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Projecting & Predicting the Top NFL Free Agents

Projecting & Predicting the Top NFL Free Agents

We're just a month away from the official start of the 2021 league year and free agency season, so we'll take a moment to highlight some of the more notable names who could be hitting the open market, including projected contracts, thoughts, & a "Best Guess" for each.

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Team Player AGE POS PREV. AAV PROJ. CONTRACT Thoughts
ARI Patrick Peterson 30 CB $14M 2 yrs, $25M He'll be 31 this season, but has been both reliable and consistent in 10 seasons. He should carry a $12M per year floor, even if contenders like the Chiefs get involved for his services.

BEST GUESS: Denver
ARI Kenyan Drake 27 RB $8.4M 2 yrs, $10M Drake had a chance to grab hold of the #1 role in ARZ on a transition tag in 2020, but failed to do so. He's a good addition to a multi-RB situation, but not at top dollar.

BEST GUESS: NY Jets
ARI Haason Reddick 26 OLB $3.3M 3 yrs, $30M Reddick peaked at the right time per a move back to the edge, raising his value from nearly nothing - to what should be a nice payday. Shaq Lawson's deal in Miami is a strong comp here.

BEST GUESS: Cincinnati
ATL Alex Mack 35 OC $9M 1 yr, $5M Mack remains an above average run blocker though he's lost a step in his mid 30s. His experience will be attractive to teams like SF, BAL, ARZ who struggled in this regard.

BEST GUESS: San Francisco
ATL Keanu Neal 25 SS $2.6M 3 yr, $18M Teams in need of a true box safety who can stuff the run and cover the middle of the field should have their eyes on Neal's potential departure from the Falcons.

BEST GUESS: Chicago
BAL Yannick Ngakoue 25 OLB $12M 4 yrs, $64M Ngakoue is a bit of a forgotten player after bouncing around in 2020, but at just 25 he still has time to settle in to a full-time role as a dominant pass rusher, and thus should be paid accordingly.

BEST GUESS: Baltimore
BAL Matt Judon 29 OLB $16.8M 4 yrs, $65M Judon's 2020 season was cut short due to injury, dampening his value a bit as he hits the open market. Rush needy teams like Tennessee, Las Vegas, & Green Bay will have interest, but only at the right price.

BEST GUESS: Tennessee
BUF Matt Milano 26 LB $655k 4 yrs, $55M Milano's value doesn't jump off the page, but in today's game - where running backs and tight ends out of the backfield are as dangeous as ever, his ability to cover horitzontally is monumental.

BEST GUESS: Detroit
BUF Daryl Williams 28 OT $2.25M 3 yrs, $24M Williams more than outplayed his previous contract with the Bills, and there's a world where he becomes the best available RT on the open market this March. The Bengals, Chargers & Dolphins are prime "overpay" candidates.

BEST GUESS: Buffalo
CAR Taylor Moton 26 OT $1M 5 year, $75M There's almost certainly a franchise tag in Moton's future, with a long term deal shortly thereafter. He's been consistent, reliable, and Carolina should have no issues making him a fixture on the right side of their line, regardless of the QB.

BEST GUESS: Carolina
CAR Curtis Samuel 24 WR $1.6M 4 years, $48M Samuel's value has never seen the full light of day, but at just 24 years old, there's still plenty of time for another franchise to unlock it. There should be plenty of teams eyeing his potential departure from Carolina, including the Giants, WFT, Raiders, & Bills.

BEST GUESS: Washington
CAR Russell Okung 32 OT $13.25M 3 yrs, $45M Okung has stabillized himself as an above average left tackle in this league, despite the fact that he can't seem to stay in one place for too long. He'll find sizeable offers from O-Line needy teams, and a return to Carolina isn't out of the question either.

BEST GUESS: Washington
CHI Allen Robinson 27 WR $14M 5 yrs, $100M Robinson's potential has been supressed by the QB & play calling in Chicago over the past few seasons. While a franchise tag is likely coming, a trade and subsequent extension could soon follow. Look for both the 49ers, Jets & Jaguars to be heavily interested here.

