As we get closer to an offseason in which all 32 teams have big needs-- even the four still alive in the playoffs -- we asked NFL Nation reporters to identify the top looming free-agent decision each organization has to make, how likely each is to part ways with the player and which could instead look to the 2020 NFL draft to find a replacement.
ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN
CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND
JAX | KC | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE
NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | SF
SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
Cornerback Byron Jones
Yes, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiverAmari Cooper are set to be free agents, but Prescott isn't going anywhere, and it is unlikely Cooper will test the market either, so let's skip those two. Jones has not had an interception in two seasons, but he does not give up much, either. Trying to put a value on that is difficult. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he was the nearest defender on 30 catches for 356 yards during the season and was targeted 60 times. That 50% completion percentage was ninth best among players with 50 targets as the nearest defender.
The Cowboys would have cap space to sign Jones if they can get Prescott and Cooper signed to multiyear deals. Without the multiyear deals, it might be a little more difficult but not impossible. Jones is the Cowboys' best corner and they also could lose Anthony Brown to free agency this offseason and Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis next year. -- Todd Archer
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams
The Giants traded draft picks at midseason (a third-round pick and a fifth-rounder that could become a fourth-rounder) for the former Jets defensive lineman. Now they're pot committed to Williams. They have to re-sign him (and want to) in order to salvage that trade. But what's the price, and is he worth it? Williams had half a sack and two tackles for loss in eight games with the Giants. -- Jordan Raanan
Offensive tackle Jason Peters
The Eagles invested a first-round pick in the 2019 draft on tackle Andre Dillard to be Peters' successor. But is he ready to take over? The coaching staff will have to give an honest assessment of that before the front office decides to move on from Peters, 37, who is not as dominant as he once was but remains better than most. -- Tim McManus
Guard Brandon Scherff
Scherff has missed 13 games the past two seasons because of injuries, which might hurt negotiations. But when healthy, he's still an excellent guard, capable of playing with power or on the move.With the previous regime, it appeared the only way it would keep him was to use the franchise tag on him -- the sides appeared apart and Scherff might have been turned off by the state of the franchise. With a new coaching staff and a remade front office, it's uncertain in which direction it will go and how much the team wants to invest in a guard.
Keep in mind the Panthers -- coached by Ron Rivera and with the same line coach he'll have in Washington -- let free-agent guard Andrew Norwell walk in 2018.-- John Keim
Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan
Trevathan just finished up a solid four-year stint in Chicago, but the soon-to-be-30-year-old has a history of injuries. He has missed 16 games since signing with the Bears prior to the 2015 season, including the final seven weeks of 2019. When healthy, Trevathan is an effective leader on defense. But the Bears have the option of attempting to re-sign younger linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (another free agent), who played very well in place of Trevathan. That could be the direction Chicago heads.-- Jeff Dickerson
Offensive lineman Graham Glasgow
This might not be much of a decision since the Lions chose to rotate Glasgow throughout the 2019 season and Glasgow has said he'd be silly not to take things to free agency. But the decision to rotate Glasgow was short-sighted -- he's a reliable guard who can play center and should get paid by some team this offseason. Detroit, in theory, should be that team but thus far the front office and coaching staff have not shown they are willing to value what he brings to the position and an improving running game. -- Michael Rothstein
Linebacker Blake Martinez
The former fourth-round pick has been a year-in, year-out tackle machine, finishing second in the NFL this season with 155. But what does that mean, exactly? It hasn't meant a ton of big plays, although Martinez did record a sack and an interception in the regular-season finale. If the Packers don't pay him, they're essentially starting over at this position, because there's no heir apparent. In fact, the Packers would probably need to find two new starting inside 'backers because they've had trouble filling the spot next to Martinez all season. -- Rob Demovsky
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander
The Vikings' biggest free agents in 2020 are in the secondary between Alexander and fellow cornerTrae Waynes, but the fourth-year nickel corner is arguably more significant in this context given how well he played this season and what happened down the stretch. Alexander was injured in a meaningless Week 17 loss to the Bears -- he was already on the injury report the week leading up to the game -- and had surgery to repair a tear to his lateral meniscus.
