NFL Free Agents 2021: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Market's Remaining Names

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 16, 2021

NFL Free Agents 2021: Latest Rumors and Predictions for Market's Remaining Names

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    The NFL's legal tampering period began with a frenzy on Monday.

    Multiple teams got busy at the unofficial start of free agency, including the New England Patriots. A number of marquee players struck big deals that could set the market for others at various positions. Yet, after the first day, three of the best players at three key positions are still available.

    Kenny Golladay is the top wide receiver on the market after Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson II were franchise-tagged by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears, respectively. Shaquill Griffin is one of the top outside corners, and left tackle Trent Williams is among the best players, period. Where will they land?

    Here are some of the latest rumors regarding the three stars, as well as predictions for where they could ultimately sign.

Giants Interested in Kenny Golladay

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    Kenny Golladay appears to be biding his time.

    The former Detroit Lions receiver told ESPN's Josina Anderson he was "being patient" and "enjoying the process" as he sifts through interested teams. The New York Giants appear to be a suitor.

    Ralph Vacciano of reported the Giants have their "sights set" on adding Golladay to their receiving corps if they can clear cap space. Granted, it could take time for New York to clear cap. But the 27-year-old does not appear to be in a huge hurry, and the waiting could pay dividends.

    Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (h/t Zack Rosenblatt of NJ Advance Media) suggested Golladay could be in the $14-16 million range. However, after seeing how the receiver market played out Monday, he could get more.

    Adam Schefter of ESPN noted former Tennessee Titans wideout Corey Davis agreed to terms on a three-year, $37 million deal with the New York Jets. He also reported Nelson Agholor is getting two years and $26 million from the New England Patriots. Given those deals, it's possible a $16 million annual average could be Golladay's floor, rather than his ceiling.

    The Northern Illinois product is one of the most dynamic receivers in football. He is averaging 16.8 yards per reception for his career. He had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, making the Pro Bowl in 2019 after leading the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions.

    Golladay has a bit of an injury history and was limited to five games in 2020, but he has tremendous size and some of the best hands in football.

    New York would be a strong fit. The Giants could use a No. 1 receiver for Daniel Jones, and both the Jets and Patriots might be out on Golladay after upgrading their receiving corps on Monday. 

    But the Miami Dolphins are a team to watch. They unofficially had over $32 million in space, per Over The Cap. While they could use defensive upgrades, the Dolphins might also choose to use some cap on a top wideout depending on how they plan to proceed with the No. 3 overall pick. 

    The Indianapolis Colts are another team to watch, though general manager Chris Ballard has yet to really spend big at the skill positions.    

    Prediction: Golladay signs with the Dolphins

Bears 'Checked In' on Trent Williams

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears might be keen on adding the best offensive lineman on the market.

    Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported the Bears have "at least inquired about what it will take" to sign eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. 

    Chicago appears to have a starting left tackle in Charles Leno. Biggs noted the Bears could release him and clear $6.2 million in cap space. However, the team is already looking for a tackle on the opposite side after declining to pick up Bobby Massie's option.

    The Bears have needs at the other tackle and would have to pull off some cap gymnastics to get a deal done. But their interest in Williams is especially interesting in light of recent reports.

    Jeremy Fowler of ESPN (h/t Bleacher Report's Rob Goldberg) reported executives around the league believe Chicago will "take a big swing" at acquiring Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. The interest in adding Williams, a Pro Bowler in 2020, could be indicative of general manager Ryan Pace's larger plan to hit a home run in acquiring Wilson.

    Williams would be a bona fide anchor for Chicago's line, which also features young and improving guys like Cody Whitehair. But a return to San Francisco seems more likely.

    Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported Monday the Niners could offer up to $20 million a season to re-sign Williams. That's a big haul for a guy who turns 33 in July. 

    San Francisco relies upon its offensive front to establish a punishing ground game, and Williams would be an important asset no matter who is under center for the Niners in 2021. 

    The Colts and Minnesota Vikings could be teams to watch here, but San Francisco might be intent on bringing Williams back into the fold.   

    Prediction: Niners re-sign Williams

Browns Keeping Tabs on Shaquill Griffin's Market

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns already made an enormous upgrade in the secondary by signing former Los Angeles Rams safety John Johnson III, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Could they be looking to add another top defensive back?

    Josina Anderson of ESPN reported the Browns are "keeping an eye" on the market of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Anderson added price will be a key determinant, as with most free agents.

    Griffin, 25, made the Pro Bowl in 2019, a season in which he tallied 13 passes defended and recorded an overall grade of 77.0, per Pro Football Focus. He had three interceptions and 12 passes defended in 2020, though his overall grade slipped to 64.1, per PFF. He also played in just 12 games.

    Still, the former Central Florida standout has established himself as one of the better outside cornerbacks in football and a top defensive back on the market. Whether he signs with the Browns remains to be seen.

    Cleveland could probably use another strong outside corner opposite Denzel Ward. But the Browns might get more aggressive in improving their pass rush after a number of edge-rushers came off the board on Monday.

    What about a return to Seattle? Well, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported Monday the Seahawks and Griffin are "not in the same ballpark" in terms of money. That clouds his future a bit.

    The Las Vegas Raiders might have to create added cap to sign Griffin, but they are in desperate need of defensive improvements, including in the secondary. They could benefit from his price falling, and that's certainly a possibility.    

    Prediction: Griffin signs with the Raiders


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