2021 NFL Offseason Guide: Free Agents, Cap Casualties & Draft Capital

2021 NFL Offseason Guide: Free Agents, Cap Casualties & Draft Capital

This article is part of our NFL Free Agency series.

The NFL salary cap is expected to drop by at least $13 million, ending a seven-year streak of the number rising by at least $10 million. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, NFL front offices were anticipating a cap around $205-210 million. Instead, it'll likely be $180-185 million, which could lead to an unprecedented number of contract renegotiations and one-year deals.

There will still be bidding wars for the top players available in free agency, but it's less clear how things will work out for the second- and third-tier types. Many of those players are likely to end up disappointed, especially if the reduced salary cap forces teams like the Saints to cut a bunch of talented veterans who then add more depth to the free-agent pool.

The Saints are in a league of their own when it comes to cap difficulty, but 11 other teams entered February with 2021 cap commitments beyond the projected cap. Some of those teams (e.g. Bills and Raiders) can easily free up space by releasing overpriced veterans, whereas the Saints, Rams and a few others will need to make substantial sacrifices to achieve cap compliance.

The typical fantasy-football player doesn't really need to worry about any of this stuff, but it's definitely useful if you're the type of year-round fanatic who makes dynasty trades in January and drafts best ball teams in February. Our goal below is to provide a broad outlook for all 32 teams heading into the offseason, with a focus on the positions (QB, RB, WR, TE) that matter most for fantasy. 

We might mention defensive players and offensive linemen below, but each team's list of free agents and potential cap casualties only includes QB/RB/WR/TE. Cap space estimates are imperfect at this juncture, though Over The Cap does a tremendous job compiling information and staying up to date. 

Before we get to our team-by-team offseason previews, let's take a quick look at the top free agents and rookies at each position:

Top Free Agents

QB Dak Prescott

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

QB Jameis Winston

QB Cam Newton

QB Andy Dalton

QB Mitchell Trubisky

QB Jacoby Brissett


RB Aaron Jones

RB Chris Carson

RB Leonard Fournette

RB Kenyan Drake

RB Jamaal Williams

RB Todd Gurley

RB James White

RB James Conner

RB Mike Davis

RB Mark Ingram

RB Duke Johnson


WR Allen Robinson

WR Chris Godwin

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

WR Will Fuller

WR Curtis Samuel

WR Corey Davis

WR Marvin Jones

WR Antonio Brown

WR Sammy Watkins

WR Nelson Agholor

WR T.Y. Hilton

WR Kendrick Bourne

WR Keelan Cole

WR Danny Amendola


TE Hunter Henry

TE Jonnu Smith

TE Jared Cook

TE Rob Gronkowski

TE Gerald Everett

TE Dan Arnold

TE Trey Burton


Top Rookies

QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)

QB Zach Wilson (BYU)

QB Justin Fields (OSU)

QB Trey Lance (NDSU)


(Mario Puig's Top 20 Rookie RBs)

RB Travis Etienne (Clemson)

RB Najee Harris (Alabama)

RB Kylin Hill (Miss. St.)

RB Chuba Hubbard (Okla. St.)

RB Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis)


(Mario Pug's Top 40 Rookie WRs)

WR Ja'Marr Chase (LSU)

WR DeVonta Smith (Alabama)

WR Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

WR Terrace Marshall (LSU)

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

WR Rashod Bateman (Minnesota)

WR Rondale Moore (Purdue)

WR Dyami Brown (UNC)

WR Amari Rodgers (Clemson)

WR Tylan Wallace (Okla. St.)


TE Kyle Pitts

TE Pat Freiermuth


Team Offseason Previews


Arizona Cardinals

Impending: RB Kenyan Drake, WR Larry Fitzgerald, TE Dan Arnold

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Maxx Williams ($2.97 million savings)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (16th, 49th, 80th)

Estimated Effective Cap Space: $13.5 million (15th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


The Cardinals can create more than $10 million in additional cap space with easy cuts, but they also have a trio of potentially expensive free agents to re-sign or replace — CB Patrick Peterson (3 INTs), OLB Haason Reddick (12.5 sacks), RT Kelvin Beachum (16 starts).

Drake is the important one to watch for fantasy purposes, as his departure could free up Chase Edmonds (or someone else) to take over the lead role. The Cardinals can't be thrilled with the return they got on Drake's $8.5 million transition tag in 2020, but that doesn't mean they aren't interested in re-signing him at a lower price. 

