The free agent market this year could be one of the most fascinating in recent memory as a swash of big name players could be up for grabs on March 17, the date everyone’s circled on their calendar.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott
The contract saga between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott has been going on for quite some time and it’s still nowhere close to being resolved. Last year, the two sides dithered, delayed, and ultimately failed to come to any sort of long-term agreement that was mutually acceptable, and instead settled on the franchise tag option as the deadline came and went without a drop of ink hitting paper.
Although Prescott can become a free agent by this spring, the overwhelming consensus has the Cowboys doing whatever they can to tie Prescott down to a deal. That fact is echoed in the betting as the Dallas Cowboys are tipped as the likeliest team that he’ll be playing for in the upcoming season.
Who Will Dak Prescott Play for in Game 1 of the 2021 Regular Season?
|Dallas Cowboys -2500|
|Washington Football Team +750|
|New England Patriots +1100|
|Carolina Panthers +1000|
|San Francisco 49ers +2500|
|Denver Broncos +2500|
|New York Jets +2500|
|Chicago Bears +2500|
But the clock is running out on his contract, which is set to expire this year. If the Cowboys don’t sign Prescott to a long-term deal in the coming months, opting to take the franchise tag option once again, he’s all but certain to be a free agent in 2022 (The two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract if Prescott remains on the tag).
To be fair, the situation is fraught with such uncertainty that it makes it tough to bet on either way for NFL picks. One wonders even whether there is a genuine inclination to commit to Prescott after what transpired last season. The 27-year-old quarterback suffered a horrendous, season-ending ankle injury and reports lately emerged that he’d had a second surgery on the injured ankle in December, almost two months after his first surgery in October.
If the Cowboys were reluctant to put pen to paper in years past, will they be now when question marks about Prescott’s fitness hang over his head? Wouldn’t they want to see what form he’s in first come camp in late July before mortgaging the organization’s future? Furthermore, there’s also the fact that the Cowboys have a whole slew of other players set to hit free agency and that’s something they’ll need to weigh up in any negotiations with Prescott.
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster, whose rookie deal is set to expire this spring, is a phenomenal prospect that would be a much-sought after scoop for any team in free agency, especially as quality pass-catchers are in high demand this season. Juju finished last season with 97 catches, 831 yards and nine touchdowns.
He should have plenty of choices as far as suitors offering long-term deals in the open market are concerned. A lot of teams could use his talent, but according to the NFL futures odds, three franchises top this list of possible landing spots: the Raiders, Jets and Steelers, although the former emerges as the top bet over the other two franchises.
At the young age of 24, Smith-Schuster is the youngest player to crack 2,500 receiving yards, underpinning his enviable talent that is likely to earn him a big payday in free agency, be if from the Steelers or another team that muscles in. The Steelers would do well to keep an enviable talent such as Smith-Schuster is, but his price tag might be too steep. The Steelers are limited as far as the salary cap is concerned.
Who Will JuJu Smith-Schuster Play in for Game 1 of the 2021 Regular Season?
|Las Vegas Raiders +175|
|New York Jets +250|
|Pittsburgh Steelers +250|
|Green Bay Packers +800|
|Indianapolis Colts +900|
|Chicago Bears +900|
|Los Angeles Chargers +950|
|Miami Dolphins +1400|
Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement last season to reunite with his former Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, in Tampa Bay. Indeed, until Brady’s move to Tampa, Gronk showed little inclination to play football ever again. He was living his best life post-NFL, having fun, building a media career, working with WWE… the options before him were endless.
The temptation to win another Super Bowl with Brady was one of the motivations behind Gronkowski’s surprising return and he signed a one-year deal with the organisation. It was a year for the history books, one that he couldn’t have scripted any better had he tried as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers emerged as the Super Bowl LV champions.
Now that Gronk’s first season with Tampa Bay delivered a fourth Super Bowl ring to his credit and seventh overall for Tom Brady, it’s hard to imagine Tampa Bay would break-up the successful duo. If Tampa Bay doesn’t resign the future Hall of Fame tight end for one more season though, it’s safe to say that he’s more likely to go back into retirement again than play for any other quarterback than the undisputed GOAT. That notion is reflected in the market on offer with Bovada Sportsbook, in which only two options are available to bet on – Tampa Bay or any other team.
Who Will Rob Gronkowski Play for in Game 1 of the 2021 Regular Season?
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1100|
|Any Other Team +575|
The aforementioned three players barely scratch the surface of the free agency market, which promises to be riveting. Players that could hit the market include QB Cam Newton (NE); QB Jameis Winston (NO); CB Richard Sherman (SF); DE Jadeveon Clowney (TEN); S Anthony Harris (MIN); WR Will Fuller (HOU); LB Lavonte David (TB); TE Hunter Henry (LAC); DE Yannick Ngakoue (BAL); OLB Bud Dupree (PIT); DE Trey Hendrickson (NO)… and so on – all of which NFL betting enthusiasts should pay close attention to in the coming weeks.
If last season’s scoop by Tampa Bay, snapping up Tom Brady in the free agency market, proved anything it’s that one player in a savvy trade can make a huge difference, if not prove to be the difference between an also-ran and a championship winning team.