Ranking the NFL's top 10 free agents
With the Super Bowl in the books, the collective attention of football fans turns to the offseason and, by extension, the free agent market. This year's crop includes league-leading receivers, perennial Pro Bowlers, and a surefire Hall of Famer.
Here are the 10 most intriguing free agents available.
10. Will Fuller (UFA)
When Fuller is healthy, the wide receiver is an electrifying playmaker. He’s averaged nearly 15 yards per catch through five seasons in Houston, and he set career-highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns this past year. However, he’s missed significant time in each of the last four campaigns and may be best served by an environment where his snap count can be managed carefully.
9. JuJu Smith-Schuster (UFA)
Smith-Schuster had a breakout sophomore campaign in 2018, when he racked up 111 receptions for 1,426 yards. The past two seasons have seen a regression, though he did catch 97 passes this past year (good for ninth in the league). He’s still very young and possesses plenty of upside.
Does Pittsburgh back up the truck to keep him with aging Ben Roethlisberger under center and blue-chip prospect Chase Claypool on the other side, or do they allow him to cash in elsewhere and potentially start a rebuild?
8. Kenny Golladay (UFA)
Golladay quietly led the league with 11 receiving touchdowns in 2019, but he played just five games in 2020 and missed most of the season due to injuries. Matt Stafford is now a Los Angeles Ram, and the rebuild certainly seems underway in Detroit. A healthy Golladay would be a tremendous asset for any team in need of a deep threat.
7. Aaron Jones (UFA)
The lone running back on this list, Jones has scored 30 touchdowns over the past two seasons and rushed for a career-high 1,104 yards in 2020 despite missing two games. Judging the market for running backs is always tricky because they tend to wear down quickly, and it’ll be interesting to see if Jones stays in Green Bay with a perennial title contender, or is wooed by a big-money offer from another organization.
6. Mitchell Trubisky (UFA)
It isn’t Trubisky’s fault the Bears picked him over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, and it’s not like he’s been a total bust. Over the past three seasons, his record is 25-13 and he’s completed more than 65% of his passes. Is he an elite quarterback? No, but very few signal-callers reach that level, and he’d be an improvement under center for plenty of teams around the league.
5. Chris Godwin (UFA)
Tampa Bay is basking in the glory of a Super Bowl win (and sighing with relief after the Lombardi Trophy wasn’t dropped into the water during the recent boat parade), but the Bucs aren’t immune from having to make big decisions. One of them involves Godwin, a pivotal part of the passing attack who drew 84 targets in 2020 despite missing four games. His 2019 campaign showed he could be a top option, and his value may have been enhanced by his role on the title-winning team.
4. J.J. Watt (UFA)
Maybe Watt’s on the downside of his career, but shockwaves were sent through the NFL when the Texans released him earlier this offseason. He tallied just five sacks this past year, two of which came in the second game of the year, and his 54 tackles were the least he’s ever recorded in a full season.
He represents a prime "buy low" opportunity for a contender looking for veteran leadership, and it’s safe to say many will attempt to court him.
3. Allen Robinson (UFA)
Despite uncertainty under center in Chicago, Robinson posted two big seasons in 2019 and 2020, tallying 200 catches and nearly 2,400 yards in that timeframe. He’s got some mileage on him, having just completed his seventh season, but he’d be a number-one receiver almost anywhere in the league.
In a high-powered offense with a top-tier quarterback throwing him the ball, Robinson would become one of the most exciting wide receivers in football.
2. Von Miller (Club Option)
Where do we begin here? Miller’s run in the 2010’s established him as one of the best defensive players in the game, and he’s likely ensured himself a bust in Canton when all is said and done. However, he missed the 2020 season due to an injury, and news has broken regarding an open criminal investigation into the linebacker. There’s a lot we don’t know here, and this situation could take many more twists and turns before it resolves itself.
1. Dak Prescott (UFA)
Poor, poor Dak. Prescott was franchise-tagged by the Cowboys prior to the 2020 season, which ended prematurely for him due to a horrible injury. Dallas has had many chances to lock him up, but he remains without a deal heading into 2021.
The Cowboys could franchise-tag him again, which would set them back about $37 million. Do they want to spend that money on a quarterback rehabbing such a serious injury?