The team did keep 2020 seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin on the active roster all season, listing him as a healthy scratch for all 16 games (including the one Drake missed). The guy ahead of Benjamin for the No. 3 RB role was 27-year-old special teamer D.J. Foster, who has just 19 catches and 15 carries in 26 NFL appearances. Even Edmonds has just one year left on his rookie contract, so don't be surprised if the Cards draft a running back on Day 2 or the early part of Day 3.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Andy Isabella, TE Dan Arnold, RB Eno Benjamin


Atlanta Falcons

Impending Free Agents: RB Todd Gurley, RB Brian Hill

Potential Cap Casualties: None

Top-100 Draft Picks: 4 - (4th, 35th, 68th, 99th)

Estimated Cap Space:  $37.6 million OVER (30th)

New coaches/coordinators: HC Arthur Smith, OC Dave Ragone, DC Dean Pees


The Falcons are doing a full regime change, including a new GM (Terry Fontenot) who was poached from the division-rival Saints. Given the team's recent results and difficult cap situation, you could certainly make an argument that it's time to hit the reset button.

Owner Arthur Blank doesn't seem to agree, but he did mention in early January that he wouldn't give his incoming management team any directives about specific players being off limits for trade or release. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones won't be cut, but the latter does at least have a tradable contract if the Falcons are willing to move him (Tom Pelissero suggests it isn't likely).

Calvin Ridley is the safest fantasy asset from the Falcons, though TE Hayden Hurst and slot receiver Russell Gage seemingly did just enough to hold on to their starting jobs heading into 2021... draft results pending. 

The backfield is even more of an unknown, with Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James the only RBs under contract. Ollison and Brooks-James have barely played in the NFL, while Smith has averaged just 3.9 yards on 175 carries and 5.7 yards on 55 receptions. No wonder so many mock drafters have the Falcons taking a running back at No. 35 overall.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Matt Ryan, WR Russell Gage


Baltimore Ravens

Impending Free Agents: WR Willie Snead, RB Gus Edwards (RFA), WR Dez Bryant

Potential Cap Casualties: None

Top-100 Draft Picks: 2 - (27th, 58th)

Estimated Cap Space: $20.2 million (10th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


The Ravens already released RB Mark Ingram, so they might want to use a second-round tender (~ $3.4 million) on Edwards. The cheaper RFA tender (~ $2.1 million) would allow Baltimore to match any offer sheet, but it doesn't include draft compensation if the team declines. Edwards likely will stay in Baltimore for at least one more season; just remember that it isn't quite a sure thing.

The other key skill-position player scheduled for free agency is Snead, a veteran slot receiver who is known for his tenacious blocking and leadership. But he's also one of the slowest WRs in the league, and the Ravens used a third-round pick on Devin Duvernay (4.40 40) last offseason.

If they don't think Duvernay is the answer, the Ravens could go after an Allen Robinson or JuJu Smith-Schuster. They have a decent cap situation and a clear need for a reliable possession receiver, but they also have some issues with the interior O-line, and about 2,000 OLB snaps are headed for free agency. While rumors inevitably will focus on wide receivers, the position might be only second or third on the offseason priority list for Baltimore's front office.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Devin Duvernay, RB Justice Hill


Buffalo Bills

Impending Free Agents: WR Isaiah McKenzie, TE Tyler Kroft, RB T.J. Yeldon

Potential Cap Casualties: WR John Brown ($7.9 million savings)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (30th, 61st, 94th)

Estimated Cap Space: $1.8 million OVER (20th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


Entering the final season of a three-year contract, Brown is scheduled for a $9.5 million cap hit or a $1.6 million dead-money charge. That makes him an obvious candidate to be released or traded, though the Bill also have a bunch of veteran D-linemen they can release to create cap space, and RT Daryl Williams is their only free agent who played more than 57 percent of snaps on offense or defense in 2020.

Someone out of Zack Moss, Devin Singletary, Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox should have a breakout season in 2021, but it's hard to identify one clear target, as none appears secure in a starting job. Given their well-balanced roster, the Bills can afford a luxury pick (or free-agent signing) to give Josh Allen another weapon, even if he already has it pretty good with Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Gabriel Davis, RB Devin Singletary, TE Dawson Knox


Carolina Panthers

Impending Free Agents: WR Curtis Samuel, RB Mike Davis

Potential Cap Casualties: QB Teddy Bridgewater, TE Ian Thomas ($2.2 million savings)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (8th, 39th, 73rd)

Estimated Cap Space: $11.6 million (16th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


The Panthers are believed to be pursuing an upgrade on Bridgewater, whose three-year contract includes $10 million guaranteed out of his $17 million base salary for 2021. A release would free up only $3 million in cap space before June 1 or $8 million if it's designated post-June 1, while a trade would clear out either $13 or $18 million (depending on the date). 

