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Coach T’s 10 Top NFL Draft Picks on the Free-Agency Market

NFL free agency officially begins on March 17 — the same day the new league year begins. The negotiation period begins on Monday for teams to officially reach out to agents of any player who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Teams like the Packers are using the time before Monday to try and negotiate a deal with their current players like RB Aaron Jones.

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Trent Williams of Washington reacts after an interception for a TD. He's on the 2021 Top NFL Draft Picks, keep reading to see who else.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFP

The NFL is set to drop the salary cap for the first time in over a decade because of a drop in revenue from the 2020 season. NFL teams are expecting a salary cap of $182.5 million and need to cut under that number by Wednesday. There are teams that will be cutting loose players to try and get as close to the $182.5 million number and teams that will be looking to sign players because they have the space to do so.  Below is a list of the top five teams that are above, and below, the salary cap as of March 10, reported from ESPN.

Teams With The Most Cap Space

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: $74,403,593
  2. Indianapolis Colts: $72,900,607
  3. New York Jets: $70,302,786
  4. New England Patriots: $58, 956,719
  5. Cincinnati Bengals: $43,913,987

Teams With The Least Cap Space

  1. New Orleans Saints: minus-$39,009,356
  2. Los Angeles Rams: minus-$31,260,736
  3. Philadelphia Eagles: minus-$28,145,969
  4. Atlanta Falcons: minus-$22,055,452
  5. Kansas City Chiefs: minus-$20,001,679

The free-agent market will favor the NFL teams and not the players because there will be a lot of players trying to get a piece of a smaller pie, meaning some players will need to take less money if they want to play in 2021. The list below is for the NFL draft pick players that are currently not signed by a team but will not find it hard to get a contract in their favor. That does not mean the team they played for in 2020 could not resign them by Monday which has been the case for some of the top free-agents thus far.

Top Ten NFL Draft Picks

1. OT, Trent Williams

Former team: San Francisco 49ers Most likely landing spot: San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers signed the 33-year old offensive tackle to a one-year deal last year, and Williams showed no signs of age slowing him. He receives the No. 1 spot on my list because left tackle is one of the most important positions on the field and guys like Williams do not come along often. Eight-time Pro-Bowl selection with his eighth selection coming in 2020, the Oklahoma standout is a master technician at the position. Although he is nearing the end of his career OT’s that are good, seem to stay good until they decide to hang it up, and Williams thinks he can play until he’s 40. The 49ers are likely trying to work out a deal to bring him back, but if they fail there will be plenty of teams that will be trying to bring Williams to their locker room.

2. Edge, Saquil Barrett

Former team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Most likely landing spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Barrett has been a huge part of the Buccaneer’s success the past two seasons. The Bucs signed him for $4 million on a one-year deal in 2019 which was easily the best bargain in  NFL draft picks for free agency that season. Barrett amassed a league-leading 19.5 sack, 18 quarterback hits and 44 QB hurries that year. That forced the Bucs to place the franchise tag on him in 2020 and he had another stellar year by leading the league with 74 QB hurries (22 more than any other player). Barrett was my MVP of the playoffs and he wants to be paid like it. The Bucs are reportedly trying to work out a long-term deal with Barrett before he hits the flooded edge-rusher free-agent market.

3. WR, Kenny Golladay

Former team: Detroit Lions Most likely landing spot: Indianapolis Colts

The top-ranked wide receiver that’s still available in this year’s deep WR free-agency market is the 27-year-old third-round pick who’s played his whole career for the lousy Lions. Golladay when on the field has been a bright spot in Detroit, by amassing two 1,000-yard seasons, but he has had some issues with staying on the field. Last season Golladay only played in five games which will hurt his value a slight bit. In 2019 he played in all 16 games and led the league in touchdown catches that year with 11. There are many teams that need a No. 1 wide-out which means Golladay should find a home quickly.