BEST GUESS: Jacksonville
CHI Mitchell Trubisky 26 QB $7.2M 2 yrs, $16M Trubisky's not the top of the first round QB he was selected to be, but he's not a bottom feeder in the league either. While many bigger names could change rosters, there will be teams looking to see what the 26-year-old can do in a different setup.

BEST GUESS: New England
CIN William Jackson 28 CB $2.4M 3 yrs, $36M Once a major defensive back prospect, Jackson's shine has rubbed off a bit in the past two seasons with the Bengals. He's still plenty productive and the age is on the good side of 30, so teams with cap space will have interest.

BEST GUESS: Buffalo
CIN Carl Lawson 25 DE $763k 4 yrs, $40M An inconsistent past three years will keep his value on the open market somewhat tempered, but he has value in the right situations.

BEST GUESS: Cincinnati
CLE Olivier Vernon 30 DE $11M 1 yr, $5M Vernon was having a strong 2020 before an Achilles injury took him out in Week 17. He'll have to work back from that this offeason, lowering his potential pay day in the meantime. An incentive based deal to bookend a contender's D-Line makes sense here.

BEST GUESS: Minnesota
CLE Rashard Higgins 26 WR $910k 3 years, $15M He's not the most skilled WR by default, but it seems like the full potential of Higgins has yet to be unlocked. He'll remain a WR3 at best in Cleveland, but could slide into a WR2 role in a different situation.

BEST GUESS: Carolina
DAL Dak Prescott 27 QB $31.4M 5 yrs, $200M Yes, Dak has a ton of leverage after the Cowboys 2020 season plummeted without him, but the injury on a franchise tag should also be changing his mindset a bit as well. A $37M 2nd tag is good coin, but succombing to the Cowboys' structural needs could put $110M-$120M of fully guaranteed cash in his pocket this March, & still allow him a chance at another contract by age 31.

BEST GUESS: Cowboys, tag then extension
DAL Andy Dalton 33 QB $3M 3 yrs, $12M Dalton battled COVID, and a banged up O-Line when he was thrown into the fire in 2020, but still proved he can manage an offense admirably. He'll need to accept backup money again whether he stays in Dallas or seeks a new home.

BEST GUESS: Dallas
DAL Chidobe Awuzie 25 CB $1M 3 yrs, $27M Awuzie won't break the bank, but Dallas won't have the capital to bring back eveyone this spring, and there are enough teams looking for help in their secondary to assume his finds a new home.

BEST GUESS: NY Jets
DEN Justin Simmons 27 FS $11.4M 1 yr, $13.7M Simmons and the Broncos appear poised to go down a second franchise tag battle this spring. He values to lock in a multi-year contract larger than any safety in history ($16M/yr), but the Broncos are in a bit of a rebuild mode defensively, so its unclear if a move like that makes sense.

BEST GUESS: Denver, tag and we'll see
DEN Shelby Harris 29 DT $3.25M 3 yrs, $30M One of the better values in all of football last year, Harris' ability to stuff the run is a skillset many teams will be in need of this March.

BEST GUESS: Arizona
DET Kenny Golladay 27 WR $799k 5 yrs, $92.5M Golladay has true WR1 potential, but has only caught 70 balls once in 4 seasons with the Lions. He's coming off of an injury in 2020, and is a likely franchise tag candidate, but there's a payday coming regardless.

BEST GUESS: Detroit
DET Marvin Jones 30 WR $8M 2 yrs, $18M One of the better complementary receivers in the game over the past few seasons, Jones will likely find a new home in 2021. A slight increase from his previous contract should get it done.

BEST GUESS: New England
DET Romeo Okwara 25 DE $3.4M 3 year, $30M Okwara is hitting the market on the heels of 4 1/2 below average years, & a finish to 2020 that has people strongly considering his services. At just 25 years old, there's room to believe he can settle into his newfound success.

