2021 NFL Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Dak Prescott, Cam Newton, More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJanuary 17, 2021

2021 NFL Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Dak Prescott, Cam Newton, More

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    It's tough to make a deep run through the NFL playoffs and get to the Super Bowl without a strong quarterback. If you look back at the list of championship winners, you will see they were led by a bunch of talented quarterbacks in the biggest football game of the year.

    Some teams don't have franchise quarterbacks capable of leading them to a Super Bowl title. They could be looking to address the position during the upcoming offseason, whether that's through free agency or the NFL draft.

    For those seeking a signal-caller on the free-agent market, there could be some notable names available. Here's a look at some of the top quarterbacks who could be hitting free agency, along with the latest buzz surrounding them and predictions for where they will end up in 2021.

Will Prescott Be Returning to Dallas for Long Term?

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Dak Prescott's season-ending ankle injury had a huge impact on the Dallas Cowboys' season. The 27-year-old quarterback went down during a Week 5 game against the New York Giants, and he consequently underwent surgery. Meanwhile, Dallas ended up finishing in third place in the NFC East at 6-10 and missing the playoffs.

    However, there's recently been positive news regarding Prescott's recovery. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported during an appearance on NFL GameDay Morning on Saturday that Prescott is walking and working with an anti-gravity treadmill and a HydroWorx pool.

    "Based on the work he's put in, what they think, he's going to come back better than ever," Rapoport said on the show (h/t NFL.com's Adam Maya).

    But will Prescott be coming back to the Cowboys? He played the 2020 season on a $31.409 million franchise tag after the two sides couldn't come to terms on a long-term extension. It's possible Prescott could sign a long-term deal this offseason, but if he doesn't, then it's Dallas could franchise-tag him again (which would be worth $37.7 million for 2021).

    However, the Cowboys know what their offense could look like without Prescott at the helm, and it was clear they were much better when he was under center. Because of that, negotiations will go better this offseason and lead to Prescott signing a long-term contract to stay in Dallas.

    Prediction: Prescott signs a multiyear deal with the Cowboys.

Could Newton Come Back to Patriots for 2021 Season?

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    As soon as the 2020 season ended for the New England Patriots, there were rumors about them and quarterback Cam Newton going their separate ways during the upcoming offseason. Newton didn't have great results in his first season with the Pats, who could add a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft.

    But it may have been too soon to write off a Newton return to New England. Veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson recently reported that a source believes the Patriots are a "long way from all those decisions" regarding whether they want to move on from Newton.

    Perhaps that means Newton could return to New England. The 31-year-old passed for 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games for the Pats. And maybe he could fare better with a second year in the offense.

    But the prediction here is that Newton departs after the Patriots use their first-round draft pick to select a young quarterback. Meanwhile, the 2015 NFL MVP will sign with a team such as the Denver Broncos, who could add him as a backup to Drew Lock. And if Lock struggles again in 2021, Newton would be ready to step in and lead the offense.

    Prediction: Newton signs one-year deal with Broncos.

Winston Potentially Returning to Saints After Limited Action in 2020

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Even though Jameis Winston hasn't played much for the New Orleans Saints this season, that doesn't mean he hasn't made a positive impression on the organization. In fact, the 27-year-old appears to have done enough as the backup quarterback to make the Saints want to bring him back for the 2021 campaign.

    That's what NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported during an appearance on NFL GameDay on Saturday, noting that New Orleans has interest in Winston re-signing with the team during the upcoming offseason.

    "They do want to bring back Jameis Winston," Rapoport said. "They love what they have seen in practice, the Saints have. They have seen the arm talent. They have seen all the skills that made him a No. 1 pick. They love the work ethic."

    There's a possibility that Drew Brees retires after the Saints' playoff run. And although Taysom Hill started when Brees missed four games because of injury earlier in the season, perhaps Winston (who has only had 11 pass attempts this season) could get more playing time with the team should he come back and Brees depart.

    Winston hasn't done enough to earn a starting job elsewhere, so expect him to return to New Orleans and perhaps get more of an opportunity to play in 2021.

    Prediction: Winston re-signs with Saints on another one-year deal.