There should certainly be a lot of interest in NFL free agency this year
When the dust settles at Super Bowl LV, only one team can be left standing, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and declared the champions of the 2020 NFL season. But then, the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will join the other 30 teams in turning their attention to next season, with the league’s calendar officially flipping to 2021 upon the start of NFL free agency.
Before that takes place, however, teams will be allowed to designate franchise and transition tags to players from February 23 until 4 p.m. ET on March 9.
When does 2021 NFL free agency start? Who are the possible big free agents?
This year’s NFL free agency period will begin at 4 p.m. ET on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
Teams, however, will be permitted between March 15 and March 17 to make contact and negotiate with the agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents effective the start of free agency. This block of time is known as the “legal tampering period.”
During this time, only the agents of these players can talk with other teams. The unrestricted free agent and another team may not have direct contact, and the player is only eligible to visit the team he was contracted to in the previous season.
Of course, until the “legal tampering window” begins, teams may negotiate and attempt to re-sign their own pending free agents.
Players who are restricted free agents or exclusive-rights free agents — and the agents of these players — are forbidden from talking with any other teams until free agency officially begins. Teams have until April 23 to give an offer sheet to a restricted free agent. The player’s previous team will have five days to either match the offer or let that player walk to the team whose offer sheet he signed.
Pro Football Focus has compiled a list of the top free agents heading into this offseason.
As of the morning of Super Bowl LV, the offensive players in the top 25 names on the list include quarterback Dark Prescott, wide receiver Chris Godwin, wide receiver Allen Robinson, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, tight end Hunter Henry, wide receiver Will Fuller, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, wide receiver Corey Davis and center Corey Linsley.
Defensive players on this list, meanwhile, include: tackle Trent Williams, safety Justin Simmons, safety Anthony Harris, linebacker Lavonte David, guard Brandon Scherff, tackle Taylor Moton, guard Joe Thuney, edge Shaquil Barrett, safety Marcus Williams, cornerback William Jackson, cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive lineman Leonard Williams, cornerback Desmond King, safety Marcus Maye and safety John Johnson.
Add in the potential quarterback madness of this offseason featuring the likes of Deshaun Watson, not to mention the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff deal we already saw, and this offseason may be one for the NFL history books.