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Top 5 Defensive Lineman Free Agents in 2020

Before free agency officially begins, TGH will be giving you our picks for the top free agents at every position in 2020. Keep in mind, these are our opinions for the top players and will not list every free agent. As of writing, all of the players listed are currently still un-signed.

To wrap up the series we’ll look at the best defensive end and defensive lineman that will be on the market in 2020.

Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney had, arguably, his best year in 2019 after being traded to Seattle. He had played his entire career with Houston before being traded for two players and a third round pick ahead of the season.

Even though he was not a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection, he was extremely productive in the 13 games he played. Clowney took a step back in terms of sacks, only collecting three. But he set a career high in forced fumbles, with four, and recovered two, one of them for a touchdown. He had the first interception of his career, which he returned for his first pick six.

His tackle numbers also took a hit, but not in a way that is worrisome. This was likely due to a new scheme and being asked to do different things in Pete Carroll’s defense.

Seattle may want to keep Clowney, as it seems they can make the most of his talents. Clowney, however, may want to collect the biggest payday possible after his big season. If he wants to win now, the Seahawks would be a great place to stay. Rest assured, teams will come calling.

Yannick Ngakoue

Jacksonville has lost some key defensive pieces since making the AFC Championship Game in 2018. They traded Dante Fowler, Jr. and Jalen Ramsey, both to the Los Angeles Rams at different times.

2020 Free Agents
Ngakoue had a good year ahead of his free agency. (Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press)

This suggests they may want to keep a player like Ngakoue. Especially considering he had a great contract year.

Ngakoue collected one interception for the first pick six of his career in 2019. For the second time in his four year NFL career, he had four forced fumbles. In 2017 his six forced fumbles led the entire league, so he clearly has a nose for the ball. He tied his career low in sacks, but still had eight on the year.

The Jaguars had a disappointing year, finishing 6-10. Yannick Ngakoue is not to blame for that. He can be a piece that Jacksonville can build around. If they choose to low ball him, there will be plenty of teams looking for their Montez Sweat or Chase Young that will pay him what he deserves.

Bud Dupree

Since coming into the league, Bud Dupree has played a multitude of positions on the field. He has been featured as both left and right outside linebacker, a nose tackle and a defensive end.

Dupree’s flexibility is only part of what makes him great. He can produce at a high level at all of those positions. In 2019, he mainly played linebacker, collecting a massive 11.5 sacks on the season. He also recovered two fumbles.

His range and athleticism keeps him from being in the linebacker discussion. He is listed as a linebacker, but given his ability to play on the line with success, he has to be considered as a lineman. Especially since defensive end is so huge in today’s NFL.

Any team that signs him will likely utilize his speed on the end of the line. The Steelers have such a dynamic defense that he is asked to move around to suit their needs, but most teams do not have their complicated defensive schemes.

Pittsburgh should want to keep Dupree, but it is entirely dependent on how much money he wants for his services. If he stays, he has a good chance to win now, as long as the Steelers can figure out their quarterback situation.

Chris Jones

Jones was a Pro Bowler in 2019, but he did not make it to Orlando, as he and his team have some other business to settle a little further south, in Miami. He is probable to play in Super Bowl LIV, even though he is dealing with a calf injury.

2020 Free Agents
Super Bowl LIV could translate into a big payday for Chris Jones. (Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports)

This was Jones’ first Pro Bowl season since he entered the league in 2016. He has played for the Kansas City Chiefs for his entire career thus far. 2019 was, arguably, not his best year regardless of the Pro Bowl selection.

He had one forced fumble, one recovery, 23 solo tackles and no interceptions. Although, Jones did collect nine sacks. He also only played in 12 regular season games. In 2018, he played in all 16 games, had a pick six, two forced fumbles and a whopping 15.5 sacks. Either way, he is an interior defensive lineman that will garner a lot of interest.

The Chiefs have a lot of players to pay very soon, including MVP Patrick Mahomes. Of course, their window for Super Bowl contention is wide open. If Jones is willing to take less money than he may deserve, he could continue to rack up playoff and Super Bowl appearances.

If Kansas City wins, however, Jones could choose to take his ring, and chase the money on another team that needs a good combination defensive tackle. Also worth mentioning is that a good Super Bowl performance could lead to an even bigger payday.

Leonard Williams

Williams is one of the rare players that has been traded between the two New York football franchises. Luckily, though, not much changed for him as the Jets and Giants play in the same stadium.

Known for his premiere run-stopping abilities, Williams was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2016, his sophomore season. In 2019 he had half of a sack, three passes defended and 21 solo tackles. He also forced one fumble.

This was a down year for Williams, who posted a career low in a couple of different areas. This should not suggest he is not worth paying, however. There are plenty of teams that need reliable run-stoppers on the inside of the line. Especially considering the running dominance of teams like the 49ers and the Ravens.

His pay day may not be huge, but expect teams to inquire about him as the Giants, who will not be in contention any time soon, do not need a player like Williams.

Featured Image courtesy of Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

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