NFL Free Agency: 13 moves that could twist the NFL Draft

Mock Drafts are fun. But they mean nothing until after the free agency period.

Fans will always be interested in the NFL. While the Kansas City Chiefs are partying with the Lombardi Trophy, other teams are prepping for the next period of the NFL offseason: free agency.

Teams will always be interested in adding players who can help their roster during free agency. In recent years, though, a growing trend has seen teams trade away talent to secure top picks in the NFL Draft. Of course, not every team will follow that notion. Instead, each team will execute their own specific offseason strategy that they feel will best put them on the winning path.

The 2020 NFL free agency class could be one to remember. As teams prep for the impending season, some of the top players from last season will be up for big paydays. The quarterback carousel spins around while elite defenders find teams willing to pay out lucrative contracts.

And sure, mock drafts are fun and all, but until free agency hits, they really shouldn’t count. In a month, everyone you thought was getting drafted in a spot could be waiting hours on end before hearing their name called on night one — if at all.

Free agency will always affect the draft, and the 2020 offseason is going to drive fans mad. Here’s a baker’s dozen worth of moves that will absolutely disrupt the NFL Draft in Sin City this April.

Carolina Panthers trade Cam Newton to the Los Angeles Chargers

Now here’s a move that could affect two teams’ short-term options.

With a new head coach in Matt Rhule, the Panthers could be in the market for a new face of the franchise. After two injured-plagued seasons, perhaps Cam Newton is about to enter the twilight years of a playing career. Although not a free agent — he still has one year left on his deal — that doesn’t mean Newton won’t suit up for a new team to begin the decade.

The Chargers, who recently elected to move on from Philip Rivers, will undoubtedly be in the market for a franchise quarterback. But what if Newton were to come to Hollywood? Would that perhaps switch the two team’s ideas for the first day of the draft?

With Cam out of Carolina, the Panthers would most definitely be in line for a quarterback at pick No.7 — if not sooner. The Chargers, now with a bridge quarterback, would likely address the woeful offensive line at pick No.6. The second round would likely allow Los Angeles to select some like Washington’s Jacob Eason while Carolina could address the defensive line with some such as Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike.

Both teams will draft a quarterback at some point in April. But if Newton heads west, what does that mean for the Joe Brady Bunch offense in the Queen City?

Philip Rivers signs with the Indianapolis Colts

As mentioned, the Chargers will be letting Rivers float away from the waters of the west into free agency. After what only could be called a heralded career with the organization, Rivers will have two options — retire or head somewhere else.

Right now, Indianapolis makes far too much sense.

The Colts tested Jacoby Brissett and might not be sold on him taking snaps long-term under center. The 38-year-old gunslinger is a proven winner and would add a veteran starting-caliber to the team’s offense. With $86.1 million in cap space this offseason, Chris Ballard would have the space to meet Rivers’ demands will likely bringing back Anthony Castonzo to a top 10 pass protection unit for 2020.

With Rivers now under center, the Colts would likely pass on a first-round quarterback. The team could trade back and establish more picks, or potentially be in the market for a first-round wide receiver. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III both should be in contention at pick No.13 and would give Rivers another weapon on offense.

Cleveland Browns trade WR Odell Beckham Jr. to the New England Patriots

Cleveland will have one of two options this offseason — trust that OBJ turns it around and fixes the troubled offense, or, more than likely, trade him. The New England Patriots will need to add another weapon to their offense if they expect Tom Brady to return next season.

Yeah, OBJ should be the trick.

If the Patriots were to pick up the All-Pro wideout, they likely would grab a majority of his massive contract extension Cleveland took on last year. It would also cost them at least one first-round selection due to the projection of his talent over the past six seasons. New England is known for trading away first-round selections daily, so this could make sense.

With two first-round picks, perhaps the Browns would target one of the top three receivers as Beckham’s replacement in the Land. If the team were to select a tackle with the 10th selection, perhaps Colorado’s Lavishka Senault, TCU’s Jalen Reagor, or Clemson’s Tee Higgins would be the selection at New Englands No.23 spot.

The Browns would lose a headache, gain a first-round pick, and also have a younger receiver on a lesser contract that could grow with Baker Mayfield for years to come. This one makes the most sense, but will new GM Andrew Berry be willing to depart from the star pass-catcher?

Washington signs OLB Jadeveon Clowney or OLB Shaquill Barrett

Washington will do whatever to open the cap space this offseason. With the impending release of Josh Norman, the cap space will slowly grow. And unless Ron Rivera isn’t sold with Dwyane Haskins (which, he is), the No.2 pick won’t be a quarterback.

At least by Washington, that is.

Reports suggest Washington will likely select the pass-rushing phenom Chase Young at No.2. But for fun, let’s say the team elects to spend some of their money in free agency. One way to make a slam dunk signing is by bringing in elite stopper Jadeveon Clowney or best new sack artist of the year Shaquill Barrett.

Stay with me, people — you know where this is going.

With the addition of a new pass rusher, Young is no longer a need. A cornerback like Ohio State’s Jeffery Okudah would likely become the top priority, but the No.2 pick might be too rich to select him. A trade with a QB hungry team would allow Washington to move back, gain a few more selections, and still draft a player high on their board.

Rivera is a smart coach. If the franchise isn’t sold on an unproven pass rusher, this could be a move that happens.