Below is our annual attempt to rank the top 100 unrestricted free agents. The list includes players who received the franchise or transition tag, in part because of the recent trend to tag-and-trade players.
As always, we've focused this list toward the philosophies of most teams rather than simply 2019 production or skill level in a vacuum. Age is critical as teams attempt to project future performance -- 26 and 27 are the sweet spots -- and certain positions are always higher priorities. Let's dive in.
Note: Ages below are listed as of the start of the 2020 season.
1. Dak Prescott, QB
Franchise tagged by: Dallas Cowboys | Age entering 2020 season: 27
News: The Cowboys placed their franchise tag on Prescott.
Say whatever you want about Prescott's ceiling. But if a 27-year-old quarterback coming off a 4,902-yard season ever reached the open market, he would be swarmed. It's hard to believe it will come to that, though. If the sides can't reach a long-term agreement, the Cowboys almost certainly would use the franchise tag on Prescott. But for now, Prescott is a pending free agent like anyone else on this list.
2. Tom Brady, QB
Signing with: Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Age: 43
News: Buccaneers expected to land Brady.
Retiring is "pretty unlikely," Brady said after the Patriots' wild-card loss to the Titans. That sentiment has set up a two-month guessing game about his 2020 team. The Patriots agreed not to use the franchise tag on him, and without a new deal by March 18, Brady will become a free agent -- and deposit $13.5 million in dead money on the Patriots' cap -- for the first time in his career.
3. Drew Brees, QB
Re-signing with: New Orleans Saints | Age: 41
News: Brees is headed back to New Orleans.
Brees produced the NFL's third-best QBR (72.0) after returning in Week 10 from a torn thumb ligament, trailing only Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes during that period. His performance was a strong signal that he could play at a high level in 2020, even after a shaky outing in the Saints' wild-card playoff loss to the Vikings. Like Brady, Brees has never before been interested in changing teams. Has anything changed? In Brees' case, signs point to no.
4. Yannick Ngakoue, Edge
Franchise tagged by: Jacksonville Jaguars | Age: 25
News: The Jaguars placed their franchise tag on Ngakoue.
Ngakoue turned down a long-term contract offer last summer and now appears to be in line for the franchise tag. It's generally not good business to let 25-year-old pass-rushers leave town, though he is a candidate for a tag-and-trade. Since entering the NFL in 2016, Ngakoue has recorded 37.5 sacks, No. 12 in the league during that period. His 14 forced fumbles rank fourth.
5. Brandon Scherff, G
Franchise tagged by: Washington Redskins | Age: 28
News: The Redskins placed their franchise tag on Scherff.