NFL Free Agents 2021: Predictions for Top Players Set to Hit Open Market
The 2021 NFL offseason has unofficially arrived for all the teams already eliminated from playoff contention.
Their front offices are surely scouring the market already for an upcoming free-agent class that looks loaded with talent, especially at the offensive skill positions.
We'll turn our attention there with breakdowns of and predictions for three of the top footballers-for-hire set to be unrestricted free agents.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
While an ankle injury prematurely ended Dak Prescott's season it did nothing to dislodge his position atop the 2021 free-agent rankings.
The fifth-year veteran was cruising at high altitude before the ankle ailment. Prior to his Week 5 injury, he had cleared 450 passing yards in three consecutive outings. His 68.0 completion percentage marked a new personal best, and his 99.6 quarterback rating bettered his career average of 97.3.
These numbers—and many more—suggest the Dallas Cowboys should do everything in their power to keep him around. While a second franchise tag (at $37.7 million) could be on the table, there should be interest from both parties to get a longer deal done.
There might be a litany of issues with the Cowboys' roster, but a healthy Prescott isn't one of them. Expect them to recognize that by way of a potentially mammoth new deal.
Prediction: Prescott signs a four-year, $145 million deal with Dallas.
Allen Robinson II, WR, Chicago Bears
Allen Robinson II has established himself as an elite NFL receiver, which is no minor achievement when he's been catching passes from Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles all season.
Robinson is the rock of an otherwise inconsistent offense. After just falling shy of his first 100-catch effort in 2019, he's already delivered 100 receptions in this campaign and turned them into the league's ninth-highest receiving yardage (1,213).
The Chicago Bears surely want to keep him around, but he'd be tricky to tag given their cap situation. And if he's free to choose his next destination, it's easy to assume he'll seek out a superior quarterback group—which he could find almost anywhere outside of the Windy City.
If Robinson joined forces with a top-shelf passer, his production could climb from its already elite level. Our crystal ball instead puts him on a fast rising squad in the AFC East with an up-and-coming quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa.
Prediction: Robinson signs a four-year, $70 million deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Jones can make a convincing argument for being the top free agent at his position. Since that position is running back, though, he may not cash out in a way that label would suggest.
Teams have been cautious about paying running backs too much, and Jones could potentially be knocked by those skeptical of his ability to replicate his production in a less favorable situation. If he wasn't running behind a good Green Bay Packers offensive line and being able to play off of Future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers, it's possible Jones' numbers could take a hit.
Saying that, the stats are still special. No one should be sneezing at back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, especially when coupled with his ability to find the end zone (24 rushing scores since the start of last season) and improved production in the passing game (92 receptions for 786 yards over that stretch).
Since Green Bay also rosters both Jamaal Williams and rookie second-rounder AJ Dillon, Jones might have to look past the Badger State to find his payday. The Packers probably won't prioritize Jones the way other suitors can.
Prediction: Jones signs a four-year, $50 million deal with the New York Jets.