Thursday, October 21

When does the NFL’s free agency start in 2021? Key dates, latest news and rumors for the best players available

Happy New Year.

While the commercial market has received a bit more attention than free agency, the new NFL league year is almost here, which means the free agency market will be teeming with talent looking for new uniforms. low season.

The NFL’s lowered salary cap entering the 2021 season creates interesting salary cap drops coming to market, and the franchise tag is playing a major role in that players will hit the market and don new colored cleats. of the team this next season.

Sporting News will track the latest free agency rumors, transfers and more below heading into the first leg of the NFL offseason:

MORE: SN’s latest mock draft | Great board of the top 50 prospects

When does the NFL’s free agency start in 2021?

  • Legal handling period: Monday March 15 to Wednesday March 17
  • Start of NFL free agency in 2021: Wednesday, March 17, 4 p.m. ET

The start of the 2021 league year is March 17 at 4 p.m., which means that the NFL’s free agency begins at the same time. The institution of the NFL’s legal manipulation period means you may hear some deals close between Monday and Wednesday, but no deal can be made official until Wednesday.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, “teams can contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of the players who will become free agents without restrictions.” As mentioned, those deals are essentially handshake deals, and cannot be completed ink-to-paper until the start of the new league year.

As it stands, the NFL could push back the deadline for the franchise tag to be placed on players, with 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 9, the current deadline. Without an official NFL salary cap number in place, the league set the minimum salary cap at $ 180 million.

Wednesday March 17 also means that previously agreed exchanges, such as the Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford exchange, will become official and deals can be closed.

Below are the other notable events of March 17:

  • At 4 p.m. ET, all 2021 player contracts expire.
  • Before 4 p.m. ET, teams must be below the 2021 salary cap (top-51 rule begins).
  • Before 4 p.m. ET, teams must exercise options for 2021 on all players who have option clauses in their 2020 contracts.
  • Before 4 p.m. ET, teams must submit qualified offers to their restricted free agents with expired contracts to retain the right of first refusal / compensation.
  • Before 4 p.m. ET, teams must submit a minimum wage offer to retain the exclusive bargaining rights of their players with contracts that expire in 2020 and have less than three cumulative seasons of free agency credit.
  • The first day of the 2021 league year will end at 11:59:59 p.m. ET on March 17. Teams receive a personal notice that includes all transactions submitted to the league after 4pm ET that day.

NFL Free Agency Rumor Tracker

Dak Prescott is going nowhere

Date: March 8

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL network

Months of Dallas brass telling the world that Dak prescott will be the Cowboys’ quarterback in 2021 appears to be closer to reality, with the franchise tag to be affixed to Prescott. The two parties will have until July 15 to close a long-term agreement.

Washington considers franchise label on Scherff

Date: March 8

Source: Tom Pelissero, NFL Network (NFL now)

Washington is considering putting the franchise label on guard Brandon scherff once again, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. Scherff is slated to be one of the top two shooting guards available on the free agent market, along with Patriots guard Joe Thuney.

Lions receive calls for backup QBs

Date: 7 of March

Source: Adam Schefter, ESPN

The Lions are getting calls to the backup quarterback Chase Daniel by reports. Daniel could be considered for a mentor-type role for a new team. Detroit is waiting to make its trade for QB Jared Goff official.

The best free agents in the NFL available in 2021

SN’s Vinnie Iyer ranked the top 50 available free agents for the year 2021. Here are the top 21 targets available prior to the start of free agency:

1. Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers (age: 24)

Godwin has become a top-notch slot catcher at 6-1, 209 pounds. He runs great routes with exterior versatility and despite some notable drops, he has the hands to be dependable all over the field. He’s not near his prime and the Bucs should do everything they can to keep him for Tom Brady.

2. Allen Robinson, WR, Bears (age: 27)

Robinson had a massive third season with Chicago while he was in his prime as a complete goal with 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and 6 TDs. He will look to leave Chicago and eventually be paired with a top quarterback.

3. Shaquil Barrett, EDGE, Buccaneers (age: 28)

Barrett cooled off after leading the league with 19.5 sacks in his first season at Tampa Bay in 2019, but his massive impact in chasing the quarterback manifested itself again in the playoffs. The Bucs will do their best to keep him to make another run with his defense in 2021.

