NFL Free Agency 2021: Live Updates, Rumors and Signings from Day 3
It has been nearly two days since the start of the legal tampering period kicked off NFL free agency, and there has been no shortage of excitement since.
Teams have been coming to terms with free agents at a rapid pace, agreeing to contracts that can become official today at 4 p.m. ET, the start of the new league year.
Some of the top signings so far include the San Francisco 49ers retaining left tackle Trent Williams with a record-setting six-year, $138 million deal, edge Shaquil Barrett re-upping with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a four-year, $68 million contract, edge Bud Dupree joining the Tennessee Titans for $82.5 million over five years and guard Joe Thuney coming to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs for $80 million over five years.
You can check out the full list of all free-agency signings and grades for every deal by clicking here.
There are still plenty of notable free agents left on the open market, including most of the top wide receivers in the class. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Curtis Samuel and Will Fuller are all still available as of Wednesday morning, which is surprising given how many clubs were expected to pursue wideouts this offseason.
Read on to find out the latest rumblings on these players and more as NFL free agency continues on the first day of the new league year.
Cincinnati Bengals Make Offer on Top Receiver
The Cincinnati Bengals have been actively improving their defense at the start of free agency, and they may now be on the verge of making their first offensive signing.
According to The MMQB’s Albert Breer, the Bengals have made an offer to Kenny Golladay, although it reportedly is not the long-term contract the wide receiver may have desired. Cincinnati is instead opting to try to acquire the former Detroit Lion on a one-year “prove-it” deal.
Golladay’s market has been cool despite beliefs that he is the class of his position and would earn a big payday going into free agency. The receiver spent the first four years of his career with the Lions and put up some big numbers—183 catches for 3,068 yards and 21 touchdowns—but struggled to stay on the field in 2020.
The 27-year-old suffered numerous injuries last season that limited him to just five appearances. He led the league in receiving touchdowns in 2019, however, and should be in line for a bounce-back year if he can stay healthy.
If Golladay does not accept Cincinnati’s offer, it may be because the New York Giants float better terms his way. The 2017 third-round pick reportedly has a visit lined up with the G-Men, who likely want to find out more about the hip injury that plagued him this past season.
Golladay apparently prefers the draw of the New York market, as well, with ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweeting it is a preferred destination for the playmaker. If the Giants are satisfied after the impending meeting, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them also extend an offer his way.
Arizona Cardinals Sign Another Veteran, More in the Works?
The Arizona Cardinals have been one of the bigger forces during the start of the NFL free-agency period. The team made its latest splash Wednesday, agreeing to sign another former Pro Bowler in wide receiver A.J. Green.
Ian Rapoport reported Green will sign a one-year, $8 million deal to come to Arizona. He'll join DeAndre Hopkins in the team's receiving corps that will catch passes from rising star quarterback Kyler Murray in 2021.
Green, 32, spent the first decade of his illustrious career with the Cincinnati Bengals, accumulating 649 catches for 9,430 yards and 65 touchdowns. He's struggled to stay on the field in recent years, playing in nine games in 2018 and missing the 2019 campaign because of injury. Green suited up for all 16 games in 2020 but failed to return to the level of play that made him a Pro Bowl selection each season from 2011 to 2017.
This signing is the latest in a series of contracts the organization has doled out to aging veterans. The Cardinals landed edge-rusher J.J. Watt after his release by the Houston Texans last month for $28 million over two years. They also came to terms with cornerback Robert Alford, who they released before re-signing him to a one-year, "prove-it" deal for what is estimated to be the veteran's minimum.
Arizona hasn't shied away from swinging trades either, reportedly negotiating a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders to bring in center Rodney Hudson. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Arizona dealt a third-round pick to the Raiders, who sent back a seventh-rounder along with Hudson. The Cardinals will have a three-time Pro Bowler to snap the ball to Murray.
