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Michael Thomas, Russell Wilson, AJ Green

Editorials

The 10 best NFL free agents in the 2020 class

It’s been a whirlwind of an offseason thus far in 2019, with plenty of big names in the free agency market either finding new homes or getting huge contract extensions from their current teams.

If this year’s offseason of rampant activity is any indication, 2020 should be no different. As such, let’s take a look at the top 10 unrestricted free agents heading in to the new decade.

Honorable Mentions: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers

We might as well mention that five future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks are set to become free agents in 2020.

However, all five of them are 38 years of age or older, and each of them have been the faces of their respective franchises for as long as we can remember. That being said, it’s hard to imagine seeing any one of these QB greats finding a new home next season rather than staying with the only organizations they’ve ever played for – except for maybe Eli Manning, but more on that later.

10. C Mike Pouncey, LA Chargers

There’s a shallow pool of unrestricted free agents for offensive linemen in 2020, especially if age is taken into consideration.

Amongst the offensive linemen below the age of 30, center Mike Pouncey is the most attractive option of them all. The former first-round pick played all 16 games for the Los Angeles Chargers last season en route to his fourth Pro Bowl selection, and he is only about to turn 30 this July.

9. WR Emmanuel Sanders, Denver

Consistency has been the calling card of Denver Broncos wideout Emmanuel Sanders. The former Super Bowl champ has only missed nine regular-season games ever since he was appointed as a starting wideout for the Pittsburgh Steelers back in 2012, and has playoff experience aplenty from his time in Pittsburgh and Denver.

Sanders is also entering 2019 as the top option in the Broncos passing game, which could see his value rise even higher come next season’s free agency period.

8. DE Chris Jones, Kansas City

24-year-old defensive end Chris Jones busted through the scene in 2019 for the Kansas City Chiefs. The third-year edge rusher out of Mississippi State finished the previous season with 15.5 sacks — third-most in the NFL.

Jones will earn roughly around $1.3 million from his current contract’s final year in Kansas City, and the young upstart will most certainly warrant a huge paycheck from a multitude of teams looking to pry him off of the Chiefs’ hands.

7. QB Dak Prescott, Dallas

Dak Prescott has had a rollercoaster of an NFL career thus far. After leading the Dallas Cowboys to a remarkable 13-3 record in his rookie campaign in 2016, the next couple of seasons have been relatively underwhelming for the former Rookie of the Year, leading the Cowboys to a combined regular season record of 19-13 since.

A late-season resurgence last year boosted Prescott’s value, and he has the next man on our list to thank for that success.

6. WR Amari Cooper, Dallas

Similar to Prescott, many critics were quick to peg wide receiver Amari Cooper as a bust after failing to replicate his 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his first two NFL seasons.

Turns out that a change of scenery was all it took for the former Oakland Raider to regain his mojo, as six of his seven receiving touchdowns came after the Cowboys traded for him mid-season last year.

If Dallas is committed to Prescott as its starting QB of the future, they better make sure that Cooper is also there for the ride along with him and stud running back Ezekiel Elliott to make for the first formidable trio in America’s Favorite Team since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.

5. LB Jadeveon Clowney, Houston

It took a while before Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney lived up to his promise as a first-overall draft pick in 2014.

Over the last three seasons with the Houston Texans, Clowney missed just three regular-season games and racked up a total of 24.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns, earning him three-consecutive Pro Bowl nods in the process.

At the ripe age of 26, Clowney’s entering the prime of his professional career, making him one of the most valuable commodities in the free agent market in 2020.

4. DE DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence came from the same draft class as Clowney before him on this list, but the scarcity of bonafide edge rushers in Lawrence’s position gives him the edge over the South Carolina product.

The Cowboys’ second-round gem has even more in common with Clowney. Lawrence was also a late bloomer of sorts, as a foot injury hampered his rookie season and a four-game suspension in 2016 further stopped his momentum.

However, Lawrence finally came to form in 2017 and 2018, amassing an identical number 24.5 sacks to Clowney; a mark he reached one full season faster than his counterpart. Moreover, he also had six forced fumbles (three recovered) and one interception during that two-year span.

3. WR A.J. Green, Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Bengals wouldn’t have been in playoff contention in recent years if not for all-star wideout A.J. Green. The former fourth-overall pick has six 1,000-yard receiving seasons in eight years as a pro, and he currently holds Cincinnati’s franchise record for most 100-yard receiving games (32).

What’s hurting Green’s stock right now, though, is that he’s coming off of an injury-riddled 2018 campaign with a nagging toe injury.

Then again, the injury isn’t considered as career-threatening, and Green’s overall value as Cincy’s top wideout since entering the league in 2011 won’t make any team in search of an elite receiver hesitate to pony up for the services of the seven-time Pro Bowl selection.

2. WR Michael Thomas, New Orleans

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas has a lot of similarites to Green before him as well. On the other hand, the former Ohio State standout has seen increases in his numbers across the board in each of his first three seasons as a pro.

Last season, Thomas finished with eye-popping career-highs of 125 catches, 1,405 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. Furthermore, he broke New Orleans’ single-season record for total receiving yards, set by Joe Horn way back in 2004 , and he’s yet to miss an NFL game due to injury.

There’s no doubt that the 6-foot-3 wideout is the most dangerous downfield threat in the 2020 free agency market.

1. QB Russell Wilson, Seattle

With very few realistic options at quarterback in 2020 save for Prescott, Seattle’s very own Russell Wilson will be the top target for teams looking to steal a franchise QB away from the Seahawks’ grasp.

So much so, in fact, that the New York Giants were already rumored as a possible destination for the 30-year-old Ohio native earlier this month as the successor to aging Eli Manning in East Rutherford. Wilson addressed those rumors immediately by saying that he wants to stay in Seattle, but the Seahawks haven’t gone into contract extension talks with their franchise QB yet, either.

Few quarterbacks in the league can compare to Wilson’s amazing body of work in just seven NFL seasons. He led Seattle to two Super Bowl runs and won it all once back in 2013. He’s missed the postseason just once, but never had his team finish with a losing record in the regular season.

As if the Seahawks’ continued success with Wilson under center wasn’t enough, the six-time Pro Bowler has thrown for at least 3,100 yards and 20 touchdowns in each of his seven seasons. His running total of 3,651 rushing yards and 16 TDs on the ground further emphasizes his already dazzling resumé as one of the most versatile quarterbacks to ever play the game.