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Top 101 NFL free agents for the 2021 season

Doug Farrar and Mark Schofield
Touchdown Wire

The 2021 NFL free-agency period, which officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 17, promises to be like few others in the league's history.

The NFL will require its teams to spend a minimum of $180 million on roster salaries in 2021, which represents an increase of the previous figure of $175 million. The 2021 salary cap limit has yet to be announced. Last season teams could spend no more than $198.2 million. The spending limit for the coming season should be announced in the coming weeks.

Here, without further ado, is Touchdown Wire's top 101 free agents for the 2021 season.

1. QB Dak Prescott

It should come as no surprise that Dak Prescott tops this list. As NFL teams are scrambling this offseason to address the sport’s most important position, Prescott is the game’s best talent available in free agency, barring a franchise-tag designation.

What truly stands out about Prescott is not the injury from this past season, but the growth he has made as a quarterback. Coming out of Mississippi State, Prescott was almost an afterthought, selected in Day 3 of the 2016 draft while two other quarterbacks — both of whom recently signed extensions and are now either on or headed to new teams (Jared Goff and Carson Wentz) — were drafted first and second overall.

One of the biggest questions on Prescott was his accuracy, or more specifically, his ball placement. Yet Prescott has made great strides in this area, and in more areas of playing the position.

The Dallas Cowboys would be crazy not to try and find a way to bring Prescott back next season. Look around the league. Teams are clamoring to find a way to sign “the guy” at quarterback. The Cowboys have that player in the building, and they cannot let him walk out.

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2. WR Allen Robinson

Somebody save Allen Robinson.

At this point in his football career, Robinson has played with such illustrious quarterbacks as Christian Hackenberg, Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles.

Yet even in those environments Robinson has established himself as one of the NFL’s best options at receiver. Robinson is schematically diverse, a downfield threat, a ball-winner and a contested catch receiver over the middle cast in a West Coast offense. In that environment Robinson has still put together back-to-back seasons of over 1,100 receiving yards. Last year was his best as a professional since 2015, as he posted 102 receptions (a career-high) and 1,250 yards for six touchdowns. 

There should be no shortage of teams lining up to make him an offer in free agency. The Chicago Bears have a number of issues to address – including both quarterback and cap space – and if Robinson is a casualty of their cap positioning, he might get a chance to finally play with the quarterback of his dreams.

Allen Robinson had 1,260 yards and 6 TDs receiving for the Bears in 2020.

3. S Justin Simmons

The NFL has never placed more of a premium on defensive backs who can play at a high level from multiple positions, and there are few better than Simmons. Last season, per Pro Football Focus, Simmons played 619 snaps at free safety, 319 snaps in the box, 144 in the slot, four snaps at wide cornerback, and one snap on the defensive line.

There isn’t any ball Simmons can’t get to downfield, and he fits well in multiple roles in any defense. Justin Simmons is the best defensive free agent in the upcoming class because he’s truly scheme- and position-transcendent.

4. LB Lavonte David

David has been one of the perfect prototypes of the modern linebacker since the Bucs took him with the 58th overall pick in the 2012 draft, and 2020 was no exception. Last season, he had 118 tackles, 68 stops, three forced fumbles, and he was a force wherever defensive coordinator Todd Bowles lined him up — everywhere from off-ball in concert with Devin White, to the edge in exotic fronts.

If David was to enter the free-agent market, he’d be the most desirable linebacker by a crushing margin, and deservedly so.

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5. WR Chris Godwin

Do not let the lack of explosive production in Super Bowl 55 fool you: Chris Godwin is a premiere player at the wide receiver position. Godwin dealt with hip and leg injuries this season which limited his action, but he still caught 65 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns, impressive numbers but shy of his career year in 2019 when he caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns.

His combination of game-breaking vertical ability with route-running skills makes him a fit in most any offense. Like the other top receivers in this group Godwin is schematically-diverse. But flashes of brilliance in the downfield passing game are going to get him paid in a big way.

6. WR Kenny Golladay

Scheme fit is a consideration when evaluating players, both incoming rookies and free agents. If the player does not fit well with what you run as an offense or a defense, is the player a viable option for your organization? That is a question that both college scouting departments and pro scouting departments are working through this spring for every NFL organization.

Some players make the conversation easier than others, and those are the schematically-diverse players that can fit into any offensive system. Kenny Golladay is one such example, as he is the “universal” fit for any NFL offense. Whether you are looking for a receiver who can be effective on quick-game concepts, a receiver who can attack the middle of the field and between the hashmarks, or a vertical threat, Golladay can fit into any role.

This is a fascinating class of free agent wide receivers, and it will soon be followed by a fascinating class of incoming rookies.

7. OT Trent Williams

Trent Williams remains a master at his craft, with technique to win in any situation and against any type of pass rusher. 

Williams showed no signs of rust in his first season with the San Francisco 49ers, and if the organization is smart they will find a way to bring him back with a new deal. If he gets on the open market, teams should be lining up to sign the technician, the master of his craft. 

8. EDGE Shaquil Barrett

Shaq Barrett totaled 14.5 sacks in his five seasons with the Broncos. Then, he signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 and he turned into the best bargain in free agency that season, amassing a league-high 19.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, and 44 quarterback hurries. That led to the Bucs slapping the franchise tag on him, which gave Barrett a guaranteed one-year salary of $15,828 million.

Barrett had just 12 sacks in 2020, but you can’t use sack numbers to estimate the total effect of any edge-rusher, and Barrett is no exception. Including the postseason, he had 12 quarterback hits and 74 quarterback hurries — that hurry number was the league’s best by 22 (Buffalo’s Jerry Hughes was second with 52). 

Per OverTheCap.com, the top five edge rushers in salary have contracts averaging over $20 million per year. Barrett has earned his place there — whether he actually makes it happen in what will be a depressed market for free agents is another story.

Shaquil Barrett celebrates during the Buccaneers' win in Super Bowl 55.

9. OG Brandon Scherff

It does not take long to come away impressed with Brandon Scherff’s game.

Turn on any Washington game in which Scherff is playing, and you will immediately see the right guard doing things that are dominant at the position, and against top-level talent on the other side of the football.

The only concern with Scherff is his injury history. The guard missed the back half of the 2018 season with a torn pectoral muscle, and also missed time in 2020 with a knee injury. That said, Washington would be crazy to let Scherff leave town, as he could be critical to developing a new quarterback in the season ahead. But if they do, every team should be calling. 

