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#pounditThursday, June 17, 2021

5 best NFL free agent signings of the 2020 season

Tom Brady Bucs

During free agency, every single signing is up for debate and scrutiny. No one is entirely sure how each addition will work out. More often than not, there are some very real surprises. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are good or bad, just that they’re ultimately eye-opening.

Looking back on the 2020 offseason, who made some of the best free agent signing? Here’s a look at five of the best signings from the 2020 offseason.

5. Robby Anderson, WR, Carolina Panthers

What a career resurgence for Robby Anderson. After being stuck in the mud for four seasons with the New York Jets, many believed Anderson had hit his professional ceiling and would be nothing more than a complementary receiver. The Panthers saw something more in him, and credit to head coach Matt Rhule, who certainly got the most out of Anderson. In his first season in Carolina, Anderson led the team with 136 targets and 95 receptions. He closed out the year with 1,096 yards and three touchdowns. While his production numbers were second to fellow receiver DJ Moore, there’s no denying Anderson has taken over as WR1 in Carolina and is just getting started.

4. Blake Martinez, LB, New York Giants

Since the retirement of Antonio Pierce following the 2009 season, the Giants have struggled to find an impact middle linebacker who can stop the run and drop into coverage without being a complete liability. That spot had been a persistent weakness until this season. The arrival of Blake Martinez signaled a significant change in East Rutherford, both on the field and in the locker room. Voted defensive captain by his teammates, Martinez finished the season with 151 tackles (third in NFL), six QB hits, three sacks, five passes defensed and one interception. He was snubbed for the Pro Bowl but did receive an All-Pro vote.

3. Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How could this list possibly exist without the inclusion of the great one himself, Mr. Tom Brady? Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Brady is among the best to ever play the game. His presence in Tampa Bay has turned that franchise around. Yes, the Buccaneers brought in head coach Bruce Arians and then surrounded Brady with a ridiculous level of talent, but that’s only served to highlight the level at which Brady plays — even at 43 years of age. Some thought he was finished after his split with New England, but Brady responded with 4,633 yards, 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 16 games this season. The 40 touchdown passes were the second-most of his career, and the 4,633 passing yards were his most since 2015. The achievements are remarkable when you think about it.

2. James Bradberry, CB, New York Giants

For all the criticism Giants GM Dave Gettleman receives, it’s rather telling to see two of his free agent signings on this list. However, there’s no denying that both are deserved. Like Martinez, Bradberry joined the Giants and immediately established himself as a hard-working leader who brought much to the table both on and off the field. In the locker room, he worked closely with a very young and inexperienced cornerback group, while he completely dominated on the field. Bradberry’s 18 passes defensed were second in the NFL. His 79.8 PFF grade was second on the Giants and seventh overall at his position. Unsurprisingly, Bradberry’s play earned him Pro Bowl recognition.

1. Philip Rivers, QB, Indianapolis Colts

It was strange to see Philip Rivers in another uniform, but 2020 was a strange year, and the NFL regular season reflected that. At the age of 39, Rivers had one of his best seasons to date, completing 68 percent of his passes for 4,169 yards, 24 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It was also just the second time since 2009 that Rivers led his team to double-digit wins. Though the Colts were bounced out of the playoffs in the Wild Card round, it was through no fault of Rivers. If this season does end up being his last, there’s no reason for Rivers to hang his head. He gave the Colts every last thing he had in the tank and helped revitalize a franchise that had been teetering.

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