Green likely will not be the last experienced player the Cardinals ink in free agency. Retaining Patrick Peterson—a generational defensive back talent who has played all 10 years of his career in Arizona—is a priority. Peterson will reportedly decide soon if he wants to stay with the Cards or join another contender on his short list.
Arizona has a few more holes to fill, the most notable being another pickup for the offensive line. The team struck out on the top guard option on the open market after Joe Thuney reportedly signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.
While the Cardinals patched up a few major holes on the roster by acquiring Green and Hudson today and Watt earlier in the month, they shouldn't be satisfied. In addition to picking up another offensive lineman, the team must also target at least one more cornerback and a running back.
Trade Market for Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson
The two biggest names being bandied about in trade rumors right now are Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson. These quarterbacks are both unhappy with their current situations with the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans, respectively, and reportedly want out this offseason.
While both clubs would prefer to retain their incumbent signal-caller, at least one of the situations may have reached a point of no return. Watson has allegedly lost faith that the Texans can surround him with a winning team and is pushing heavily to be traded, but it will likely cost a competing franchise an armada of assets to get Houston to deal him.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle believes the Texans will ultimately move on from Watson in the near future, but what they get in return for him remains to be seen. According to Joseph Person of The Athletic, it will take at least a trio of first-round draft picks for the Texans to start talks. Wilson could require even more to move, as the Chicago Bears reportedly found out.
Per NBC Sports' Dan Patrick, the Bears offered a package that included three first-rounders (including the No. 20 overall selection in the 2021 draft), a third-rounder and two starters in exchange for Wilson.
Seattle hasn't accepted yet, and it remains to be seen if the team will receive a better offer for the seven-time Pro Bowler. There are plenty of organizations desperate for a signal-caller of Wilson's caliber, and the open market is completely bereft of talent that is anywhere near the same stratosphere as what the 32-year-old brings to a roster.
The Seahawks may be holding out for a better pick in the draft, one that would afford them a more realistic chance at finding Wilson's replacement. With the Bears picking in the back half of the first round next month, the chances of landing one of the few elite prospects at the position are slim to none.
ESPN's Adam Schefter recently stated that he expects the top four QBs in the class to come off the board before the eighth pick, which is a concern for any team potentially dealing with the Carolina Panthers, who hold the No. 8 selection and are also trying to make a leap with a quarterback upgrade this offseason.
The New York Jets or Miami Dolphins could offer up a more enticing trade package, with New York able to dangle the No. 2 overall selection and Miami holding the No. 3 pick. Getting one of these would afford the Seahawks—or the Texans, if these teams would prefer to try to get Watson—a chance at a top-tier prospect like Zach Wilson or Justin Fields, two of the most coveted QBs in the class.
Quarterback Market Close to Finished
The run on free-agent quarterbacks hit a zenith yesterday when Andy Dalton and Tyrod Taylor both agreed to terms with new teams. Dalton linked up with the Chicago Bears on a one-year, $10 million deal, and Taylor received $12.5 million over one season from the Houston Texans.
Those signings, coupled with Ryan Fitzpatrick landing with the Washington Football Team, Jacoby Brissett inking a new contract with the Miami Dolphins and Jameis Winston staying with the New Orleans Saints—all on one-year deals—has left the cupboard bare for organizations yet to address their situation under center.
Alex Smith and Mitchell Trubisky are the two most notable free agents still available, but neither looks to be a long-term solution for a franchise. Clubs now have just two options to find a suitable signal-caller for the 2021 campaign: give up the farm in an attempt to pry a disgruntled superstar away from their current team (i.e., Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson) or look to the draft in an attempt to unearth a franchise quarterback.
Going the trade route will be extremely costly. The Athletic’s Joseph Person reported that a trio of first-round picks is the “likely starting point” to acquire Watson from Houston. The Carolina Panthers are one of the suitors allegedly making an aggressive run at the 25-year-old QB, with Person saying he is “Plan A, B and C” for the club.