BEST GUESS: Las Vegas
GB Corey Linsley 29 OC $8.5M 2 year, $20M After a postseason that saw bad center play take teams out, Linsley's dependability can't be overstated. He'll need a raise to come back, but Green Bay should be looking to keep their MVP QB as happy as possible with moves like this.

BEST GUESS: Green Bay
GB Aaron Jones RB 26 $650k 4 yrs, $50M Nobody should pay the running back unless they should. Jones has done enough both as a 3 down runner and an option in the passing game to warrant a multi-year deal. His production comps well to that of Dalvin Cook, who signed a similar extension just months ago.

BEST GUESS: Miami
HOU Will Fuller WR 26 $2.5M 5 yrs, $85M Yes he's had injuries, yes he's been suspended for PED use, but when it's going good, it's really good, especially with Deshaun Watson throwing him the rock.

BEST GUESS: Houston
HOU J.J. Watt DE 31 $16.6M 3 yrs, $45M Watt's value at this point of his career is probably down into the $12M per year mark, but with a dozen or so teams already inquiring for his services, an overpay could be the way in.

BEST GUESS: Cleveland
IND T.Y. Hilton WR 31 $13M 2 yrs, $22M The days of Hilton outpacing top corners in the league are behind him, but he's still an excellent route runner who will find the endzone enough to warrant a payday. Teams like GB & Chicago will be in the mix, but TY's numbers under a covered roof far outweigh his outdoor production.

BEST GUESS: Arizona
IND Xavier Rhodes CB 30 $3M 3 yrs, $21M He was one of the best values in the secondary for 2020, and a significant pay raise is coming. He'll need depth and security around him to stay healthy and productive at this stage of his career.

BEST GUESS: Indianapolis
JAC Keelan Cole WR 27 $3.2M 2 yrs, $12M The former UDFA outperformed his rookie pay in Jacksonville, who are likely poised to try to keep the wideout with the new regime coming to town. Cole will draw interest as a potential buy low WR2 on the market.

BEST GUESS: Chicago
KC Austin Reiter OC 29 $2.25M 3 yrs, $24M An extremely reliable, consistent option especially in the passing game, and a good fit for a Mahomes-run offense. His value on the open market vs. what he might have to accept to stay in KC could be two very different numbers.

BEST GUESS: Kansas City
KC Sammy Watkins WR 27 $9M 2 yrs, $20M The injury-prone wideout has been demoted to a role player in order to keep him as healthy and productive as possible. He's just 27, and still has big game play in him, but he'll need a new home if he's looking for increased money and targets.

BEST GUESS: Cincinnati
KC Bashaud Breeland CB 29 $3M 1 yr, $5M Breeland's production and reliability have been up and down, keeping both his future in KC and potential payday both at bay. Teams looking for experienced depth could be in play this spring.

BEST GUESS: Dallas
LV Nelson Agholor WR 27 $1M 2 yrs, $16M Agholor took a "prove-it" deal with Las Vegas and really found his legs by the end of 2020. No reason to believe this marriage shouldn't continue.

BEST GUESS: Las Vegas
LV Takkarist McKinley DE 25 $2.5M 2 yrs, $18M McKinley likely won't ever live up to the first round selection pedigree, but he's settled in as an average, fringe rusher from here out. The going rate for that sits at around $9M currently.

BEST GUESS: Las Vegas
LAC Hunter Henry TE 26 $10.6M 4 yrs, $40M Henry isn't the bigtime prospect he once was, but teams will value him highly because of age + potential. A second tag would mean $12.7M for LA, a very possible outcome here. He'll have a dozen inquiries if he's allowed to test the market.

BEST GUESS: LA Chargers
LAC Tyrod Taylor QB 31 $5.5M 2 yrs, $10M A freak injury handed his job to Justin Herbert earlier than expected, but Taylor has done enough in this league to prove he's a capable "bridge", "short-term option", or experienced backup for any team. He'll seek a better path to starts than the Chargers can offer.

