- NFL Nation
- Dan Graziano
- ESPN since 2011.
- He was born in New Jersey and the author of two published novels.
The franchise tag window has closed, which means 2021 NFL Free Agency is right around the corner. How will all this happen, and who will sign where? We’ve been fooling around with how to bid and trade on the 19 most popular multi-post positions.
Our NFL reporters acted as general managers for their teams, making offers to key free agents while trying to stay within the team’s salary cap. The goal was not to win, but to accurately reflect how the team would approach negotiations. For example, the Saints, Chiefs and Rams didn’t have many offers in the hat, but the Patriots, Jaguars and Jets had money to spend – and it shows. Once all the offers were in, national NFL reporter Dan Graziano took over, processed the offers and had each of the playmakers sign a new contract.
So, who is going to the new team, and who has re-signed with their current franchise? Who made a lot of money on the open market? Let’s assume it’s the offseason, which officially begins on the 17th. March will be open. Here are some hypothetical offers and landings for the top 19 players on the open market.
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL
Edge | CB | S
Order 2020: Saints: Free agent evaluation: 44
Holy Sacrifice: Two years, $12 million ($6 million guaranteed and up to $18 million in bonuses based on starts, wins and performance) … This opportunity to replace Drew Brees in one of the best offenses in the NFL is why you came here last summer, and we showed that we truly believe in your potential. — Mike Triplett
Offer chargers : Two years, $8 million guaranteed… We need a good replacement for Justin Herbert, and you’re the guy we’re focusing on. Come to Los Angeles. – Shelley Smith
Texas proposal: One year, $12 million guaranteed… We don’t know if Deshaun Watson will play for us in 2021, so we have a chance to win the starting quarterback job and make it your team. -Sarah Bar Shop
Solution: Winston selects Texan
Man, it’s a tough choice between New Orleans and Houston. Houston offers more guaranteed money, and if Watson really doesn’t play there anymore, this is a chance to start the year and get back on the market next year while I’m still under 30. But what’s happening with Watson is a big game changer here. — Dan Graziano
Order 2020: Packers: Free Agent Rating: 8
The Packers offer: Three years, $28.5 million ($9.5 million guaranteed, $8 million contract bonus and $1.5 million base salary) … That’s more money in 2021 than if we had used the franchise tag ($8.6 million), but a smaller payroll for us because we can spread out the signing bonus. It may be hard to find much guaranteed money for a great running back, so why not stay where you’ve had all your success? — Rob Demovsky
Cardinals proposal: Two years, $13 million ($9 million guaranteed and rewarded for reaching 1,000 yards on the ground, a Super Bowl appearance or a Pro Bowl nomination)…. Come to Arizona and become the first Cardinals player. Our offense runs pretty hard with their running backs in the passing game, and we expect to make the playoffs. — Josh Weinfuss
Proposed runner-up : Three years, $27 million ($16 million guaranteed and $1 million per year bonus because he’s a first-team All-Pro) … We are a young team that is only a few steps away from becoming a serious contender. You’re a #1 running back, you don’t have to pay income tax, and you trade the cold Lambeau games for warm weather year round. — Cameron Wolfe
Solution: Jones selects Delphine
In part, I wouldn’t get more than a ton of guaranteed money anywhere else, but that’s what Miami offers. So I’m going south and cashing in as much as I can in this league these days. — Graziano
Order 2020: Lions | Free Agent Evaluation: 5
Colt’s motion: Three years, $60 million ($28 million guaranteed) …. Our Super Bowl is wide open, and there is room for our new number one wideout Carson Wentz. Our culture is strong and you will be an important part of our attack. — Mike Wells
Special Offer: Four years, $60 million ($30 million guaranteed) …. It’s hard to make a lot of money when you only score 338 yards a year. But here’s $15 million a year! We think you have the ability to explode like a true number one receiver in New York. — Jordan Ranan
The Patriots’ proposal: Five years, $105 million ($50 million guaranteed) …. We are looking for the best receiver, and we think you are the man for the job. — Mike Reiss.
Solution: Galladay picks the Patriots.
