NFL teams have scooped up more than 70% of the ESPN’s original top 100 free agents this week, either through market signings or by using the franchise and transition tags. That doesn’t mean the well is dry, however.
Here are 15 of the best players remaining. As always, we’ve focused this list toward the philosophies of most teams rather than simply 2019 production or skill level in a vacuum. Age is crucial as teams attempt to project future performance — 26 and 27 are the sweet spots — and certain positions are always higher priorities. (Note: Todd Gurley was originally on this list, but he signed with the Falcons on Friday.)
Note: Ages are listed as of the start of the 2020 season.
2019 team: Seattle Seahawks | Age: 27
Rented (cheaply) for the season by the Seahawks, Clowney reaffirmed most existing impressions of him: He is a difference-maker when healthy. But the market hasn’t formed as some thought it might, possibly because of his injury history.
2019 team: Los Angeles Chargers | Age: 27
The Chargers’ decision to stand firm during Gordon’s 2019 holdout, and Gordon’s career-low 612 rushing yards upon his return, was revealing. He did manage to rush for eight touchdowns, and his total of 26 over the past three seasons ranks No. 6 in the NFL. His holdout reduced the mileage on his body, but he doesn’t fit the free-agent profile some teams use at the position.
2019 team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Age: 26
All you need to know about Winston is that in 2019 he became the first player in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season. His downfield explosiveness is undeniable, but his turnover rate is totally out of sync with today’s passing-friendly league. It had been 31 years since a quarterback threw as many as 30 interceptions in one season.
2019 team: Indianapolis Colts | Age: 27
Ebron caught 16 touchdown passes in 27 games after moving from the Lions to the Colts in 2018 and is young for someone who has played six seasons. But he has always struggled with dropped passes, and teams no doubt will want to investigate the circumstances that led Ebron to decide he needed season-ending ankle surgery. The Colts’ public statements made clear they were surprised by the urgent need for surgery.
2019 team: New York Jets | Age: 27
A late-season surge — 27 receptions for 420 yards over the Jets’ final six games — pushed Anderson up the rankings of young wide receivers with expiring contracts. His emergence roughly tracked the Jets’ offensive improvement over that period. But he has no doubt been hurt by the deep receiver class in the 2020 NFL draft.
2019 team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Age: 26
A career year in the Buccaneers’ high-octane offense demonstrated that Perriman still has big-play ability after an injury-plagued start to his career. He set career highs in receptions (36), yards (645) and touchdowns (six) but, like Anderson, looks to be facing competition from the 2020 draft class.
2019 team: New York Giants | Age: 29
Golden was one of the few bright spots for the 2019 Giants, recording 10 sacks — including one that came as a result of a postgame stat change. There weren’t many takers for him in the 2019 market, but his sacks total will generate a few more eyes.
2019 team: Seattle Seahawks | Age: 26
The Seahawks declined their fifth-year option on Ifedi, a first-round pick in 2016. He started all 16 games at right tackle but has had some rough moments over his career. With his age and experience, however, he should find plenty of interest.
2019 team: New Orleans Saints | Age: 26
Peat’s performance ebbed significantly during five seasons with the Saints, and 2019 wasn’t his best. The Saints’ strapped-cap situation makes him expendable. Sometimes you have to think of the, yes, big picture. When a 6-foot-7, 316-pound starting guard is available, there will be interest.
2019 team: New Orleans Saints | Age: 25
Bell emerged as a full-time starter in 2019 and had the kind of season that suggests his career is about to take off. The Saints have a possible replacement on the roster in C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
2019 team: San Francisco 49ers | Age: 33
There usually isn’t much of a market for 33-year-old receivers. A grand total of six were on NFL rosters in 2019. But Sanders’ productivity after a midseason trade from the Broncos — 36 receptions for 502 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games — suggests he still has some good years remaining.
2019 team: Philadelphia Eagles | Age: 38
At his age, Peters is a year-to-year proposition. But after he played in 29 of a possible 32 games over the past two seasons, there is a reason to think he could squeeze out at least one more quality season. Even if his best years are long behind him, starting left tackles of any quality generate intense interest.
2019 team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Age: 33
Once one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive players, Suh has entered the journeyman phase of his career. The Buccaneers were his third team in as many seasons, but he remained productive (four fumble recoveries, including two for touchdowns) and extended his consecutive-starts streak to 131 games dating to 2011.
2019 team: Minnesota Vikings | Age: 32
Griffen exercised an option to terminate his contract and test the open market. After taking time away in 2018 to focus on his mental health, Griffen came back in 2019 with eight sacks and can still be a force on the edge.
2019 team: Baltimore Ravens | Age: 32
Smith remains immensely talented, but every interested team will have to take into account his long injury history. He managed to play only nine games in 2019 and has appeared in all 16 games of a season only twice in a career that began in 2011.