Underrated’s predictions for 2021 NFL free agency

I’m such a football nerd that I decided to rank every free agent in the 2021 NFL offseason, by how I think the rest of the league perceives them in value. I then tried to figure out which teams would offer them which amount of money, and which contracts the players would most likely choose.

Here’s a summary of the predicted haul for each team’s free agency period, from the league’s “top” 100 free agents (with the amount of cap space remaining after these contracts are made, listed in brackets):

Bears (-$10 mil): Alex Bars, Mitch Trubisky

Bengals (-1): Shaq Barrett, Troy Hill, Alejandro Villanueva, Carl Lawson

Bills (-3): Matt Milano, LeVeon Bell

Bucs (-6.5): Lavonte David, Allen Robinson, Suh, Fournette, JJ Watt, Gronk, John Johnson

Broncos (1): Leonard Williams, Phil Lindsay, Jameis, Marcus Williams

Browns (4): Ogunjobi, Olivier Vernon, Younghoe Koo,

Cards (-4): Kenyan Drake, Devondre Campbell, Pat Pete, Larry Fitz, Geno Atkins

Chargers (-3): Austin Reiter, Joe Thuney, Malcolm Brown (RB), Dalvin Tomlinson, Melvin Ingram

Chiefs (-23): Andrew Wylie

Colts (24): TY Hilton, Jacoby Brissett, Marlon Mack, Anthony Harris, Denzel Perryman, Emmanuel Moseley, Russell Okung, AJ Green, Xavier Rhodes

Cowboys (-9): Dak Prescott

Dolphins (10): Chris Carson, Corey Davis, Davon Godchaux

Eagles (-49)

Falcons (-31)

Giants (-7): Danny Amendola, Cam Fleming

Jags (36.5) : Chris Godwin, Malik Hooker, Keanu Neal, Darryl Williams, Shaquill Griffin, Vernon Butler

Jets (48): Marcus Maye, James Conner, Desmond King, Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins

Lions (-10.5): Kenny Golladay, Haason Reddick, Darryl Roberts

Niners (-9): Trent Williams, Jaquiski Tartt, Todd Gurley, Marvin Jones, Kyle Juicecheck

Packers: (-19)

Panthers (-2.5): Justin Simmons, Gerald Everett, JC Jackson, Mike Davis

Pats (11.5): David Andrews, Cam Newton, Shelby Harris, James White, Aldon Smith, Kelechi Osemele, Will Fuller, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Jacob Hollister.

Raiders (-2): Kenny Stills

Rams (-26)

Ravens (-4): Corey Linsley, Matt Judon, Matt Skura, Devonta Freeman, DJ Fluker

Saints (-63): Tyrod Taylor

Seahawks (-7.5): Aaron Jones, Garrett Bolles, Taco Charlton

Steelers (-8): Juju Smith-Schuster, Bud Dupree

Texans (-2): Mike Hilton

Titans (-9): William Jackson, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown, Trey Hendrickson

Vikings (-8)

Wash (27): Brandon Scherff, Ryan Kerrigan – I think Washington will be fairly conservative in free agency this offseason, as they might want to keep space available to land a big name quarterback if they’re not happy with an aging Alex Smith or the previously unheralded Taylor Heinicke. They also have extensions looming for Jonathon Allen and Da’Aron Payne.

As a disclaimer, I know next to nothing about how teams can circumnavigate the salary cap restrictions. Therefore, I have limited the spending ability of those teams in significant cap peril, like the Falcons and Packers.

I have presumed some cuts that teams will make to add cap space. Those are:

  • Cardinals – cut Robert Alford (save $7.5 mil, now have $21 mil in space)
  • Titans – cut Malcolm Butler (save $10.2 mil, have 7 mil in space)
  • Bills – cut Vernon Butler (save $6.8, now have 5 mil free)
  • Raiders – cut Tyrell Williams (save $10.6 mil), Marcus Mariota (save $11.3 mil, now $2.3 mil under cap)
  • Steelers – cut Ben Roethlisberger (save $19 mil, still $6 mil over cap)
  • Saints – cut Kwon Alexander (save $13 mil, still way over cap lol)

Here’s a list of the top 100 players, including: the teams that would offer them a significant contract; how much the teams would offer in years and potential money, including bonuses; and the team I think the player would choose, listed in bold:

  1. Dak – Cowboys franchise tag (one year, $37.7 million).
  2. Golladay – Lions extension (five years, $75 million)
  3. Lavonte David – Bucs extension (4,36)
  4. Linsley – Chargers (2,27), Ravens (3,31).
  5. Kenyan Drake – Cardinals extension (3, 25)
  6. Taylor Moton – Bengals (4,35), Cardinals (3,25), Panthers (4,37).
  7. Justin Simmons – Panthers (3,24), Broncos (4,28)
  8. Shaq Barrett – Bucs (5,78), Bengals (6,120) – talk about a Godfather offer. Can the Bucs afford to franchise tag Barrett? Idk, but they might be happy with their pass rush of JPP, the interior guys, and cheaper free agents (JJ Watt anybody?).
  9. Scherff – Washington extension (5,48)
  10. Gerald Everett – Panthers (2,17), Cards (2,14) – the tight end market could be deemed to be pretty weak, so an elite pass catcher and YAC threat in Everett might garner some huge money offers. The Panthers might offer Everett to bolster their QBs passing options.
  11. David Andrews – Patriots (4,36), Chargers (4,36), Ravens (3,33).
  12. Reiter – Chargers (2,16), Cardinals (2,12), Forty-Niners (3,18)
  13. Trent Will – Jags (4,36), Niners (3,26).
  14. Leo Williams – Broncos (3,27), Seahawks (2,16).
  15. TY Hilton – Colts (2,14), Ravens (1,8)
  16. Troy Hill – Jets (3,24), Bengals (4,26).
  17. Will-Jax – Titans (3,22), Bengals (2,13).
  18. Cam Newton – Pats (2,18), Broncos (1,13).
  19. Judon – Pats (3,42), Ravens (3,38).
  20. A-Rob – Bucs (2,19), Jags (2,14) – this decision would mean the Bucs choose A-Rob over the incumbent wideout Chris Godwin. I think they do so because A-Rob has more years of proven success, and Godwin disappeared a bit in the playoffs, with 2019 being a far better season for him statistically.
  21. Phil Lindsay – Jets (4,23), Dolphins (2,15), Broncos (3,24)
  22. Godwin – Jaguars (2,26), Seahawks (2,9).
  23. Malik Hooker – Jags (3,15), Colts (1,4), Panthers (2,9)
  24. Joe Thuney – Pats (3,15), Chargers (3,26), Seahawks (4,28).
  25. Devondre Campbell – Cards extension (3,25)
  26. Jacoby Brissett – Colts (1,7), Niners (1,2)
  27. Marcus Maye – Jets extension (4,28)
  28. Suh – Bucs extension (1,4)
  29. Chris Carson – Jets (3,15), Dolphins (2,14), Chargers (2,8),
  30. Pat Pete – Cards (2,14), Bills (1,5), Colts (1,8).
  31. Jameis – Colts (2,9), Broncos (1,9)
  32. James Conner – Chargers (2,14), Jets (2,25), Steelers (3,15)
  33. Ogunjobi – Browns (3,18), Pats (2,11)
  34. Malcolm Brown – Bills (2,8), Chargers (2,6)
  35. James White – Pats (2,10), Dolphins (2,8).
  36. Dalvin Tomlinson – Chargers (2,7), Giants (3,13)
  37. Ali Villanueva – Bengals (2,17), Colts (1,9), Seahawks (1,7)
  38. Shelby Harris – Broncos (2,8), Pats (2,14).
  39. Matt Milano – Bills (3,14), Broncos (2,8)
  40. Keanu Neal – Jags (3,18), Colts (3,14)
  41. Corey Davis – Dolphins (2,12), Wash (1,5)
  42. Olivier Vernon – Jets (3,21), Browns (4,35)
  43. Aldon Smith – Pats (1,4), Jets (1,1.5)
  44. Younghoe Koo – Jets (2,4), Browns (3,8),
  45. Osemele – Dolphins (1,5), Pats (2,9).
  46. Tartt – Niners extension (2,16)
  47. Aaron Jones – Pats (2,7), Seahawks (3,14)
  48. Daryl Williams – Jags (2,14), Texans (2,6)
  49. Larry Fitzgerald – Cards (1,2), Jets (1,5)
  50. Leveon – Bills (1,4), Pats (1,2)
  51. Juju – Jets (3,14), Texans (2,6), Steelers (5,45) – I think Juju’s stock will have plummeted after last season, in which he was part of a struggling passing offense in Pittsburgh, and he created controversy with his social media usage and dancing on team’s logos. I think the Steelers will offer him a long term deal nonetheless, as he’s still young and the team needs receiving talent.
  52. Mike Hilton – Texans (2,9), Panthers (2,10), Steelers (3,10) – I think the Texans would win this bidding war as they have a more proven defense than the Panthers, in spite of the organisation’s current dysfunction. Taking the Steelers offer could be financially limiting down the road, as that third year could be lucrative for Hilton, particularly if he proves he can cover outside, which the Texans might allow him to do.