Wow, the Patriots! You know how to get a man’s attention. For that much money, I don’t care who the quarterback is. I’ll throw it at myself if I have to. — Graziano
Order 2020: Titans | Free Agent Title: 11
Cardinals proposal: Three years, $36 million ($19 million guaranteed, $12 million signing bonus in year one, $4 million bonus in year two, $3 million bonus in year three and a fourth year not valid due to restrictions…. As a complementary receiver to DeAndre Hopkins, you can showcase your talents. And playing against a quarterback like Kyler Murray can’t hurt. — Josh Weinfuss
Raven’s suggestion: Four years, $52 million ($25 million guaranteed) …. Becoming Lamar Jackson’s number one target, scoring multiple touchdowns for the NFL’s best scoring offense over the past two seasons, and becoming a superstar on a team preparing for the Super Bowl. — Jamison Hensley
Solution: Davis selects the Ravens.
Both are strong, but give me another year, extra money, and a chance to be a true number one wideout like when the Titans picked me. — Graziano
Order 2020: Steelworkers | Free Agent Evaluation: 17
Cardinals proposal: Three years, $40 million ($23 million guaranteed, $3.3 million base salary in year one with $10 million signing bonus, $5 million guaranteed in year two at signing and $8 million guaranteed in year three on the third day of the league year) … We’re a stone’s throw from the Super Bowl. The combination of DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray – and maybe Larry Fitzgerald – would make for one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL, while giving you your share of catches and one-on-one matchups. — Josh Weinfuss
The Jets offer: Five years, $87.5 million ($37.5 million guaranteed)… It’s a chance to become a great receiver in an established offensive system. And this: Maybe there will be a reunion with former college quarterback Sam Darnold. Fight! — Rich Cimini.
Solution: Smith-Schuster picksJets
Hey, that worked out so well for Le’Veon Bell, didn’t it? I’m joking. I’m joking. Where do I sign? In my mind, these offers are unmatched, so I’ll take a big salary to play with Darnold again or have a chance to be the top pass rusher for Zach Wilson. — Graziano
Chris Canty says the calls to the Jets for Sam Darnold prove they aren’t fully committed to him as their franchise quarterback.
Order 2020: Texans: Free Agent Rating: 21
Texas proposal: Two years, $25 million ($20 million guaranteed and $1 million bonus for 1,000 yards)…. You had a career in Houston. Come back and prove you can stay on the field and get another chance in free agency at 28. -Sarah Bar Shop
Cardinals proposal: Two years, $12 million ($8 million guaranteed) …. Teaming up with former Texas teammates DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt. With the best team and the best offense, help us not only make the playoffs, but maybe even the Super Bowl. — Josh Weinfuss
Orlov’s proposal: Two years, $16 million ($10 million guaranteed) …. It’s a chance to return to his hometown and establish himself as the number one receiver in a major market. — Tim McManus.
The Jets offer: Three years, $27 million ($15 million guaranteed)…. We want to develop the offense, and you’ll see a lot of targets in a proven attack system with a new coaching staff. — Rich Cimini.
The Packers offer: Three years, $30 million ($15 million guaranteed as signing bonus and base salary in return) … Last fall we tried to sell you and now we want your contract. You’ll feel right at home with Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field. — Rob Demovsky
Solution: Fuller picks Packer
Thanks for all the love, but Green Bay has a team and he has Rodgers. I like it. The offer from Houston is tempting, but it’s still two years, and I don’t want to have a big year just to be under team control for another season. — Graziano
Order 2020: Chargers: Free Agent Rating: 2
Offer chargers : Two years, $22 million ($17 million guaranteed) … You’ve seen what Justin Herbert can do in 2020. How about two more years? He’ll make you a star. – Shelley Smith
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The Jaguar offer: Three years, $36 million ($24 million guaranteed) …. They will be an important part of an offense with some good young receivers. Oh, and you get passes from one of the best quarterbacks since John Elway in Trevor Lawrence, and we’ll be in the playoffs next season and have the division title. -Michael DiRocco
Panther proposal: Three years, $30 million ($12 million guaranteed) …. Our plan is to improve the talent at the quarterback position, but even if Teddy Bridgewater remains the starter in 2021, we only lack an elite tight end to make this offense elite. We think you’re the one. — David Newton
Solution: Henry selects the Jaguars.