BEST GUESS: Pittsburgh
LAC Melvin Ingram OLB 31 $16M 2 yrs, $24M While the price may be right for the Chargers to keep him, Ingram should draw interest from legitimate contenders in 2021, with teams like Buffalo, Indy, & the Packers all in the mix.

BEST GUESS: Indianapolis
LAR John Johnson SS 25 $814k 5 yrs, $70M One of the better unknowns in the league, Johnson's next payday is going to raise some eyebrows. The Rams haven't been known to let players like this walk in recent years, and it might take a franchise tag to hang onto him early in the offseason, but if not, look out for bad teams throwing big dollar.

BEST GUESS: Detroit
LAR Troy Hill CB 29 $1.6M 2 yrs, $12M There's been a real market for slot cornerbacks as offensive schemes have moved more to underneath passing of late. Hill's become one of the better options in this regard, on one of the best defenses in the game.

BEST GUESS: Rams
LAR Leonard Floyd OLB 28 $10M 4 yrs, $52M Floyd's career is on a Jadeveon Clowney path, where he's no longer trusted to be a double digit sack rusher, but an above average, versatile edge defender - a classification that will still pay just fine.

BEST GUESS: Houston
MIA Ryan Fitzpatrick QB 38 $5.5M 1 yr, $8M The Amish Rifle still wants (and deserves) to compete for a starting role despite the age and subsequent physical decline. He's been an immediate jolt of energy to every offense he's been thrown into - for a limited time. Teams looking for that instant, short-term boost should be strongly considering his services.

BEST GUESS: Chicago
MIN Anthony Harris FS 29 $11.4M 4 yrs, $56M Harris' play declined a bit on the one year tag in Minnesota, but that won't stop teams looking to upgrade their current secondary from making a splash for his services.

BEST GUESS: Carolina
NE Joe Thuney OG 28 $14.7M 4 yrs, $60M Brandon Scherff & Quentin Nelson are likely going to reset the guard market this offseason, and Thuney will very much benefit from that on the open market.

BEST GUESS: LA Chargers
NE Cam Newton QB 31 $1.75M 1 yr, $2.5M Cam didn't do enough in 2020 to get anybody excited about his next chapter, but it's hard to imagine his career is completely over at age 31, despite the toll his body has taken. It seems feasible another year in New England would give him the best opportunity to compete for snaps.

BEST GUESS: New England
NE David Andrews OC 28 $3M 3 yrs, $20M Andrews is on the right side of 30, and can be classifed as one of the most dependable centers in the league right now. His days in New England may be numbered as his price tag increases, but there will be suitors.

BEST GUESS: Baltimore
NO Marcus Williams FS 24 $1.5M 5 yrs, $68M There isn't a weak spot in Williams' game right now, and at just 24 years old, he's just entering his prime in the league. The Saints will have a helluva time make the numbers work to keep him, but they're certainly trying.

BEST GUESS: Jacksonville
NO Trey Hendrickson DE 26 $793k 4 yrs, $44M Hendrickson will become a "Plan B" for a lot of teams looking to improve their EDGE this offseason, and a darn good option at that.

BEST GUESS: Buffalo
NO Jameis Winston QB 27 $1.1M 2 yrs, $15M If you believe what you hear from the Saints, Winston should be given a new contract to become their next QB soon. But if March 17th comes without one, look for the Bears, Colts, & Patriots to at least me in consideration.

BEST GUESS: New Orleans
NYG Leonard Williams DE 26 $16.1M 4 yrs, $80M Nobody took a bigger step forward in 2020 than Williams, who went from a veritable bust, to what could be a top DE contract in the league. With a second tag valuing over $19M, no pricetag should surprise us at this point.