10. OG Joe Thuney

Joe Thuney is a living legend in New England based upon what he did in Super Bowl LIII in helping to contain world-destroying defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Given that the offensive line — and in particular the interior offensive line — is perhaps one of the Patriots’ few strengths on offense it might be surprising to see Thuney leave Foxborough for different pastures.

But having a stout interior is a critical component to assembling a quality offensive line, and Thuney — along with Brandon Scherff — is one of the best options available both through free agency and in the draft.

11. S Marcus Maye

A second-round pick of the New York Jets out of Florida in 2017, Marcus Maye has relatively low interception numbers (six over four seasons) that don’t accurately reflect his total value. He’s been put in weird positions by bad defensive coordinators, but he’s overcome it with his athleticism and acumen.

Maye has the ability to be a high-level player at one of the NFL’s most important positions — the true deep-third eraser safety — and going by the recent market for top safeties, that should give him a contract with an average value of over $10 million per year.

12. TE Hunter Henry

Beyond quarterback, tight end is becoming perhaps the toughest position to evaluate in terms of the NFL draft. College teams use tight ends in a much different manner than NFL organizations, and it has led to some players facing difficult transitions when moving from the NCAA to the pro game. Furthermore, this year’s rookie class has a player at the top in Florida's Kyle Pitts, who is a tight end in name only

What does this have to do with Hunter Henry? It means that he probably is going to be a highly-coveted player this free agency cycle.

There is an injury concern with Henry, who has missed time during his career including the entire 2018 campaign due to a torn ACL, but you cannot argue with the production. After tearing that ACL, Henry came back and put together perhaps his best season as a pro, catching 55 passes for 652 yards and five touchdowns. This past season, as the Los Angeles Chargers transitioned to rookie Justin Herbert, Henry was just as productive, catching 60 passes (a career-high) for 613 yards and four touchdowns.

Given the questions at tight end both in free agency and the draft, Henry will be a solid option for teams looking to upgrade at the position. 

13. S Anthony Harris

Anthony Harris was the best deep-third safety in the NFL in 2019, and the Minnesota Vikings responded by giving him the franchise tag designation as opposed to signing him to a long-term contract. That gave him a one-year guaranteed salary of $11,441, but as it turned out, Harris should have preferred an opportunity to bet on himself.

Harris had a reversal of fortune as the Vikings did in 2020 — the team went from 10-6 to 7-9, and Harris’ own stats certainly implied regression.

Sometimes you find yourself in a disastrous situation, and there’s no way out. That’s what Harris faced in 2020. It will be interesting to see if it depresses his market, but any team looking for that back-third safety should give Harris a relative pass as regards last season. He’s not a fluke.

14. CB Richard Sherman

Like seemingly everybody on San Francisco’s defense in the 2020 season, Richard Sherman missed a lot of time due to injury; he played in just five games.

One tends to shy away from cornerbacks with injury histories who will be 33 years old in the upcoming season, but Sherman is anything but typical. As long as he lands on a defense in which he can roll with No. 1 receivers to the boundary, and he’s not asked to run match against smaller, quicker receivers from the slot, he’s got plenty left to offer, and should be paid accordingly.

15. WR Will Fuller V

Speed kills.

That’s why even with the injury history and the hamstring issues, Will Fuller V is still among the top tier of free agent options.

Yes, Fuller has yet to play a full 16 game season, and you might be expecting more of the same in 2021 given his history. But he is coming off a career-year, with 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns, all of which represent career-high numbers. You can bet teams are willing to take their chances given what he offers in the passing game. 

16. EDGE Bud Dupree

Though his sack numbers have varied pretty wildly from season to season, Bud Dupree has proven to be pretty consistent when it comes to total quarterback pressures — he’s had at least 42 every year since 2017, and 43 in a 2020 season that ended for him in Week 12 due to a torn ACL.

Dupree was on pace to have his best season before he was injured, and as long as everything checks out in that regard, he’ll do well on just about any defensive front, and as an occasional off-ball linebacker.

17. EDGE Leonard Floyd

One reason Brandon Staley landed the job as the Chargers’ head coach after just one season as the Rams’ defensive coordinator was a clear ability to take players and put them in positions to have their best seasons to date. That was certainly true for cornerback Darious Williams (who’s now one of the more underrated cornerbacks in the NFL), and it was also true for Leonard Floyd, who signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Rams in 2020 after four decent seasons with the Bears. 

It took a little extra time for the light to come on for Leonard Floyd, but it certainly did in 2020, and he’ll be paid accordingly in 2021.

18. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

There are three reasons why Ryan Fitzpatrick commands a spot near the top of any list of free agents.

First, there is the positional value. As a quarterback, Fitzpatrick can be more beneficial to a roster than a third wide receiver or a swing tackle.

Second, there is what he can still do on the field, as we saw last year when he kept the Miami Dolphins in the playoff hunt.

Third, and perhaps most important, is this: While other veteran quarterbacks might shy away from the role as a “mentor,” Fitzpatrick seems to embrace it. This past season his relationship with Tua Tagovailoa was critical to the rookie’s development.

19. OT Taylor Moton

Taylor Moton’s growth this past season as a run blocker, coupled with his prowess in the pass protection game, makes Moton one of the best offensive linemen available in this free agency cycle. The Carolina Panthers are rumored to be placing the franchise tag on him, but if Moton is allowed to test the market, he will not be available for long.

20. S Marcus Williams

NFL players can be primarily remembered for one play in their careers, and that can be both good and bad. In Williams’ case, that’s no bueno, as he gave up the 61-yard pass from Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs known as the “Minneapolis Miracle.”

That play ended the Saints’ 2017 season, but it didn’t define Marcus Williams, who came back with a bit of a down year in 2018, a dominant year in coverage in 2019, and a decent season in 2020.

21. CB William Jackson III

William Jackson isn’t really a “bail-and-trail” boundary cornerback in the traditional sense — he’s more the guy you want pressed up against his receiver and following the route all the way though. Much better in man and match than spot-drop zone. 

It’s not easy to find great man cornerbacks, and even more difficult to find man cornerbacks who have Jackson’s consistency from year to year. He should be highly coveted for that reason alone.

22. S John Johnson III

When you see the plays John Johnson II makes all over the place for the Rams, and his value becomes clearer. The nine pass deflections last season, though? Pay attention to that, because while Johnson isn’t a ballhawk in the traditional sense with just nine interceptions in his four-year career, he is a plus-level disruptor at the catch point.

Johnson is also a fine run defender, and he’s got the 31 stops in the 2020 season to prove it. His interception numbers may not overwhelm, but that doesn’t stop Johnson from being one of the most complete safeties in the league — and a clear asset for any NFL defense.