Jacksonville offers maximum money, solid security and no state income tax. And I know who my quarterback will be. — Graziano
Order 2020: Titans | Free Agent Title: 6
Titans proposal: Four years, $32 million ($24 million guaranteed) …. You left your mark on us as one of Ryan Tannehill’s favorite pass catchers, especially in the red zone. Why not move on from Tannehill, at a negotiable offer that allows you to be a free agent again before age 30? — Turron Davenport
Proposal for a regulation : Four years, $37 million. ($12 million guaranteed and added to base salary) … This offense lacks running backs and tight ends. They would fill one of those voids for a team that was one game away from a Super Bowl appearance last season. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
The Patriots’ proposal: Four years, $42.5 million ($25 million guaranteed)… Since the departure of Rob Gronkowski, we’ve struggled to fill the role of 1st Smart Final and lack a real presence in the red zone. That’s why we specifically offer a policy that will change your life. — Mike Reiss.
Washington’s proposal: Four years, $45.5 million ($26 million guaranteed)… Play in a major market closer to your hometown of Philadelphia, and in an offense that shows the flexibility of your position. Just look at what this offense did for Logan Thomas last year (72 catches on record), and his skill set doesn’t match your high-end toolbox. — John Keim.
Solution: Smith picks the Patriots
It’s very close between New England and Washington, DC. I know Washington offers something more, but playing for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels intrigues me. And, hey, I might end up with a catcher with their #1 or #2 option. — Graziano
Team 2020: 49ers | Free Agent Evaluation: 1
Proposal 49: Four years, $82 million ($40 million guaranteed, $28 million signing bonus and fully guaranteed base salary the first two years) … Granted, your first season in San Francisco didn’t go as well as you would have liked, but it was clear that you were happy to be back with coach Kyle Shanahan. In the low season we offer the right combination of comfort and challenge status. Pay and get a shot at a Super Bowl title. — Nick Wagoner
The Jaguar offer: Four years, $80 million ($45 million guaranteed the first three years and $25 million signing bonus) … Protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence and help us compete against a lesser team. Oh, did we mention that there is no income tax in Florida? -Michael DiRocco
Solution: Williams picks the 49ers
It was a really hard decision. The Jaguars’ proposal is better on the face of it, and then there’s the whole state income tax issue. But I want all the money up front and I want to stay with Shanahan. — Graziano
Order 2020: Patriots | Free agent title: 12
Bengal proposal: Four years, $60 million ($15 million guaranteed, $4 million fifth-day bonus in 2022 and $2 million fifth-day bonus in 2023)…. Come play for a guaranteed big contract as we build a winner around quarterback Joe Barrow. — Ben Baby
Raven’s suggestion: Four years, $60 million. ($35 million guaranteed and $250,000 per Pro Bowl) … You can be the last piece of a dominant offensive line, block for the best playmaker in Lamar Jackson, and win your third Super Bowl with a team ready for a run in 2021. — Jamison Hensley
Solution: Tooney picks the Ravens.
Give me another 20 million and a chance to get a ring right away. Sometimes the solutions are simple. — Graziano
Order 2020: Packers: Free Agent Rating: 10
Proposed runner-up : Four years, $46 million ($25 million guaranteed) … You’re the missing link – the leader and linchpin of our young offensive line – and we think you can help Tua Tagovailoa and your offensive teammates win a Super Bowl or two in the next four years, and in a much hotter place. — Cameron Wolfe
The Jets offer: Four years, $44 million ($28 million guaranteed)… Staying in the LaFleur family, go from Packers coach Matt to his brother Mike, our new offensive coordinator. — Rich Cimini.
