By: Rob Bishop
Back again, and as the NFL free agent market slows to a crawl, there remains many viable options still up for grabs. Chief among the big names—and top talents—without a team for 2020 is quarterback Cam Newton. Fresh off his release from the Panthers, Newton will likely remain without a gig until the current quarantine situation abates given his recent injury woes. Fully healthy, Newton would represent a massive upgrade to many teams, and at some point, he will be given the opportunity to prove he is not done as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Another quarterback without a job is Jameis Winston, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winston’s situation is far more curious than Newton’s, as Newton’s unemployment is largely attributable to an inability to visit with team doctors. Winston’s lack of suitors on the open market is a sign the market is misjudging Winston’s value. Few quarterbacks in the league can match Winston’s ability to put points on the board. While his production comes with a heavy dose of turnovers, Winston would be an upgrade under center for many teams.
Near the top of the list of teams that should entertain the idea of signing Winston is the Denver Broncos, a franchise that is likely going into next season with Drew Lock as the unquestioned starter at quarterback. Were the Broncos embracing a rebuild around Lock, the move to stay committed to the young signal caller would be justifiable. However, pretty much every other move made by the Broncos this off-season indicates a desire to win in the short term. It is tough to view the Broncos as a legitimate contender with Lock as the offensive leader.
Speaking of the Broncos, the franchise made another win-now move over the past few days, locking up running back Melvin Gordon to serve as part of a committee with overlooked star Phillip Lindsay. The money committed to Gordon was a head scratcher, but it doesn’t mar Denver’s otherwise stellar offseason of moves. The Broncos acquired two solid defensive pieces in Jurrell Casey and A.J. Boyue for a relative pittance, and locked up versatile offensive lineman Graham Glasgow to a below-market four-year deal. Denver has done an excellent job at adding depth to its roster, but as previously stated, without improvement at quarterback, it will likely all be for nothing for than a third—or fourth—place finish in the AFC West.
While the two aforementioned quarterbacks are the headliners on the open market, star edge defender Jadaveon Clowney remains a free agent. Clowney is coming off another stellar season in 2019, his first with the Seahawks. While he’s never going to live up to the hype generated by his college highlight reel, Clowney is among the best edge defenders in the NFL against the run. Clowney’s skillset often gets underpaid compared to edge defenders that shine as pass rushers, and it is evident he is holding on to hope to reset the market for edge defenders that shine against the running game. At this point, a return to Seattle seems most likely, though it remains to be seen whether or not it’ll be on a long-term deal.
Moving to baseball, the delayed start to the regular season hasn’t ceased all news, which his unfortunate for the New York Mets. The playoff-hopeful franchise announced over the weekend that star right-hander Noah Syndergaard would miss the duration of the 2020 season due to elbow surgery. The Mets were primed to contend in the NL East, and Syndergaard’s presence alongside Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman atop the rotation was a major reason for it. Now, the Mets will be even more reliant upon a collection of starters riddled with question marks, including former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, who is coming off a 2019 season that saw him finish with a 5.52 ERA, an awful number made laughable when considering he managed to start 32 games in spite of his struggles.