2021 NFL Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Clay Matthews, K.J. Wright, More

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2021

2021 NFL Free Agents: Rumors, Predictions for Clay Matthews, K.J. Wright, More

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    As the NFL prepares to kick off Week 2 of the 2021 preseason, most teams are looking for ways to shrink their rosters. Teams had to go from 90 to 85 players on Tuesday, and rosters must be trimmed to 53 players by August 31.

    At the same time, teams are looking to fill needs. This will inevitably lead to some cuts being accompanied by additions from the free-agent pool. Fortunately, several talented players are still available in said pool.

    One of them, six-time Pro Bowler Clay Matthews III, has recently been a topic of conversation. While Matthews didn't play in 2020, Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and David Bakhtiari took to Instagram to lobby for his Green Bay Packers return.

    Here, you'll find the latest buzz on Matthews' situation and some predictions for a couple of other notable free agents.

Clay Matthews III

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    When Matthews last played in 2019, he finished with 8.0 sacks and 28 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Reference. However, the fact that he didn't play in 2020 could lead some to believe that the social-media push from Rodgers and Co. is a joke or an attempt to grant Matthews a one-day contract to retire as a Packer.

    According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, it's not the latter.

    "Per a league source, there has been no conversation regarding a one-day, walk-away deal between the Packers and Matthews," Florio wrote.

    So, were Rodgers, Bakhtiari and Cobb just having a little bit of fun? According to Rodgers, that was the case. Rodgers gave an explanation to reporters Wednesday:

    "Friday night, I was with Dave (Bakhtiari) and his lovely fiancee, Frankie, and the Cobbs. And we had a question about Clay that came up, because Clay just moved from California. So we got Clay on FaceTime. Those conversations turned into a social media post. There hasn't been, I don't think, a big push from any of us to sign him. We didn't even talk ball. We were just BS-ing with him."

    So, while Matthews may be a pass-rushing option for some team, there doesn't appear to be a push from within the Packers to get him in Green Bay this season.

    Prediction: Matthews remains away from football in 2021.

K.J. Wright

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    While Matthews didn't play in 2020, linebacker, K.J. Wright did—and he was productive. He started all 16 games for the Seattle Seahawks and finished with 86 tackles, two sacks, 10 passes defended and an interception.

    While Wright is 32 years old, the fact that he remains unsigned is a bit surprising. Some team is likely to remedy the situation after it has gotten a longer look at less-proven (and cheaper) options in the preseason.

    Could Wright return to the Seahawks in 2021? He hasn't ruled out that possibility.

    "There is a chance, and I'm not closing the door on Seattle," Wright told SiriusXM NFL Radio last month (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com). "Going into free agency, I thought it'd be a no-brainer, but they're going to wait until training camp, so we'll see."

    Now that Seattle has worked out an extension with safety Jamal Adams, it could turn its attention to available players like Wright. Wright isn't going to take a bargain-basement deal, but Seattle now has an estimated $10.5 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.

    Prediction: Wright re-signs with Seattle at some point in 2021.

Everson Griffen

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Defensive lineman Everson Griffen had a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday. After spending the 2020 season with the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions (post-trade), Griffen seemed thrilled for the opportunity to return to Minnesota after he sspent the first 10 years of his career with the team.

    "I'm excited," Griffen said, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. "It should be fun. I'm ready to get back with, and see some guys."

    Griffen worked out for the Vikings and met with general manager Rick Spielman but has not signed a contract just yet.

    "I'm going to leave that to Rick," Vikings co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer said, per Mark Craig of the Star Tribune. "I haven't really seen [Griffen], so he's up there meeting with those guys now. I'll let them handle that."

    If the price is right, bringing back Griffen would make a ton of sense. Minnesota is looking to rebuild a defense that ranked 27th overall last season. Griffen was a Pro Bowler when he last played for the Vikings and finished 2020 with 33 tackles, six sacks, four passes defended and 23 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Reference.

    Prediction: Griffen signs with Minnesota before final roster cuts.