23. RB Aaron Jones

Yes, the passing game is king in the modern NFL. Yes, we are living through the age of “running backs don’t matter,” but for what he brings to the table as both a runner and a receiver, Aaron Jones should be a coveted player on the free agency market this offseason. 

Jones is the ideal modern NFL running back, and any team would be lucky to have him.

Aaron Jones has posted 1,000-yard rushing seasons the previous two years.

24. WR Corey Davis

With the emergence of AJ Brown as a true threat in the passing game for the Tennessee Titans, Corey Davis settled into a role as perhaps the second fiddle in the Titans’ passing attack. But there was a stretch in the middle of the 2020 campaign that highlighted some of what makes him a dangerous threat in the downfield passing game. In games against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions, Davis caught 14 passes for 292 yards and a pair of touchdowns, showing that when given the opportunity he can be a factor as well for an offense.

In terms of a scheme fit, Davis projects best to more vertical offenses. He can operate in more of a West Coast system that relies on short-area quickness and yardage after the catch, given his ability as a ball-carrier, but his best fit might be as a downfield weapon operating off the more vertical stem of the route tree. Perhaps a great fit for him would be in Washington opposite Terry McLaurin, provided the Titans do not find a way to bring him back for another run.

25. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Sure, the first thing that comes to mind when you think of wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is what happens away from the field. Locker room dances, Fortnight gaming, and the rest. But between the lines Smith-Schuster is an emerging talent at the wide receiver position with the ability to fit in almost any offensive system, albeit with one preferred type of scheme. 

For those reasons, Smith-Schuster might be an ideal fit for a few different teams, such as the San Francisco 49ers, Las Vegas Raiders or Chicago Bears, if the Bears are forced to watch Allen Robinson leave in free agency.

26. C Corey Linsley

Linsley is coming off one of his best seasons as a professional, as he allowed just a single sack during the regular season, back in Week 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was at times dominant as a run blocker, helping pave the way for the Packers talented stable of running backs.

There is an interesting incoming crop of rookie centers, including Creed Humphrey, Landon Dickerson, and Quinn Meinerz, and there is also David Andrews on the free agency market. But given his ability in both the run and the pass game, Linsley will have suitors should he hit the open waters. 

27. DT Leonard Williams

Had Leonard Williams been selected somewhere in the middle of the first round as opposed to sixth overall by the New York Jets in the 2015 draft, perhaps there would be a more even-handed assessment of his time with Gang Green. Though he never broke out as the kind of player who would merit that kind of draft capital.

But it wasn’t until the Jets traded Williams to the Giants in October, 2019, that Williams saw his potential unleashed. Under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and his evil array of multiple fronts, Williams has been allowed to move with a total attack mentality, using his quickness, power, and array of moves to confound enemy offensive lines to the tune of 11.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 31 quarterback hurries, and 30 stops in 2020.

As long as Williams signs with a team with a coaching staff that will take his unusual skill set into account, he should continue to be productive. In a more static set of fronts, he may regress to “just another guy” status.

28. OT Russell Okung

Due to injuries, the Carolina Panthers were forced to use a variety of combinations along the offensive line this season, but when he was healthy Russell Okung was their best option at the left tackle spot. Okung dealt with calf and groin injuries this season, and this comes in the wake of missing the start of the 2019 campaign after a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots in his lungs.

When healthy, he was a solid tackle in both pass protection and as a run blocker. Health is going to be a question, but when he is on the field, Okung remains a very solid option at left tackle. 

29. EDGE Trey Hendrickson

Selected in the third round of the 2017 draft out of Florida Atlantic, Trey Hendrickson amassed a total of 6.5 sacks in his first three NFL seasons, and didn’t start a game until Week 11 of the 2019 campaign. Then 2020 happened. Hendrickson had 13.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, and 25 quarterback hurries, along with 23 stops.

Primarily a right end in New Orleans’ defense last season, Hendrickson does have the versatility to kick inside to end in different fronts, and he’s become a player whose skill set is easily transferable to multiple defenses — at exactly the right time in a contractual sense.

30. OT Alejandro Villanueva

The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2021 offseason facing some critical decisions about their financial health. The retirement of center Maurkice Pouncey will alleviate some of those concerns, and in recent days the future of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has come into light. But another potential cap casualty could be left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who could be looking at a contract worth north of $15 million per season on the open market, something that the Steelers could not likely afford given their cap position.

31. CB Mike Hilton

Without a lot of fanfare, Mike Hilton has become a very solid pass defender as a primary slot cornerback — especially in zone coverage.

An excellent blitzer with three sacks and nine total pressures in 2020, Hilton is an ideal addition for any defense playing primary sub-package schemes out of zone, especially against speed slot receivers who can be very tough to match across the field.

32. CB Troy Hill

Like Hilton, Troy Hill has been one of the NFL’s better zone cornerbacks over the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Rams, and he was especially effective in that role under defensive coordinator Brandon Staley in 2020.

Hill was less effective in man coverage last season,  but if your team is in need of a dynamic zone-heavy cornerback who can win inside and outside and make something of it after the catch, Hill is one to watch.

33. WR Antonio Brown

The journey to Tampa Bay was long for Antonio Brown, but it culminated in the eteran receiver earning his first Super Bowl ring. After appearing in just a single game in 2019 — a game where he caught four passes from Tom Brady for the New England Patriots — Brown was suspended for the first eight weeks of the 2020 campaign for multiple violations of the NFL’s personal-conduct policy. But he joined the Buccaneers at the end of his suspension, reuniting with both Brady and Bruce Arians, who was his offensive coordinator while Brown was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The risk with Brown comes off the field. Will a team bet on his talent? Both the Raiders and the Patriots made that bet a year ago, and he played in one game between the two organizations. Perhaps his relationships with Brady and Arians keep him with the Buccaneers for another season. 

34. EDGE Yannick Ngakoue

Yannick Ngakoue has played for three different teams in three different systems since the start of the 2019 season — the Jaguars in 2019, the Vikings for six weeks in 2020 after Jacksonville traded him there, and the Ravens to finish out the 2020 season after another trade. Wherever he lined up, Ngakoue proved able to disrupt quarterbacks. 

35. DL Ndamukong Suh

Versatility was a hallmark of Ndamukong Suh’s 2020 season — he played a total of 518 snaps at defensive tackle as you’d expect, but he also played 423 snaps at some sort of edge position — either defensive end or LEO/REO. He also played 13 snaps in the box for good measure, and he proved to be a crucial piece in Todd Bowles’ multiple and ever-changing fronts.