The draft is a cheaper but far less certain method to acquire quarterback talent. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (h/t Bleeding Green Nation), at least four teams will be going that direction early in the first round of the 2021 draft next month. During a segment on NFL Live, Schefter said he is certain that four quarterbacks will be selected “in the first six or seven picks.”
Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance are the QB prospects in this year’s class considered worthy of a top-five pick, and it now seems assured that none of them will slip on draft day based on Schefter’s comments.
It is a foregone conclusion that the Jacksonville Jaguars will tab Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick, but the New York Jets at No. 2, Atlanta Falcons at No. 4, Philadelphia Eagles at No. 6 and Detroit Lions at No. 7 will almost certainly all be mulling their options at the position when they are on the clock.
Tennessee Titans Release Former First-Round Draft Pick
The Tennessee Titans are reportedly moving on from cornerback Adoree’ Jackson after four seasons.
NFL Network’sIan Rapoport reported that they are releasing the No. 17 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
Jackson is now an unexpected addition to the 2021 NFL free-agency class, adding another defensive back to the list of players seeking new contracts this offseason. The 25-year-old shouldn’t remain on the open market for long, however, as plenty of organizations would benefit from his services.
During his tenure with the Titans, Jackson played in 46 games and recorded 176 solo tackles, defensed 33 passes, forced three fumbles and snagged two interceptions. He saw action in just three games during an injury-plagued 2020 campaign, an issue that likely contributed to Jackson’s release.
The Titans picked up Jackson’s fifth-year option last May but ultimately decided against retaining the corner for $10.2 million in 2021. If Jackson can get back to full health, he still has the capability to be one of the more exciting young defensive backs in the league. The 25-year-old relies heavily on his athleticism and speed to produce, which means his impact could be greatly diminished if he can’t shake the foot and knee injuries that have limited him to 14 games over the last two seasons.
The Green Bay Packers and New York Jets both have a glaring need to address their cornerback situations, but neither has made a move to sign a player at the position in free agency yet. They are among many who should be expected to make a run at him.
Chicago Bears Listening to Trade Offers
The Chicago Bears have been relatively quiet to start the 2021 NFL free-agency period, but they may start making headlines for more than just some signings.
According to ESPN’sAdam Schefter, the Bears are “likely” to trade wide receiver Anthony Miller soon. The 26-year-old is entering the final season of his rookie deal and could provide his next team with valuable production at a budget cost.
Miller became expendable in Chicago after the team elected to hit WR Allen Robinson II with the franchise tag, retaining a legit No. 1 wideout for the 2021 campaign.
Because Miller hasn’t panned out the way Chicago hoped when it selected him in the second round in 2018—the receiver has accumulated 134 catches for 1,564 yards and 11 touchdowns over the past three seasons—the team is willing to move on while it can still get something in return for his services.
Miller is set to make just $1.2 million with a $1.7 million cap hit, so a club looking to bolster its receiving corps could pick up a contributor with upside by swinging a deal with the Bears. A team like the Indianapolis Colts, who need to shore up the receiver position this offseason, would be an ideal partner for the Bears to deal with.
Chicago isn’t likely to net too much in return for Miller, but the potential to gain an additional middle- to late-round draft selection could benefit an organization that desperately needs to find a franchise quarterback to take the next step.
Regardless of whether the Bears package that pick in a blockbuster offer for a disgruntled player like Russell Wilson or use it to trade up for a QB in the draft, they simply won’t be a realistic contender until they acquire a reliable presence under center.
Trent Williams Still Available
Trent Williams was arguably the top player on the open market going into the legal tampering period, but it doesn’t appear that any deal for the veteran left tackle is imminent.
Williams—the class of this year’s crop of free-agent offensive linemen—may not be in a hurry to sign if his market isn’t materializing the way he had hoped, but there are apparently some favorites emerging to sign the 32-year-old star.
CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones reported Monday that the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs were “dueling” to acquire Williams.
