Ten receivers were selected ahead of Chris Godwin in the 2017 NFL Draft. Four years later, Godwin is better than all 10 and enters 2021 NFL free agency as the biggest prize on the loaded receiver market and second-biggest prize among all players.
Will Godwin return to Tampa and boost the Bucs’ Super Bowl odds? If he does, it’ll require a one-year salary cap splurge via the franchise tag or a long-term deal that could make him the highest-paid receiver in the NFL (and include the most-ever guaranteed money for a receiver. If he doesn’t, the Bucs can turn their attention to one of four other receivers ranked among the top 25 overall free agents and/or re-sign Antonio Brown.
Godwin is one of three Tampa players in the top 10 and four players in the top 50, tied with the Tennessee Titans for the most top-50 players. Four teams–Los Angeles Rams, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, and San Francisco 49ers–have three players apiece, while 10 teams have two players apiece. Twenty-six teams have at least one player. The six teams without a player: Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Philadelphia Eagles
Godwin is one of eight receivers in the top 50, tied with edge rushers behind cornerbacks for the most of any position. Each position is represented except for kicker, punter, and, unfortunately, long snapper. Despite leading all positions, not one cornerback is ranked higher than No. 32, where Troy Hill is one of the nine cornerbacks (from nine different teams) over the final 19 spots. Three teams, meanwhile, have two players from the same position, including Godwin and Brown at No. 2 and No. 28, respectively.
Most underrated free agent: New Orleans Saints’ edge rusher Trey Hendrickson. A dominant pass rusher in college, Hendrickson flashed in limited action as a rookie in 2017, missed most of 2018 with injuries, and was situationally effective in 2019. Then he exploded in 2020 as former first-round pick Marcus Davenport nursed injuries and was often irrelevant when he did play. Once destined for a one-year prove-it or multi-year low-AAV value deal, Hendrickson will cash in.
Others: Haason Reddick, Corey Linsley, and John Johnson III
Most overrated free agent: Desmond King. NFL teams know more than us. And when every NFL team refuses to surrender more than a sixth-round for Desmond King, that means something. King was great his first two seasons (2017, 2018), average in 2019, and downright bad in 2020. Unless he forgot how to play football–or had other unknown issues–King isn’t as bad as 2020 suggested … but he’s also not as good as 2017 and 2018 suggested. Realistically, King is a decent nickel back who could land a prove-it one-year deal.
Others: Jameis Winston, Shaquil Griffin, and Andy Dalton
The top 50 NFL free agents for 2021:
|3||Allen Robinson II||WR||CHI||Unsigned|
|16||John Johnson III||S||LAR||Unsigned|
|18||Will Fuller V||WR||HOU||Unsigned|
|34||William Jackson III||CB||CIN||Unsigned|
Place NFL Wagers at BetMGM
Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM.