April 12, 2021

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2021 Free Agency Primer: Top Players Available

5 min read
2021 Free Agency Primer: Top Players Available



The NFL calendar continues to inch towards the commencement of the new league year on March 17, which also signifies the start of free agency. As discussed before, the 49ers have a number of decisions to make over the next few weeks as the team entered the offseason with a whopping 38 players set to hit the open market.

Conversely, a number of players around the league with expiring contracts will be made available to seek employment elsewhere, some who could be ideal fits with the San Francisco 49ers. Last year, the 49ers saw value in adding defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. in free agency, who led the team with 8.5 sacks and also posted career highs in quarterback hits (18) and tackles (49) last season.

Take a look at 25 of the top free agents according to NFL.com, their free agency status, along with a note on their production in 2020.

1. QB Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)

Prescott suffered a gruesome injury in the Cowboys Week 5 victory over the New York Giants that required two ankle surgeries. Prior to his season-ending injury, Prescott completed a career-high 68.0 percent of his passes for over 1,850 yards and nine touchdowns through five games.

2. T Trent Williams (San Francisco 49ers)

Williams returned to the top of his game in his first season with the 49ers after missing the entire 2019 campaign with the Washington Football Team. He appeared in 14 games in 2020 and earned Pro Football Focus’ top grade of any tackle in the league, aiding him to his eighth-career Pro Bowl nod.

3. WR Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)

The veteran wideout appeared in all 16 games in 2020 and posted 1,250 yards receiving on 102 receptions (12.3 yards per reception) and hauled in six touchdowns on the season. Robinson’s 2,397 receiving yards over the last two seasons ranks third among all NFL wide receivers behind only Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins.

4. DE Leonard Williams (New York Giants)

Williams is coming off a career year in New York, posting 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits, which ranked third in the league in 2020.

5. S Justin Simmons (Denver Broncos)

Coming off of a Pro Bowl season, Simmons played every snap in Denver for the third-consecutive season. The veteran safety registered 96 total tackles, 77 solo, three tackles for loss, nine passes defended, a career-high five interceptions and a fumble recovery in 2020.

6. WR Chris Godwin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

While battling through injuries in 2020, Godwin appeared in 12 regular-season contests and caught 65 passes for 840 yards and seven touchdowns. He added 232 yards on 16 receptions and a score in the postseason.

7. Edge Shaquil Barrett (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Barrett recorded eight sacks and 16 quarterback hits to add to three passes defended and two forced fumbles in 2020. But the edge rusher made the biggest impact in the postseason, posting four sacks and eight quarterback hits over Tampa’s final two games.

8. RB Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers)

Jones set career highs in yards rushing (1,104) and yards per game (78.9) in 2020 while appearing in only 14 contests. He finished the season with 1,495 yards from scrimmage and 11 total touchdowns.

9. T Taylor Moton (Carolina Panthers)

The former second-round pick has been regarded as one of the best right tackles in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Moton allowed just 20 total pressures across his 16 games of action and gave up just three sacks on the year, earning an 81.2 overall grade.

10. G Brandon Scherff (Washington Football Team)

Being named to his fourth Pro Bowl in six seasons, Scherff is coming off one of his best outings in Washington, surrendering only 21 total pressures across nearly 600 pass-blocking snaps, according to PFF.

11. Edge Bud Dupree (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Dupree was limited to 11 games in 2020 after suffering a late-season torn ACL, but still managed to record eight sacks, 15 quarterback hits, two passes defended and two forced fumbles during that span.

12. Edge Trey Hendrickson (New Orleans Saints)

Hendrickson had a breakout season in New Orleans, appearing in 15 contests and registering a team-high 13.5 sacks, tied for second in the NFL along with Los Angeles Rams pass rusher Aaron Donald.

13. Edge Carl Lawson (Cincinnati Bengals)

Lawson finished the year fourth in pressures (64) and second in quarterback hits (24) among edge rushers, according to PFF. He also registered 5.5 sacks on the season.

14. WR Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions)

Golladay only appeared in five games in 2020 due to a hip injury, and posted 338 yards and two touchdowns on 20 receptions.

15. Edge Jadeveon Clowney (Tennessee Titans)

In his lone season in Tennessee, Clowney was limited to just eight games after undergoing season-ending knee surgery.

16. G Joe Thuney (New England Patriots)

Heading into the season, Thuney had never missed a snap in four seasons. That streak continued in 2020. Per PFF, Thuney ranks in the 83rd percentile in overall pass-blocking grade since entering the league in 2016.

17. Edge Matt Judon (Baltimore Ravens)

Judon recorded six sacks and two passes defended in 2020, along with 21 quarterback hits, tied for 11th most in the league.

18. C Corey Linsley (Green Bay Packers)

Earning First-Team All-Pro honors in 2020, Linsley allowed just four pressures on 437 pass-blocking attempts in 13 games last season.

19. Edge Yannick Ngakoue (Baltimore Ravens)

Spending time with the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the Baltimore Ravens, Ngakoue played in 15 games and recorded 8.0 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 23 solo tackles, seven for loss and four forced fumbles.

20. WR Will Fuller (Houston Texans)

The former 2016 first-round pick played in 11 games in 2020 and is coming off of a career year where he posted 53 receptions for 879 yards (16.6 yards per reception) and eight touchdowns in Houston.

21. LB Matt Milano (Buffalo Bills)

Dealing with an injury-ridden season, Milano appeared in 10 games (five starts) and notched 3.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits to add to 45 total tackles and three passes defended.

22. QB Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints)

As a backup behind Drew Brees in his first year in New Orleans, Winston only appeared in four games and made zero starts in 2020.

23. WR Curtis Samuel (Carolina Panthers)

Samuel topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the first time in his career in 2020, hauling in 77 receptions for 851 yards and three touchdowns to add to 200 yards rushing and another two scores on the season.

24. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Entering free agency at just 24 years old, Smith-Schuster is coming off of a 97-catch, 831-yard and nine-touchdown performance in 2020.

25. QB Cam Newton (New England Patriots)

In his first season under head coach Bill Belichick, Newton completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He also added 592 yards on the ground and 12 rushing touchdowns on the year.

https://www.49ers.com/news/2021-free-agency-primer-top-players-available