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Ranking the Top NFL Free Agents in 2021
Get ready for a flurry of big-time signings in March.
The 2021 NFL free-agent class is littered with difference-makers at every position, and a handful of teams have a ton of money to spend. It’s too early to predict where the top guns will land, but nobody is confused as to who those top guns are.
Whether your team has been eliminated or they’re still fighting for a shot at the Super Bowl, it’s never too early to start looking ahead.
With the latter in mind, here’s my list of the top NFL free agents in 2021.
1 – Dak Prescott, QB
- 2020 Team: Dallas Cowboys
- Current Deal: Franchise Tag/$31.4 million
Could the Cowboys tag Dak Prescott again?
It’s very much in the cards, although even Jerry Jones has conceded that Prescott has all the leverage after Dallas’ calamitous 6-10 campaign. Andy Dalton isn’t the answer and it goes without saying that Jerry has no interest in embarking on a rebuild.
When push comes to shove, Jones will have no choice but to cough up top-dollar to Prescott. Another franchise tag worth north of $30 million could be in place, but a long-term deal is undoubtedly what Dak will be seeking.
2 – Allen Robinson, WR
- 2020 Team: Chicago Bears
- Current Deal: 3 years/$42 million
16 wide receivers made more money on the field in 2020 than Allen Robinson. Something’s not right based on how A-Rob stacks up with his competition.
Best landing spot for Allen Robinson in free agency? ?️ ? pic.twitter.com/PX6fWGBlRJ— PFF (@PFF) December 31, 2020
Keep in mind, Allen racked up his gaudy numbers playing pitch and catch with the likes of Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky. Imagine what this cat could do with one of the leading signal-callers?
Among the teams who have some cash to shell out, perhaps being reuniting in Jacksonville could be on the table. It’s a little more appealing this time around with Trevor Lawrence set to hop on the saddle.
3 – Trent Williams, LT
- 2020 Team: San Francisco 49ers
- Current Deal: 5 years/$68 million
The 49ers need to get healthy and they need to figure out if Jimmy G is their guy. The next item on John Lynch’s agenda is to extend his Rockstar left tackle.
Question marks surrounded Trent Williams’ desire after a sour ending in Washington, but the 8x Pro Bowler silenced all doubts with his play on the gridiron in 2020.
Trent Williams: PFF's Highest-Graded Tackle of 2020 ?? pic.twitter.com/do7kanOY79— PFF (@PFF) January 5, 2021
32-year-old linemen aren’t the prototypical players who get big-money deals, but Williams is a rare breed. Look for San Francisco to work something out.
4 – Chris Godwin, WR
- 2020 Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Current Deal: 4 years/$3.28 million
If you think Allen Robinson is grossly underpaid, you don’t even want to see some of the wide receivers who are making more coin than Chris Godwin.
- John Ross
- Matthew Slater
- Jakeem Grant
- Willie Snead
Just to name a few. It’s borderline embarrassing.
With Mike Evans and Antonio Brown in the fold, a return to Tampa seems murky at best. Especially considering Godwin is one of the top NFL free agents in the 2021 class. A massive payday is in store.
5 – Justin Simmons, S
- 2020 Team: Denver Broncos
- Current Deal: Franchise Tag/$11.44 million
Justin Simmons’ stock was surging entering 2020 after turning in an All-Pro season in 2019. On the heels of being selected to the Pro Bowl this past year, the do-it-all free safety is firmly established as one of the elite back-end roamers in the National Football League.
Maybe even the best of the bunch. Talk about a true warrior, Justin is the definition of a gym rat who plays for the love of the game.
Justin Simmons never even thought about missing a snap this season. He played in every single defensive snap this year for a third-straight year: “We didn’t make the playoffs and it never crossed my mind to not go out there and play”— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) January 4, 2021
I fully anticipate Simmons resetting the safety market come early March, likely on a four- or five-year deal with an average yearly salary of 16+ million.
6 – Kenny Golladay, WR
- 2020 Team: Detroit Lions
- Current Deal: 4 years/$3.19 million
Neck and neck with Chris Godwin among the most underpaid NFL players, Kenny Golladay was one of the most intriguing outside threats heading into 2020. Unfortunately, a hip injury derailed any hope for success and limited Golladay to just five games.
Casual fans may forget how dominant Kenny was in 2019, but the table below serves as a quick refresher.
|Receptions||Receiving Yards||Avg Yards/Catch||Receiving TDs||20+ Yard Plays|
Golladay’s 11 TD receptions topped the NFL and his 22 “big plays” were second to Chris Godwin. His 18.3 yards/catch clocked in third behind Mike Williams and A.J. Brown.
In other words, this 6’4” 27-year-old FA will be highly-coveted this offseason.
7 – Lavonte David
- 2020 Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Current Deal: $5 years/50.25 million
David will turn 31 this month but don’t get it twisted – this dude’s got a lot left in the tank.
Just one NFL player has 100+ tackles, 10+ TFL and multiple forced fumbles this season.— Andrew Holman (@andrew_holman2) January 1, 2021
Of course, it’s @Buccaneers LB Lavonte David.
He deserved to be a Pro Bowl LB (again). He should be an All-Pro (again). And he should have a spot in Canton someday.
Watch the tape.#GoBucs pic.twitter.com/RcUpc4DzzG
Reenergized thanks to the arrival of Tom Brady, The Buccaneers lead linebacker has played some of the best football of his career in his contract year. Depending on how things shake out for the Bucs will largely impact David’s upcoming decision.
In any case, he’ll likely be moving on if his priority is to max out his financial situation. I don’t want to say Lavonte is dispensable, but the emergence of Devin White would make it easier for Jason Licht to let go.
8 – Leonard Williams, DE
- 2020 Team: New York Giants
- Current Deal: Franchise Tag/$16.12 million
As reliable as Leonard Williams has been through his first six seasons, it’s safe to say he’s entering his prime at age 26. Known for being tremendous against the run, the USC product tallied a career-high 11.5 sacks and was the star of the Giants defense.
A tag again in 2020 would cost New York a shade over $19 million, which gives you an idea of Leonard’s prospective next deal. A team like Seattle could swoop in, and keep an eye on the Chargers. If Melvin Ingram “bolts,” the red carpet could roll out for Williams’ arrival.
Which NFL Free Agent Will Have the Biggest Impact?
Take your pick between the top NFL free agents in 2021.
Given how Dallas performed once Dak went down, it’s hard to argue against Prescott being the answer. However, which NFL free agent provides the biggest impact largely depends on where he lands.
For example, Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin might be the top two WRs on paper. Nevertheless, of all the FA wide receivers in 2021, Kenny Golladay could be the most compelling to lots of NFL GMS.
Golladay’s ability to stretch the field and create mismatches in the red zone likens him to Mike Evans. Kenny’s just a bit more raw.