NFL Free Agency 2021: Analyzing Latest Rumors and Moves from Day 2

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2021

NFL Free Agency 2021: Analyzing Latest Rumors and Moves from Day 2

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    The official start of NFL free agency was at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Of course, with the two-day "legal tampering" period preceding it, many of the top free agents were unofficially off the market when it actually opened.

    The first official day of free agency saw more noteworthy moves. Trent Williams re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Kyle Van Noy made his return to the New England Patriots, Haason Reddick joined the Carolina Panthers and Patrick Peterson landed with the Minnesota Vikings.

    However, the offseason drama is far from over, and Day 2 of official free agency has seen some interesting developments. The day isn't over, but here, we'll examine the biggest moves, announcements and rumors to unfold thus far.

Chris Godwin Signs Franchise Tender

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    Tori Richman/Associated Press

    There will be no holdout with Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin. The 2019 Pro Bowler, who helped the Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, was given the franchise tag this offseason. While some players are not happy with receiving the tag, Godwin moved quickly to sign his tender.

    This is the latest development in Tampa's bid to return the core of its Super Bowl roster. Lavonte David was signed to a two-year deal before the start of free agency, while Shaquil Barrett and Rob Gronkowski both signed in its early stages.

    According to ESPN's Jenna Laine, Godwin signed his tender on Thursday and will now look to work out an extension.

    "he move does not preclude the Bucs and Godwin from reaching an agreement on a long-term extension, however, which sources say is the goal," Laine wrote.

    Godwin and the Buccaneers will have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement. Otherwise, Godwin will play on the one-year tag.

Dolphins Sign Matt Skura

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press

    It's unclear whether the Miami Dolphins are truly sold on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa or if they'll consider a signal-caller with the third overall pick in the draft. Whoever starts at quarterback in Week 1, though, will have a reliable center to be behind.

    On Thursday, the Dolphins reached a one-year agreement with center Matt Skura, according to ESPN's Cameron Wolfe. Skura joins the Dolphins after spending his first five pro seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

    After spending his first season on the practice squad, Skura started at least 11 games in each of his next four campaigns. He started 12 games in 2020 and played 64 percent of the offensive snaps.

    Skura should be a fine addition to Miami's offensive line, and his addition was a smart one. The Dolphins needed a new starter at center after 2020 starter Ted Karras left to re-join the New England Patriots.

Kenyan Drake Joining Las Vegas

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Running back Kenyan Drake had a breakout eight-game stretch with the Arizona Cardinals in 2019—he totaled 814 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns—which led to him receiving the transition tag this past season.

    While Drake was a serviceable starter in 2020, he averaged a pedestrian 4.0 yards per carry. He'll most certainly look to rebound in 2021, but it won't be with Arizona.

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Drake has agreed to a two-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders worth up to $14.5 million. He'll get $11 million guaranteed.

    This move allows the Raiders to pair Drake with third-year runner Josh Jacobs to potentially form one of the best backfields in the AFC. Jacobs, who made the Pro Bowl in 2020, has topped the 1,000-yard mark rushing in each of his two pro seasons.

Patrick Chung Announces Retirement

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    One of the most surprising developments of early Thursday involved the unexpected retirement of Patriots safety Patrick Chung. The three-time Super Bowl champion opted out of the 2020 season but was widely expected to return for 2021.

    Instead, Chung announced his retirement on Instagram.

    "I want to say thank you to the Patriots organization, my family, my fans, coaches just everyone," Chung posted. "I'm in tears writing this, but I've decided to hang up the cleats."

    Though never a Pro Bowler, Chung was a critical piece of New England's dynasty run. He was a second-round pick of the Patriots in 2009 and spent all but one season with the franchise. In 2013, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles.

    With Chung no longer returning, the Patriots will have to seek out a new answer at safety.

Phillip Lindsay, Broncos Part Ways

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Another surprise development on Thursday involved the Denver Broncos and running back Phillip Lindsay. According to ESPN's Jeff Legwold, the two parties have "mutually agreed" to part ways.

    Lindsay joined the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and was named to the Pro Bowl in the same season. However, Denver has never appeared committed to the Colorado product as a workhorse starter.

    Last offseason, the Broncos signed Melvin Gordon III. Denver also gave Lindsay the lowest possible tender as a restricted free agent this offseason. According to Legwold, the signing of running back Mike Boone in free agency pushed Lindsay to seek his release.

    "Just hours after the Broncos signed running back Mike Boone in free agency, Lindsay's representatives and the Broncos agreed the best course was for the Broncos to rescind the restricted free-agent tender and for Lindsay to become a free agent," Legwold wrote.

    Lindsay, who has twice rushed for 1,000 yards, should quickly draw interest from running-back-needy teams in free agency.

Jets Having "Conversations" with JuJu Smith-Schuster

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The New York Jets already addressed the receiver position once in free agency, adding former Tennessee Titans pass-catcher Corey Davis. However, they may not be done with the position.

    According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, the Jets are having "conversations" with Pittsburgh Steelers wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster. While it's unclear whether those conversations have included any sort of offer, it's an interesting development following a quiet market for Smith-Schuster.

    Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio recently speculated that the apparent lack of interest in the receiver could be a product of Smith-Schuster's contract preferences.

    "Given that his name hasn’t even come up suggests that teams have been aware of his contractual expectations, and that no one is willing to give him whatever he may be looking for," Florio wrote.

    It's unknown what Smith-Schuster's expectations are or if teams have indeed balked at his asking price. However, it may be telling that the cap-rich Jets are the first team to be linked to the receiver in any meaningful way.

Other Notable Developments

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    Tony Ding/Associated Press

    Bears, Giants Interested in Golladay

    According to Schefter, wideout Kenny Golladay "spent Wednesday night" meeting with the Chicago Bears front office, He's also scheduled to meet with the New York Giants on Thursday evening.


    Bills Sign Mitchell Trubisky

    While Golladay could potentially join the Bears, former Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is out. The Buffalo Bills announced on Thursday that they have signed Trubisky to a one-year contract. Trubisky will now back up budding superstar Josh Allen.


    Giants Sign Kyle Rudolph

    The Giants have already added one pass-catcher. According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, the Giants have agreed to a deal with former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. This move could cloud the future of tight end Evan Engram who is set to play on the fifth-year option in 2021.


    Chargers Sign Jared Cook

    Rudolph wasn't the only tight end on the move on Thursday. According to Schefter, Jared Cook is joining the Los Angele Chargers on a one-year deal. Former Chargers tight end Hunter Henry left for the Patriots on Day 2 of the "legal tampering" window.