- ESPN.com national NFL writer
- ESPN.com NFC North reporter, 2008-2013
- Covered Vikings for Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1999-2008
We’re looking ahead to the NFL free-agency class of 2021, which includes quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Cam Newton and impact defensive players Yannick Ngakoue, Bud Dupree and Justin Simmons.
ESPN national NFL reporter Kevin Seifert ranked the 25 best potential free agents in the 2021 season, following the prevailing wisdom that quarterback, pass-rusher and offensive lineman are the league’s three most valuable positions. Seifert also took into account the ages entering the 2021 season of each free agent, which is an important factor for how teams view them.
We then asked our NFL Nation reporters to make predictions based on Seifert’s list, picking whether the team they cover will re-sign, use the franchise tag on or let the player test free agency next March. Here are the results:
1. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
2020 salary: $31.4 million | Age entering 2021 season: 28
Prediction: The Cowboys will franchise-tag him.
Maybe Prescott’s ankle injury will help talks between both sides, but with the way the Cowboys’ season has gone, his value has never been higher. Both sides have said the same thing since last year: They want to get a long-term deal done. But the same issues that were in play last spring remain in play next season and the salary cap is going to go down. To tag Prescott would cost the Cowboys $37.7 million, and they have added space in 2021 by restructuring the contracts of Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence to make the room to fit that under a lower cap. Owner Jerry Jones has said countless times that Prescott is the Cowboys’ quarterback. If they go the tag route, he might be the quarterback for just one more season. — Todd Archer
2. Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Baltimore Ravens
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