Bringing Williams aboard won’t come cheap, withKNBR’s Greg Papa reporting the Niners have already floated a four-year, $80 million offer his way that hasn’t been accepted. ESPN’s Dianna Russini passed along word from a San Francisco source that signing Williams is an “all hands on deck” effort right now.
It remains to be seen if Kansas City wants to spend that much on another offensive lineman after agreeing to terms with guard Joe Thuney on Monday. Thuney was considered the best interior lineman on the market and was paid as such. The former New England Patriot is now set to earn $80 million over the next five years.
Should the Chiefs find a way to get Williams, they will have significantly upgraded an offensive line that was exposed in a Super Bowl LV loss last month.
The 49ers gave up a pair of middle-round draft picks to acquire the 10-year veteran from the Washington Football Team last year, with Williams finishing up the last year of a five-year, $68 million contract in the Bay Area.
The Niners have made a few moves themselves to start free agency, notably retaining a pair of cornerbacks in Jason Verrett (on a one-year deal for $5.5 million) and Emmanuel Moseley (on a two-year contract for $10.1 million) while also getting a budget pass-rusher in Samson Ebukam for $12 million over two years. They have yet to make a big splash, however, and signing Williams to a long-term deal would be the major move fans have been hoping for.
Wide Receiver Market Struggling
The strength of the 2021 free-agent class wasn’t at the wide receiver position, but few could have pictured just how slowly the market would materialize for them.
Only a handful of teams have paid a receiver over 24 hours into the legal tampering period. Corey Davis, who landed a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the New York Jets, has been the biggest signing. The New England Patriots also revamped their receiving corps, picking up Nelson Agholor on a two-year, $26 million contract and coming to a three-year, $22.5 million agreement with Kendrick Bourne.
The top receivers on the open market, including Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller V, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Curtis Samuel, are all still available at this juncture. There have been rumblings about where each may wind up this offseason, but nothing concrete has emerged.
Fuller is one of the more intriguing players still available after the receiver managed to stay healthy and produce as a legitimate No. 1 wideout for the Houston Texans this past season. He still wasn’t able to stay on the field for an entire 16-game campaign—something he has yet to do during his five-year career—after he was hit with a PED suspension that cut his sterling 2020 short.
A handful of organizations would benefit from signing Fuller, including the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins. Both have yet to address their receiving corps, major needs going into the offseason, and could do far worse than adding one of the most dynamic wideouts available.
Smith-Schuster is another option, but clubs may have doubts about his ability to be more than a quality No. 2 receiver. He once looked like one of the most promising talents at his position—going off for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns in his sophomore season back in 2018—but failed to breach the 1,000-yard mark in each of the last two years.
Given his estimated value of around $16 million annually, a team would need to be confident in his ceiling. He’s only 24 years old, so he still has plenty of upside. A rebuilding team like the Jets, who could pair Smith-Schuster with Sam Darnold, his college quarterback at USC, that has plenty of cash and a big need for a wide receiver would make sense for both sides.
Samuel is perhaps the most interesting receiving option available after finally having the breakout campaign for which the Carolina Panthers were hoping when they drafted him in the second round back in 2017.
The dynamic playmaker struggled to find a role initially, but a coaching change prior to the 2020 season finally saw him get utilized effectively and resulted in career highs for receptions (77) and yardage (851).
He also got touches as a rusher, chipping in another 200 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. Don’t be surprised to see him land with a team looking for a free-agent value, with clubs like the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles fitting the bill.
Suitors Leery About WR Kenny Golladay
Kenny Golladay is widely regarded as the top wideout in a relatively weak free-agent class, but even his market isn’t too hot right now. He’s still unsigned going into Day 2 of the legal tampering period, and it appears he may not get the big money some expected.
According to ESPN’sJordan Ranaan, earlier notions that clubs like the New York Giants would do whatever it took to ink Golladay were off-base. The G-Men may still have interest in the receiver, but they are among the potential suitors that are apparently wary of inking him to a big contract following a tough 2020 campaign.
