Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 26, 2021

This year's NFL free agency class is the best in recent history

By JOSH FELTON | February 5, 2021

prescott

KEITH ALLISON / CC BY-SA 2.0

Quarterback Dak Prescott headlines this offseason’s loaded free agency class.

The 2021 National Football League (NFL) offseason is set to be one of the most entertaining in recent history. The number of game-changing free agents at multiple positions is substantial. There will certainly be tight competition for landing elite free agents in hopes of franchise improvement. Trades are already underway, with the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams swapping quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Jarred Goff in a blockbuster trade. With the offseason one week away, which NFL free agents are popular targets?

Dak Prescott, quarterback

The quarterback position is quite possibly the most valuable position in football. A good quarterback solves many problems on the offensive end. Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys is the premier quarterback in this free agency class and is the potential franchise quarterback teams are hoping to acquire. However, given his talent and production, it seems unlikely that the Cowboys will let him become available in free agency.

The Cowboys have the option to franchise tag Prescott this summer, or the team could simply extend his contract and eliminate any chances of him departing. However, after coming off a serious injury, what will the Cowboys offer him this season?

Overall the free agent class at the quarterback position is loaded. Mitchell Trubisky, Jameis Winston, Jacoby Brissett and Cam Newton are just a few of the quarterbacks looking to get paid this offseason.

Allen Robinson, wide receiver

Like the quarterback class, the wide receiver class this offseason is very talented. Robinson leads this class as he had the best individual season of the receivers in his class with over 1,200 receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Chicago Bears. These aren’t astonishing numbers until you consider the inconsistent play of the quarterbacks throwing him the ball.

Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Will Fuller are also on the market for teams. They are all young receivers who have shown flashes of becoming franchise-leading receivers; however, teams could also regret signing them in a couple years because a good wide receiver’s shelf life isn’t always long. Take for example Will Fuller, who was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. 

Von Miller, outside linebacker

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) of Super Bowl L is set to become a free agent this offseason, assuming the Denver Broncos do not exercise their team option. Miller headlines the group of defensive lineman seeking to get paid this summer. However, Miller missed the entire 2020 season after he dislocated a tendon in his ankle during a non-contract practice drill. Despite missing the season, he is still a seasoned veteran who has earned widespread respect throughout the league.

There are a number of valuable players at his position. Leonard Williams, Melvin Ingram and Matt Judon also highlight the defensive end position. Each player could contribute to teams seeking to improve their pass rushing and run defense.

Justin Simmons, free safety

Simmons headlines the defensive secondary class seeking a contract. The defensive secondary class is not a star-studded list; however, Simmons is a premier athlete who earned himself a Pro Bowl appearance after a stellar 2020 season with the Broncos. While the class of secondaries is not considered to be elite, many players at the position are more than deserving of a contract this summer. 

Patrick Peterson, cornerback

Peterson needs no introduction. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time first team All-Pro cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals, he is the most decorated free-agent corner in the league. Teams may be hesitant to sign him due to his age and recent production, which has tailed off a bit. Regardless, he will likely command a large offer, but it is unlikely he will be given a long contract.

The depth in this year’s free agency class will not only make this offseason exciting to watch but also give fringe playoff teams and contenders a real shot at hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LVI.

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