2021 NFL Free Agency: Ranking the Top 50 Free Agents

Chris Godwin Bucs Free Agency
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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:

RankPlayerPos.TeamStatus
1Dak PrescottQBDALUnsigned
2Chris GodwinWRTBUnsigned
3Allen Robinson IIWRCHIUnsigned
4Trent WilliamsOTSFUnsigned
5Kenny GolladayWRDETUnsigned
6Taylor MotonOTCARUnsigned
7Justin SimmonsSDENUnsigned
8Lavonte DavidLBTBUnsigned
9Shaquil BarrettEDGETBUnsigned
10Juju Smith-SchusterWRPITUnsigned
11Brandon ScherffGWASUnsigned
12Joe ThuneyGNEUnsigned
13Anthony HarrisSMINUnsigned
14Marcus WilliamsSNYJUnsigned
15Leonard WilliamsDTNYGUnsigned
16John Johnson IIISLARUnsigned
17Marcus MayeSNYJUnsigned
18Will Fuller VWRHOUUnsigned
19Aaron JonesRBGBUnsigned
20Hunter HenryTELACUnsigned
21Corey LinsleyCGBUnsigned
22Carl LawsonEDGECINUnsigned
23Corey DavisWRTENUnsigned
24Jonnu SmithTETENUnsigned
25Ryan FitzpatrickQBMIAUnsigned
26Russell OkungOTCARUnsigned
27Yannick NgakoueEDGEBALUnsigned
28Antonio BrownWRTBUnsigned
29Dalvin TomlinsonDTNYGUnsigned
30Trey HendricksonEDGENOUnsigned
31Daryl WilliamsOTBUFUnsigned
32Troy HillCBLARUnsigned
33T.Y. HiltonWRINDUnsigned
34William Jackson IIICBCINUnsigned
35Richard ShermanCBSFUnsigned
36Alejandro VillanuevaOTPITUnsigned
37Jadeveon ClowneyEDGETENUnsigned
38Leonard FloydEDGELARUnsigned
39Brian PooleCBNYJUnsigned
40Jameis WinstonQBNOUnsigned
41Cam NewtonQBNEUnsigned
42Mike HiltonCBPITUnsigned
43Desmond KingCBTENUnsigned
44Shaquil GriffinCBSEAUnsigned
45Matt MilanoLBBUFUnsigned
46Ronald DarbyCBWASUnsigned
47Chris CarsonRBSEAUnsigned
48Haason ReddickEDGEARIUnsigned
49Jason VerrettCBSFUnsigned
50Melvin IngramEDGELARUnsigned

Place NFL Wagers at BetMGM

At BetMGM, we have up-to-the-minute NFL lines and tips to ensure the best online sports betting experience. Don’t miss an opportunity to bet on in-game lines, futures, and more 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.

X