NFL Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz Heading into 2021 Free Agency

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 15, 2021

NFL Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz Heading into 2021 Free Agency

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    The 2021 NFL offseason is officially in full swing.

    Monday marks the start of the "legal tampering" period prior to the official start of free agency on Wednesday. The events of the next two days should be very informative in terms of the expected market, especially at crowded positions like wide receiver.

    Of course, there will be plenty of eyes on the trade market, as well. Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will all be playing for new teams next season. Might Russell Wilson join the list of signal-callers donning different jerseys in 2021?

    Here is the latest on one of Wilson's top suitors, in addition to the New England Patriots' Stephon Gilmore dilemma and tight end Zach Ertz's status in Philadelphia. 

Bears Expected to Make Big Push for Russell Wilson

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears have long been desperate for a franchise quarterback, and they are widely expected to push hard for Wilson this spring.

    Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported Sunday on SportsCenter the general feeling around the league is the Bears will take a "big swing" in an effort to acquire Wilson from Seattle.

    Fowler noted the longtime Seahawks quarterback still does not expect he will be traded. However, Wilson is apparently "intrigued" by Chicago's offensive line. Wilson's agent, Mark Rodgers, previously said Chicago was one of Wilson's preferred destinations, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

    The Bears' offensive line ranked 20th in football, per Pro Football Focus, a lower ranking than Seattle's offensive line. But the likes of Cody Whitehair impressed as the season rolled along, and there is a chance Chicago will make the most of a deep group of linemen in this year's draft class. 

    Fowler and Dan Graziano reported the Bears are almost certain to move on from Mitchell Trubisky and are entertaining all possibilities. It would seem Wilson is the top option, though Fowler said on SportsCenter veterans like Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick could be alternatives.

    The Seahawks are likely to set an enormous asking price in the event they do decide to trade Wilson. Still, it appears the Bears might be willing to pay that price for the eight-time Pro Bowler.

Stephon Gilmore 'Available' for Trade

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots enter the offseason with plenty of intrigue.

    New England re-signed Cam Newton, but the Pats might still entertain options to push the former league MVP, possibly by taking a quarterback in next month's draft. Bill Belichick's team also has the second-most cap space in the league, per Over The Cap

    The Patriots would seem likely candidates to upgrade the defensive front seven and add receiving talent as they try to get back to the playoffs. But all options are on the table, including a Stephon Gilmore trade.

    Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano reported the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year is "available" in trades. However, it is unknown what Gilmore's market will be given he is hoping for new money.

    The 30-year-old will be in the final season of his current contract in 2021, and Fowler and Graziano reported teams potentially interested in Gilmore are also wary of the asking price given they would likely have to sign him to a new deal.

    Gilmore was named First Team All-Pro in both 2018 and 2019. He tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (6) in 2019 while also leading the league in passes defended (20). The former first-round pick was limited to 11 games in 2020 due to injury but still held opposing quarterbacks to a 57.1 completion percentage when he was targeted in coverage. 

    There is no question Gilmore is one of the top cornerbacks in football, and the Patriots have every incentive to sell high if they move him. But interested teams might not be willing to pay the price in draft capital in addition to expenditures on a new deal. Gilmore is also rehabbing from surgery to repair a partially torn quad. 

Zach Ertz 'Antsy' as He Awaits Possible Departure from Philly

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Zach Ertz and the Philadelphia Eagles appear to be headed in separate directions. Ertz wants the process to end sooner, rather than later.

    Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported Ertz is growing "antsy" about a potential trade from Philly. Pelissero said Ertz has a number of suitors, but the Eagles' price tag—reportedly a third- or fourth-round pick—has been deemed too high.

    Ertz has an excellent pedigree at the tight end position. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls between 2017 and 2019, including a 1,000-yard season in 2018. But the 30-year-old is also coming off an injury-riddled 2020 in which he played just 11 games.

    The Eagles already have talent at the tight end position in Dallas Goedert, and might be candidates to select Florida's Kyle Pitts with the No. 6 pick. They appear to have some leeway in moving Ertz, especially given he is in the final season of his current contract. However, Philly is insistent on finding the right deal. Pelissero reported the Eagles do not intent to release Ertz. 

    The frustration could continue to mount in the Ertz camp if his situation is not resolved in short order.


    All stats obtained via Pro Football Reference, unless otherwise noted.