2021 NFL Offseason: Top free agents, updated Super Bowl odds

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NBC Sports Bay Area Staff
·9 min read
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Top free agents, updated 49ers Super Bowl odds post-draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

With the 2021 NFL Draft complete, teams around the league are gearing up for offseason activities to prepare for the 2021 season. But with many veteran free agents remaining on the market, there's still time for contenders to bolster their weaknesses and for long-shot teams to improve their Super Bowl odds by adding one of these names.

Who is the favorite to win Super Bowl 56?

The favorites to win Super Bowl 56 are largely the same as last season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought back all 22 starters from their Super Bowl roster, including key free agents Chris Godwin, Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David. The two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs will also be in the mix. Here’s a look at the current odds to win Super Bowl 56, according to our partner PointsBet.

Who are the best available NFL free agents?

Most of the big names on the free agent market are obviously long gone, but there are a number of solid veterans still on the market. 

Robert Griffin III, QB

RG3 made one start in place of Lamar Jackson with the Baltimore Ravens in 2020, but it was cut short as he suffered a hamstring injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he hasn’t made multiple starts in a season since 2016, the former Heisman winner has more upside as a potential backup than most of the other remaining free agent QBs.

Nick Mullens, QB

Mullens played sporadically with the San Francisco 49ers after signing as an undrafted free agent in 2017. In his 19 games played over the last three seasons, Mullens totaled 4,714 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He did amass some impressive numbers historically, though. Only two quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown for 2,600 yards and 14 touchdowns in their first nine career starts: Patrick Mahomes and … Mullens.

Le’Veon Bell, RB

The three-time Pro Bowler has quickly fallen from the league’s elite running backs since signing with the New York Jets in 2019. Once one of the NFL’s top dual-threat backs, Bell has seen his numbers dip considerably in recent years. Last season, he played two games with the Jets before being released and signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. In 11 games combined on the season, Bell had 328 rushing yards on 4.0 yards per attempt. Bell is probably best served as a third-down back at this stage of his career.

Todd Gurley, RB

Like Bell, Gurley rapidly fell off after being rewarded with a massive contract from the Rams. He led the league in touchdowns en route to back-to-back First-Team All-Pro bids in 2017 and 2018. After a slow finish to 2018 and a disappointing 2019, the Los Angeles Rams cut Gurley, and he signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons. Gurley’s 3.5 yards per attempt in 2020 represented his lowest since 2016 and a massive step down from the 4.9 he averaged in 2018.

Adrian Peterson, RB

Peterson, 36, had a respectable season in a crowded Detroit Lions backfield in 2020, picking up 604 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He played last season on a one-year deal after spending two seasons as the starting running back for the Washington Football Team. The 2012 MVP said he wants to play into his 40s, and his 2020 season showed he has something left in the tank.

Golden Tate, WR

Tate never reached the same heights as fellow 2010 draftee Brown, but he has been a respectable receiver in his career. He topped 1,000 receiving yards in 2014, 2016 and 2017 with the Detroit Lions after winning Super Bowl 48 with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013. In 2020 with the New York Giants, Tate had 35 receptions for 388 yards and two scores. Tate, 32, is likely only garnering one-year deals as he enters the latter stages of his career.

Alshon Jeffery, WR

Various injuries have derailed Jeffery’s career over the past two seasons after helping lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl in 2017. He missed 15 of a possible 32 games in 2019 and 2020, which led to his release, and the team has moved to a new direction at wide receiver with the selection of DeVonta Smith at No. 10 in the draft. Jeffery, 31, would be wise to join a team with a stable quarterback situation on a one-year deal to try to regain some value for one last decent payday.

Tyler Eifert, TE

Eifert has battled injury after injury following his 13-touchdown breakout season in 2015 with the Bengals. Last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Eifert played 15 games for just the third time in his eight-year career. He totaled 36 catches and 349 receiving yards for Jacksonville in 2020 with a lackluster quarterback group, so perhaps placing himself in a better offense could help the 30-year-old tight end.

Russell Okung, OT

The 2010 first-round pick has been a steady offensive tackle since entering the league with the Seattle Seahawks. A Pro Bowler in 2012 and 2017, Okung has also played with Broncos (2016), Chargers (2017-19) and Panthers (2020). Okung, 32, has played with a wide range of different quarterbacks -- Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, among others -- so he should be able to fit in almost anywhere.

Eric Fisher, OT

Fisher’s absence was abundantly clear as Patrick Mahomes was under constant duress in the Chiefs’ blowout loss to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55. The former No. 1 pick has been responsible for protecting Mahomes’ blind side in Kansas City, but his time there appears over after the team traded for Orlando Brown Jr. The Chiefs also brought in former Patriots guard Joe Thuney on a five-year, $80 million contract, but the defending AFC champions still have to see if those two additions can fully replace Fisher and starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who is also still a free agent.

Geno Atkins, DT

Atkins has been a generational defensive tackle throughout his 11-year career, reaching eight Pro Bowls and being named to two All-Pro teams. The Cincinnati Bengals released him earlier this offseason after he played just eight games in 2020. Atkins will likely earn far less than his previous paydays, as his two prior contracts went for over $50 million apiece.

Melvin Ingram, EDGE

There are still plenty of enticing veteran pass rushers on the free agent market. Ingram’s injury-filled 2020 season isn’t indicative of the player he has become. He made the Pro Bowl each season from 2017 to 2019, wreaking havoc for opposing quarterbacks alongside Joey Bosa in the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense. He remains arguably the most reliable pass rusher on the market and could earn a contract similar to the four-year, $64 million one he signed back in 2017.

Olivier Vernon, EDGE

Vernon knows what it’s like to fetch a big contract in free agency. The defensive end signed a five-year, $85 million contract with the Giants back in 2016 when he was also one of the premier pass rushers available. He played the 2020 season in Cleveland on a one-year, $11 million deal, racking up nine sacks on an impressive Browns defense.

Everson Griffen, EDGE

Griffen is a free agent after splitting last season between the Cowboys and Lions. He was a commodity ahead of the 2020 NFL trade deadline, but he has made it well into free agency without a new deal. The longtime Viking picked up six sacks last season.

Ryan Kerrigan, EDGE

Kerrigan became the Washington Football Team’s all-time sack leader at the start of the 2020 season. While the four-time Pro Bowler said he is “not closing any doors” on the franchise he’s called home his entire 10-year career, Washington has plenty of stars on its pass rush already, namely Chase Young and Montez Sweat. He could provide veteran stability back in Washington or wherever he lands next.

K.J. Wright, LB

Wright has been with the Seahawks since entering the league in 2011, but he still has not found a landing spot this offseason. The Dallas Cowboys reportedly are out of the running for him after initially being one of his preferred destinations. Compiling over 100 tackles in five seasons, Wright will be an important piece back in Seattle or with a new team.

Richard Sherman, CB

Sherman will not be back with the 49ers next season after playing just five games in 2020 while dealing with a calf injury. The market hasn’t materialized for the three-time All-Pro cornerback just yet, but he was expecting to be a free agent until after the draft anyway. He said just before the draft that a reunion with the Seahawks, the team he spent the first seven years of his illustrious career with, "isn't out of the cards."

Malik Hooker, S

The former No. 15 overall pick played two games in his second year due to a torn Achilles. The safety also missed the second half of his rookie season due to a torn ACL and MCL. Still, he picked off three passes in just seven games his first NFL season and will be an intriguing add to a team’s secondary.

Editor's note: PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Max Molski and Logan Reardon contributed to this story.