Free agency is no way to build an NFL team, but it is a successful way to create an unstoppable Madden force. Installment
With depth being less crucial in Madden, it is possible to create a strong side using the "stars and scrubs" model. By investing in quality starters and letting the backups slide you can have a team that is unbeatable unless injuries strike.
Free agency is effectively a bidding war, but the AI teams are not always on the ball when it comes to offering good contract or finding the gems within each free agency class. You don't necessarily have to wait for free agency though. Shorter contracts make teams more open to trade, so you can always put an offer in and try to get an impending free agent a little earlier.
Who are the best impending free agents in franchise mode? Who could be available at the end of season 1?
Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks (99 OVR)
Best Stats: Tackle (99), Play Recognition (99), Awareness (99), Pursuit (99), Hit Power (98), Block Shed (92), Acceleration (89), Speed (88), Zone Coverage (86)
Bobby Wagner has been the beating heart of Seattle's defense ever since they took him in the second-round of the 2012 draft. His play has been exceptional from his rookie season onward. He is a 5-time Pro Bowler and 4-time First Team All-Pro. He won the Super Bowl in 2013 with them and picked off Tom Brady in the Super Bowl the following season. In 2018 Wagner picked up 138 tackles, an interception, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, and scored a touchdown. He was handed a new contract in the offseason but Madden is yet to catch up.
In Madden 20 Wagner is one of just 4 players to start franchise mode with the perfect 99 OVR. Along with that comes perfect tackle (99), pursuit (99), play recognition (99), and awareness (99) stats that make him ideal for stopping the run and means he won't get fooled by play action. His zone coverage (86) is the best among MLBs and his man coverage (75) is #2. He is the perfect MLB and if he hits free agency you need to sign him.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots (96 OVR)
Best Stats: Short Accuracy (99), Play Action (99), Awareness (99), Medium Accuracy (98), Throw Power (91), Throw Under Pressure (90), Deep Accuracy (89)
Tom Brady's legacy is well known. A sixth-round pick in 2000 who now has six Super Bowl titles to his name, Brady's brilliance in the playoffs and late-game situations has been the fuel behind his success. The adaptable and accurate quarterback is at or near the top of every NFL record for passers and is in hot pursuit of his seventh Lombardi trophy this season.
Brady has superb accuracy in Madden 20. His short accuracy (99) is perfect and his medium (98) is not far behind. He is stellar on play action (99) and has elite awareness (99). He can get the ball out under pressure (90), and still has good arm strength (91). While technically an impending free agent, Brady will almost always retire after the first season.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (94 OVR)
Best Stats: Speed (99), Acceleration (99), Agility (98), Deep Route (96), Jumping (93), Release (91), Short Route (80), Catching (90), Catch In Traffic (90)
Tyreek Hill is a cheat code come to life. A fifth-round pick in 2016 thanks to his off-field issues, Hill has been a dominant force for the Chiefs in his three years with the team. He's picked up 25 receiving touchdowns in his time so far and registered a massive 1,479 yards on 87 catches last year as he received his first First Team All-Pro spot as a wide receiver.
In Madden 20 Hill is the most athletic player in the game, with perfect speed (99) and acceleration (99) as well as near-perfect agility (98). He has the best deep route running (96) and elite release (91) and jumping (93). If he is allowed to hit free agency you should absolutely target him.
Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (94 OVR)
Best Stats: Play Action (98), Awareness (98), Short Accuracy (98), Throw Under Pressure (96), Medium Accuracy (94), Deep Accuracy (93), Throw Power (87)
Philip Rivers has been the nearly-man of his generation. Taken fourth-overall by the New York giants in 2004 and quickly traded to the San Diego Chargers, Rivers has watched his draft-mates Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger win two Super Bowls each while Rivers has been constantly thwarted.
Rivers didn't start for the Chargers until 2006, but since then the team has had no reason to doubt him. With 374 touchdowns under his belt and a career 64.5 completion percent he has been one of the best passers in the league for a long time now.
In Madden 20 Rivers is supremely accurate (short 98, medium 94, deep 93). he doesn't have elite throw power (87) but he can get the ball out under pressure (96) and execute play action (98) brilliantly. As another older passer Rivers could well retire soon too.