4. Justin Simmons, S, Broncos (age: 27)

Simmons (6-2, 202 pounds) had another great season making plays for Denver with five interceptions and 96 total tackles. He will be a great cleaning man anywhere.

5. Trent Williams, OT, 49ers (age: 32)

Williams was outstanding replacing Joe Staley while staying totally healthy and dominating Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He still has some solid years to go.

6. Aaron Jones, RB, Packers (age: 26)

Jones had a second great year in a row from scrimmage (1,459 yards, 11 TDs) and was explosive, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. The Packers will do everything they can to keep him with Jamaal Williams heading to free agency with AJ Dillon poised to become the new powerhouse.

7. Anthony Harris, S, Vikings (age: 29)

Harris didn’t have any interceptions in 2020 after posting 6 in 2019, but he was still very active in coverage to help a struggling overall pass defense and also racked up 104 total tackles.

8. Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions (age: 27)

“Babytron” is a big, speedy field stretcher (6-4, 215 pounds) and a finalist in the red zone when healthy, but he played in just five games in 2020 after sustaining a prolonged hip injury. The Lions will try to keep him as the man Jared Goff turns to, with Marvin Jones Jr. also as a free agent.

9. Leonard Williams, DE, Giants (age: 26)

Williams, the Jets’ sixth overall pick in 2015, had his big delayed break as an inside pass rusher for the other New York team with 11.5 sacks. It’s still built to wreak havoc on the mid edge of a 3-4 front.

10. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers (age: 26)

Henry was mostly healthy in 2020, which was important to him, catching 60 passes for 613 yards and 4 TDs in 14 games. He was a bit underutilized when the Chargers unleashed an aggressive passing game with rookie Justin Herbert. But Henry became a key target late and it would be vital to new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s scheme if he re-signed.

11. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Steelers (age: 24)

Smith-Schuster may have made his way out of Pittsburgh with his TikTok by tagging Mike Tomlin, but he’s a young slot catcher with high production and a big edge. JuJu sneaked up to 97 receptions for 831 yards and 9 TDs in the Steelers’ dunk and dunk passing game.

12. Will Fuller, WR, Texans (age: 26)

Between injuries and suspension, Fuller can’t seem to stay on the field to produce a big moment. The 6-0, 184-pounder has blinding vertical speed as he averaged 16.6 yards per reception on his 53 receptions for 879 yards and 8 TDs in 11 games with Deshaun Watson.

13. Lavonte David, LB, Buccaneers (age: 31)

David remains a rock solid and consistent tackler and energetic playmaker even with a transition in the last two years’ scheme. He can help advocacy in many ways and is also an experienced and respected leader.

14. Richard Sherman, CB, 49ers (age: 32)

Sherman played only five games in 2020, but is coming off a strong 2019 in which he showed off his old-school physical closing style and also had 61 tackles. He has been a welcome leader of the San Francisco high school and may have the same influence on another team.

15. Marcus Williams, S, Saints (age: 24)

Williams has been consistent with his covering help from free safety with a good nose for the ball and is also pretty solid in running support.

16. Corey Davis, WR, Titans (age: 26)

Davis ultimately stood out as a first-round player with his size (6-3, 209 pounds) and speed in the Titans’ first-run offense as a great complementary AJ Brown receiver for Ryan Tannehill, catching 65 of 92 goals for 984 yards. and 5 TDs averaging 15.1 yards per catch.

17. Melvin Ingram, EDGE, Chargers (age: 31)

Ingram is moving up there and his fast pass production has waned with some injury issues. But when healthy, he’s still a complete disruptor for a 4-3 or 3-4 lineup.

18. Corey Linsley, C, Packers (age: 29)

Aaron Rodgers’ main man has been a venerable line leader and also continues to be a big part of his run blocking success.

19. Bud Dupree, EDGE, Steelers (age: 27)

Dupree is a robust pass rider at 6-4, 269 pounds and was having a great season before his knee injury reduced it to 11 games, in which he still produced 8 sacks.

20. Joe Thuney, G, Patriots (age: 28)

Thuney had to play a tackle with Patriots line injuries and shakeup in 2020, but his regular job is to crush him as a run blocker from left guard with good athleticism for his size (6-5, 308 pounds).

21. Troy Hill, CB, Rams (age: 29)

Hill (5-11, 183 pounds) faced Jalen Ramsey, a good combination of dynamic handball and aggressive cover man.

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