Of course, the Panthers still need to find a replacement, and even then they might have trouble finding a trade partner. Maybe they bring in a rookie rather than a veteran, and allow Bridgewater to keep the starting job for at least Week 1.

Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Robby Anderson figure to do the heavy lifting for Carolina's offense in 2021, regardless of the QB situation. It remains to be seen if Samuel and Thomas are also part of that picture, as the former will be expensive to keep, while the latter stunk it up in 2020.

The Panthers don't have any noteworthy prospects who could step up to replace Samuel or Thomas, so they might look to free agency or the draft to find players who can handle whatever targets don't go to the Big 3. Rodney Smith is one name to remember, as he got more work late in the season and could now replace Davis in the No. 2 RB role.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Rodney Smith


Chicago Bears

Impending Free Agents: WR Allen Robinson, QB Mitchell Trubisky, RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Jimmy Graham ($7 million savings), WR Anthony Miller ($1.2 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (20th, 52nd, 84th)

Estimated Cap Space: $8.8 million OVER (24th)

New coaches/coordinators: DC Sean Desai


The Bears have a tricky cap situation, and their free-agent list is headlined by a guy who accounted for 25.3 percent of the team's targets and 31.8 percent of the receiving yards last season. Graham and Anthony Miller could also be on the way out, after handling 76 targets apiece (12.8 percent) in 2020.

Rookies Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet saw their roles expand throughout the 2020 campaign, and both could be popular picks for 2021 sleeper lists. The Bears also expect to get RB Tarik Cohen back from an ACL tear, though his role could be downsized on account of David Montgomery's late-2020 breakout. 

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Darnell Mooney, TE Cole Kmet, RB Tarik Cohen


Cincinnati Bengals

Impending Free Agents: WR A.J. Green, WR John Ross, WR Alex Erickson, RB Samaje Perine

Potential Cap Casualties: TE C.J. Uzomah ($5.1 million), RB Giovani Bernard ($4.1 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (5th, 38th, 69th)

Estimated Cap Space: $37.2 million (6th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


The Bengals have plenty of cap space, plus the ability to create more by releasing some mediocre veterans. Their top cornerback (William Jackson) and 2020 sack leader (Carl Lawson) both are scheduled for free agency, but the Bengals can re-sign both and still be major players to bring in other big names. Of course, they've typically shied away from that approach, and the results were disappointing after they dabbled in some pricey free agents last offseason.

A turnaround from 4-11-1 to playoff contention won't be easy, especially with Joe Burrow coming back from an ugly ACL tear that occurred in the second half of the 2020 season. It's probably more realistic for the Bengals to become a contender in 2022 or 2023, but it's certainly not unheard of for a rebuilding team to "arrive" a year earlier than expected (e.g. 2020 Dolphins).

If the Bengals do make a splash in free agency, it'll likely be an O-lineman or defender rather than a pass catcher or ballcarrier. Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins all are signed through 2023, so the Bengals should be just fine without Green, Ross, Erickson and Mike Thomas.

The team has potential replacements on the roster in RB Trayveon Williams (for Bernard/Perine) and WR Auden Tate (for Green), but the TE spot could really use some help. Uzomah is coming back from an Achilles tear and arguably overpaid, while Sample appears to offer very little as a receiving threat.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Joe Burrow, RB Trayveon Williams, WR Auden Tate


Cleveland Browns

Impending Free Agents: WR Rashard Higgins, WR KhaDarel Hodge (RFA)

Potential Cap Casualties: TE David Njoku ($6 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 4 - (26th, 59th, 90th, 92nd)

Estimated Cap Space: $21.7 million (9th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


Kevin Stefanski loves to run the ball, so it's a little strange that his team's two largest cap hits belong to wide receivers. I don't think the Browns would cut Beckham to free up $15.75 million or cut Landry to save $11.8 million, but they might consider a trade if the opportunity arises.

Most of Cleveland's offseason action figures to focus on the defense, as it was the weaker unit in 2020 and now has eight players with snap share above 50 percent scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. A bunch of those guys may be addition by subtraction, but it can still be difficult to deal with so much turnover.

Higgins is the only free agent who played more than one-third of the team's offensive snaps, and while he struggled to hold down a top-three role the past four years, he's mostly played well when given the chance. You'd think he prefers to sign elsewhere, but it's possible he sticks around, especially if the market is depressed. 

