: CIN
There are some concerns with A.J. Green: notable injuries in three of his past four seasons, including missing all of last season; and the injuries paired with his age. However, the Pro Bowl receiver would instantly be a huge weapon on offense for the squad that is able to add him, and he’s also a great example for the younger receivers and players on a roster to follow. Despite the durability concern, Green might be fresh after not playing in 2019.
11. Teddy Bridgewater | QB | Age: 27 | Team: NO
If not for terrible luck with his knee injury suffered ahead of the 2016 season, Teddy Bridgewater probably never would have been a backup in the NFL—he likely still would be the guy in Minnesota. The former Louisville quarterback might not throw for 5,000 yards or 40 touchdowns in a season, but he plays smart football and finds a way to win games.
12. James Bradberry | CB | Age: 27 | Team: CAR
Ranking these top three cornerbacks was very difficult, and I kept going back and forth with them. I’ll give James Bradberry the nod as the top corner available in free agency after having to go up against outstanding NFC South receivers with the Panthers.
13. Byron Jones | CB | Age: 27 | Team: DAL
I love the versatility of Byron Jones, who transitioned from safety to cornerback and was immediately named a Second Team All-Pro in 2018. Jones did not intercept any passes at corner for the Cowboys in the past two years, but he’s an excellent corner.
14. Trae Waynes | CB | Age: 28 | Team: MIN
Trae Waynes is one of the most underrated players in the NFL, with strong technique, excellent speed to avoid getting beat deep, and competitiveness as a willing tackler. He might get more money than some are expecting, perhaps from Mike Zimmer and a Vikings team that’s seen him play well up close.
15. Yannick Ngakoue | EDGE | Age: 25 | Team: JAX
Yannick Ngakoue has been very consistent since entering the league, with at least eight sacks in each of his four NFL seasons. However, Ngakoue is down at No. 15 among 2020 free agents because things might get more difficult if he’s the only big-time threat as a pass rusher for a new team after playing in a stacked Jaguars front. Keep in mind that Ngakoue has shown he knows how to not only get to the quarterback but also force fumbles.
16. Ryan Tannehill | QB | Age: 32 | Team: TEN
Ryan Tannehill was super-efficient for the Titans last season, and it would be a big surprise if he does not return to Tennessee in 2020. Tannehill is at No. 16 instead of the top five or ten partly because of his age compared to Mariota and Prescott. Yes, Brady and Brees have a decade on Tannehill, but they are all-time greats—not that Tannehill doesn’t have a chance to finish off with an amazing second half of his career.
17. Nelson Agholor | WR | Age: 27 | Team: PHI
His time in Philadelphia is probably over, but Nelson Agholor has shown he can be a headlining piece to a championship team. The Eagles have said the former first-round pick has been tracked as one of the ten fastest receivers in the NFL, and he has extraordinary acceleration and agility to go along with his top speed. Agholor should be a steal for the franchise that signs him in free agency.
18. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix | S | Age: 27 | Team: CHI
It’s surprising that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix might be going on his fourth NFL team already, as he’s played well since being selected in the first round of the 2014 draft by Green Bay. Clinton-Dix is best as a free safety in deep coverage where he can use his range, but he’s also strong in man coverage and can lay big hits over the middle.
19. Justin Simmons | S | Age: 26 | Team: DEN
Justin Simmons is simply a solid player, and he’s gotten better every year to eventually work himself into a Second Team All-Pro nod last season. Simmons is better in zone coverage than man, but he’s versatile and can seamlessly play either safety spot for a defense.
20. Brandon Scherff | G | Age: 28 | Team: WAS
The main concern with Brandon Scherff is the injuries, and he would arguably be a top-ten free agent if he was healthy over the past couple of years. But Scherff has the size, ability, and toughness as a three-time Pro Bowl guard that will immediately elevate an entire offensive line.
21. Anthony Harris | S | Age: 28 | Team: MIN
Anthony Harris went from an undrafted free agent in 2015 to tying the league lead for interceptions (six) in 2019. The former Virginia Cavalier is clearly one of the top free agent defenders this offseason; but he played in one of the league’s most talented defense, and it’s not like he was alone on the outside like teammate Trae Waynes often was at corner, so No. 21 feels like a fair spot for him.
22. Jamie Collins | LB | Age: 30 | Team: NE
One of the league’s most versatile defensive players, Jamie Collins has at least one sack and one interception in six of his past seven seasons. People probably forgot a bit about Collins when he was in Cleveland, but the former Patriot returned to New England and—benefitting from playing in Bill Belichick’s defense—showed he’s still an impactful player.
23. Bud Dupree | EDGE | Age: 27 | Team: PIT
Maybe it’s concerning that the sizable jump in production came in a contract year, but Bud Dupree recorded 11.5 sacks for the Steelers in 2019. It says a lot that Pittsburgh has indicated they do not intend to let Dupree go in free agency, so the team expects more of the same moving forward.
24. Jack Conklin | OT | Age: 26 | Team: TEN
A First Team All-Pro as a rookie in 2016, Jack Conklin tore his ACL in the postseason in January 2018 and took some time to get back into form. The Michigan State product could be a very good value on a long-term deal.
25. Jordan Howard | RB | Age: 25 | Team: PHI
This was close between the ultra-dynamic Kenyan Drake and Jordan Howard for No. 25. Howard might have been on his way to another 1,000-yard season before his shoulder injury last year, and he helps set the tone on offense with his punishing running style.
26. Kenyan Drake | RB | Age: 26 | Team: ARI
27. Cory Littleton | LB | Age: 26 | Team: LAR
28. Hunter Henry | TE | Age: 25 | Team: LAC
29. Philip Rivers | QB | Age: 38 | Team: LAC
30. Joe Thuney | G | Age: 27 | Team: NE
31. Devin McCourty | S | Age: 33 | Team: NE
32. Arik Armstead | DL | Age: 26 | Team: SF
33. Dante Fowler Jr. | EDGE | Age: 26 | Team: LAR
34. Matthew Judon | EDGE | Age: 29 | Team: BAL
35. Joe Schobert | LB | Age: 26 | Team: CLE
36. Austin Hooper | TE | Age: 25 | Team: ATL
37. Chris Harris Jr. | CB | Age: 31 | Team: DEN
38. Bradley Roby | CB | Age: 28 | Team: HOU
39. Leonard Williams | DL | Age: 26 | Team: NYG
40. Quinton Spain | G | Age: 29 | Team: BUF
41. D.J. Reader | DL | Age: 26 | Team: HOU
42. Blake Martinez | LB | Age: 26 | Team: GB
43. Phillip Dorsett | WR | Age: 27 | Team: NE
44. Logan Ryan | CB | Age: 29 | Team: TEN
45. Emmanuel Sanders | WR | Age: 33 | Team: SF
46. Robert Quinn | EDGE | Age: 30 | Team: DAL
47. Javon Hargrave | DL | Age: 27 | Team: PIT
48. Gerald McCoy | DL | Age: 32 | Team: CAR
49. Kyle Van Noy | LB | Age: 29 | Team: NE
50. Shelby Harris | DL | Age: 29 | Team: DEN
51. Graham Glasgow | OL | Age: 28 | Team: DET