2020 NFL free agency: Top 10 free agent defensive tackles
The Eagles will finally get to pair Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson in 2020, something that lasted less than one full game in 2019. And that’s exciting.
But because Hassan Ridgeway and Timmy Jernigan are going to become free agents, the Eagles will need to boost their depth at defensive tackle.
Here are 10 options:
(All photos from USA Today Images)
10. Michael Brockers
2019 stats: 16 games, 3 sacks 63 tackles, 3 TFL
2019 salary: $7.8M
Brockers has been with the Rams since 2012 and his eight years with the franchise have been evenly split between St. Louis and Los Angeles. But after 121 starts with the Rams, Brockers is expected to test free agency and maybe get one more nice-sized contract. Brockers has been a solid player for a long time but you’d expect to see more production since he played next to Aaron Donald, who is the best defensive player in the league.
9. Mike Daniels
2019 stats: 9 games, 1 sack, 10 tackles, 2 TFL
2019 salary: $7.8M
After seven seasons with the Packers, Daniels spent 2019 with the Lions but played in just nine games with two starts. Injuries significantly shortened his second straight season. He was in Detroit on a prove-it deal and he wasn’t able to get back to his Pro Bowl level from 2017; heck, he couldn’t even stay on the field. When Daniels is healthy, he’s a really good player … but he’s struggled to stay healthy and he isn’t getting any younger.
8. Ndamukong Suh
2019 stats: 16 games, 2.5 sacks, 4 FR, 2 TD, 7 TFL, 14 QBH
2019 salary: $5.3M
Suh has kind of become a mercenary late in his career. He was with the Bucs in 2019 and the Rams in 2018 after spending three seasons with the Dolphins. The former All-Pro doesn’t play at that level anymore, but he’s still pretty good. And there’s the obvious connection to Jim Schwartz. The Eagles’ DC was the Lions head coach when Suh was drafted in 2010 and was with Suh for the first four years of his career. Suh was a Pro Bowler in three of those four seasons under Schwartz and an All-Pro twice.
7. Michael Pierce
2019 stats: 14 games, 0.5 sacks, 35 tackles, 3 QB hits
2019 salary: $3M
The 340-pound interior lineman didn’t put up big stats but the Ravens didn’t really ask him to rush the passer either. Pierce was more of a run-stuffer, there to take up space in the middle of their line and he did that well. Spotrac estimates a two-year $9.5 million contract for Pierce.
6. Jarran Reed
2019 stats: 10 games, 2 sacks, 27 tackles, 8 QBH
2019 salary: $1.1M
The former second-round pick is the kind of free agent we think the Eagles will be interested in this offseason as he’s still pretty young and is just coming off his first contract as as second-round pick. Reed missed six games in 2019 for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. But in 2018, he played and started in all 16 games, piling up a career-high 10 1/2 sacks. He’s never had more than two in any of his other three seasons. The Seahawks seem to want him back but it’s hard to figure out what he’ll be worth on the open market. (Spotrac estimates an annual average salary of $10.6M.)
5. Shelby Harris
2019 stats: 16 games, 6 sacks, 49 tackles, 8 TFL, 9 PD
2019 salary: $3M
After two years in Oakland, Harris spent the last three in Denver and his six sacks in 2019 were a career-high (good timing). There’s a chance the Broncos will bring him back but they’ll probably have to decide between Harris and Derek Wolfe, who will also be a free agent. Spotrac estimates Harris’ next deal to be worth $12.3 AVY, which would be a nice pay bump for the former seventh-round pick.
4. Javon Hargrave
2019 stats: 16 games, 4 sacks, 60 tackles, 7 TFL, 6 QBH
2019 salary: $2M
The Steelers’ third-round pick just finished off his rookie contract and will be looking to cash in this offseason. He played in 63 of 64 possible games over the first four years of his career and was pretty darn good in the middle of that Steelers’ defensive line. According to Spotrac, he should fetch $14.7M annually.
3. Leonard Williams
2019 stats: 15 games, 0.5 sacks, 46 tackles, 16 QBH
2019 salary: $4.3M
He’s five years into his career and Williams won’t turn 26 until June 20. After spending his first four years with the Jets, Williams was traded to the Giants during the 2019 season. The former first-round pick was a Pro Bowler in his second NFL season back in 2016, when he had seven sacks. But he has just eight in three years since then and his pass rush ability is a big question. Still, he’s young and his early success will have NFL coaches thinking they can get the most out of him.
2. D.J. Reader
2019 stats: 15 games, 2.5 sacks, 52 tackles, 6 TFL, 13 QBH
2019 salary: $2M
The fifth-round pick has blossomed into a really good player for the Texans, but now they’re going to have to pay him. He’s not a big sack guy but at 347 pounds, he’s not really expected to be. He still gets after the passer and is obviously great against the run. He’s about to get a big contract from the Texans or someone else.
1. Chris Jones
2019 stats: 13 games, 9 sacks, 36 tackles, 8 TFL, 20 QBH
2019 salary: $1.2M
Undoubtedly the prize of the free agent DT class and he’s going to get paid like it. Spotrac estimates his next contract at five years, $96 million, which comes out to over $19M per season. The Eagles already have Cox so they won’t be in on Jones. But it’ll be interesting to see if the Chiefs keep him (they need to) and how much it’s going to cost.