NFL 2021 Free Agency

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Carter Shoemaker, Staff Writer

With quite possibly the strangest NFL season yet in the rearview mirror, we look to the upcoming year and are hopeful that there are no COVID concerns for this season. In the minds of many experts, this is going to be one of the most exciting offseasons to date. With many big-name free agents and trade rumors afloat, we can expect many moves to be made by teams looking to hoist that Lombardi Trophy.

Let’s begin with trade rumors. With the most prevalent rumor being Deshaun Watson wanting out, there has been no movement since his statement. Watson has been very clear that he does not want to be a Houston Texan for this upcoming year. This has been due to the fact that there has been no communication between the organization and the star QB. Houston had fired their coach during the 2020-2021 season and was hoping to build around Deshaun to get back to playoff contention. However, there had been no talks between the team and their quarterback regarding who should take the open spot. Houston made a move signing David Culley to be their new Head Coach. Even with this signing, however, Deshaun has no interest in working with him and has already made up his mind. As of now, there are many teams that would be willing to trade for the young stud. The main teams discussing a possible trade are the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers. The Jets, 49ers, and Dolphins, are all in a pickle when it comes to quarterbacks. None of the teams have full confidence in their QBs with Tua on the Dolphins, Sam Darnold on the Jets, and Jimmy G on the Niners. All QBs have been inconsistent and seem to not even have confidence in themselves. The Panthers on the other hand are seeming like they are going to go all in. Recently many Panthers players have been cut in order to acquire more cap space. They have even gone as far as to say that they are willing to trade star RB Christian McCaffery to get what they want. Other trade options could be any of the quarterbacks aforementioned. Garoppolo, Tua, and Darnold could all be shipped away for not just Deshaun Watson. The 49ers have been previously interested in Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. The Las Vegas Raiders have made it very apparent that backup QB Marcus Mariota and even starter Derek Carr are readily available for trade. Mariota gained a lot of hype after only playing one game where he lit up the field. It isn’t just quarterbacks that are going to be available this offseason, there are many skill positions who are set to be free agents this year.

As I previously stated, many are regarding this offseason as one of the most stacked we’ve ever seen. This is simply due to the fact that so many big names are available for all 32 teams to reach out to and possibly sign. While I previously talked about many trade rumors for quarterbacks, there is one free agent who is at the forefront of many people’s minds, Dak Prescott. After starting off the 2020 season with astounding numbers, he suffered a gruesome compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. While many believe it is as simple as Dallas giving him a contract, you must remember that they were very hesitant to pay him before the previous season. With this in mind, he could switch it up and go somewhere else, somewhere that he feels more respected. As for the receiving core, we have A.J Green, Allen Robinson, T.Y. Hilton, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, and many more. Receivers like Green and Hilton, who have been plagued with injuries throughout their careers, are most likely looking for a fresh start on a new team. As for running backs, those include the likes of Kenyan Drake, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, and Aaron Jones. Besides Jones, the others mentioned have found new homes recently, Drake on the Cardinals, Fournette on the Bucs, and Gurley on the Falcons. However, most of these players have been projected to move on already and find yet another home. In the trenches, we have Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Joe Thuney, and Alex Mack to name a few. All have made a massive impact on their teams over the years and it would be hard for any team to let them go. However, with their high-level abilities comes a high price tag. Opposite to the offensive lineman, we have the defensive lineman. There are many high-caliber names such as J.J. Watt, Kawann Short, Yannick Ngakoue, and Leonard Williams. The main attraction in this field is Watt, who recently was released by the Houston Texans and is excited to be a free agent for the first time in his career. Then there are the linebackers like Shaquil Barrett, Von Miller, Lavonte David, and Melvin Ingram. Already there have been a few Tampa Bay Buccaneers listed that could heavily impact their future if they are not able to retain them. Most teams after winning or even going to the Super Bowl have what is called “a Super Bowl hangover”, could this be seen by the Buccaneers? Finally, we have the secondary, who includes the likes of Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Justin Simmons, and Marcus Maye. This year also sees the likes of many NFL veterans whose contracts are up and looking for new experiences. Peterson has been a Cardinal for his career so far however it does not seem likely he returns. Also, Sherman looks for his third team after having a stellar career in Seattle and having a nice stop in San Francisco.

All in all, not only the offseason, but the regular season of the 2021-2022 season is expected to be a wild one. Will Deshaun Watson play for Houston or will he be in different threads? Will Prescott stay with America’s team or will he kiss America goodbye? Many teams are at the edge of that cliff and are seeking that push, but who will shock the NFL, and who will hoist that Lombardi trophy?

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