He may not be the player he was with the Lions in the early 2010s, but Suh still has a tremendous amount to offer, especially to any defensive coordinator who wants to move him around the formation, as opposed to just putting him in a DT box and keeping him there.

36. WR T.Y. Hilton

T.Y. Hilton is a few seasons removed from some of his most productive years in the NFL, such as the 2016 campaign when he caught 91 passes for 1,448 yards and six touchdowns, and his evaluation might be clouded by the quarterback play this past season in Indianapolis, when Philip Rivers was perhaps running on fumes near the end. 

Sure, Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin and other options are going to draw the bulk of attention at the start of free agency. But on that secondary free agent market, after the splash deals are made, is where playoff teams are often crafted. Those teams are going to be targeting Hilton, and will be glad they did.

37. TE Jonnu Smith

As discussed with Hunter Henry, the uncertainty over incoming rookie tight ends makes a proven commodity at the position much more attractive each offseason. That could bode well for Jonnu Smith, who is coming off his best season as a professional.

What makes Smith intriguing as an offensive weapon is the variety to his game. He can serve as both a move-type TE, aligning outside and even in a Y-iso alignment as a pseudo-X receiver, or in the more traditional in-line role. That variety makes him a matchup nightmare for defenses, and it plays out in the passing game. 

A team to watch here? The New England Patriots. Bill Belichick needs to find production from that position group and while the Patriots drafted a pair of rookies last season, waiting for them to develop might require a bit more patience than Belichick has at the moment.

38. DE J.J. Watt

If you’ve been watching NFL football for just a few years, you may not remember that before injuries complicated his legacy in 2016 and 2017, J.J. Watt was in the early 2010s what Aaron Donald has now become — the one unstoppable disruptive force on a defensive line. 

Now that Watt is on the open market, there’s a lot to like about his short-term future as an impact pass-rusher — both on the edge (where he played primarily last season) and as an interior disruptor.

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39. EDGE Olivier Vernon

It was eclipsed on Cleveland’s defense by Myles Garrett’s exploits, but Vernon had nine sacks last season, his highest total since 2013, when he had 11.5 for the Dolphins.

The Browns restructured Vernon’s contract before the 2020 season, which makes a return to Cleveland unlikely. But when he’s healthy, Vernon still has the speed to and through the pocket, and the moves and power to upset blockers. 

40. CB Michael Davis

Unquestionably one of the most underrated players on this list. If you want a cornerback who can can do everything from taking speed receivers up the chute, to breaking up screens, to deflecting quick slants and drags over the middle, Michael Davis -- who joined the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 as an undrafted free agent -- could be your guy.

41. DE Denico Autry

Signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2014, Denico Autry really started to hit his stride when the Colts signed him to a three-year, $17.8 million contract in 2018. Autry started his Colts career as a hybrid inside/outside defensive lineman, and moved to more of an edge presence in 2020 after the Colts traded their first-round pick for former 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner.

Both as an edge-rusher and as an interior quarterback disruptor, Autry brings a heat-seeking ability to swim through gaps, and aggressive speed to get to the quarterback. He’s worth a good contract as an edge-rusher alone at this point in his career, but the smart defensive coordinator with Autry on his roster will move him all over the line.

42. QB Cam Newton

There are two ways to view Cam Newton as we look ahead to the 2021 season.

The “glass half-empty” approach is as follows: Last season with the New England Patriots documented his limitations as a passer in the modern NFL. Throws relying on timing and rhythm were a roller coaster, and Newton’s inability to execute the passing game with any consistency doomed the Patriots’ season. 

The “glass half-full” approach is as follows: Last season was an aberration, driven largely by the fact that Newton signed with New England late, the preseason was lost due to COVID-19, Newton was not the same player when he returned after his own bout with COVID-19 and the Patriots did not surround him with a ton of offensive talent. Despite that, Newton was still a major weapon in the run game.

43. DE Shelby Harris

Shelby Harris has been one of the more productive and versatile defensive linemen you may not have heard of over the last few years. Harris’ aggressive movement skills and optimal hand use are two more reasons he’s one of the better multi-gap defensive linemen in this free agency class.

44. LB K.J. Wright

K.J. Wright has been a key cog in Seattle’s defense since the prime of the Legion of Boom days, and though that defense plays more like the Legion of Whom at times these days, Wright is still a fine player.

If your team plays a lot of base (three-linebacker) defense, Wright can be a really nice addition as a run-stopper and intermediate coverage defender.

45. QB Andy Dalton

When Dak Prescott went down with his ankle fracture, many thought that the Dallas Cowboys’ season was a complete loss. But last year’s acquisition of Andy Dalton paid off, as the veteran quarterback was able to keep the ship afloat and – combined with poor play in the rest of the division – keep the Cowboys in playoff contention until the final Sunday of the regular season.

Dalton’s experience allows him to be a point guard in most offensive systems, where he can make throws on time and in rhythm to break down most defensive coverage schemes. He wins more with his mind at this point in his career.

46. CB Quinton Dunbar

When the Seahawks sent a fifth-round pick to Washington last March for the services of cornerback Quinton Dunbar, it seemed that Seattle had committed grand larceny, and Dunbar was the guy who — along with former Lions safety Quandre Diggs — would help Seattle re-start the Legion of Boom.

Sadly for Dunbar and the Seahawks, it didn’t quite work out. 

However, in any system where he’s allowed to use his top-level instincts (and he’s actually healthy), Dunbar can still project to the guy he was in 2019 as opposed to the disappointments of 2020.

47. EDGE Carl Lawson

Carl Lawson has all the tools you want in an edge-rusher. He can bend the edge and “dip-and-rip” to the pocket, he’s very good at converting speed to power when it’s time to bull-rush a tackle.

Given his skill set and his pressure numbers in a dysfunctional defense, don’t be surprised if Lawson is a double-digit sack artist in the right system next season.

48. EDGE Matthew Judon

Some will discount Judon’s impact as a pass-rusher because Baltimore’s blitz rates have been so high over the last two seasons (a league-high 54.9% in 2019, and a league-high 44.1% in 2020), but that’s not entirely fair, nor does it mean that Judon can’t get to the quarterback without a blitz. He’s sneaky-fast around blockers to get pressure in more static fronts, and yes, given his experience with blitz concepts, he can also read gaps and time his rushes from multiple positions.

49. QB Jameis Winston

Look, he is an option.

There are perhaps a few big red flags when it comes to evaluating Jameis Winston as an option on the quarterback carousel. First is the fact that in his final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their starting quarterback he threw 30 interceptions. Then the Buccaneers went out and signed Tom Brady, who immediately led them to a Super Bowl victory.

