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NFL FREE AGENCY: Tom Brady, Jadeveon Clowney, Amari Cooper headline the Top 30 Free Agents

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For the first time since choosing to attend the University of Michigan in 1995, quarterback Tom Brady (six Super Bowl rings) has the ultimate say in where he'll play football during the fall.

We’re big fans of making countdown rankings here at BATSBY Sports, but we also loathe needless busy work.

This explains why we never bothered to rank the 2020 class of NFL free agents back in February, knowing full well the vast majority of star players — such as Dak Prescott (Cowboys), Chris Jones (Chiefs), Yannick Ngakoue (Jaguars), Derrick Henry (Titans), A.J. Green (Bengals), Bud Dupree (Steelers) and Shaquil Barrett (Buccaneers) — would be slapped with ‘franchise’ tags by their current clubs, thus never seeing the light of day in unfettered free agency.

But with Monday’s tag deadline come and gone (here’s the full listing of ‘franchise’ recipients), we can now confidently break down the listing of the Top 30 Unrestricted Free Agents, with the NFL’s new league year officially launching on Wednesday.

(NOTE: The period of legal tampering starts Monday.)

TOP 30 UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

  1. Patriots QB Tom Brady
  2. Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney
  3. Cowboys WR Amari Cooper
  4. Saints QB Drew Brees
  5. Titans OT Jack Conklin
  6. Cowboys CB Byron Jones
  7. Rams OLB Dante Fowler Jr.
  8. Chargers RB Melvin Gordon
  9. 49ers DE Arik Armstead
  10. Falcons TE Austin Hooper
  11. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston
  12. Broncos CB Chris Harris
  13. Vikings S Anthony Harris
  14. Rams LB Cory Littleton
  15. Texans DT D.J. Reader
  16. Lions OG/C Graham Glasnow
  17. 49ers WR Emmanuel Sanders
  18. Steelers DT Javon Hargrave
  19. Jets WR Robby Anderson
  20. Panthers CB James Bradberry
  21. Chargers QB Philip Rivers
  22. Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater
  23. Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy
  24. Vikings DE Everson Griffen
  25. Packers OT Bryan Bulaga
  26. Jets OT Kelvin Beachum
  27. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes
  28. Eagles OT Jason Peters
  29. Titans QB Marcus Mariota
  30. Rams DE Michael Brockers

BREAKDOWN

a) OK, so Brady doesn’t have the greatest long-term upside of the players listed here, but he certainly comes with the most buzz. Plus, there’s no precedent for a quarterback in his early 40s hitting free agency, while coming off three consecutive campaigns of 4,000 yards passing.

In other words, this isn’t a Johnny Unitas situation, circa 1973, when he signed with the San Diego Chargers for big money … but was an unmitigated flop in his final NFL campaign. Possible Suitors: Patriots, Buccaneers, Colts, Raiders, Chargers

b) According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Austin Hooper is ‘definitely leaning’ toward signing with the Browns, who are prepared to make him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end.

If true, it gives Cleveland two prime options at tight end, with Hooper (75 catches, 97 targets, 787 yards, 6 TDs in 13 games last year) and David Njoku, an uber-athletic talent (8 total TDs for his age-21 and age-22 seasons) who battled injuries last season.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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