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2021 NFL free agency: Top 25 overall players available, with signing updates

Frank Schwab
·10-min read

Here are the top 25 free agents, with the so-called legal tampering period having started Monday and free agency officially kicking off Wednesday.

25. WR Marvin Jones (deal agreed)

It's hard to be underrated in a sport that gets as much attention year-round as the NFL. But Jones is underrated. He has been consistently productive for the Detroit Lions and can still be a solid No. 2 or 3 option for most teams looking to add to their offense. The Jacksonville Jaguars apparently agree, and will reportedly bring Jones aboard with a two-year, $14.5 million deal.

24. WR Nelson Agholor (deal agreed)

Imagine seeing Agholor's name on a list like this a year ago. Agholor played very well on a one-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, and the former Philadelphia Eagles' first-round draft pick has revived his value on the market. It paid off with a reported two-year, $26 million deal with New England as part of the Patriots' spending spree.

23. RB Kenyan Drake (deal agreed)

Let's ignore his 2020 for a moment. In 2019, after being freed from the Miami Dolphins in a trade to the Arizona Cardinals, Drake was one of the best backs in football. He was good but not great last season, though he dealt with injuries. Drake doesn't have a lot of mileage and if he rebounds with the Las Vegas Raiders, he can be a productive all-around back. He agreed to a two-year deal valued at $14.5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

22. DT Dalvin Tomlinson (deal agreed)

The NFL is transitioning to a game played on the perimeter and not in the trenches, but a big body in the middle of a defensive line will always be valuable. Tomlinson was a good tackle with the New York Giants, and can provide interior pass rush too. That pass rush will now go to the Minnesota Vikings on a reported two-year, $22 million deal with $16 million fully guaranteed.

21. C David Andrews (deal agreed)

Andrews was a great story with the New England Patriots, an undrafted player in 2015 who became their starting center as a rookie and held the job ever since. It's why he's staying in New England, as he and the Patriots agreed to a four-year extension, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

20. S John Johnson III (deal agreed)

Johnson was a talented, versatile, rangy safety for the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams were hard pressed to re-sign him, and it doesn't look like they will — the Cleveland Browns have reportedly agreed to sign Johnson to a three-year deal, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports it's a $33.75 million deal with $24 million guaranteed.

19. S Anthony Harris (deal agreed)

Harris was great in 2019 for the Minnesota Vikings, not as good in 2020 but still is a top safety. Many teams would benefit from having his playmaking ability on the back end. He got a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for $5 million, says his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

18. TE Jonnu Smith (deal agreed)

Smith has played well at times for the Tennessee Titans, but his career high in yards for a season is just 448. He's on this list because the league has a dearth of quality tight ends. Looks like the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick are taking the plunge, with a four-year, $50 million deal for Smith that includes $31.25 million guaranteed according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

17. RB Chris Carson (deal agreed)

The Seattle Seahawks tried investing draft picks into running back, but nobody could unseat Carson. He isn't as durable as you'd like, but few RBs are. When Carson is healthy, he is one of the most productive backs in the NFL. He's staying in Seattle after getting a two-year extension valued at $14.6 million, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

16. EDGE Yannick Ngakoue (deal agreed)

Ngakoue had a disappointing year with the Minnesota Vikings and then the Baltimore Ravens after the Jacksonville Jaguars traded him. Still, a disappointing season for him was eight sacks with two teams. He has plenty of promise left at a young age, and the Las Vegas Raiders are rolling the dice with a reported two-year, $26 million deal.

15. EDGE Bud Dupree (deal agreed)

If healthy, Dupree might be No. 1 on the list. He's a former first-round draft pick who has improved as a pass rusher, and got the franchise tag last year. Dupree suffered a torn ACL in Week 12 last season, which makes him risky. The Titans still thought he was worth enough to give him a multi-year deal at $16.5 million per year, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

14. EDGE Matt Judon (deal agreed)

Judon wasn't a household name when the Baltimore Ravens gave him the franchise tag last year. He is a good, solid defender with ability to get to the quarterback. He has 34.5 sacks in five NFL seasons. Judon isn't a dominant one-on-one pass rusher but he can help a defense. And he'll reportedly get the chance with the New England Patriots, agreeing to a four-year, $56 million deal, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