Then there is this: Winston was signed by the New Orleans Saints behind Drew Brees, and when Brees went down with an injury, Sean Payton turned to…Taysom Hill to start in his place instead of Winston.

Still, teams should not foreclose on Winston as an option at quarterback, and yes as a potential starter in this league. The bet will be that during his time in New Orleans Winston was able to work on his decision-making, so that when he sees his next live action the reads and throws will be faster, and not as risky. The biggest flaw I saw in Winston’s game after that final year in Tampa Bay was how the ball would sometimes just come out of his hand far too slowly for plays to be effective. If that has been fixed, Winston could in time be an effective starter in this league.

50. LB Matt Milano

In the 2020 season, the Bills played more nickel defense than any other team, and it wasn’t particularly close — 646 snaps of nickel in pass defense (the Buccaneers finished second with 558), and 416 in run defense (the Cowboys finished second with 346). One primary reason defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was able to call so many nickel snaps is the presence of two full-field linebackers in Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano.

Any team playing a lot of nickel would be wise to investigate Milano as a full-field defender and an asset in most categories.

Matt Milano had an interception and 3.5 sacks for the AFC East champion Bills.

51. EDGE Markus Golden

Markus Golden has been a consistently underrated pressure machine for a while now, but whichever team signs him for 2021 and beyond will be rewarded with more quarterback disruption than you might think.

52. OT Daryl Williams

Looking back, one of the best signings of the previous free agency cycle was when the Buffalo Bills inked offensive tackle Daryl Williams to a one-year, $2.25 million contract. What did the organization get in return for a tackle at that price? A player who started all 16 regular season games and all three playoff contests, and allowed just three sacks during the regular season. This is a huge improvement for Williams, who allowed a whopping 12 sacks during the 2019 campaign when he saw time at left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle for the Carolina Panthers.

The drawback, of course, is the fact that Buffalo only signed him for the single season. Williams placed a huge bet on himself and now, thanks to his career-best season, he’ll be staring a potential big payday in the face.

53. CB Bashaud Breeland

Bashaud Breeland was suspended the first for games of the 2020 season due to a violation of the NFL’s policy and program on substances of abuse, which allowed fourth-round rookie L’Jarius Sneed to show out surprisingly well as an outside cornerback. 

Breeland isn’t an elite cornerback, but he does enough well as an outside defender on deep routes to be a credible CB2 for a few more seasons.

54. EDGE Everson Griffen

After a 10-year stretch with the Vikings that saw him put up 74.5 sacks and make four Pro Bowls in five years from 2015 through 2019, Everson Griffen signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cowboys and was traded by Dallas to the Lions in late October. Thus, Griffen spent his 2020 season with two of the NFL’s worst defenses, and still managed to grab six sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 17 quarterback hurries, seven knockdowns, and two batted passes in just 301 pass-rushing snaps. 

He’s a player who could put up more than 50 pressures in a defense with half a clue.

55. WR Curtis Samuel

Curtis Samuel enters free agency having decided to pick a perfect time to have his best year as a professional. Last year, his first season in Joe Brady’s offense, Samuel set career-high marks in receiving yardage, yards from scrimmage, receptions, first downs, rushing attempts, rushing yardage, and touches. Brady found a variety of ways to get Samuel involved in the offense, and teams looking for that type of Swiss army knife type of weapon are going to love what he did on film.

56. TE Rob Gronkowski

Given that he came out of retirement to play with his old pal Tom Brady, it is unclear if Rob Gronkowski will truly test free agency or simply return to catch more passes from his buddy. But this past season Gronkowski proved that he still has more in the tank for an NFL offense, and he proved that well before the two touchdown passes he caught in Super Bowl 55.

He might not test the waters, but Gronkowski certainly has more left in the tank. 

57. CB Jason Verrett

If Jason Verrett had been able to stay healthy throughout his career, he probably wouldn’t be an impending free agent. And if Verrett was an impending free agent who had been able to stay healthy throughout his career, he and his representatives would likely be mulling over which team’s offer of around $15 million per year would be in his best interest. He’d also be somewhere in the top five on this list. That’s how great Verrett can be when he’s on the field, though it’s only been in fits and starts.

58. S Malik Hooker

The only thing keeping Hooker from top-five placement on this list (or removal from this list because he wouldn’t be a free agent) is an injury history that has seen him play just 36 of a possible 64 games through four seasons. It’s the same thing that caused the Colts to decline Hooker’s fifth-year option before the 2020 season, and as it turned out, Hooker missed all but two games in 2020 due to a torn Achilles tendon. 

There’s no reason to believe that Hooker can’t still be a premier safety if he’s ever consistently healthy ... but of course, that’s the dangling question. Is he worth a relatively cheap flyer in hopes that he can regain his 2018 form? Without question; you just can’t build your secondary around that possibility.

59. S Tre Boston

Tre Boston has a truly odd status as the most underrated and undervalued deep safety of his era.

It’s about time somebody rewards him with a multi-year deal that sticks. Of course, in the compressed salary cap of 2021, that may not happen. Regardless, some team is going to sign Boston, and he will make that team look very smart. 

60. LB Avery Williamson

Avery Williamson was a full-field tackling machine for the Titans from 2014-2017. In 2018, he signed a three-year, $22.5 million contract with the Jets — a journey that was abbreviated when he missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. He came back for the 2020 season only to be traded to the Steelers, which made him pretty happy — alas, poor Jets.

Williamson won’t make anybody forget Lavonte David in coverage at this point in his career, but he’s still an excellent run-stopper who can bring pressure with blitzes and take care of short routes from the slot. He’s a nice fit for any nickel-heavy defense that needs movement skills and positional versatility from its linebackers.

61. S Keanu Neal

Selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Florida by the Falcons, Keanu Neal looked like the second coming of Kam Chancellor in Dan Quinn’s defense in his first two seasons. Then, injuries robbed him of all but four games in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and people tended to forget just how good he had been.

62. TE Gerald Everett

For a creative offensive mind, Gerald Everett could be the key to unlocking the potential of a modern NFL offense. Everett’s movement skills and quickness make him a matchup nightmare against linebackers, and given that Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay found a variety of ways to ensure that Everett would get favorable matchups this season, and then exploit them after the snap. Everett’s ability was a big reason that Los Angeles used a lot more 12 offensive personnel the past few seasons, including using that package 29% of the time this past year.

As more teams use 12 personnel, having the true move type of TE is a big part of offensive game-planning. Organizations that are looking for such a player would be smart to kick the tires on Everett.