It's possible that he will want to test the waters of free agency and see where his market value falls instead of accepting an offer outright to remain with the team that drafted him. It seems unlikely that Minnesota will be able to re-sign both of their pending free-agent corners, and the chance Alexander could have to move away from the slot and play outside on another team makes it possible that the two part ways. -- Courtney Cronin
Tight end Austin Hooper
Hooper's agent, Steve Caric, told ESPN he expects an "aggressive" market for the ascending tight end if the Falcons slow-play it and allow Hooper to reach free agency. The franchise tag -- which is expected to be around $10.7 million -- isn't likely to be an option for the Falcons, who are trying to be creative with salary-cap space. Paying Hooper an average of $10 million per year might be too much of a burden for the Falcons, but some team could make that commitment. -- Vaughn McClure
Cornerback James Bradberry
The Panthers signed linebacker Shaq Thompson to an extension late in the season and have several defensive starters set to become free agents. None are more critical to re-sign than Bradberry. He has been solid-to-outstanding defending some of the best receivers in the NFL, from Michael Thomas to Julio Jones. Retaining his shutdown ability will make the rebuilding effort of new coach Matt Rhule that much smoother, and general manager Marty Hurney already has told Bradberry he wants to keep him. The issue might be fending off former Panthers coach Ron Rivera in Washington. "That's my man," Bradberry told ESPN.com after the final regular-season game. -- David Newton
All three quarterbacks
Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater are both unrestricted free agents, and Taysom Hill is a restricted free agent. It's possible the Saints could keep all three, but it won't come cheap. As long as Brees wants to keep playing, it shouldn't be hard for the Saints to work out a short-term extension with a slight hometown discount like they did in 2018. Bridgewater should draw more interest on the open market than he did last year. But he has proved that he's willing to stay and wait his turn if the right opportunity isn't available. -- Mike Triplett
Quarterback Jameis Winston
Winston threw for 5,109 yards with 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions this season, becoming the seventh quarterback in NFL history to lead the league in both passing yards and interceptions. Now the Bucs need to decide whether his interceptions -- which he has struggled with since college -- are fixable. A short-term deal or franchise tag might might be the most viable option.-- Jenna Laine
Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries
The Cardinals left tackle ended the season -- his option year -- without a contract extension. For a franchise that hadn't had much luck at left tackle and had its quarterback of the future on the roster, that's quite telling. Humphries, who has dealt with injuries throughout his career, comes with concerns about his oft-injured right knee. There are concerns in private that Humphries' knee is more damaged than the public has been led to believe, which will make the decision to re-sign him more difficult. -- Josh Weinfuss
Outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr.
