Guessing the landing spots and contract terms for the NFL's top defensive free agents in 2020. Players expected to be tagged are omitted.
2019 Stats: 46 tackles, 1 FF, 6 PD
Potential suitors: Eagles, Giants, Raiders, Redskins, Broncos, Lions, Jets, Jaguars
Quietly one of the NFL's most reliable cover corners, Jones is the top defensive player in this year's free-agent class. He'll have an extremely competitive market, and a bidding war for his services should lead to a deal that pushes him past Xavien Howard as the league's highest-paid defensive back. After a 2019 season in which their porous secondary was exposed on a weekly basis, the Eagles should step up and get this done. Jones could be a difference-maker for Philly, which is trying to make another deep playoff run with its current core.
Prediction: Eagles on a 5-year, $75M contract ($45M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 31 tackles, 3 sacks, 13 QB hits, 4 FF
Potential suitors: Seahawks, Dolphins, Browns, Titans, Ravens, Falcons, Panthers, Colts, Giants
Clowney passed on joining the Dolphins in a trade from the Texans last season, but that shouldn't necessarily rule the franchise out as a landing spot in free agency. Clowney's reasoning was that Miami wasn't trying to win, but this team is now a lot closer to competing than you might think. A strong finish to the 2019 campaign got things going in the right direction, and the Dolphins can bolster their roster with a number of impact free agents and three first-round picks - one of which likely to be used on a quarterback of the future. And, at the end of the day, money talks. Miami has more cap space than any other team, so making Clowney one of the NFL's highest-paid pass-rushers is more than doable.
Prediction: Dolphins on a 5-year, $105M contract ($60M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 56 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FF, 6 PD
Potential suitors: Cowboys, Raiders, Texans, Jets, Lions, Chiefs
Tyrann Mathieu is trying hard to recruit Harris to the Chiefs, according to Harris himself, and it's a pairing that would make a lot of sense. The Super Bowl champs are intimately familiar with their former divisional rival and have a need at slot cornerback. But the smarter money is on Harris ending up in Houston under Bill O'Brien, a coach who reportedly tried to trade for him during the 2019 campaign and whose secondary desperately needs a stabilizing veteran presence.
Prediction: Texans on a 3-year, $45M contract ($30M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 58 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 16 QB hits, 2 FF
Potential suitors: Seahawks, Texans, Patriots, Ravens, Jets, Panthers
Fowler signed a one-year, $14-million deal with the Rams a year ago after initially landing in Los Angeles in a trade from Jacksonville. Now, he'll surely be looking to convert his 11.5 sacks in 2019 into a long-term pact. The Rams should be among the bidders, but they could find themselves unable to compete with teams that are flush with cap space.
Prediction: Giants on a 4-year, $67M contract ($36M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 60 tackles, 6 INT, 11 PD
Potential suitors: Cowboys, Browns, Buccaneers
The Vikings and Harris - a little-known and vastly underrated player - have a mutual interest in staying together, but the money is likely to be much better elsewhere. New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski saw what Harris meant to Minnesota's defense and he could urge new general manager Andrew Berry to make an aggressive offer.
Prediction: Browns on a 4-year, $51M contract ($34M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 65 tackles, 3 INTs, 12 PD
Potential suitors: Redskins, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Texans, Jaguars
While not quite a shutdown corner, Bradberry held his own against a murderers' row of NFC South wideouts and will reap the rewards in free agency. Reuniting with former coach Ron Rivera in Washington would seem to make sense, but the latest word is the Redskins are cooler on Bradberry than anticipated. Both New York teams are expected to enter the bidding, although Giants GM Dave Gettleman's historic resistance to paying corners makes it more likely that Bradberry ends up wearing green.
Prediction: Jets on a 4-year, $58M contract ($34M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 134 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 2 FF
Potential suitors: Raiders, Packers, Giants, Bengals, Lions
After quietly emerging as one of the NFL's most productive linebackers over the last two seasons, Littleton is poised to land a lucrative long-term deal on the open market. There will be no shortage of suitors, but the Raiders should be pursuing him more fiercely than any other team is. After so many years of settling for a patchwork linebacker corps, paying up to get an every-down player who can make an impact in pass coverage, against the run, and as a pass-rusher should be a no-brainer.
Prediction: Raiders on a 5-year, $72.5M contract ($40M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 133 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 INTs, 2 FF
Potential suitors: Packers, Raiders, Giants, Bengals, Lions
A productive linebacker who's particularly effective in coverage, Schobert will have a strong market in free agency. The Browns should be interested in bringing him back, as they need to add, not subtract, defensive playmakers. But other cap-rich teams like the Giants should be in the mix with competitive offers. New York would do well to bolster a pass defense that was one of just five units that surrendered at least 8 yards per attempt last season.
Prediction: Giants on a 4-year, $50M contract ($28M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 52 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 13 QB hits
Potential suitors: Broncos, Titans, Bills, Colts, Cardinals
A little-known name among casual football fans, Reader is a monstrous block-eating nose tackle who film buffs would say deserves much of the credit for freeing J.J. Watt up to wreak havoc. The Colts are loaded with cash and poised to finally go on a spending spree. Reader isn't the sort of sexy free-agent purchase that will sell jerseys, but he's exactly what Chris Ballard's defense needs.
Prediction: Colts on a 5-year, $55M contract ($27M guaranteed)
2019 Stats: 27 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 16 QB hits, 2 FF
Potential suitors: Seahawks, Dolphins, Browns, Titans, Ravens, Falcons, Panthers
Ten years into his NFL career, Pierre-Paul remains an impactful edge rusher who tallied 29.5 sacks across his last three seasons. He won't break the bank as a 31-year-old, though, which should pique the interest of contending teams around the league. In that sense, the most interesting fit is the Seahawks. Seattle will want to explore keeping Jadeveon Clowney, but a price tag in the range of $20 million per season will be difficult to justify. Replacing Clowney with a cheaper yet similarly productive Pierre-Paul seems like a smart move.
Prediction: Seahawks on a 3-year, $37.5M contract ($24M guaranteed)