63. OG Kelechi Osemele

After a long and winding road brought Kelechi Osemele to the Kansas City Chiefs, it looked like the NFL veteran was finally going to find his next NFL home. Having spent time with the Ravens, the Raiders and the Jets, Osemele slotted in as the Chiefs starting left tackle to begin the 2020 season.

But then Osemele was injured early in Kansas City’s Week 5 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, and the left guard was lost for the season with torn tendons in both knees. That marked the second year in row that Osemele’s season was cut short.

Osemele’s toughness and status as a true road grader up front will make him an asset to almost any NFL offense, and given the Chiefs’ issues with protecting Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, one might expect Kansas City to try and bring him back for the 2021 season. If such a deal is not reached, teams looking for some toughness and the ability to run a course of gap/power designs are going to be calling, even with the injury concerns. 

64. RB Kenyan Drake

After being traded to the Arizona Cardinals for the back half of the 2019 season, it seemed that his new team found a way to unlock Kenyan Drake’s potential. In just eight games in the desert Drake became a featured player in the Arizona offense, rushing for 643 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 28 passes for 171 yards.

That continued this past season, as Drake enjoyed his best year as a pro. He rushed for 955 yards and ten touchdowns and started 13 games, all of which represent career-high numbers. 

What might make him available on the open market is the emergence of Chase Edmonds as a viable option in the Cardinals offense.

65. EDGE Haason Reddick

Haason Reddick has learned to make life a nightmare for offensive tackles with an intense playing style. At 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, he’s not your typical bull-rushing edge defender, but if you’re in charge of a defense that places a premium on aggressive speed from the outside, you could do far worse than giving Reddick a pretty decent contract.

66. WR A.J. Green

Injuries and age might be grinding the great career of A.J. Green down, but the veteran receiver still has some good football left to play.  He seems to have lost the explosiveness to his game, and at this point in his career he might be more of a possession receiver than a downfield vertical threat. Still, there are things that Green does as a receiver that will make him an intriguing option in free agency. 

Teams that rely more on West Coast concepts would be smart to look at bringing in Green, as he still has a few more years of solid play left.

67. WR Nelson Agholor

One of the more surprising revelations this season was the emergence of Nelson Agholor as a downfield threat for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Agholor could be an ideal fit in a team looking for a third option at receiver, and one that can operate both underneath, as well as in the downfield passing game.

68. CB Mackensie Alexander

A smooth mover from the slot who would work well in any zone-heavy system, Mackensie Alexander could very likely put up better numbers on a defense where everything wasn’t falling apart all around him.

69. S Jaquiski Tartt

As was the case for seemingly every defensive player on the 49ers’ roster in the 2020 season, Tartt missed time due to injury — nine games. When Jaquiski Tartt was healthy, he did what he has done throughout his recent time in Robert Saleh’s defense: he played more than credibly everywhere from the box to the slot to free safety. 

He checks just about every box when it comes to the modern multi-position defender. It’s a coveted skill set in today’s NFL, and Tartt should see a correspondingly robust market for his services.

70. RB James White

Given that the modern NFL favors the passing game, running backs that can contribute as receivers or in pass protection tend to be more valuable than the “between-the-tackles bruiser.”

That points to what James White means to the New England Patriots, and what he could mean to another franchise. Teams looking for a third-down running back who can be relied on heavily in the passing game will love what they find.

71. EDGE Melvin Ingram III

Melvin Ingram played in just seven games in the 2020 season as he tried to work through knee issues, but it’s very obvious that a healthy Melvin Ingram can still make a very big dent in any opposing offense.

72. CB Desmond King

When studying King’s 2020 season, it’s important to separate his time with the Chargers (who played mostly zone coverage and were pretty good at it) and his time with the Titans (who played far too much man coverage and were incredibly bad at it).

On the whole, King is an above-average primary slot cornerback who can stay sticky with receivers on short and intermediate routes, and he did cause a lot of incompletions on extended plays. Let’s just get him with a team that knows how to weld his skill set to their defensive concepts. 

73. TE Jared Cook

He might be a few seasons removed from making back-to-back Pro Bowls, but Jared Cook is still a viable tight end option for almost any NFL roster at this point in his career. He remains a dangerous threat on seam routes, and teams looking for that element to the passing game could benefit if Cook is a casualty of the Saints’ horrific salary cap position. 

74. C Alex Mack

For virtually his entire NFL career, Alex Mack has been listed among the game’s top centers, and it is likely that the final stop of his NFL journey is in Canton. 

One area of his play that slipped a bit last year was his pass blocking. Whether that’s a cause for concern, or just the fact that the guys on the other side of the ball are good too, will be the deciding factor in the kind of deal he commands this offseason.

75. RB Chris Carson

Chris Carson has been almost a cult hero among both Seahawks Twitter — which is something of a legend in its own right — and fantasy football Twitter. Of course, back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons might also have something to do with that, which Carson posted in both 2018 and 2019. 

There are some concerns with Carson going forward. First there is the injury history.  Then there are the fumble woes. This dates back to his time with Oklahoma State, where he was benched for losing the ball, and continues into his NFL days.

Those two factors are going to play in any negotiation this offseason. But the opportunity to add a running back with a pair of 1,000-yard seasons is going to intrigue most front offices, especially one that can also contribute in the passing game. 

76. DB Jalen Mills

The obvious story in Philly last season was the implosion of Carson Wentz, but another reason the Eagles finished 4-11-1 was that their defense — especially their pass defense — was not exactly a fountain of greatness.

One guy in that secondary who didn’t wind up with as much egg on his face was Jalen Mills, who alternated between strong safety and slot defender.

Mills could make even more of an impact as both a safety and slot defender with another year of those concepts under his belt.

77. DT Dalvin Tomlinson

Dalvin Tomlinson had quite the under-the-radar contract year for the Giants in 2020, matching his 2019 totals in sacks (3.5) and tackles (49) while setting a career high with 28 total pressures

Tomlinson would be a dynamite rotational addition to any defense, and his consistency is pretty obvious.

78. CB Kevin King

Obviously, Kevin King did not perform well in Green Bay’s NFC championship game loss to the Buccaneers.

King was beset by issues in both zone and man coverage in Mike Pettine’s defense last season. He also missed time last season with quadricep and Achilles tendon injuries, which didn’t help.

The Patriots have perhaps the best man coverage defense in the NFL right now, and they tend to get lost in the weeds when they go away from it. Could King be another Belichick reclamation project? Stranger things have happened.

79. EDGE Aldon Smith

Aldon Smith missed the 2016-2019 seasons due to multiple legal and substance abuse issues and was conditionally reinstated on May 26, 2020. The Cowboys had signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract the month before, and in his first year back, Smith had a decent season — better than might be expected after so long a layoff and such a volatile lifestyle.