BEST GUESS: NY Giants
NYG Dalvin Tomlinson DT 26 $1.1M 4 yrs, $45M Tomlinson is one of the better young run stuffers in the game right now, but doesn't quite have the pass rush ability to cash in on the top tier of interior DT money (Kenny Clark, $17.5M). He should be a priority resign for the Giants.

BEST GUESS: NY Giants
NYJ Marcus Maye S 26 $1.6M 5 yrs, $68M One of the lone bright spots from the Jets defense in 2020, Maye peaked at the right now financially speaking. He'll garner a modified version of the deal Jamal Adams would have scored were he still in NY. He's a franchise tag candidate at minumum.

BEST GUESS: NY Jets
NYJ Breshad Perriman WR 27 $6.5M 3 yrs, $26M Statistically speaking, Perriman comps nicely to who John Brown was before joining Buffalo in an expanded role. Teams looking for complementary wideouts could see him as a nice low buy fit.

BEST GUESS: San Francisco
PIT Mike Hilton CB 26 $3.2M 3 yrs, $21M Slot corners are finding better paydays in the league right now, and at 26, Hilton fits the bill as someone who could see his compensation double in 2021.

BEST GUESS: Cincinnati
PIT JuJu Smith-Schuster WR 24 $1M 5 yrs, $80M Pittsburgh's offensive weapons as a whole left us all wondering what to make of them going forward, but there's no denying Smith-Schusters overall abilities. If he's not tagged, he'll find plenty of suitors on the open market.

BEST GUESS: Miami
PIT Alejandro Villanueva OT 32 $6M 2 yrs, $32M He's a little too old to be a "cornerstone" left tackle for a young up and coming team, but he might be the perfect immediate replacement for Anthony Castonzo and the Colts.

BEST GUESS: Indianapolis
PIT Bud Dupree OLB 26 $15.8M 1 yr, $12M A devastating injury leaves Dupree's future with all sorts of red flags. The easiest outcome here seems to be a 1 year, "prove-it" deal on a contender to revive his market value.

BEST GUESS: Kansas City
PIT James Conner RB 25 $790k 2 yrs, $10M He comps best to Kareem Hunt right now, and that type of shared solution seems to make best for Conner's next chapter. Sticking him with James Robinson seems a nice fit.

BEST GUESS: Jacksonville
SF Trent Williams OT 32 $13.6M 4 yrs, $72M Williams can't be tagged by the Niners per the terms of his trade agreement, and though the age is seemingly a small concern, he missed all of 2019, and is showing no signs of decline just yet. He'll carry an $18M floor into the negotiating room (zoom).

BEST GUESS: San Francisco
SF Richard Sherman CB 32 $9M 2 yrs, $20M Sherman's time in SF appears to be up, and while many franchises will look at the age and immediately pass, there will be at least a few who see the value in Sherman finishing his career in their organization. In particular...

BEST GUESS: Green Bay
SEA Shaquill Griffin CB 25 $814k 4 yrs, $44M The advanced analytics and 4-year resume don't scream major payday or must keep, but Seattle knows what works for their defense, and it's possible they value Griffin a lot more than any of us could.

BEST GUESS: Houston
SEA Christopher Carson RB 26 $616k 4 yrs, $30M Taking injuries out of the equation, Carson is pretty easily a $10M+ running back, but any red flag hurts the RB's ability to earn right now. Seattle claims they want to focus more on the run game from here out, so we'll take them at their word.

BEST GUESS: Seattle
SEA K.J. Wright OLB 31 $7M 2 yrs, $15M Seattle drafted Wright's replacement in Jordyn Brooks last year, but he doesn't appear ready to take the keys just yet. One more short contract (1 year guaranteed) makes sense for both sides.

BEST GUESS: Seattle
TB Shaquil Barrett OLB 28 $15.8M 4 yrs, $75M It only takes one team to decide that Barrett is a $20M+ edge rusher, but a reunion with the Bucs on a slightly smaller payday seems to be the right move for both sides.

