happy New Year.
While the trade market has received slightly more attention than free agency, the new NFL league year is almost here, meaning that the free agency market is seeking this offseason with talent in the new form.
The low NFL salary cap entering the 2021 season makes for an interesting casualty coming into the market, and the franchise tag is playing a heavy, heavy role, with players coming into the market and coloring in the new team this upcoming season.
Sporting News will be tracking the latest free agency rumors, signs and more below in the first phase of NFL Offsen:
MORE: SN’s Fresh Mock Draft | Big Board of Top 50 Prospects
When will nfl free agency start in 2021?
- Legal tampering period: Monday, March 15 from Wednesday, March 17
- 2021 NFL free agency debut: Wednesday, March 17, 4 pm ET
The start of the 2021 league year is March 17 at 4 pm, meaning NFL free agency begins at the same time. The NFL’s period of legal loophole means that you can hear some deals between Monday and Wednesday, but none of the deals can be official until Wednesday.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, “teams are allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations, players’ certified agents who will become unrestricted free agents.” As mentioned, those deals are essentially handshake agreements, and no ink on paper can be completed until the start of the new league year.
As it stands, the NFL may extend the franchise tag deadline to finalize players, with the current deadline on Tuesday March 9 at 4 pm ET. With the official set of NFL salary cap numbers, the league set the salary cap floor at $ 180 million.
Wednesday, March 17 also means trades have previously been agreed – such as the Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford swap – will become official, and deals may take place.
Other notable events below are March 17:
- At 4 pm, all 2021 player contracts expire.
- Before 4pm ET, teams must be under the 2021 salary cap (top 51 rule starts).
- Before 4pm ET, teams must exercise options for 2021 on all players whose 2020 contracts have option clauses.
- Before 4pm ET, teams must first submit qualifying contracts for their contracted free agents to retain the right to refuse or compensation.
- Before 4pm ET, teams must submit a minimum wage tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights for their players who terminate 2020 contracts, who have three accrued seasons of free agency credit.
- The first day of the 2021 league year will end on March 17 at 11:59:59 pm ET. The teams receive a Personnel Notice which includes all transactions submitted to the league after 4 pm ET on that day.
Nfl free agency rumors tracker
Dak Prescott is not going anywhere
Date: 8 March
Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network
From NFL Now: Between waiting on cap number, there’s some positivity around #Cowboys The potential deal for QB Dak Prescott may not be completed by Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/cDsjMaLtLd
– Ian Rapport (@RapSheet) March 8, 2021
The months of Dallas Brass are telling the world that Dak Prescott The Cowboys will be the quarterbacks in 2021, seems closer to reality, with the franchise tag to be placed on Prescott. Both sides will have to enter into long-term deals by July 15.
Washington considers Scherff franchise tag
Date: 8 March
Source: Tom Pelicero, NFL Network (NFL Now)
Washington is considering putting franchise tag on guard Brandon Shroff Once again, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissarso. Cerf is scheduled to be among the top two guards available in the free agent market, along with Patriots’ mentor Joe Thonni.
Receiving call for Lions backup QB
Date: 7 March
Source: Adam Sheher, ESPN
The Lions have discussed business with other teams about backup QB Chase Daniel, according to their sources. Daniel is considered an ideal patron for the young QB, something he learned from Drew Breeze during their time together in New Orleans.
After Adam Adam (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2021
Lions receiving calls at backup quarterback Chase Daniel, Per report. Daniel can be considered for a mentorship type role for a new team. Detroit QB is waiting for an official of Jared Goff to conduct his business.
Top NFL Free Agents Available in 2021
Vinny Iyer of SN ranked the 50 best available free agents entering 2021. The top 21 available goals before starting a free service are:
1. Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers (age: 24)
Godwin has turned into a major slot receiver at 6-1, 209 pounds. He leads the way with great versatility on the outside and despite a few notable drops, he has his hands on the field to be reliable. He is not close to his chief and the Bucks must do everything to keep him for Tom Brady.
2. Alan Robinson, WR, Bear (age: 27)
Robinson had a big third season with Chicago, while completing his lead as a complete target with 102 catches for 1,250 yards and 6 TDs. He is looking to leave Chicago and will eventually be paired with a top QB.
3. Shakeel Barrett, Edge, Bookers (Age: 28)
Barrett led the league with 19.5 sacks in his first season at Tampa Bay in 2019, but he had a wide impact after the quarterback returned to the playoffs. The Bucs will try their best to keep him in 2021 for another run with his defense.