Golladay was limited to just five games last season after suffering multiple injuries and has participated in all 16 games only once during his four years in the league.
Spotrac estimates that Golladay’s yearly market value is in the $17 million range, a high price for a player who could be a major injury risk. It may be part of the reason Detroit was leery to give the 27-year-old a long-term contract after his rookie deal finished and why teams like the Giants aren’t rushing to sign him on the open market.
While the G-Men have a need at the receiver position this offseason, the organization may be able to get a good price on Golladay based on how the market is moving.
There is still plenty of upside in signing him given he’s just a year removed from a 65-catch, 1,190-yard, 11-touchdown campaign, and it could pay dividends to ink him for less than the initial projections.
Leonard Fournette Considers Staying Put
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done a great job of keeping the band together after winning the Super Bowl, retaining three key free agents in Chris Godwin (franchise tag), Shaquil Barrett and Lavonte David. They may hang on to another in running back Leonard Fournette.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer tweeted that Fournette is mulling Tampa’s offer to remain part of the team that helped him win his first Super Bowl ring. Quarterback Tom Brady—who recruited Fournette to the Bucs after his release by the Jacksonville Jaguars last year—reportedly wants him back for another run in 2021.
While Fournette would remain in a winning situation with the Bucs, he could have more money on the table from other organizations. Breer noted the Seattle Seahawks have emerged as a serious suitor, with the club clearly making contingency plans in case it loses starting running back Chris Carson in free agency.
Fournette was utilized sparingly during his lone campaign in Tampa, garnering just 97 carries in 13 regular-season games. The Bucs leaned on him more during their Super Bowl run, however, with the back delivering an impressive 300 yards and three touchdowns on 64 rushes during the playoffs.
Retaining Fournette, who is just 26 years old and going into his fifth season after being drafted No. 4 in 2017, would give the Bucs one of the league's best one-two punches out of the backfield. Tampa still has starting running back Ronald Jones II under contract as he plays out the final year of his rookie deal.
If the Bucs can’t keep Fournette, they may go after Patriots free agent James White. ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted the club is one of the suitors for the veteran back. White has spent his entire career in New England, winning three Super Bowls alongside Brady during that seven-year span.
Quiet Quarterback Market to Start Free Agency
The quarterback market has been cool to start the free-agency period, with Ryan Fitzpatrick the only signal-caller who has come to terms with a new team. The journeyman inked a one-year deal worth up to $12 million with the Washington Football Team, with the club expecting Fitzpatrick to compete for the starting job, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
That isn’t to say quarterback moves haven’t been a big part of the offseason—Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff were swapped, and Dak Prescott signed a massive four-year, $160 million contract—but teams seem leery about taking a risk on signing an unfamiliar signal-caller in free agency.
That may change soon, however, as there are rumblings that the Chicago Bears are gunning for one of the top QBs left on the open market. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, the Bears are reportedly interested in acquiring Andy Dalton.
He played well enough for the Cowboys last year to warrant another opportunity to start—at least as a bridge quarterback for a team still trying to unearth a young franchise quarterback—and would likely get the opportunity to do exactly that in Chicago.
While fans in the Windy City can’t be thrilled by the prospect of the Red Rifle's being fired up at Soldier Field, he represents arguably the best available option. Some other free agents include Alex Smith, Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor, none of whom offer a long-term solution.
Chicago has been linked to other quarterbacks in trade rumors—the most notable being Russell Wilson, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler—but assuming the team can't swing a blockbuster deal, Dalton can help win games in 2021. Getting back to the playoffs with Dalton under center would be a nice short-term accomplishment while the team continues to hunt for the franchise quarterback that has eluded it for so long.
New York Jets Taking Calls on C.J. Mosley
The New York Jets are projected to be one of the biggest forces in this year’s free-agency market but could also be heavily involved in trades as they look to continue rebuilding back to contending status.
