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
- Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Gerald Everett, Chidobe Awuzie
- Troy Hill, Rob Gronkowski, Marvin Jones, Shelby Harris, Russell Okung
- Haason Reddick, Nelson Agholor, Xavier Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
- Bud Dupree, Quentin Dunbar, Matthew Judon, Melvin Ingram, Trey Hendrickson
Keep an eye out this week for the rest of our Free Agent Fits series!
Panthers WR Curtis Samuel
Reported Interest: Jaguars, Jets, Panthers, Washington
Best Fit: Jets
If you’re a Panthers fan, you should go ahead and say your goodbyes to Samuel. While Carolina would like to keep him, they’re probably going to be outbid by any one of a number of other teams who have interest and far more cap space. Samuel’s speed and versatility as a runner will make him a prized commodity in free agency.
There are connections with former coaches in Washington and Jacksonville but the Jets stand out as a fit for Samuel. New York will be running the Shanahan-style offense which is a perfect fit for Samuel’s unique skillset as a ball-carrier and receiver. The Jets have plenty of cap space to outbid other suitors and have the hometown factor given Samuel played his high school football nearby in Brooklyn.
Titans CB Desmond King
Reported Interest: Titans
Best Fit: Titans
Another excellent slot corner, King was actually an All-Pro in his second season before things soured with the Chargers to the point he was dumped for a sixth-round pick to the Titans in a midseason trade last year. A one-year deal for King to stay in Tennessee might be mutually beneficial for both sides. King would get a full offseason to acclimate to the scheme and hopefully regain his form before hitting free agency in 2022 while the Titans get a potential star slot corner to help a leaky pass defense.
Jets CB Brian Poole
Best Fit: Jets
Poole has flown under the radar the past two seasons due to injuries and obviously playing for the Jets. But he’s a solid slot corner at a time in NFL history where having a solid slot corner is vitally important. He’s a strong candidate to stay in New York despite the massive turnover on the staff because a number of the new coaches coming in already are familiar with him. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich and DB coach Marquand Manuel were the LB coach and defensive coordinator for Poole at times in his first three seasons in Atlanta.
Bills OT Daryl Williams
Reported Interest: Giants
Best Fit: Bengals
Protecting QB Joe Burrow is the Bengals’ top priority this offseason, so expect them to look hard at offensive linemen who are available in free agency and are more sure bets than rookies to step in and be reliable right away. While there are a couple of elite guards hitting the market, several Bengals beat reporters have pointed out the team values offensive tackle more than the interior and could target that position as a way to make their dollars go further. Williams had a strong season at right tackle for the Bills and would be the type of target the Bengals could be inclined to open up their wallet for this month.
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton
Reported Interest: Colts, Dolphins
Best Fit: Colts
Rarely do you see one player play their entire career with just one franchise, even for fan favorites and team icons. If not even Peyton Manning finished his career in a Colts jersey, Hilton isn’t promised anything. But there does seem to be enough mutual interest between the two sides that this ends up working out. The Colts envision themselves as a contender now that they’ve traded for QB Carson Wentz and multiple people with the team indicated over the course of last season they didn’t think Hilton’s dropoff in production was indicative of a dropoff in skill. Ensuring Wentz has a reliable receiver his first season with the team seems like it would be a priority for the team.