With the start of free agency apparently imminent next week, we will be breaking down some of the best potential landing spots for some notable 2020 NFL Free Agents.
This is based both on teams who have been reported to be interested in these players as well as by connecting the dots between team needs and connections.
We’ve taken our Top 100 – 2020 NFL Free Agents list and removed 12 players who are likely to receive the franchise tag, as it’s not really worth speculating where they will land, and used the remaining Top 50 free agents for this series.
- Top 50 Best 2020 Free Agent Fits: 50-41
- Top 50 Best 2020 Free Agent Fits: 40-31
- Top 50 Best 2020 Free Agent Fits: 30-21
No. 20: Texans DT D.J. Reader
Reported interest: Broncos, Bills, Titans
Best fit: Bills
Though the Bills on paper are deep at defensive tackle, upon closer inspection it makes sense that they’re being connected to a few of the top options in free agency. Bills HC Sean McDermott prefers a healthy rotation to keep everyone at the position fresh. While Buffalo was top-ten in rushing yards allowed per game, they allowed a league-average 4.3 YPC. With a bounty of cap space, the Bills can afford to splurge on someone like Reader, who they witnessed first-hand in their playoff loss this January, as they look to build a championship-caliber defensive line.
No. 19: Steelers DT Javon Hargrave
Best fit: Panthers
If this actually happened, it would qualify as somewhat of a surprise signing given the Panthers don’t have the cap space or buzz to be linked to a lot of prominent free agents. But it would fill a major need for Carolina, which is set to lose nearly its entire defensive line rotation from 2019. There are also strong connections to the Steelers organization in Carolina, notably owner David Tepper who was previously a Pittsburgh minority owner. And as the Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue pointed out recently, Hargrave is from North Carolina and shares an agent with former high school teammate and new Panthers DL Chris Smith.
No. 18: Patriots G Joe Thuney
Reported interest: 20 teams, including Jets, Dolphins
Best fit: Dolphins
Thuney is set to cash in big time as the best guard likely available on the market. The Jets and Dolphins both need to radically remake their offensive lines and are flush with cap space. However, Miami has twice as much cap space as New York and boasts a more favorable state income tax situation — two factors worth watching.
No. 17: 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders
Reported interest: 49ers, Patriots
Best fit: Patriots
Sanders loved his time in San Francisco, but it remains to be seen how much of a discount that will translate into, as the 49ers have a number of other needs and limited cap space. If he hits the open market, the Patriots make sense as a landing spot for the veteran as they look to bolster their receiving corps.
No. 16: Broncos CB Chris Harris
Reported interest: Cowboys, Raiders, Texans
Best fit: Raiders
Dallas has also been mentioned as a potential suitor for Harris, but the Raiders have more cap space and can offer the opportunity to play against his former team twice a year. The team has talked about needing to add a No. 1 corner and will be highly motivated to lock up someone like Harris, who is likely looking at his last major contract.
No. 15: Panthers CB James Bradberry
Reported interest: Redskins, Giants, Jets, Raiders
Best fit: Redskins
Bradberry has been linked to the Redskins ever since the majority of his former coaching staff in Carolina made the migration north to D.C. With the departure of Josh Norman and Washington’s other starting corner Quinton Dunbar unhappy with his deal, Bradberry would instantly step in as a No. 1 corner for Ron Rivera on defense. Even though some reports have indicated Washington might not be as high on Bradberry as previously assumed, this union still makes way too much sense.
No. 14: Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston
Best fit: ?
The sudden glut of quarterbacks potentially changing teams has drawn comparisons to a game of musical chairs. When the music stops this offseason, some of these quarterbacks will be left without a chair, and there’s a decent chance Winston is one of them. He’s shown talent, but he also became the first quarterback to throw 30 interceptions since Vinny Testaverde did it in 1988 — coincidentally also for the Buccaneers. Without the interceptions, Winston would be the ideal fit for HC Bruce Arians‘ scheme. But if he doesn’t return to Tampa Bay, which is very much in doubt right now, his options to start will be severely limited.
Raiders HC Jon Gruden reportedly wants to be more aggressive, so Winston could be brought in to compete with and maybe supplant QB Derek Carr. If the Titans miss their swing for Patriots QB Tom Brady and end up losing QB Ryan Tannehill, Winston could fit as an alternative. Otherwise, Winston might have to settle for a job as a backup and potential successor to someone like Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. It’s worth mentioning his former HC Dirk Koetter is the offensive coordinator for Atlanta, but the cap-strapped Falcons might not be able to bring Winston in even as a backup.
No. 13: Jets WR Robby Anderson
Reported interest: Jets, Raiders, Eagles, Broncos
Best fit: Broncos
Back in 2018, Anderson toasted the Broncos with three catches, two touchdowns and 123 yards in a Jets win. Now, the Broncos will have the chance to add Anderson to their offense, and he could step in as an instant deep threat while Denver builds around Drew Lock. While this year’s receiver class is deep, signing Anderson wouldn’t prevent the Broncos from adding another weapon and would free the team up to take the best player available in the first round.
No. 12: Colts OT Anthony Castonzo
Reported interest: Colts
Best fit: Colts
After making his intentions to play in 2020 clear despite mulling retirement, there’s little chance Castonzo plays anywhere besides Indianapolis in 2020. The team values him highly and doesn’t have a clear replacement on the roster right now. Castonzo also has played his entire career with the Colts and the rare opportunity to spend an entire career with one team is in reach.
UPDATE: Colts re-signed Castonzo to a two-year, $33 million deal. (NFLTR)
No. 11: Vikings S Anthony Harris
Reported interest: Browns
Best fit: Browns
Harris has quietly been one of the NFL’s best safeties the past two seasons, at least according to Pro Football Focus. However, the fact that the Vikings have little cap space and already tied up seven figures in a deal for S Harrison Smith means Harris will test the market. The Browns have one of the bigger needs for safety help of any team in the league this year and new HC Kevin Stefanski would be intimately familiar with how Harris has worked his way from undrafted free agent to one of the NFL’s best at his position.