The 2021 NFL offseason is semi-officially here. Still, the real wildness won’t kick in until free agency gets underway on March 17. In advance of that already-highly-anticipated date, here’s an initial look at the top 25 players slated to hit the open market next month.
25. Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones: Running backs are almost never worth the price tag in free agency, but Jones hasn’t been too heavily used and has scored 30 touchdowns the last two seasons. He just turned 26.
24. Minnesota Vikings S Anthony Harris: He’s 29 now and coming off a zero-interception season, but Harris was one of the best safeties in football when he picked off six passes in 2019.
23. Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis: The 2017 No. 5 overall pick has yet to fully live up to expectations, but he went over 100 yards in three of his last seven games in what was the best season yet for the 26-year-old.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: He’s only 24 and has a 1,426-yard season under his belt. He hasn’t been consistently reliable the last couple seasons, but the ceiling is very high.
21. Cincinnati Bengals CB William Jackson III: The 2016 first-round pick looked to be emerging as a superstar a couple years ago. He hasn’t fully taken off, but the talent is there at a critical position. He’s 28.
20. Los Angeles Rams S John Johnson III: The 25-year-old might not be a household name yet, but he was again one of the league’s highest-graded safeties at Pro Football Focus in 2020.
19. New York Jets S Marcus Maye: Ditto for Maye, who’s versatile and durable, and has a star-level ceiling at age 27.
18. Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry: Injuries have prevented the tantalizing 26-year-old from fully taking off, but he’s gone over 600 yards the last two seasons despite missing six games altogether.
17. New England Patriots G Joe Thuney: The extremely durable 28-year-old has Super Bowl pedigree and the ability to slide into any system effectively. Contenders will be all over that.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Lavonte David: Same here, especially after David captured Super Bowl LV. The 31-year-old might not merit a long-term deal, but he’ll still cash in as one of the best off-ball linebackers in the sport.
15. Green Bay Packers C Corey Linsley: The 29-year-old All-Pro has missed just three games the last four years as Aaron Rodgers’ center.
14. Baltimore Ravens edge Yannick Ngakoue: He’s bounced around, but in the last five seasons, only Khalil Mack has forced more fumbles than the 25-year-old with superstar potential.
13. Cincinnati Bengals edge Carl Lawson: T.J. Watt was the only player in the NFL with more quarterback hits than Lawson (32) this season. His sack numbers aren’t impressive, but he’s still only 25.
12. New Orleans Saints S Marcus Williams: Still just 24, the underrated and durable Williams is one of the best over-the-top safeties in the NFL.
11. Carolina Panthers OT Taylor Moton: One of the most reliable, consistent and durable tackles in the league continues to be overlooked. He should make a lot of money on the open market at age 26.
10. Denver Broncos S Justin Simmons: The versatile 27-year-old is one of the top playmakers in the league at the free safety spot.
9. New York Giants DL Leonard Williams: The 26-year-old former No. 6 overall pick truly became a star with 11.5 sacks and stellar run defense as a 16-game starter in 2020.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin: The 24-year-old was one of the most dominant receivers in the NFL during a 1,333-yard 2019 season before injuries put a damper on his 2020 campaign.
7. Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay: The potential is undeniable for a 27-year-old who went over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 2019, but has had some trouble staying on the field.
6. Houston Texans WR Will Fuller V: The 26-year-old former first-round pick has struggled with injuries and consistency, but averaged a fantastic 79.9 yards per game in 2020.
5. Chicago Bears WR Allen Robinson II: It’s hard to believe he’s still only 27 because he’s already done so much. Robinson went over 1,100 yards in a horrible offense the last two years.
4. Washington Football Team G Brandon Scherff: One of the most consistently dominant offensive linemen in the NFL has surrendered just five sacks in the last three seasons combined, according to PFF. He’s a little older than some of these guys at 29, but his positional shelf life is long.
3. San Francisco 49ers OT Trent Williams: Same for Williams, who was PFF’s highest-rated offensive lineman as a 32-year-old in 2020. There are no questions about the eight-time Pro Bowler.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge Shaquil Barrett: The 28-year-old fresh champion should have plenty of tread on his tires because he was gently used in Denver before exploding the last two seasons in Tampa. He’s had 31.5 sacks the last two seasons, including four in the Bucs’ last two playoff games.
1. Dallas Cowboys QB Dark Prescott: The 27-year-old two-time Pro Bowler was the league’s most prolific passer before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in October. A quarterback in his prime has to lead a list like this.