Jason Behnken/Associated Press
It’s been roughly three months since the 2020 edition of NFL free agency began. While the early flood of offseason signings has slowed to a dull trickle, some intriguing and valuable players remain on the open market.
While most fans are well aware that high-profile players like Jadeveon Clowney and Cam Newton remain unsigned, they aren’t the only quality options out there. Running back Devonta Freeman, for example, is just 28 years old and is coming off a season with 1,066 combined rushing and receiving yards.
Teams looking for a capable receiver out of the backfield should have interest in Freeman, though signing him won’t necessarily be a budget option. Freeman recently expressed his interest in joining Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but Bucs head coach Bruce Arians stated that the price tag was unreasonable.
According to Spotrac, the Buccaneers have just over $5 million in cap space. So while he is clearly looking for more than the league minimum, his asking price might not be unreasonable to every team. Teams like the Miami Dolphins and the Philadelphia Eagles have more than $20 million in cap space and could be willing to shell out $3-4 million a year for a capable running back.
Philadelphia has already been linked to Freeman, too, as the team searches for a veteran backup to Mile Sanders.
“The Eagles don’t have that veteran security blanket in the fold yet, but they’ve been keeping a close eye on the running back market and will probably add to this group (they’ve shown interest in Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy) before the start of the season,” wrote ESPN’s Tim McManus.
Freeman is likely to end up on a roster before Week 1, and his skill set meshes perfectly with what the Eagles ask of their running backs.
Prediction: Philadelphia signs Freeman to a two-year deal.
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
Like Freeman, cornerback Darqueze Dennard is just 28 years old and is looking for work. Though he never became a star with the Cincinnati Bengals, he did appear in 77 games with 24 starts in six seasons.
Teams looking for a young, experienced cornerback should view Dennard as a prime option.
One team that would make a ton of sense for Dennard is the Las Vegas Raiders. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther previously held the same position with the Bengals and helped break Dennard into the league in 2014. The Raiders also have a need at the position after ranking just 25th in pass defense last season.
However, the Pittsburgh Steelers could be a bit of a surprise team, as they could use depth behind Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. Pittsburgh has just under $6 million in cap space and could provide a perfect home for Dennard if he’s willing to take a team-friendly deal.
Nine of Dennard’s 24 career starts came in 2018 when Teryl Austin was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. Austin is now a secondary coach in Pittsburgh.
Prediction: Dennard signs a one-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Pass-rusher Markus Golden is another remaining free agent on the under side of 30 (he turned 29 in March). He’s also coming off the second double-digit-sack season of his career and his first with the New York Giants.
However, the Giants have yet to re-sign him.
“We’ve expressed it internally and we’ve talked with him as well about possibly having a fit,” new Giants head coach Joe Judge said, per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ Advanced Media.
New York has given Golden the rare “May 5” free-agent tender. This means that if Golden doesn’t sign with another team by July 22, the Giants will own his exclusive rights at a tender of $4.125 million. If he does sign with a different team, though, the Giants will receive nothing in compensation.
Realistically, a pass-rusher-needy team should be able to lure Golden away with any deal worth significantly more than $4.125 million. With no shortage of teams looking for pass-rush help and more than a month before that July 22 deadline, Golden could be gone if the Giants don’t get a long-term deal done first.
Prediction: Golden signs elsewhere before July 22.