Raven’s suggestion: Four years, $43 million ($13 million guaranteed, $10 million signing bonus and $250,000 Pro Bowl bonus) … Become a top free agent who joins the top Super Bowl contenders, play alongside a talented playmaker like Lamar Jackson, and act as the centerpiece of a dominant offensive line known for its physicality. — Jamison Hensley
Solution: Linsley picks Delphine
Miami offers the most money, and the difference between their guarantee and the Jets’ is not as great as it seems, since Florida has no income tax. — Graziano
Order 2020: Ravens | Free Agent Evaluation: 3
The Jets offer: Three years, $45 million ($24 million guaranteed)… We want to give you the chance to play your natural position as a defender in a 4-3 by forming a fantastic inside-outside tandem with Quinnen Williams. — Rich Cimini.
The Patriots’ proposal: Four years, $60 million ($30 million guaranteed) …. We’ve loved your game since Jacksonville, and after returning to Minnesota and Baltimore last year, we think coach Bill Belichick’s stability and brilliant defensive brain will bring out the best in you. — Mike Reiss.
Solution: Ngakoue picks the Patriots
The Patriots seem to want to waste time and just offer more here. That’s all there is. Let’s go to New England. — Graziano
Dan Graziano and Marcus Spears maintain that the Patriots can win the AFC East with Jimmy Garoppolo as quarterback.
Order 2020: Steelworkers | Free Agent Evaluation: 4
Motion by Brown: One year, $10.5 million ($10 million guaranteed, $1 million incentive for 10 or more sacks and $125,000 per game workout bonus) … Come play with Myles Garrett in a starting franchise with a chance to return to your old team, make the playoffs, and come back on the market when he’s healthy and the cap goes up with new rights. — Jake Trotter
Orlov’s proposal: Three years, $33 million ($18 million guaranteed) …. Back to former Steelers teammate Javon Hargrave in a line that also includes Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. This is a group that can do serious damage to your account. — Tim McManus.
Special Offer: Four years, $64 million. ($42 million guaranteed, with some guarantees for the third year)…. Don’t turn down the chance to be a star in New York with an up-and-coming team that guarantees $40 million in the first two years of a contract. — Jordan Ranan
Solution: Dupree picks the Giants
Yes, the Giants’ bid lowers the other two. Getting guaranteed money in the third year of an NFL contract is rare. I was thinking about the Browns because that would allow me to cash in next year if I’m not seriously injured, but New York just makes sense. — Graziano
Order 2020: Saints: Free agent evaluation: 7
Holy Sacrifice: Three years, $26 million ($15 million guaranteed) … We can’t offer the most money, but we can offer the chance to go to the Super Bowl in a system where you became an outstanding player last year. — Mike Triplett
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Offering Lions: Four years, $45 million ($20 million guaranteed, $7 million contract bonus and $500,000 if he makes it to the Pro Bowl or leads the NFL in sacks every year) … Help Dan Campbell and Aaron Glenn build a culture in Detroit and be the foundation of our future. — Michael Rothstein
Solution: Hendrickson picks the Lions
These proposals are close, and while I appreciate the Saints’ attempt to fit me into their awkward cap situation, I choose Detroit. I like the extra year and the stronger guarantee, and I know coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn well from working in New Orleans. — Graziano
Order 2020: Buccaneers: Free Agent Rating: 9
Buccaneers bid: Four years, $74.5 million ($30 million guaranteed) … They said Tampa Bay is home now. The fans have supported you and we want you to be yourself. And you can keep playing on the Todd Bowles model, which just knocked out the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. — Jenna Lane.
Colt’s motion: Four years, $74 million. ($32 million guaranteed with general incentive bonus) … This defense is real, and we’re in the running for the Super Bowl. With Darius Leonard and DeForest Buckner, he forms a dominant front seven. — Mike Wells
The Jaguar offer: Four years, $72 million ($28 million guaranteed)… We’re building here in Jacksonville with Coach Urban Meyer, and we’re going to compete for the Super Bowl for three years. Want to be the second player in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with three different teams? -Michael DiRocco
Solution: Barrett takes on‘s spinners.
All of these offers are almost identical, but I just won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, and I don’t see anything that convinces me to give it all up and move on. — Graziano
Diana Rusini and Tedy Bruschi analyze the Buccaneers’ actions of the season.
