With the NFL post season right around the corner, several teams have officially begun to plan for next season. One of the most sure-fire ways to immediately improve a struggling team is to add quality players to their defense. The 2020 free agency class is loaded with talent everywhere that has the potential to turn this year’s dumpster fire into next year’s Super Bowl favorite. Here is a list of the the top 10 defensive free agents in this year’s class.
Von Miller: Arizona Cardinals
Arizona has been the pleasant surprise of the NFC West. While the Cardinals have not won many games, Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury’s dynamic offense has given Cardinal’s fans something to look forward to. Their defense does have talented assets like Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones, but adding a generational talent like Miller would bring Arizona’s defense together nicely. While losing Miller would undoubtedly hurt the Bronco’s in the short-run, in the long-run the team would have more cap space to bring in other players in free agency to expedite their rebuild.
Shaquill Barrett: Green Bay Packers
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure and that has certainly been the case for Barrett. While Barrett’s career never really took off in Denver, he has flourished in Todd Bowle’s defensive scheme. Barrett currently leads the NFL in sacks with 12.5 and is sure to appear in the 2020 Pro Bowl. The Packers added Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to their linebacker corps, following the release of OLB Clay Matthews. The Smith Bros have been great getting to the quarterback and it would be wise for Green Bay to strengthen a strength by bringing in Barrett. Barrett is athletic enough to play in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme and turn the Packers’ defense from good to scary.
Blake Martinez: Green Bay Packers
Martinez is a top 5 middle linebacker in the NFL. He flies all over the field and is usually the first person to the ball on any given play. While he would certainly have a huge market of teams looking to improve their defense, I strongly believe he will stay in Green Bay. Martinez is the heart and soul of the growing Packer’s defense and losing him would be detrimental to the team and the organization as a whole. It’s easy to see that Martinez wants to stay in Green Bay and it’s very likely that GM Brian Gutenkust moves heaven and earth to make him a lifer in Green Bay.
Jadaveon Clowney: Las Vegas Raiders
Clowney’s impact in Seattle has been massive and it’s aided the Seahawks in their impressive 9-2 start to the season. Clowney is a game wrecker with a nasty on-field persona, which is exactly why in this mock Jon Gruden and the Raiders make a move on him. While the offense for the Raiders has been incredibly efficient, their defense leaves much to be desired. Bringing in a monster like Clowney immediately helps the Raider’s defense and makes the AFC West much more interesting. While I believe the Seahawks’ will try and keep Clowney. If he manages to slip away from them, look for Gruden to make him a Raider.
Everson Griffin: New York Jets
The Minnesota Vikings have a lot of tough decisions to make in the near future. Deciding whether or not to keep Kirk Cousins around or not is quite the debacle and if they do in fact decide to stick with Captain Kirk, some players will have to get the ax. Griffin is everything you want in a pass rusher with quick feet, unbelievable strength, and a knack for getting to the quarterback. While he would be an excellent addition to any roster in the league, I can definitely see the Jets making a move to bring in a veteran on their young defensive line. Pairing Griffin with Quinnen Williams would fill the void left by the Leonard Williams trade. Under the right GM and for a fair price, I can totally see the Jets push for Griffin.
Jimmy Smith: Baltimore Ravens
Jimmy Smith is getting older, but he sure hasn’t shown it much. I would normally see a veteran defensive back going to a serious contender, but let’s be real, the Ravens are the best team in the AFC. I’m fairly certain the Ravens won’t try to move off one of their stars just yet. Having Smith with Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters has allowed Baltimore to play a lot of man coverage and rush the quarterback as much as they want. The improvement of that defense is really what sets them apart from the rest of the league and I doubt they want to break the band up after seeing what they are capable of. As of right now I strongly believe Smith will stay in B’more.
Shaq Thompson: Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have had a couple of nice breaks when it comes to their pocketbooks. Starting quarterback Cam Newton makes surprisingly little when compared to his peers and running back Christian McCaffrey has been a workhorse on his rookie contract. Now I don’t know exactly what the future holds for Cam in Carolina, but It would not surprise me if the Panthers moved off of Cam to make cap room for CMC, Shaq Thompson, and James Bradberry. Carolina has one of the linebacker corps in the league and Thompson is a huge asset to them. While the market for him will likely be enormous, I don’t see a scenario where the Panthers let him walk. Definitely look for Shaq to be in the black and blue again in the 2020 season.
Eli Apple: Kansas City Chiefs
The New Orleans Saints have been excellent on defense this year. Their young secondary is tough to throw against and Apple has been a huge part of the reason why. While superstar Marshon Lattimore receives most of the glory, Apple has been an invaluable asset at the #2 spot and would make a great addition to the Kansas City Chiefs secondary. Pairing Apple with Kendall Fuller would significantly improve the so-far lackluster Chiefs defense and provide Patrick Mahomes some much-needed help on the other side of the ball. A player like Apple can likely be brought in for a reasonable price and the Saints will likely overlook his contributions to their defense and let him walk.
Chris Harris Jr: Houston Texans
The Denver Broncos are about to enter a major rebuild. With Drew Lock showing glimpses of being a starter in this league, John Elway will need to surround his young quarterback with talent on both sides of the ball. The Broncos have quality veteran players all over their defense, but their age makes them expensive to keep around. So in this scenario, the Broncos let two of their cornerstone players go in Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. Harris has not had the best year in 2019, but he still has enough in the tank to significantly strengthen any team’s defensive backfields. I would like to see Harris end up on the Houston Texans. Houston has struggled on defense all year and adding Harris would give their secondary some much-needed help.
Michael Pierce: Baltimore, or maybe Kansas City
Baltimore has the luxury of having a quarterback on a rookie deal for the near future. This gives them plenty of versatility to sign other assets to long term deals. Pierce has not had a tremendous year, so I don’t know if he sits in Baltimore’s future plans. If the Raven’s do decide to move off Pierce, I could see him in New England or possibly Kansas City.
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