One of the latest rumors surrounding the franchise is a potential trade of C.J. Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowler. According to NFL Network’sTom Pelissero, Gang Green has been fielding offers for the veteran linebacker.
Mosely is salaried at $6 million and has a team-friendly $7.5 millioncap hit for the upcoming season, making him an ideal pickup for a contending organization in need of a steady presence at inside linebacker on a value price tag.
The Jets signed Mosely to a massive five-year, $85 million deal just two years ago, but the Alabama product has only participated in two games during his time in the Big Apple. He suffered a groin injury in the 2019 season opener and was eventually placed on IR.
The 28-year-old opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns and now may have already played his last snap for the Jets.
While New York isn’t desperate to free up cap room at this juncture—the team has nearly $70 million to spend, the third-most in the league, perSpotrac—it could get a little more financial flexibility by dealing the linebacker away. More importantly, the Jets could return a younger, cheaper prospect or draft picks to aid their rebuilding efforts.
Considering Mosley is just two years removed from three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and should be well-rested after taking a year off, there should be no shortage of interest in his services. Contending organizations like the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, just to name a couple, could use an upgrade at the linebacker spot this offseason and would benefit from acquiring a player of his caliber.
New England Patriots Making a Splash in Free Agency
The New England Patriots haven't traditionally been a major player in free agency, but the team is flush with cash for once and is showing it isn't afraid to use that spending power to upgrade the roster.
The Pats have come out of the gate strong during the legal tampering period, agreeing to contracts with several veterans over the last few hours. As of Monday afternoon, New England has reportedly come to terms with tight end Jonnu Smith, nose tackle Davon Godchaux, defensive back Jalen Mills and edge-rusher Matthew Judon.The Pats also bolstered the offensive line by trading for Trent Brown last week.
Signing all these players is an impressive haul that most general managers would be happy to hang their hat on, but Patriots coach and personnel decision-maker Bill Belichick reportedly isn't finished overhauling his roster. The Athletic'sMichael Lombardi tweeted that the Patriots "aren't close to being done" making moves, which means more acquisitions could be in the works.
Jeff Howe believes the Pats could address the wide receiver position before the end of the day, one of their key needs after they compiled the third-fewest passing yards in the league last season.
Receiver wasn't the only problem area for the Patriots, who are coming off their worst season since Belichick's first year in New England in 2000. They went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the second time in 18 seasons, and they had needs across the roster.
The Patriots still need to find their franchise quarterback after losing Tom Brady last year and utilizing Cam Newton as a stopgap in 2020, but the franchise is better positioned to compete for a playoff spot thanks to a series of savvy moves in free agency.
Minnesota Vikings Star Danielle Hunter Reportedly Requests Trade
Teams in need of an edge-rusher might strike out on the limited options available in free agency this offseason, but could still end up making a move to acquire a veteran pass-rusher.
According to The Athletic's Chad Graff, the Minnesota Vikings were reportedly informed that star defensive end Danielle Hunter is unhappy with his current deal and is exploring his options, one of which would be a exiting the Twin Cities via trade.
Hunter has been a force since Minnesota selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft, racking up 54.5 sacks over his first five seasons, including 14.5 in both 2018 and 2019. The former First-Team All-Pro wasn't able to build on those performances, however, missing the entire 2020 season after being placed on IR with a herniated disk in his neck.
Edge-rushers have been coming to terms quickly during the legal tampering period, with Shaq Barrett recently re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $72 million over four years, Romeo Okwara re-upping with the Detroit Lions for three years and $39 million and the Patriots inking Matt Judon to a four-year, $56 million contract.
Hunter is set to make $17.5 million for the upcoming campaign and still has three seasons left on the five-year, $72 millione xtension following his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2018.
While teams looking to improve their defense's ability to get after a quarterback can still make a play for free agents like Leonard Floyd, Carl Lawson and Yannick Ngakoue, the market is rapidly drying up and soon the cupboard will be bare. Once that happens, don't be surprised if Minnesota gets some intriguing offers on the table for Hunter's services.