Fowler played last season on a one-year prove-it deal worth up to $12 million and left no doubt about his ability. He had a career-high 11.5 sacks, second on the Rams to only Aaron Donald's 12.5, and among the top 10 in the league. Now the Rams must decide if they have it in their budget to re-sign the edge-rushing playmaker. He also could be a candidate for the franchise tag.-- Lindsey Thiry
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead
Finally healthy and surrounded by talent on the defensive line, Armstead has enjoyed a breakthrough season, dominating inside and out on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl alternate. Armstead is a key cog in the Niners' dominant defensive front, not only for his pass-rush ability but also as one of the best run defenders on the edge in the league. The 49ers can find a way to keep him, but it won't be easy with limited cap space and lucrative extensions coming for tackle DeForest Buckner and tight end George Kittle. Armstead told ESPN in December that he wants to stay, but it could be difficult to keep him if he hits the open market. -- Nick Wagoner
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney has been the Seahawks' most impactful defensive lineman, much more productive than his three sacks suggest, but re-signing him will be tricky. When the Seahawks traded for him before the season, they agreed not to franchise-tag him, meaning they won't have the tag as a last resort nor can they use it as leverage to get him to take a deal. Even if they tried to get something done before March, Clowney probably will want to at least test the market given that he has played six NFL seasons and has yet to become an unrestricted free agent. His price tag could skyrocket once he gets there. Will the Seahawks be willing to pay Clowney more than the $20.8 million per year they weren't willing to pay Frank Clark? -- Brady Henderson
Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips
The former second-round pick has long expressed his desire to remain in Buffalo, but his career-high 9.5 sacks this season might open a sizable market for him. General manager Brandon Beane said Phillips earned the right to test his market -- and it sounds like that is exactly what the Bills are prepared for him to do. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques
Special-teams ace Walt Aikens
The Dolphins don't have many significant pending free agents, so Aikens, who has been the team's top special-teams player for much of his tenure, is the choice here. He won't be a huge cost for a team with plenty of cap space. But there have been signs that the two sides could part ways after six seasons, including coach Brian Flores delivering a late-season one-game suspension to Aikens for rule violations and the fact Flores will want some of his own guys to play key roles. -- Cameron Wolfe
Quarterback Tom Brady
Free-agent decisions don't get much bigger than this. Brady said he has more to prove, and as long as he isn't referencing the idea of winning a Super Bowl without Bill Belichick, the question the Patriots have to answer is if it is in the best interest of the team to transition away from Brady, who turns 43 on Aug. 3. Based on instinct, the thought is that Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft will come to the conclusion that theyare all better when they are together, and thus they will find a way to lock in a 21st year (and maybe even a 22nd and/or 23rd). -- Mike Reiss
Wide receiver Robby Anderson
The Jets would like to re-sign Anderson, their most explosive outside threat, but the cost could be too rich for them. Based on market and performance, he could command north of $13 million per year and the Jets probably won't go that high because they don't consider him a true WR1. If they lose him, they will have to tap into a receiver-rich draft. -- Rich Cimini
Outside linebacker Matthew Judon
Judon is the clear-cut top free agent for the Ravens after they reached extensions with seven players over the past few months, including cornerback Marcus Peters toward the end of the regular season. Judon led the Ravens with 9.5 sacks (4.5 more than anyone else on the team), and his 49 quarterback pressures over the past three seasons rank No. 12 in the NFL. Baltimore lost pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith in free agency last year and could use the franchise tag on Judon in order to keep him. But the team has tagged only one player (kicker Justin Tucker) since 2013. -- Jamison Hensley
Wide receiver A.J. Green
The Bengals' star wideout didn't play at all in 2019 while he dealt with an ankle injury. Green, 31, is looking for long-term stability in what could be his last big-money deal as a player.Expect to see Green given a franchise tag, however, as the Bengals hang on to a receiver who has caught 602 passes and scored 63 touchdowns since being drafted in the first round in 2011.-- Ben Baby
Linebacker Joe Schobert
Schobert had a tremendous season for a defense that has endured plenty of turmoil and turnover. But while he's a valuable piece, the Browns have several big paydays looming to their former first-round draft picks, including quarterbackBaker Mayfield, running backNick Chubb, defensive endMyles Garrett and cornerbackDenzel Ward. Cleveland also has a pair of promising rookie linebackers in Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki, suggesting the front office will probably be willing to move on from Schobert, instead of paying him the money he will command coming off a banner season -- Jake Trotter
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree
Mike Tomlin was unequivocal in his end-of-year news conference: Dupree is a priority. And he should be. With 11.5 sacks, Dupree had a breakout season in the last year of his contract and formed a formidable edge-rushing duo with T.J. Watt. Dupree could fetch significant money on the open market, and the Steelers don't have much cap space to match those numbers. Using the franchise tag on him gives the Steelers the best option to retain him in a year where they carry Ben Roethlisberger's $33.5 million cap hit. Keeping Dupree will mean letting go of some expensive veterans to clear space, but he proved this season that he's worth it. -- Brooke Pryor
Cornerback Bradley Roby
Despite missing time with a hamstring injury, Roby was the Texans' best cornerback in 2019. But after the team traded for cornerback Gareon Conley and signed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III during the season, it's unlikely Roby comes back in 2020. His price is going to be high, and the coaching staff also likes rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson. -- Sarah Barshop
Offensive tackleAnthony Castonzo
The Colts are in a holding pattern waiting to see if they'll have a chance to re-sign Castonzo, the starting left tackle, or if the 31-year-old will retire. Castonzo said late in the season that he'd like to re-sign with the Colts but also isn't shutting the door on retiring. If he does retire, that will move left tackle to the top of the Colts' needs during free agency or the draft. He has started all 132 games he has played during his nine-year career.