BEST GUESS: Tampa Bay
TB Lavonte David LB 31 $10M 3 yrs, $39M David has done enough to warrant a raise that puts him inline with the highest paid minimal-rush OLBs in the league. Of all the notable free agents TB holds, paying David the right price makes the most sense.

BEST GUESS: Tampa Bay
TB Chris Godwin WR 24 $825k 5 yrs, $90M The age, production, intangibles, and skillset are all extremely favorable for Godwin, which almost always means that someone overpays to pull him out of his current situation.

BEST GUESS: Indianapolis
TB Antonio Brown WR 32 $1.6M 1 yr, $2.5M AB's major paydays are behind him, but it's clear that his relationship with Tom Brady benefits him both on and off the field right now. A return seems imminent along with a contract that starts low, but can build with incentives and team success.

BEST GUESS: Tampa Bay
TB Rob Gronkowski TE 31 $9M 1 yr, $8.5M He's only 31, but his body likely feels like its 38 right now. There's no question Gronk is only available for a reduced role where he can be used as needed, but it seems ill-advised to go against Tom Brady's wishes at this point.

BEST GUESS: Tampa Bay
TB Leonard Fournette RB 26 $2M 2 yrs, $16M A return to Tampa Bay would be a nice story, but the truth is the Bucs have a lot of mouths to feed, and Ronald Jones, who's made big strides, is still on a team-friendly contract. Fournette once had aspirations of eclipsing the top RB AAV pricetag, but that seems unlikely after his tumultuous 2020.

BEST GUESS: Pittsburgh
TB Ndamukong Suh DT 34 $8M 1 yr, $7M The 34-year-old had plenty to say against opposing run games in 2020, and while he's no longer the dominant force he once was, there's still gas in the tank for teams who require it.

BEST GUESS: Carolina
TEN Jonnu Smith TE 25 $776k 4 yrs, $32M Smith didn't help himself too much in 2020 in terms of finishing on a high note, but the 25 year old finds the endzone, and there's always money for a player like that. He'll hold an $8M floor this offseason.

BEST GUESS: NY Jets
TEN Desmond King CB 26 $670k 3 yrs, $18M King's had years that have popped off the page, but has seemingly been in decline the past two seasons, leaving his financial future a bit of a mystery. This lower pricetag could atttract decent teams looking to grab value from him.

BEST GUESS: San Francisco
TEN Corey Davis WR 26 $6.3M 4 yrs, $42M Davis peaked at the right time, and has built a nice report next to A.J. Brown and with QB Ryan Tannehill. He'll expect a big payday because of where he was drafted, but Davis hasn't even been a $12M per year WR over the past two seasons. There's a transition tag possibility here.

BEST GUESS: Tennessee
TEN Jadeveon Clowney DE 28 $13M 1 yr, $12M Still on the right side of 30, and now settling into his role as a versatile edge player, but not necessarily an expensive sack producer. An injury in 2020 drops his calculated value down into the $7M mark, but it's save to assume he can match his 2020 compensation with the right team, especially one looking to get better horizontally speaking.

BEST GUESS: Green Bay
TEN Jayon Brown LB 25 $667k 4 yrs, $44M He's most valuable in coverage than anywhere else right now, but there's still plenty of need for a player like Brown in any defense. Tennessee likely gives him the second contract to see what else they can get from him at just 25.

BEST GUESS: Tennessee
WAS Brandon Scherff OG 29 $15M 4 yrs, $55M Back to back to back years with injuries have really quieted the market for Scherff, who remains one of the best guards in football when he's on the field. He's approacing 30, so a record setting contract likely isn't coming - but he'll get close.

BEST GUESS: Washington
WAS Ronald Darby CB 27 $3M 4 yrs, $36M Darby did enough on his latest 1 year prove-it deal to warrant a multi-year contract this spring. There's no reason Washington shouldn't look to extend him, but if he hits the market there should be multiple suitors this time around.

BEST GUESS: Arizona