  53. Amendola – Giants (1,4), Niners (1,2.5)
  54. Marcus Williams – Broncos (2,10), Colts (1,5).
  55. Todd Gurley – Niners (1,2), Panthers (1,3),
  56. Marlon Mack – Colts (2,7), Steelers (2,5)
  57. Des King – Jets (2,6), Titans (2,3)
  58. Jonnu Smith – Titans (1,3), Cards (1,1.2)
  59. Carl Lawson – Bengals (2,5), Chargers (2,4),
  60. Ryan Kerrigan – Wash (1,4), Jets (2,5)
  61. Will Fuller – Pats (1,5), Texans (2,8),
  62. Ant Harris – Colts (2,14), Vikings (3,9)
  63. Dupree – Steelers (2,5), Colts (3,14), Steelers (4,25)
  64. Andrew Wylie – Lions (2,2.4), Chiefs (2,2.1)
  65. JC Jackson – Pats (1,4), Jags (3,13), Panthers (2,11)
  66. Leonard Fournette – Bucs (2,5), Eagles (2,2.2)
  67. Marvin Jones – Pats (2,6), Niners (2,7)
  68. Tyrod Taylor – Chargers (1,4), Saints (3,13)
  69. Shaquill Griffin – Seahawks (2,9), Jaguars (4,24) – I think it will take a large offer to lure Griffin away from the comfort of his draftee team. This move will be part of the Jaguars’ effort to add young but experienced free agents.
  70. Davon Godchaux – Dolphins (2,6), Panthers (2,4).
  71. Jadeveon Clowney – Jets (2,8), Bucs (1,2.5).
  72. Juicecheck – Niners (2,7), Jets (2,5).
  73. Denzel Perryman – Colts (2,9), Bengals (1,2.5)
  74. Jayon Brown – Titans (2,6), Pats (1,2.5).
  75. Mike Davis – Panthers (3,12), Ravens (3,10).
  76. Garrett Bolles – Broncos (1,6), Colts (1,4), Seahawks (3,15) – Bolles seemed to turn his career around in Denver last season, as PFF and other media outlets suddenly love him, but I still think the stench of his below average play in the years prior will limit his free agency stock. I think the Seahawks will offer him a long-term deal still, as it’s not ideal for their franchise player in Russell Wilson complaining about his lack of pass protection.
  77. Melvin Ingram – Chargers (2,7), Bucs (1,1.5).
  78. Moseley – Niners (2,3.5), Colts (2,7).
  79. Cam Fleming – Giants (3,13), Colts (2,9).
  80. Kenny Stills – Texans (2,6), Raiders (1,5).
  81. Skura – Ravens (1,2.5), Jets (1,2)
  82. Haason Reddick – Cardinals (2,5), Lions (2,7)
  83. Alex Bars – Bears (2,4), Chargers (1,2)
  84. Sammy Watkins – Wash (2,6), Bears (1,2), Jets (4,28)
  85. Grugier Hill – Dolphins (2,7), Pats (3,11).
  86. JJ Watt – Pats (1,4), Bucs (1,2.5), Colts (2,10) – it’s ring chasing time for JJ.
  87. Devonta Freeman – Raiders (1,1.5), Ravens (2,3.5)
  88. Darryl Roberts – Lions (1,3), Broncos (1,2).
  89. Okung – Colts (1,5), Steelers (1,2.5).
  90. Jacob Hollister – Seahawks (2,4), Pats (2,7).
  91. Taco Charlton – Seahawks (1,2.5), Vikings (2).
  92. AJ Green – Colts (1,4), Bears (2,5), Wash (1,4)
  93. Geno Atkins (after presumed cut) – Cards (1,1.5), Lions (1,1)
  94. Gronk – Bucs (1,2), Colts (1,5) – I think Gronk’s bromance with Tom Brady will be too strong for him to leave for bigger money in Indy.
  95. Trubisky – Bears (1,2), Jags (1,1.5).
  96. Trey Hendrickson – Colts (2,2.5), Titans (1,3)
  97. DJ Fluker – Ravens (1,4), Wash (1,5)
  98. Vernon Butler (after presumed cut) – Jags (1,3.5) Bengals (1,2.5) – the Bills save over $6 million to their cap in the 2021 offseason by cutting Butler. I think they do so to re-sign Matt Milano, and they’re already loaded on the d-line, with Ed Oliver, Quinton Jefferson, Star Lotulelei and Harrison Phillips at defensive tackle.
  99. John Johnson – Wash (2,3.5), Bucs (1,2).
  100. Xavier Rhodes – Colts (1,4), Cowboys (1,5)

Some notable omissions from this top 100 list include:

  • Richard Sherman – it’s tough being a 33 year old and playing a position that is probably deemed to require the most athleticism.
  • Matt Feiler – I believe Feiler is an above average lineman in the league, but the Steelers moved him around so much on their offensive line that I think teams might perceive him as a tweener, rather than a quality tackle, which he deserves to be considered as.
  • Yannick Ngakoue – three teams in one season isn’t a great look.