4. Justin Simmons, S, Broncos (age: 27)
Simmons (6-2, 202 pounds) had another big season for Denver with five interceptions and 96 total tackles. He would be a great cleaning man anywhere.
5. Trent Williams, OT, 49ers (Age: 32)
Williams was outstanding in place of Joe Staley. He was perfectly healthy and came back dominating in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He still has a few solid years left.
6. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers (Age: 26)
Jones received his second straight big year from scrimmage (1,459 yards, 11 TDs) and averaged 5.5 yards per carry as an explosive. The Packers will do their best to prepare for the new power supplement with Jamal Williams as the head of independent agency for AJ Agency.
7. Anthony Harris, S, Vikings (age: 29)
Harris posted no interceptions in 2020 after posting 6 in 2019, but was still very active in coverage to help defend the struggling overall pass and also committed a total of 104 tackles.
8. Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions (age: 27)
“Babytron” is a big, fast field-stretcher (6-4, 215 pounds) and red-zone finisher when healthy, but he played in only five matches in 2020 after suffering a hip injury. The Lions will try to keep him around because Marvin Jones Jr. is also a free agent, along with Jared Goff’s go-to guy.
9. Leonard Williams, Day, veteran (Age: 26)
In 2015, Jets No. 6 overall Williams saw his delayed big breakout as an internal pass to the New York second team with 11.5 sacks. It is still built to wreak havoc on the middle edge of the 3-4 front.
10. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers (age: 26)
Henry remained mostly healthy in 2020, which was big for him, and caught 60 passes for 613 yards and 4 TDs in 14 games. He said a short attack was made, as did the Chargers in an aggressive downfield passing game paired with crook Justin Herbert. But Henry became an important target late and new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s plan was re-signed.
11. Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers (age: 24)
Smith-Suster may have worked his way up from Mike Ticlock with Mike Tomlin from Pittsburgh, but he is a young slot receiver with a high output and mass. JuJu secretly tallied up to 97 catches for 831 yards and 9 TDs in the Steelers’ dink and ding passing game.
12. Will Fuller, WR, Texas (age: 26)
Between injuries and suspensions, Fuller cannot stay on the field to produce big time. The 6–0, 184-pounder has blinded the vertical pace, as he averaged 16.6 yards on his 53 catches for 11 matches with Deshon Watson for 879 yards and 8 TDs.
13. Lavonte David, LB, Buccaneers (Age: 31)
David is the solid, consistent rock of a tackler and tinted playmaker, even with changes in plan over the past two years. He can help defend in many ways and is also an experienced, respected leader.
14. Richard Sherman, CB, 49ers (Age: 32)
Sherman played only five games in 2020, but he is going strong in 2019, where he has stopped his old schooling and has also done 61 tackles. He has been a welcome leader of the San Francisco secondary and may have the same impact on any other team.
15. Marcus Williams, S, Saint (age: 24)
Williams has been consistent with his coverage help from a free safety with a good nose for the ball and he is also very solid in run support.
16. Corey Davis, WR, Titans (age: 26)
Davis eventually dropped out as a first rounder with his size (6-3, 209 pounds) and a great complement to AJ Brown for the Titans’ Ryan Tenenhill as the first offense 92 goals for 984 yards. Caught 65 of them. And 5 TDs while averaging 15.1 yards per catch.
17. Melvin Ingram, EDGE, Chargers (age: 31)
Ingram is getting up there and his near-tow production has plummeted, with some injury issues. But when healthy, it remains a well-timed disruption for 4-3 or 3-4 alignments.
18. Corey Linsley, C, Packers (age: 29)
Aaron Rodgers’ main sizzler has been a respected line leader and a large part of his run-blocking success.
19. Bud Dupree, Edge, Steelers (Age: 27)
Dupree is a strong pass at 6-4, 269 pounds and had a big season before reaching the 11th game of his knee injury, in which he still produced 8 sacks.
20. Joe Thuni, G, Patriot (Age: 28)
Thunai was supposed to play some of the Patriots’ line injuries and reshuffle in 2020 but his usual job is crushing it as a run blocker from left guard with good athleticism for his size (6-5, 308 pounds).
21. Troy Hill, CB, Ramas (age: 29)
Hill (5-11, 183 pounds) came into his own opposite Jalan Ramsey, a good combination of dynamic bullhawk and aggressive cover man.