Njoku, on the other hand, doesn't seem likely to stay with the Browns, as rookie fourth-round pick Harrison Bryant looked perfectly capable of working as the No. 2 TE behind Austin Hooper. A change of scenery would give Njoku his best shot to become a better-late-than-never prospect.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Baker Mayfield, WR Rashard Higgins


Dallas Cowboys

Impending Free Agents: QB Dak Prescott, QB Andy Dalton, WR Noah Brown, WR Cedrick Wilson (RFA)

Potential Cap Casualties: None

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (10th, 44th, 75th)

Estimated Cap Space: $18.4 million (12th)

New coaches/coordinators: DC Dan Quinn


Ezekiel Elliott has a guaranteed $9.6 million base salary for 2021, so there's no cap benefit in releasing him before next offseason. It is possible the Cowboys trade away a skill-position player, as that's the strength of an otherwise questionable roster.

Michael Gallup is the one typically mentioned in trade rumors, but the Cowboys seemingly would be selling low on a guy who played really well in 2019. The team isn't likely to let Prescott leave, so the offense should be uptempo and pass-happy again. Blake Jarwin, coming back from an ACL tear, could put up decent numbers if he's even marginally better than the underwhelming Dalton Schultz.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: TE Blake Jarwin


Denver Broncos

Impending Free Agents: WR Tim Patrick (RFA), RB Phillip Lindsay (RFA)

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Nick Vannett ($2.7 million), WR DaeSean Hamilton ($2.2 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (9th, 40th, 71st)

Estimated Cap Space: $19.5 million (11th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


The Broncos talked with Detroit about acquiring Matthew Stafford before the veteran QB was deal to Los Angeles. That doesn't 100 percent mean the team is kicking Drew Lock to the curb, but it is clear the Broncos will at least consider veteran upgrades. They have a decent cap situation, a relatively short list of free agents and all seven of their 2021 draft picks, so there's no shortage of options for upgrading the roster.

Apart from quarterback, skill-position talent isn't likely to be the big focus this offseason, as Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant are all under contract for at least one more year. The Broncos are probably fine with using Hamilton or Patrick as their third receiver, and a second-round RFA tender should be enough to keep other teams away from Lindsay.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Phillip Lindsay


Detroit Lions

Impending Free Agents: WR Kenny Golladay, WR Marvin Jones, WR Danny Amendola, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Mohamed Sanu

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Jesse James ($2.1 million), QB Chase Daniel ($2.3 million), RB Kerryon Johnson ($1.4 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 4 - (7th, 41st, 72nd, 89th)

Estimated Cap Space: $6.2 million (17th)

New coaches/coordinators: HC Dan Campbell, OC Anthony Lynn, DC Aaron Glenn


The Lions will lose about $14 million in cap space once the Goff/Stafford trade is finalized, accepting draft picks as compensation for taking on a QB downgrade and a larger contract. It's a tough situation for the new coaching staff, as Goff won't be the only overpriced veteran with guaranteed money remaining on his contract (cue Trey Flowers, Jamie Collins and Desmond Trufant).

The Lions presumably will try to keep Golladay — or at least use the franchise tag to score draft compensation — but they aren't likely to invest much in Jones, Amendola or Peterson. We already knew T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift would have key roles in 2021, and there's also an opportunity for Hunter Bryant to step up. It's a good thing the Lions have extra draft picks the next couple years, because the current roster pretty much stinks.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Quintez Cephus, RB Kerryon Johnson, QB Jared Goff


Green Bay Packers

Impending Free Agents: RB Aaron Jones, RB Jamaal Williams, TE Robert Tonyan (RFA), TE Marcedes Lewis

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Devin Funchess ($1.3 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (29th, 62nd, 93rd)

Estimated Cap Space: $28.2 million OVER (28th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


When it comes to skill-position players, the Packers have four key contributors (Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard) under contract for 2021. The team should be able to keep Tonyan with a second-round tender or else a multi-year extension, but Jones and/or Williams could leave.

Jones and C Corey Linsley will probably be the only big-money free agents for Green Bay, so the cap situation isn't quite as bad as it looks at first glance. The Packers will need to renegotiate some contracts and might end up cutting a couple of defensive starters, but the core of their 2020 squad should mostly remain intact. 

The backfield situation is the crucial part for fantasy purposes, but we'll also hear plenty of noise about the Packers potentially upgrading their second and third receiver spots. Then again, we heard that same noise last offseason, and Rodgers ended up winning an MVP award with Lazard and MVS getting most of the snaps across from Adams.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB AJ Dillon, RB Jamaal Williams, TE Robert Tonyan, WR Allen Lazard


Houston Texans

Impending Free Agents: WR Will Fuller

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Brandin Cooks ($12 million), RB David Johnson ($6.4 million), RB Duke Johnson ($5 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 2... for now - (67th, 100th)

Estimated Cap Space: $13.4 million OVER (25th)

New coaches/coordinators: HC David Culley, OC Tim Kelly, DC Lovie Smith


Everything is up in the air here, depending on the Deshaun Watson situation. Fuller is technically the only free agent among Houston's starters on offense, but Cooks, Johnson and Johnson could all be cap casualties, while Randall Cobb and his guaranteed $8.25 million salary could be part of the deal for any team that wants Watson.