13. G Kevin Zeitler (deal agreed)

Zeitler was once thought of as one of the best guards in the NFL. He signed a five-year, $60 million deal in 2017. The New York Giants cut him in a salary-cap move, and he might never be elite again having turned 31, but he can be a productive starter for a team that needs help. The Baltimore Ravens decided to take a swing, agreeing to a reported three-year, $22 million deal, with $16 million guaranteed according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

12. WR Corey Davis (deal agreed)

Teams always believe they can get more out of a player who disappointed as a.high draft pick. Davis wasn't awful with the Tennessee Titans but he was inconsistent and never lived up to being a top-five selection. He was a prime candidate to get overpaid by a team thinking it could use him better and make him a star, and that team ended up being the New York Jets, who reportedly landed Davis on a three-year, $37.5 million deal with $27 million guaranteed.

11. C Corey Linsley (deal agreed)

All-Pro players aren't generally available in free agency. Linsley became the Green Bay Packers' starting center as a rookie in 2014 and started 99 games for them. The All-Pro nod for his 2020 season was good timing, and he's reportedly parlaying all of it into a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Chargers that's worth $62.5 million, which would make him the league's highest-paid center.

10. WR Curtis Samuel (deal agreed)

Samuel finally got a coaching staff that understood how to use him, and while he didn't have an enormous 2020, he was good for the Carolina Panthers and it hinted at better things to come for the versatile receiver. He got a three-year deal worth $34.5 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

9. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney is coming off a bad season with the Tennessee Titans that was cut short due to knee surgery. The former No. 1 overall draft pick still has moments where he can take over a game, and not many defenders can say that. Clowney isn't a great pass rusher, but he is capable and he is excellent against the run.

8. G Joe Thuney (deal agreed)

Thuney is a productive guard and his ability to play center or tackle boosts his value on the open market. The New England Patriots developed him into a very good player but didn't give him the franchise tag for a second straight season, meaning he's in great position to cash in. And cash in he will, with a reported five-year, $80 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.

7. WR Will Fuller V (deal agreed)

Fuller has major injury concerns and a PED suspension will go through the first week of the 2021 season. If there weren't those concerns, Fuller might top this list. The Miami Dolphins took the chance, signing him to a one-year deal valued at $9.6 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

6. EDGE Carl Lawson (deal agreed)

Lawson had a good rookie season for the Cincinnati Bengals rushing the quarterback and tailed off in the three seasons since, but he's still just 25 years old. He agreed to terms with the New York Jets, according NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

5. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (deal agreed)

Just 24 years old, Smith-Schuster has a 1,426-yard season on his resume. How much was that due to Antonio Brown getting a lot of attention from defenses? Perhaps a lot, considering Smith-Schuster hasn't come close to that 2018 season since. He's still young and talented, a reason why he's staying in Pittsburgh on a one-year, $8 million deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) could land a huge deal in free agency. (AP Photo/David Richard)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) could land a huge deal in free agency. (AP Photo/David Richard)

4. TE Hunter Henry (deal agreed)

Henry benefits from being the best option at a very thin position. There aren't many teams who wouldn't view Henry as an upgrade at tight end. And he still has time to have the long-awaited breakout we've been waiting on. If that breakout happens this year, it'll happen in New England. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Henry and the Patriots have agreed to a three-year, $37.5 million deal that includes $25 million guaranteed.

3. EDGE Shaq Barrett (deal agreed)

Barrett is a rarity, a player who didn't get much of a chance in his first stop but developed into one of the league's best pass rushers after that. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Chris Godwin the franchise tag, and then agreed to a four-year deal with Barrett worth up to $72 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

2. OT Trent Williams (deal agreed)

The past eight seasons Williams has played a game, he made the Pro Bowl all eight times. He didn't play in 2019 as he and the Washington Football Team sparred over his contract and other issues, but after a trade to the San Francisco 49ers he showed he's still one of the best tackles in the game. Good tackles are hard to find in free agency and the Niners know it, a prime reason why they extended Williams to a record-setting $138 million deal for six seasons.

1. WR Kenny Golladay (deal agreed) 

Why didn't the Detroit Lions give Golladay the franchise tag? Who knows. The result is that Golladay, a true No. 1 receiver, hit the open market with plenty of prime years remaining. Durability is an issue with Golladay, but the Giants didn't seem to mind gambling a lot of money on him staying healthy. He reportedly signed a four-year, $72 million deal

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