4. OG, Joe Thuney

Former team: New England Patriots Most likely landing spot: Cincinnati Bengals

Thuney hasn’t missed a start since the Patriots drafted him in 2016 and he plays one of the most important positions in the game. He has proven he can pass block against the best, which he proved in the Super Bowl LIII against the best interior lineman in the league- Aaron Donald. The Patriots traded for OT Trent Brown and did not tag Thuney with the franchise tag like they did last year, meaning New England is ready to move on from their stellar guard. The Bengals are one of the teams who have been reportedly talking with Thuneys camp this offseason.

5. TE, Hunter Henry

Former team: Los Angeles Chargers Most likely landing spot: New England Patriots

The tight end position can make or break an offense in today’s pass eccentric NFL. A good one like Henry is a mismatch for linebackers and safeties and can block well in the run game. Henry has proven to be one of the best at the position throughout his five-year career with the Chargers. The Chargers should really be trying to re-sign Henry so their developing QB, Justin Herbert, can continue to grow chemistry with one of the league’s best TE’s.

6. Edge, Bud Dupree

Former team: Pittsburgh Steelers Most likely landing spot: New York Giants

Since the start of 2019 Dupree has totaled 19.5 sacks which ranks him seventh in the league over that time span, which is even more impressive because he missed the last five games of the 2020 season due to an NFL injury. He has helped the Steelers become the best pass-rushing team in 2020, but he is recovering from an ACL tear this offseason. The market for edge-rushers is deep but every team wants an elite rusher like Dupree. Even with the injury, I expect Dupree to get paid like one of the league’s best edge rushers this offseason.

7. S, Anthony Harris

Former team: Minnesota Vikings Most likely landing spot: Dallas Cowboys

The former undrafted Virginia product has had a solid career thus far in Minnesota. The Vikings decided to place the franchise-tag on Harris in 2020 after he had played like the best safety in the NFL 2019. Last season he took a huge step back statistically, but he still showed he has elite closing speed and ball skills. At 29-years-old Harris is in the prime of his career and would make any defense better with his savvy play and his skills. There are not many safeties who have proven themself to be on Harris’ level and he will make an immediate impact on his new team.

8. C, Corey Linsley

Former team:  Green Bay Packers Most likely landing spot: Miami Dolphins

The center position in the NFL has to be the toughest in the sport. The guy in the middle of the line is calling all the shots, snapping the ball, then having to make holes and be the anchor in pass protection. Linsley is coming off his best season and was awarded a first-team All-Pro selection and he will be highly sought after in free agency. Linsley will be 30 years old and has put together a ver-solid career thus far and could be considered the best OL in the market this year. He will make any QB’s life a lot easier which means he should get a long-term high-paying deal.

9. RB, Aaron Jones

Former team: Green Bay Packers Most likely landing spot: Miami Dolphins

Another Packer on the list and this time he is the bets running back on the market. Jones has proven he is one of the league’s best all-around backs for a few years now. He was awarded his first Pro Bowl selection in 2020. We have entered into an era in the NFL where teams no longer value running backs unless they are elite pass-catchers. This makes it tough for Jones to get the money he deserves. Jones is solid in all aspects of the game. He has shown he is a good receiver, which makes him a true three-down back. Running backs want to get paid early because their lifespan in the NFL is short so whoever is willing to offer Jones the most money will probably end up with his services.

10. QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick

Former team: Miami Dolphins Most likely landing spot: Chicago Bears

The quarterback free-agent market in 2021 is slim right now. There are many teams that want an upgrade at the position. This will provide Fitzpatrick many choices for his landing spot and ninth team. Fitzpatrick is 38 years old but has plenty of magic left in the tank for a team that wants to bring him in to compete for the starting job. With NFL Covid-19 protocol and injuries it is more important than ever for teams to have two solid QBs. The league has a serious shortage for solid QBs. Fitzpatrick would be a great addition to just about every roster. But, who is willing to go and pay the journeyman from Harvard?

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