Some potential trade partners for the Vikings include the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets, two teams that stand out amongst the many that would be wise to upgrade the edge-rushing spot this offseason.
Arizona Cardinals Could Go All-In to Build Around Kyler Murray
The Arizona Cardinals have their franchise quarterback in Kyler Murray. They now need to protect their future by bolstering their offensive line in free agency.
According to FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager, the Cardinals are "a team to watch" for center Corey Linsley. The 2020 All-Pro has spent the past seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers and is the most coveted center on the open market.
If Arizona can ink Linsley, it would add yet another quality veteran to a roster that was recently bolstered by the marquee addition of star defensive lineman J.J. Watt. The club managed to retain linebacker Markus Golden on a two-year deal worth up to $9 million and likely has more moves coming soon.
The Cardinals can afford to be aggressive in free agency with Murray going into the third season of his rookie deal in 2021. The team currently has a shade under $18 million in cap space and can make a splash by signing Linsley and several other veterans to new deals this offseason.
Hanging onto eight-time Pro Bowl defensive back Patrick Peterson should be another top priority for the Cardinals, who will likely have some fierce competition for him. They must also address the receiver and cornerback positions in addition to bolstering their offensive line before the start of the 2021 campaign.
New York Jets Must Address Offensive Line
The New York Jets have a huge need to acquire offensive line talent on the open market, especially after losing Pat Elflein in free agency.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Elflein agreed to a three-year, $13.5 million contract with the Carolina Panthers on Monday afternoon.
Gang Green has been linked to several of the top-tier free-agent offensive linemen. ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported that the Jets are interested in both center Corey Linsley and guard Joe Thuney, who are regarded as top options at their respective positions on the open market.
Neither will come cheap, however.
Thuney might command over $15 million per year after finishing up his rookie deal with the New England Patriots. The Pats aren’t out of the running yet, either, as Albert Breer of The MMQB reported they've reopened lines of communication and have "expressed that they’d like to keep Thuney."
Linsley is coming off his first-ever All-Pro appearance after spending seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. The 29-year-old said “all signs” currently point to an impending divorce with the Packers, and he projects to make around $10 million annually as the premier free-agent center this offseason.
While inking both Thuney and Linsley would be costly, the Jets have more cap room than all but two teams at the moment. With nearly $70 million to throw around, it would not be a shock to see several marquee offensive linemen heading to New York to reinforce the trenches.
Shaquil Barrett Heading Back to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Teams in the market for a marquee edge-rusher this offseason will have one less player to court, as Shaquil Barrett is reportedly re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Josina Anderson tweeted Monday that Barrett informed her of his decision to stay with the reigning Super Bowl champions. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he'll be signing a four-year contract worth up to $72 million, with $36 million guaranteed.
With Barrett no longer available, veterans like Leonard Floyd, Carl Lawson, Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue will be in even more demand by teams desperate to add a quality pass-rusher in free agency.
Re-signing Barrett was big for Tampa as it gears up to make another title run in 2021. The Bucs managed to hang onto a third key free agent after they re-signed linebacker Lavonte David and franchise-tagged receiver Chris Godwin.
The 28-year-old Barrett was hunting for his first long-term, big-money deal this offseason after playing out the 2020 campaign on a franchise tag. He recorded eight sacks during the regular season and four more in the playoffs—including one against Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV and three on Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game—and was poised to cash in.
Barrett isn't the only marquee pass-rusher to stay put Monday. The Detroit Lions agreed to re-sign Romeo Okwara on a three-year, $39 million deal, according to Rapoport.
Tennessee Titans Letting Multiple Veterans Walk
The Tennessee Titans are reportedly not interested in retaining free-agent wide receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith. ESPN's Dianna Russini reported that both players were made aware of Tennessee's decision and will now seek new deals elsewhere.