Smith will never again be the guy who took the league by storm in 2012 with 19.5 sacks, but he still has a place in the league as a situational edge defender with his speed to the pocket, inside counter, and ability to bull-rush blockers. 

80. RB James Conner

Back in 2018, James Conner was one of the NFL’s best stories. A cancer survivor, Conner rushed for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns in just his second professional season, earning an invitation to his first Pro Bowl. His production has dipped since then.

Conner is an ideal fit for zone-based offenses, as his vision and footwork pairs well with teams that rely heavily on the outside zone game. He is very good at identifying cutback opportunities, as well as finding spots to bounce plays to the outside, and has enough burst to make the most of those chances.

81. CB Patrick Peterson

Remember the early-to-mid 2010s, when we could argue whether Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis, or Patrick Peterson was the NFL’s best cornerback from year to year? Great cornerbacks do not generally have long shelf lives.

At age 30 (he’ll turn 31 in July), Peterson isn’t going to make a ton of plays anymore by matching the league’s best receivers through every nuance of their routes. But he does still bring value as a guy who knows how to read quarterbacks, has an excellent sense of where the ball is going, and gets there to create incompletions and interceptions. The team signing Peterson now just has to understand the value of his adaptive strategies, and will need to work around the skills that have eroded over time.

82. CB K'Waun Williams

The 49ers exercised K'Waun Williams’ 2020 option after an outstanding 2019 season in which he became one of the NFL’s better slot defenders. Unfortunately, Williams feel prey to the injury curse that seemed to affect everybody on San Francisco’s defense — between calf, ankle, and ACL issues, he played in just eight games and had just four starts in 2020.

He’s not the biggest guy at five-foot-9 and 185 pounds, but as is true of a lot of smaller defenders, Williams brings smooth and fluid movement skills to the field, as well as the speed and range to take everything from bubble screens to deep posts against some of the NFL’s best receivers. Any team playing a ton of nickel or dime defense (which is just about any team these days) would do well to add Williams to its roster.

83. OT Cam Robinson

Other than missing the bulk of the 2018 season with a torn ACL, Cam Robinson has been the starting left tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars since being selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.

Robinson has solid footwork and hand technique for a left tackle in the NFL, and is athletic enough to be a force in the outside zone/wide zone game. 

84. CB Terrance Mitchell

Terrance Mitchell wasn’t always that on point, or he’d be much higher on this list. For the season, he allowed 54 receptions on 97 targets for 801 yards, 260 yards after the catch, five touchdowns, no interceptions, and an opponent passer rating of 100.1. But in a specific boundary role, he’s shown potential to do some really good things in multiple defensive systems.

85. EDGE Ryan Kerrigan

At age 32 (he’ll turn 33 on August 16), Kerrigan has seen his total pressures drop in each of the last five seasons. This had a lot to do with the fact that Washington has been reinforcing its defensive line with a ton of first-round talent over the last few years — they had five former first-round picks, including Kerrigan and rookie Chase Young, on their D-line rotation in 2020. 2020 also marked the first season of Kerrigan’s NFL career, which started in 2011, that he didn’t have at least 12 starts — he had just one. 

This would seem to indicate that Kerrigan is on his last legs and should be ignored as a potential impact free agent. Not so fast, as they say. Kerrigan had those 16 total pressures, including 5.5 sacks, on just 252 pass-rushing snaps, and as this sack of Daniel Jones against the Giants in Week 6 showed, Kerrigan is still quite capable of wreaking havoc in the pocket. Maybe not at his best a few years back, but he could certainly add value to any defensive line on a rotational basis.

86. OT Zach Banner

After serving as a reserve tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019 — and playing 219 snaps at tight end in jumbo packages — Zach Banner earned the starting right tackle spot for the 2020 season. Unfortunately, Banner suffered a season-ending injury during Pittsburgh’s Week 1 victory over the New York Giants, and now faces free agency with a minimal body of work over his three-year career.

But in his minimal 2020 action you can see that Banner has the combination of power and athleticism that can work on both edges of the offensive line, which might make him a valued commodity on the free agency market.

87. S Daniel Sorensen

Daniel Sorensen essentially played a box hybrid linebacker/safety role most of the time for the Kansas City Chiefs, and he was pretty good in that role. Sorensen isn’t the fastest guy on the field, but he’s found a way to use excellent footwork to trail receivers up the seam on deep passes, and he’s very good at reading a quarterback’s intentions. 

The Chiefs would do well to re-sign him if defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo wants to keep up that much dime, but Sorensen would be an asset as a box player who can play outside the box, so to speak, for just about any team playing a ton of what used to be called sub-package defense before nickel and dime became the new base concepts.

Maybe even the Packers?

88. WR Breshad Perriman

Breshad Perriman turned a three-game stretch at the end of the 2019 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a new contract with the New York Jets for the 2020 campaign. Perriman could not duplicate that level of production with the Jets this past season.

Perriman fits the mold of a traditional X receiver, with solid size for the position and the varied route tree that finds him working up the vertical stem as well as across the middle. Teams that miss out on the upper tier of WR targets this cycle would be wise to explore Perriman as a Plan B. 

89. CB Brian Poole

With the Falcons in his first three seasons, and with the Jets in 2019 and 2020, Brian Poole has developed into one of the NFL’s more sneaky-good slot defenders, and last season was no exception. 

Regardless of scheme, Poole would be an asset to any defense looking for credible slot coverage.

90. WR Rashard Higgins

When the Cleveland Browns lost Odell Beckham Jr. to injury, many wondered how the offense would pick up the slack. Thankfully for Browns fans, players like Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins were more than ready to step in. Higgins started a career-high six games in 2020, and put up some of the best numbers of his NFL career. He became a trusted target for quarterback Baker Mayfield in Cleveland’s run to the divisional playoffs.

Higgins does some of his best work operating off the vertical stem of the route tree and outside of the numbers. Vertical routes, deep comebacks, deep outs and curls are routes that he runs extremely well, and he shows good hand strength at the catch point in contested catch situations. Teams looking to add or upgrade at the WR2 spot across from a more versatile threat would be smart to give Higgins a call.

91. RB Jamaal Williams

In addition to Aaron Jones, the Green Bay Packers have another running back joining the free agent ranks in Jamaal Williams. Williams has been a rotational option for the Packers each of the last few seasons, and even in the crowded Green Bay running back room last year Williams still had 119 rushing attempts for 505 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as 31 receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown.

