We’re breaking down some potential fits for our top pending 2021 NFL free agents with the start of the league year and free agency coming up soon on March 17. Using our Top 100 2021 NFL Free Agents list, we’re examining the possible landing spots for the top players who are expected to be available this offseason.
This is based both on reported interest by particular teams and by connecting the dots between team needs, coaching staff connections, scheme fits and available players. We’ve removed 10 players who signs are pointing to as likely candidates to be franchise tagged by their current teams.
Other free agent fits:
- Trent Williams, Will Fuller, Lavonte David, Joe Thuney, Marcus Williams
- Jadeveon Clowney, Yannick Ngakoue, Shaq Barrett, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Aaron Jones
Keep an eye out this week for the rest of our Free Agent Fits series!
Patriots QB Cam Newton
Reported Interest: Patriots
Best Fit: ?
I had Washington penciled in up until last week because it made too much sense for Newton. He would have gone back to a scheme he had familiarity with after being forced to do the equivalent of learning Chinese on the fly when he signed with the Patriots in June. Washington would have given him the benefit of coaches who knew him as well as a much better supporting cast.
But with the news that the Football Team doesn’t appear to be interested in Newton, it’s actually hard to find another fit for him if he doesn’t return to New England. It’s not hard to find teams that could use him — Newton’s identity as a quarterback would be a huge lift to the Bears, while the Broncos have the type of supporting cast Newton could thrive with. But Chicago passed up Newton for Nick Foles last year and Denver seems like it’s going to take a page out of that playbook and bring in a competitor that will push but maybe not necessarily overwhelm Drew Lock. Justifiable or not, Newton’s NFL career is teetering on the brink.
Cowboys QB Andy Dalton
Reported Interest: Bears
Best Fit: Texans
Dalton pretty much was the same guy in 2020 he has been for his entire career; a solidly unspectacular quarterback who can take advantage of opportunities created by a strong supporting cast but has too many limitations to hold up against stiffer challenges. That’s not the profile of a starter, it’s the profile of an upper-tier backup and that’s probably the type of job Dalton’s looking at this offseason. Staying in Dallas isn’t out of the question given it’s Dalton’s home state, but there’s another team in Texas that needs an insurance policy for its superstar franchise quarterback.
Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Reported Interest: Patriots
Best Fit: Washington
Had Washington not made the playoffs as the least ugly team in the NFC East, they’d likely be picking in the top 11 with a much better shot at landing a quarterback of the future. As it stands, there’s no clear path to an answer at the position for a team that’s much closer to contending than many people anticipated a year ago. Fitzpatrick provides the best of both worlds for Washington in giving them a quarterback who can keep the team legitimately competitive in the short term while not seriously standing in the way of pursuing a long-term answer at the position.
Rams TE Gerald Everett
Best Fit: Seahawks
Tight ends can take a while to transition to the NFL and often don’t really establish themselves until their second contract. Everett might fit that mold, as he’s been buried as the No. 2 tight end for the Rams the entirety of his rookie contract. He’s had plenty of flashes of promise, though, to be enticing for a team projecting him as a No. 1 at the position. New Seahawks OC Shane Waldron has a lot of familiarity with Everett and Seattle has a need at the position following the retirement of Greg Olsen. Adding another weapon for Russell Wilson can’t hurt, either.
Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie
Best Fit: Bengals
Injuries tanked Awuzie’s contract year, as he played just eight games and Dallas wasn’t a healthy environment for anyone to find success on the defensive side of the ball in 2020. Before that, he looked like a potentially ascending corner with strong performances as a rookie and in 2019. Mid-level free agents will have it tough this year and feel the pinch of the salary cap the most, but Awuzie’s young enough to still have a potentially interesting market while not being too expensive for teams with some money to spend. The Bengals fit that description and have a need in the secondary if William Jackson walks as expected.