One of the busiest weeks in sports is upon us. NFL free agency is around the corner, March Madness will be starting in just a few days, and Spring Training is in action as MLB teams prepare for the season. Today, I’m here with the first half of my NFL free agency predictions. This article will cover all offensive players, while I’ll be covering defensive players in the next one. As always, feel free to comment with your thoughts, and keep reading for my predictions below.
The NFL draft is the best route for teams who are in need of QBs, but some teams will settle for a free agent or bring in a free agent QB as a backup or bridge.
I have Winston resigning in New Orleans and getting a chance to start, but none of these other QBs are a sure thing to get a starting job. I have Fitzpatrick headed to Denver to compete with Drew Lock, but there’s no guarantee he’ll end up starting. Smith and Brissett both secure backup roles in the NFC East, while Dalton will remain in the NFC East and compete for the Washington Football Team QB job. He’ll probably compete with both Taylor Heinicke and a rookie in an open battle. Trubisky will also be limited to a backup role this year, but in Pittsburgh, he can learn from QB Ben Roethlisberger and potentially get a chance to succeed him as QB of the Steelers in 2022.
Note: Aaron Jones has signed with Green Bay, and it was too late for me to modify my RB predictions accordingly.
The only free agent RB I could see earning a workhorse role with a new team is Aaron Jones. Some of the teams who need a RB most will want to wait for the NFL Draft and target RBs like Travis Etienne, Najee Harris, and Javonte Williams. I have the Steelers, Jets, and Falcons waiting for the draft.
I have Carson headed to Buffalo to lead the committee with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, giving the Bills an extra flare to their run game when he’s healthy. I had the Seahawks replacing Carson with a RB who’s arguably better in Jones. The rest of these backs, like Carson, will be in time shares. Bell will take the third down role in New England with James White and Rex Burkhead leaving. Fournette will head to Philly, who wants a RB to pair with Sanders. Drake will head back to Arizona for a committee with Chase Edmonds.
Gallman, who I have back in New York, should get some reps early in the season as Saquon Barkley recovers and replace Barkley in the case of an injury. The Giants don’t have a backup for Barkley on the roster right now so bringing back Gallman or bringing in someone else is important.
The free agent WR market will be one of the most active parts of this free agency, as several high profile wide receivers capable of #1 roles hit the open market. I have Golladay headed to Jacksonville as they bulk up the offense for Trevor Lawrence. I also think Allen Robinson will be traded to resolve his dissatisfaction with the franchise tag (I have him headed to Miami). Those two aren’t even the only significant names available.
The Patriots are another team that could use a #1 receiver, and I think Fuller fits the bill. He really proved himself in his contract year with the Texans despite a PED suspension cutting his season short. I have AB headed to the Ravens to form a duo with his cousin Marquise. Davis heads to Detroit, as they have limited money but only have 2 WRs on the current roster (I do also expect the Lions to draft 1-2 receivers). The Colts will probably be in the mix for guys like Golladay, but I have them signing a cheaper former Lion in Marvin Jones to play next to Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell.
Smith-Schuster heads to Washington, as he was good in a #2 role with Pittsburgh when AB was there and would be good in a #2 role with the team who needs it most. It would take pressure off Terry McLaurin and make the offense easier to work with for whoever the new QB is.
In addition to these guys, Zach Ertz and David Njoku could receive attention on the trade market, and Kyle Pitts could easily land a starting job via the draft. I think the Patriots and Cardinals will wait on a tight end in hopes of landing one of those guys.
Meanwhile, expect the Chargers and Titans, two other teams with a big tight end need, to resign their 2020 tight ends to new contracts. I also have Tonyan, a restricted free agent, returning to his 2020 team, the Packers. The second tier of tight ends will see more movement in the free agent market. I have Everett leaving his time share with Tyler Higbee for the Jaguars starting TE job. Similarly, I have Burton, who was part of Indianapolis’ TE trio, headed to Carolina. The Panthers could still easily pair Burton with Pitts from the NFL draft. I have Cook, an older tight end, headed to Cincinnati to add depth to young QB Joe Burrow’s offense.
I have a lot of top offensive linemen resigning with their 2020 teams, including Linsley, Williams, Mack, and Andrews. If they resign Andrews, they probably won’t need Thuney as they can run with a starting o-line of Trent Brown, Michael Onwenu, Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Isaiah Wynn. I have Thuney headed to the Chargers, who probably need to sign multiple interior o-linemen this off-season. It will be hard for Fisher, who was released by the Chiefs, to land another left tackle job over guys like Orlando Brown (who will probably be traded to a team in need of a LT). I have him landing in Seattle and playing the right side.
That’s all for this portion of my free agency predictions. Stay tuned for my defensive predictions in the next 24 hours.