Davis, the first receiver off the board when the Titans selected him No. 5 overall in 2017, hasn't lived up to expectations in Nashville as a No. 1 wideout. Regardless, he still might command a contract worth upward of $10 million per season based on Spotrac's valuation of him.
Davis is coming off his best season as a pro and will likely land with a receiver-needy squad like the Washington Football Team or New England Patriots.
Smith, a third-round pick in 2017, has developed into a dangerous weapon during his four years in Tennessee, especially in the red zone. The tight end hauled in a career-high eight touchdowns this past season, and his presence would be a boon for several offenses around the league.
Teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Green Bay Packers would benefit from inking a quality, young tight end like Smith in free agency. It'll likely take a multiyear deal worth around $8 million annually to get the 25-year-old Smith to sign, but it should pay dividends if he continues to develop along the same track as he has over the last few years.
New Orleans Saints Working on Jameis Winston Deal
Drew Brees ended speculation that he would return for a 21st NFL season when he announced his retirement Sunday. That decision leaves the New Orleans Saints looking for a starting quarterback for the first time since 2005, and it appears they are leaning toward an in-house option.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Saints and Jameis Winston are hammering out terms on a contract that could keep the 2015 first overall pick in the Big Easy as the starter in 2021. Winston, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, spent last year backing up Brees following a tumultuous half-decade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Some speculated New Orleans would turn to Taysom Hill after he filled in for an injured Brees for four regular-season games this past season, going 3-1. On Sunday, Hill signed a bizarre four-year, $140 million contract extension in which all years are voidable, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal frees up over $7.5 million in cap space.
Stay tuned for more on Winston's potential contract and for what could be an interesting quarterback controversy in New Orleans.
New York Jets Must Look Elsewhere After Aaron Jones Stays in Green Bay
The New York Jets are poised to be one of the biggest forces in free agency but won't be able to use their heaps of cap space on a player widely regarded as the best available running back this offseason.
The Green Bay Packers have retained Aaron Jones on a four-year, $48 million contract, agent Drew Rosenhaus told Schefter. Jones wanted to remain with the club that drafted him in 2017 instead of testing the open market where Rosenhaus predicted his client would have received more money.
The Jets could have offered more than Green Bay doled out to keep Jones and need another plan to acquire a quality rusher. Options like Chris Carson, Kenyan Drake and Jamaal Williams are still available.
Kyle Long Has Multiple Suitors After Retired Guard Announces Comeback
After being out of football last season, longtime Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long will return to the NFL for the 2021 campaign.
The veteran should have no shortage of teams interested in his services, especially considering this year's free-agent crop has a dearth of quality interior linemen.
Long said (warning: NSFW language) he has too much pride to return to a Chicago team that still has the coaching staff that let him go. Schefter reported he has visits lined up with a pair of AFC West organizations as the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs are set to meet with the three-time Pro Bowler.
The Baltimore Ravens were also in need of a guard but aren't likely to be in the market anymore after signing Kevin Zeitler to a three-year, $22 million deal, per Rapoport, following his release by the New York Giants.
Philadelphia Eagles Still Seeking Middle-Round Pick for Zach Ertz
The Philadelphia Eagles are pressed for salary-cap space and poised to enter a rebuild, but the team doesn't want to move on from veteran tight end Zach Ertz without getting something in return.
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Eagles are asking for a third- or fourth-round pick in exchange for Ertz. The club reportedly has numerous interested suitors and won't release the 30-year-old despite his desires to move on after eight years in the City of Brotherly Love.
Ertz is slated to make $8.3 million in 2021, the final year of the five-year, $42.5 million contract he signed in 2016.
There were whispers last weekend that an Ertz deal was imminent, but the tight end still finds himself in limbo going into the legal tampering period.
It shouldn't take much longer for a TE-needy franchise to kick Philly a middle-round draft pick for Ertz. Clubs like the Indianapolis Colts—who are acquiring former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz—and the Seattle Seahawks have been linked to the tight end in trade talks.