Top 5 remaining NFL free agents

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April 7th, 2020

Some of the biggest names in the NFL are still in search of a contract, after three weeks on the free-agent market.

Here are the top five available free agents and where they could land before the start of the 2020 season.

Jameis Winston, QB

At age 26, Winston found himself jobless, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed 42-year-old Tom Brady as their quarterback. Winston is on the hunt for a new team, just a season after he led the league in passing, with 5,109 yards.

The gunslinger possesses a ton of upside, because of his arm strength, but his decision making has been a liability. Last year Winston became the first player to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in one season. He also was the first QB to pass for 450 yards or more in consecutive games, and he is the only player to toss seven interceptions returned for touchdowns in a season.

Winston underwent Lasik surgery in February to improve his eyesight, and hopefully his football vision, too.

There aren’t many teams still looking to sign a starting quarterback, so 2015's No. 1 overall pick will likely have to accept a backup role. The Jacksonville Jaguars may be his best fit, as he could step in as the starter quickly, should second-year QB Gardner Minshew stumble next season.

Cam Newton, QB

Another former No. 1 overall draft pick wading in the free-agent pool is quarterback Cam Newton. The three-time Pro Bowler and 2015 NFL MVP spent last offseason nursing his right shoulder back to full strength, then ended up sidelined two games into the 2019 season with a foot injury.

On March 17 the Panthers permitted Newton to seek a trade and released him a week later, when no deal came to fruition. On March 26 Carolina signed Teddy Bridgewater as part of a franchise overhaul with new first-year head coach Matt Rhule.

Newton has been linked to the Chargers, who signed journeyman Tyrod Taylor as the probable starter in 2020. Newton may still be an option for Los Angeles and could compete for the starting role, but according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the 30-year-old is open to waiting until after the NFL Draft to sign.

The Chargers are likely his best option and offer a talented supporting cast. Newton could also follow former head coach Ron Rivera to his new home in Washington and bring some consistency at quarterback, after the team rotated through Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, and rookie Dwayne Haskins on the way to a 3-13 record in 2019.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE

If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s that former No. 1 draft picks aren’t faring well in 2020 free agency. The issue for Clowney has been his asking price.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Clowney was seeking a deal worth $21 million per year, but the 27-year-old couldn’t find a suitor willing to pay. He is now reportedly asking for $17 to $18 million and has drawn interest from the Seahawks and Titans.  

The former Houston Texan ended up in Seattle via trade in August of 2019. In 13 games he recorded three sacks, 31 tackles, 47 QB pressures, four forced fumbles, one interception, and a pair of defensive TDs. In his six-year career, he’s totaled 32 sacks, nine forced fumbles, 236 tackles, 80 quarterback hits, and appeared in three Pro Bowls.

If he doesn’t stay in Seattle, Cleveland is another interested party. The Browns boast $43 million in cap space and could create a fierce pass-rushing tandem with Clowney and Myles Garrett.

Logan Ryan, CB

In his seventh year in the league, Ryan enjoyed his best season of his career, with 113 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, four forced fumbles, and four interceptions. The former Titan did surrender five touchdowns, but he’s still a solid option for any team in the market for a cornerback.

His ideal fit may be the Detroit Lions, who traded Darius Slay to Philadelphia in March. Lions head coach Matt Patricia worked with Ryan for three seasons in New England, when Patricia served as defensive coordinator.

Detroit’s pass defense ranked last (284.4 yards per game) in 2019, and Ryan could immediately provide a boost to that unit.

Jason Peters, OT

Peters probably won’t play in the league much longer, but the 38-year-old is capable of filling in at offensive tackle, at least for one more year.

Peters played in 13 games for the Eagles last season, committed 10 penalties, and gave up three sacks over 872 offensive snaps. His recent injury history is a concern, but his experience at left tackle makes him an enticing short-term signing.  

Peters could provide veteran assistance to a team struggling on the offensive line and mentor young players on the roster. It's unlikely he'll sign anything more than a one-year contract, but his presence could significantly impact a team either in win-now mode or hoping to build toward the future.

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