The NFL free agency period is fast approaching, and there may be far more interest than ever on this year’s proceedings. With the cancellation of the Scouting Combine and disruption of the predraft vetting of up-and-coming stars, it’s only natural to pay fresh attention to the stars who’ve already up-and-come, and may be set for big changes.
Quarterback Dak Prescott is firmly in the spotlight this free agency season, with everyone waiting with baited breath to see what the Dallas Cowboys have in mind for him. Prescott and the Cowboys famously failed to thrash out a long-term deal last year, leading to him signing a lucrative franchise tag instead. But things quickly came unstuck when the star signal-caller suffered a grisly ankle injury in Week 5.
It brought his season to an untimely end, only days after he made history as the first NFL player ever to throw over 450 yards in three consecutive games. The dramatic slump the Cowboys suffered in the games immediately after Prescott’s absence spoke volumes about his importance to the team, and his all-round status in the NFL.
The question is, will the Cowboys be able to finally lock him into a contract, or will they be forced to franchise him for a second season? Both sides will be hoping that Prescott’s prophecy in 2020 – “I believe something will get done, and I believe I’ll be a Dallas Cowboy for the rest of my career” – will come true.
“I want to win, I want to be a champion,” said Chris Godwin on 7 February – the day the wide receiver achieved that very wish when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. The victory capped off a few remarkable years for the third-round pick of the 2017 draft. Last season saw him catch 65 passes for 840 yards, and achieve seven touchdowns – not quite on a level with his breakthrough 2019 season, but we can chalk some of that down to some wince-inducing injuries, including a fractured finger and a concussion.
Only just in his mid-20s, this is a young man poised on the brink of his prime, and there’s every possibility the Bucs will want to keep him on board with a franchise tag or long-term contract. Godwin himself certainly doesn’t seem to have a sentimental attachment to the team, having openly admitted he’s looking forward to what free agency may bring. As he said in a recent interview: “I love the guys on the team. I think we’ve got something special. But at the same time you got to consider all the possibilities out there and consider doing what’s best for you and your family.”
That isn’t particularly surprising, given that he’ll be one of the most sought-after wideouts on the market. Possible new homes being spoken of in connection to the wideout include the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots, and – tantalizingly – the rebuilding New York Jets.
Another wide receiver in contention is Kenny Golladay, who – like Chris Godwin – was a third-pick in 2017. He went to the Detroit Lions, where in 2019 he achieved a league-leading 11 touchdowns and was named to his first Pro Bowl. While he had an injury-ridden 2020, his clear prowess as a receiver means he’ll be a pretty hot property as a free agent. That’s if the Lions don’t tag him, or lock him down long-term.
His likelihood of staying with the Lions is a tough one to call, since the team has an entirely fresh regime in the form of new GM Brad Holmes and new head coach Dan Campbell. If a change is on the cards, one possible landing spot could be the Chicago Bears, whose wideout Allen Robinson is similarly set to be a free agent. Chicago also happens to be Golladay’s home town. According to odds sourced via https://www.gamblingdeals.com/, punters also view the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts as a couple of other potential fits.
Having spent his whole career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being picked in the 2012 draft, it’ll be big news if veteran lineback Lavonte David ups sticks this year. As he himself reflected earlier this year, “There was some tough times here. I was able to weather the storm, seen all the good, seen all the bad, and now I’m here.” By “here” he meant the Super Bowl, where David recorded six tackles in the Bucs’ victory over the Chiefs.
Now, in the aftermath of that great moment, the man who’s been dubbed “arguably the best coverage linebacker in the NFL” might be up for grabs. Could the New England Patriots be a landing spot? They have the cap space, so money is no object, and they’re on a drive to rebuild after a catastrophic season. Lavonte David could be the X factor their defense needs. Other teams that have been spoken of in the same breath as David include the Buffalo Bills, the Miami Dolphins and, well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs may well be want to keep their roster whole, and not risk letting one of their long-standing heroes go.