Rodney Hudson, Oakland Raiders (93 OVR)
Best Stats: Pass Block Power (96), Pass Block (94), Pass Block Finesse (92), Lead Block (93), Impact Block (91), Strength (90), Run Block Power (86), Run Block (84)
A second-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011, Rodney Hudson has long been one of the best centers in the NFL. He started just 1 game as a rookie, and three in 2012 before injuries knocked him out. In 2013 he finally played a full season and showed his talents. Another strong season in 2014 got him a big free agency move to Oakland.
Hudson's prowess is in pass blocking (94), so if you want to run a pass-first offense then Hudson is a great acquisition. His lead block (92) and impact block (91) are both strong, and while his run blocking (84) lags behind a little it isn't awful.
Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams (93 OVR)
Best Stats: Pass Block Finesse (96), Awareness (95), Pass Block (94), Pass Block Power (93), Impact Block (93), Strength (92), Lead Block (90), Run Block (90)
A second-round pick for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2006, Andrew Whitworth has been one of the most reliable and consistent left tackles in the NFL. He started 12 games as a rookie and then took over the left tackle job completely in 2007, with the odd move inside to cover injuries. He got his first Pro Bowl invitation in 2012 and a spot in the First Team All-Pro in 2015. Before the 2017 season he made a free agency move to Los Angeles.
Whitworth is a superb pass blocker (94) who uses both finesse (96) and power (93) to win on the edge. His run block (90) is not far behind while his awareness (95) keeps him alert to blitzes and stunts.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (93 OVR)
Best Stats: Catching (98), Catch In Traffic (95), Short Route (95), Medium Route (94), Spectacular Catch (94), Acceleration (92), Release (92), Agility (91), Jump (90), Speed (89)
Michael Thomas was a second-round pick for the New Orleans Saints in 2016 and has already surpassed that draft status. As a rookie he made 92 catches or 1,137 yards and 9 touchdowns. Year on year his catch and yards totals have increased and in 2018 he snagged a league-high 125 passes for 1,405 yards.
Thomas has recently signed a massive extension with the Saints, but Madden is yet to add that to the game, making the 26-year-old an enticing prospect. His catching (98), catching in traffic (95), and spectacular catch (94) are all superb. His jump (90) and release (92) make him a useful red zone target and his route running is very strong (short 95, medium 94, deep 90).
|Bobby Wagner||Seattle Seahawks||MLB||29||99|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots||QB||42||96|
|Tyreek Hill||Kansas City Chiefs||WR||25||94|
|Philip Rivers||Los Angeles Chargers||QB||37||94|
|Rodney Hudson||Oakland Raiders||C||30||93|
|Andrew Whitworth||Los Angeles Rams||LT||37||93|
|Michael Thomas||New Orleans Saints||WR||26||93|
|Melvin Gordon||Los Angeles Chargers||HB||26||92|
|Michael Pierce||Baltimore Ravens||DT||26||92|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints||QB||40||92|
|Jadeveon Clowney||Houston Texans||ROLB||26||92|
|Byron Jones||Dallas Cowboys||CB||26||91|
|AJ Green||Cincinnati Bengals||WR||31||90|
|Chris Harris||Denver Broncos||CB||30||90|
|Kareem Hunt||Cleveland Browns||HB||24||90|
|Deion Jones||Atlanta Falcons||MLB||24||90|
|Chris Jones||Kansas City Chiefs||DT||25||89|
|Amari Cooper||Dallas Cowboys||WR||25||89|
|Devin McCourty||New England Patriots||FS||32||89|
|Kevin Byard||Tennessee Titans||FS||26||89|
|Tyler Eifert||Cincinnati Bengals||TE||28||88|
|Emmanuel Sanders||Denver Broncos||WR||32||88|
|Kendall Fuller||Kansas City Chiefs||CB||24||88|
|Jason Peters||Philadelphia Eagles||LT||37||87|
|Grady Jarrett||Atlanta Falcons||DT||26||87|
|Mike Daniels||Green Bay Packers||RE||30||87|
|Aqib Talib||Los Angeles Rams||CB||33||87|
|Brandon Scherff||Washington Redskins||RG||27||87|