Order 2020: Bengals: Free Agent Rating: 36
Bengal proposal: Three years, $60 million ($40 million guaranteed bonus and $10 million signing bonus) … Sign with the team you’re already building with. We’re on the verge of the playoffs with QB Joe Barrow, and we want you to be a part of it. — Ben Baby
Motion by Brown: Four years, $56 million ($20 million guaranteed) …. You join the young core, play opposite Miles Garrett, collect sacks, make it to the playoffs and contribute to the Super Bowl. — Jake Trotter
Viking’s proposal: Four years, $63 million ($30 million guaranteed, $1 million bonus for 10 or more sacks by 2022 and $100,000 workout bonus each year) … Under coach Mike Zimmer, we produced top pass rushers for seven seasons. They will have the opportunity to start against Danielle Hunter and consistently record double-digit sacks. — Courtney Cronin
Solution: Lawson picks the Bengals
It’s very simple. The Bengals’ offer is by far the best, and I can stay home. — Graziano
Order 2020: Seahawks: Free Agent Rating: 20
Seahawks move: Three years, $39 million ($25 million guaranteed, $1 million per game, $500,000 in 2022 and 2023, $2 million in additional incentives for Pro Bowl and interception totals)…. Look, we can’t offer as high a yearly salary as other teams with more room, but we can offer familiarity, strong guarantees, and a contract that’s shorter than usual, so you can come back on the market at 28, maybe at more ideal salary terms. — Brady Henderson.
The Jaguar offer: Three years, $48 million ($28 million guaranteed)… You played at UCF and you’re from St. Louis. Petersburg, so why don’t you come back to Florida? You become the number one corner opposite C.J. Henderson and give us one of the best duos in the NFL. And, yes, we don’t have a state income tax. -Michael DiRocco
Solution: Griffin selects Jaguars
Sorry, but the Jaguars outplayed the Seahawks. I’ll take the offer and go to Jacksonville. — Graziano
Order 2020: Rams | Free Agent Evaluation: 23
Cowboys proposal: Three years, $33 million ($20 million guaranteed) …. You can be a great defender on the field and in the locker room, and play in a division that can be won for years to come and a playoff guaranteed. — Todd Archer
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Offering Lions: Five years, $50 million ($22.5 million guaranteed) …. In addition to reuniting with your old coach Aubrey Pleasant, a trip to Detroit would give you a chance to be a long-term building block and cornerstone. — Michael Rothstein
Raiders’ proposal: Four years, $50 million ($25 million guaranteed) …. Play for an up-and-coming team in a state-of-the-art stadium, while pitting a young but hungry team against the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas – where it’s possible to win on the field and sell out off it. In addition, there is no state income tax in Nevada. — Paul Gutierrez
Solution: Johnson picks the Raiders.
There’s just more money here, so there’s not much to think about. — Graziano
Order 2020: Vikings: Free agent evaluation: 26
Cowboys proposal: Four years, $44 million ($21 million guaranteed) … For too long we avoided the cost of Free Agency Safety and neglected the position for too long in the early part of the draft. You may not have had an interception last season, but we haven’t forgotten the six you had in 2019. You’ll be a central figure in a revamped defense with a new coordinator in Dan Quinn – someone who knows how important the position is in his system. — Todd Archer
Orlov’s proposal: Three years, $31 million ($14 million guaranteed) …. New defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who you met as an assistant defensive coordinator at Minnesota in 2015-17, should prioritize the secondary role and let you take the reins. — Tim McManus.
Solution: Harris picks the Cowboys.
Again, it’s just more money. Much more, in fact, when you consider that there is no income tax in Texas. It doesn’t make sense to me. — Graziano
frequently asked questions
Who will be a free agent in the NFL in 2021?
2021 NFL free agency: Player analysis by team – NFL.com
When does NFL free agency begin?
The NFL free agent period for the 2021 season officially begins at 4 p.m. and on the 17th. In March, players with expiring contracts can sign with new teams and the 32 teams in the league must meet the $182.5 million salary cap for this year.
What do SBC freeholders look like in 2021?
2021 Free Agent Prediction: Quarterback – New England Patriots
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