2020 Free Agency Positional Preview – EDGE rusher/Defensive Ends
Leading up to the beginning of free agency (3/18 at 4pmET), we’ll be looking position by position at the available free agent pool and discussing the state of the pool (for gems, sleepers, busts) and making some throwaway predictions on the landing spots of the top free agents.
Today, we look at: EDGE rusher/Defensive Ends
There are plenty of recognizable names, but not that one real ‘wow’ factor edge rusher. Jadeveon Clowney will be bandied about as ‘the guy’, but he’s always been overrated and overhyped (and going to be EXPENSIVE this year). There’s a reason why Houston wanted to move on from him so badly.
Shaq Barrett, Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue are potentially the best in class, but Ngakoue and Barrett are very likely franchise tagged. Ngakoue likely tagged then traded. Only Judon will see free agency, I believe.
There are younger options to consider – Dante Fowler, Bud Dupree, Vic Beasley…but they all have some red flags on wanting to spend up for them/committing long term.
To me, there’s better options among the veterans – Everson Griffen and Robert Quinn could be nice shorter term, expensive deals.
We have lesser lauded, talented guys like Carl Nassib out there as well.
Considering this 2020 NFL Draft class of pass rushers and/or D-Ends is quite shaky after Chase Young, adding guys via free agency is going to be the smarter, sounder way to go.
Let’s look at the Best, the Bust, the Sleeper and Deep Sleeper of the Edge/DE group and then we’ll make some predictions on the bigger names and their landing spots…
BEST = Matt Judon/BAL is probably the best all-around edge option, considering if you want to invest for a longer-term, younger guy. Judon had 33 QB hits he was credited with last season. He doesn’t just pass rush and do nothing else (like Ngakoue). *This ‘best’ is assuming Shaq Barrett will not be a free agent but gets tagged and is off the market.
BUST = Jadeveon Clowney…analysts try to talk him up so much. He makes a few sweet-looking plays and the TV analysts and highlight guys lose their minds and then Clowney goes to sleep for a while/a few games before his next big play.
How many sacks did Clowney have last season? Would you believe 3.0 sacks? He’s never had a 10.0 or greater single season.
He’s a guy you pay and then you get Mario Williams’d as Clowney laughs all the way to the bank, resting on his laurels with millions.
SLEEPER = Carl Nassib/TB…he has as many sacks as Clowney, total, the past two seasons (12.5)…and Nassib didn’t have a team to start 2018 season and then didn’t start playing for a few weeks into that season. Always overlooked but is productive and affordable…and if he isn’t a New England Patriot, then I don’t know what we’re doing. Carolina is a sleeper for him as well as Las Vegas.
DEEP SLEEPER = Kyler Fackrell/GB…did you know he had 10.5 sacks in 2018? He those 10.5 sacks in his final 13 games/when he started playing in 2018…more sacks in a single season than Clowney has had in the NFL in a single season. Fackrell also had two games with 3.0 sacks in the game that year.
How many sacks did Fackrell have in 2019? 1.0 (two 0.5 sack games). What happened? The Smith’s were signed to GB and took over and Fackrell became a part time M.I.A. player.
Jadeveon Clowney/SEA = This is a Pete Carroll sucker’s bet, and Seattle needs pass rushers. Seattle pays what it takes.
Matt Judon/BAL = I think this could be a Buffalo kind of player. Smart, gritty guy who likely won’t burn them for their investment.
Yannick Ngakoue/JAX = Signed/tagged by Jags and then traded
Shaq Barrett/TB = Stays with TB…no way Arians lets him go, he’s a priority over Winston for the F-tag.
Robert Quinn/DAL = Stays in Dallas one more year, one more shot with the Cowboys/Jerry.
Leonard Williams/NYG = The Giants try to hide their sins (this trade last year) and sign him back.
Vic Beasley/ATL = A team who thinks they have a great analytics department makes this move. Welcome to Cleveland, to be their latest bust free agent.
Shaq Lawson/BUF = McDermott is smart enough to let him go.
Everson Griffen/MIN = Maybe the best prize pass rusher for 2020, and I would assume Minnesota tries to keep him, but he may want out. It seems like he does.
Emmanuel Ogbah/KC = Atlanta might try here as a cheap alternative to replace Beasley.
Carl Nassib/TB = This is a New England Patriot…unless Sean McDermott/BUF steps in.
Kyler Fackrell/GB = Dallas is my favorite guess for this bargain.
Jeremiah Attaochu/DEN = Started to play well under Fangio…returns again for 2020.
Ronald Blair/SF = He’s a nice sleeper DE as well. The Bengals saw him get a sack and 3 TFLs against them last year. The Bengals may spend the money because they’ll have a harder time attracting the bigger name defenders.
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