He is a solid fit for teams that rely heavily on inside zone concepts or gap/power designs. Williams is strong at the contact point, and can work through arm tackles or wrap attempts before breaking into the second or third levels of the defense. 

92. WR Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald has not yet made a decision about returning for what would be his 18th NFL campaign, but even at this point in his career Fitzgerald can still be a solid rotational depth option for an NFL offense. 

In addition to what he offers as a receiver, Fitzgerald remains a stout run blocker at the receiving position. The Cardinals have often used him as a lead blocker in some of their run designs to the edges, and that versatility makes him a valuable contributor in every facet of the game.

The one thing left to accomplish for Fitzgerald is a Super Bowl ring, and few could blame him if he wanted to chase a Lombardi Trophy in his final few seasons. Teams that are in contention but could use depth at receiver — such as the Kansas City Chiefs — might be a team to watch if he does test the open market.

93. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

As has been the case throughout most of his career, it’s never easy to figure out what Jadeveon Clowney is, and what he can be. There was the “spinner” defender who underperformed for the Texans early in his career and eventually morphed into a decent, but not transcendent, pass-rusher. There was the one-year rental for the Seahawks in 2019 who Pete Carroll made a more traditional edge-rusher, but aside from one game against the 49ers in which he may have put up the single most dominant defensive performance of the entire season, Clowney spent too much of his time disappearing on the field. 

Then, there was the guy who signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Titans in 2020. That version of Jadeveon Clowney played in just eight games due to knee issues, logged zero sacks for the first time since his injury-plagued rookie season, and had just six quarterback hits and four tackles for loss. The Titans were desperately hoping that Clowney would improve their anemic pass-rush, but as Tennessee’s defense ranked only ahead of the Lions with a total pressure rate of 17.6% and had the NFL’s third-fewest sacks with 19… well, no bueno

At this point in time, we may just have to accept that Clowney is a physical specimen with major athletic tools whose gifts don’t show up on the field often enough. There are pass-rushers who can get home and pass-rushers who can’t. Clowney has generally been in the neighborhood when healthy, and he’s been on the block at his best, but the team signing him for 2021 and beyond should not expect more than that.

94. CB Shaquill Griffin

There was some thought that when the Seahawks selected Shaquill Griffin in the third round of the 2017 draft out of Central Florida, he had all the tools to extend Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense as the first instigators started finding other homes or retiring. It didn’t quite work out that way.

The problem isn’t what Griffin does well, there’s enough of that to impress. The problem is that Griffin doesn’t have that extra closing click that sets the best cornerbacks apart. 

95. OL Mike Remmers

Super Bowl 55 might cloud the thinking here, but veteran offensive lineman Mike Remmers could be an under-the-radar type of signing for a team this free agency cycle that pays big dividends next season. If your organization is looking for a bookend left tackle, then you might want to keep looking. But for a right tackle/swing tackle option, Remmers could be ideal. 

If he can start at right tackle, or serve as that swing tackle option behind the starters, Remmers could be a valuable addition to any offensive line group.

96. QB Tyrod Taylor

Over the past few seasons, Tyrod Taylor has seen starting jobs give way to rookies, first with Baker Mayfield with the Cleveland Browns, and this past season in Los Angeles with Justin Herbert. Of course, the circumstances about the Chargers situation are a bit ... different. Taylor was forced to miss a game after an injection administered by team doctors was botched, forcing Herbert into the starting lineup just minutes before a Week 2 meeting with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Herbert would go on to be named Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Taylor would see just one lone snap the rest of the season. But Taylor has guided a team to the playoffs and in the right system he could be an ideal backup/spot-starter. That still has value in today’s NFL.

97. DT Sheldon Rankins

Sheldon Rankins has seen some unfortunate injury issues over the last couple of years. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the Saints’ divisional round win over the Eagles in January 2019 — an  injury that cost him the first three weeks of the 2019 season. He also missed four games in 2020 with a knee injury, but when healthy, Rankins can still be an outstanding interior disruptor.

In 2020, with just 267 pass-rushing snaps, he had 2.5 sacks, 22 pressures, and seven knockdowns. Rankins brings formidable quickness and strength to work the guard’s inside or outside shoulder, and if you don’t get set quickly against him, you’re likely to be embarrassed, and your quarterback is likely to be upset with you because he just got earholed. 

Can Rankins still be the player who did all of this in 2018? The flashes are still there; he just has to be healthy enough to make the most of them.

98. EDGE Romeo Okwara

Romeo Okwara’s performance in the 2020 season was lost in the rolling tide of bleh that was the Lions defense, but NFL personnel people should not let this one pass by. Long and lanky at 6-foot-4 and 236 pounds, Okwara uses his long legs like pistons off the snap for speed and momentum, and he can easily use his hands to get choppy with opposing offensive tackles to run by and get to the quarterback. 

And if you want a guy who uses technique to forklift a blocker out of the way? Okwara can be your ideal. 

Okwara should probably be higher on this list; there’s an element of one-year production here though he did have 7.5 sacks and 36 pressures in 2018. But there’s no reason to believe he can’t repeat or even improve upon his 2020 numbers if he’s lined up as a wide edge defender who can use his athleticism and technique to make things very obnoxious for opposing tackles. 

99. CB Chidobe Awuzie

There are times when a downgrade in performance can be attributed mostly to a player, and there are other times when you have to look at coaching and scheme. 2020 was Awuzie’s worst NFL season to date, but when you looked at the ways in which defensive coordinator Mike Nolan over-complicated Dallas’ coverage concepts and made them unilaterally worse, one tends not to blame Awuzie in this instance.

He’s a good player who can match and jump routes, and he deserves to be in a defense that isn’t blowing itself apart with alarming regularity.

100. CB A.J. Bouye

2020 was a bit of a lost season for Bouye, as he lost all but seven games due to injury and struggled when he was on the field. Bouye is a few years past the time when he was one of the game’s best and most underrated cornerbacks, but in the right system where he’s working against smaller receivers outside and in the slot, he can still make a favorable contribution.

101. QB Joe Flacco

Given the talent in this year’s class of rookie quarterbacks, a number of organizations could be looking for the “bridge” type of QB, a veteran who can start if needed early in the year until giving way to the younger quarterback. Veteran passer Joe Flacco fits that mold at this point in this career. Right now, Flacco is not the quarterback you will look  to to lead your franchise for a full 16-game season, but he can give you spot starts either to open the season or throughout the campaign as your team transitions to the quarterback of the future.

Last season, Flacco was behind Sam Darnold with the New York Jets, but did show in limited action that he can run the offense and still make some impressive throws in spots. 

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