"I hold Anthony Castonzo in high, high regard," Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. "Anthony and I will be in touch ... and he'll make a decision. I know this, Anthony loves the Indianapolis Colts, he loves being here, so we'll see what decision he makes, and look, if he decides to retire, then it's our job to find an answer." -- Mike Wells
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue
Ngakoue wants a new contract that pays him around $22 million annually. The Jaguars weren't amenable to that last offseason, so he played out the final year of his rookie deal. The Jaguars are almost certainly going to franchise Ngakoue and hope to work out a deal before camp. He has improved as a run defender but still needs work. He does have 14 forced fumbles and 37.5 sacks (second in franchise history) since being drafted in the third round in 2016.
Drafting Josh Allen gives the Jaguars some insurance if Ngakoue isn't on the team in 2020, but the defense would be significantly better with those two on the edge. It's just a matter of how high they're willing to go. -- Mike DiRocco
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill
The Titans became a different team once Tannehill took over in Week 7. His play has earned him the opportunity to be the starter going forward for Tennessee. But at what price? Expect to see the Titans use the franchise tag on Tannehill to keep him from negotiating with other teams while they hammer out a deal that keeps him with the Titans for at least the next three years. Signing Tannehill to a deal keeps the team from being forced to take a quarterback with its first-round pick. -- Turron Davenport
Safety Justin Simmons
Simmons, one of the team's core players, has played every snap in each of the past two seasons, played at an All-Pro level this season and is also one of the team's most active players in the community. Broncos general manager John Elway has said he has already told Simmons he wants to re-sign the safety. Simmons has said he'd like to be back as well. It will come down to money, as it will almost take elite safety money -- at least a $14 million a year average -- to get Simmons for a long-term deal. The two sides will work toward a deal in the coming months, but the Broncos could use the franchise tag if nothing is worked out. -- Jeff Legwold
Defensive tackle Chris Jones
Jones gives the Chiefs a playmaker on the interior of their defensive line, and there's no way the team will let him walk without compensation. So barring agreement on a long-term contract, look for the Chiefs to give Jones the franchise tag. The Chiefs traded last year's franchise player, Dee Ford. While in a perfect world the team would prefer to keep Jones, that scenario may prove too costly. -- Adam Teicher
Quarterback Philip Rivers
The Chargers have other big-name pending unrestricted free agents such as tight end Hunter Henry and running back Melvin Gordon, but figuring out if Rivers will remain with the team is the organization's top priority this offseason. Rivers has said he wants to play another season, and he would prefer that it be with the Chargers. Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has left the door open for Rivers to return. -- Eric D. Williams
Inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict
Jon Gruden might have referenced Burfict by name more after he was slapped with a season-long suspension following his hit on Colts tight endJack Doyle than he did before the Week 4 collision. But does that mean the Raiders would be looking to re-sign Burfict, who turns 30 on Sept. 24, for a Las Vegas engagement? It's hard to tell with Burfict on a Dean Wormer-esque,"double-secret" probation by the NFL. With one misstep, he would likely be suspended again and the Raiders would again be left high and dry. It only makes sense to bring Burfict back if the Raiders draft a middle linebacker or sign in free agency a heady vet who would be ready to step in immediately in an emergency.-- Paul Gutierrez
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