We know Fuller and Cooks will get snaps and targets wherever they end up playing, but this is also the type of situation that could create an outlier 100-target season for someone like Keke Coutee or Jordan Akins. Of course, they might be seeing those targets from a rookie or a subpar veteran, rather than catching passes from Watson.

Update: Houston released Duke Johnson in late February.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Keke Coutee, TE Jordan Akins


Indianapolis Colts

Impending Free Agents: QB Jacoby Brissett, RB Marlon Mack, WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Trey Burton, WR Zach Pascal (RFA), TE Mo Alie-Cox (RFA)

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Jack Doyle ($4.4 million) 

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (21st, 54th, 85th)

Estimated Cap Space: $69.2 million (2nd)   $43.6 million (4th)

New coaches/coordinators: OC Marcus Brady


The Colts enter the offseason with a solid roster, a ton of cap space and all seven of their 2021 draft picks. Unfortunately, they don't have a starting quarterback, with Philip Rivers retiring and Brissett an unrestricted free agent. 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason is working with QB guru Tom House, but the Colts aren't likely to put too many eggs in that basket. 

(March 1 Update: they traded for Carson Wentz).

They'll presumably allow Mack to leave, but the other free agents listed above could all be re-signed. Colts owner Jim Irsay specifically mentioned Hilton as someone he'd like to keep around, though Irsay did acknowledge that it will depend on the cost. The Colts have second-round picks Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell on rookie contracts, while Pascal's RFA status means he'll likely be on the team at least one more year. Pittman and Hilton are the better fantasy targets, but Campbell and Pascal should also be kept in mind for deeper formats.

Just remember that the Colts have a ton of cap space and a QB change on the horizon, so only Pittman and Jonathan Taylor appear on solid footing as starters. The likes of Doyle, Campbell and Pascal could easily drop down the depth chart even if they stay on the team, as Indy has enough resources to make a push for an Allen Robinson or Jonnu Smith.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Carson Wentz, RB Nyheim Hines, WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Mo Alie-Cox


Jacksonville Jaguars

Impending Free Agents: WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, TE James O'Shaughnessy, RB Chris Thompson

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Tyler Eifert ($5.3 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 6 - (1st, 25th, 33rd, 45th, 65th, 97th)

Estimated Cap Space: $77.5 million (1st)

New coaches/coordinators: HC Urban Meyer, OC Darrell Bevell, DC Joe Cullen


Jacksonville leads the league in both estimated cap space and 2021 draft capital, so the team surrounding Trevor Lawrence should be at least a little better than the disaster Gardner Minshew dealt with. James Robinson, DJ Chark and Laviska Shenault should account for a good portion of the offense's volume, but the Jags could still use a starting tight end, another wide receiver and a backup RB. 

There's not much reason for a rebuilding team flush with draft picks and cap space to keep guys like Conley, Eifert and Thompson around. Even Cole will turn 28 in April, and he's more of a high-end No. 4 receiver than a top-three guy. If the Jags aren't proactive adding WR talent this offseason, it might be interpreted as confidence in Chark and Shenault, or perhaps even 2020 fifth-round pick Collin Johnson (hamstring).

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Trevor Lawrence, WR Laviska Shenault (not that late),  WR Collin Johnson (very late)


Kansas City Chiefs

Impending Free Agents: WR Sammy Watkins, WR Demarcus Robinson, WR Byron Pringle (RFA), RB Darrel Williams (RFA), RB Le'Veon Bell

Potential Cap Casualties: RB Damien Williams ($2.2 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (31st, 63rd, 95th)

Estimated Cap Space: $21.8 million OVER (26th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


With Watkins and Robinson scheduled for unrestricted free agency, Mecole Hardman will be the talk of the town for at least the next month. Of course, the same was true at this time last year, and the Chiefs ultimately kept both Watkins and Robinson for another season. But their cap situation is tougher now, and Watkins is a free agent rather than the subject of trade rumors.

If their superstars stay healthy, there's no reason the Chiefs can't put up 30 points per game with Hardman and Pringle as the second and third options at wide receiver. Neither is likely to be a target hog, but this is an offense where 50 catches might go for 800 yards and eight TDs.

The other big question is the backfield, where Damien Williams, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darwin Thompson remain under contract. Williams will turn 29 in April on the heels of a missed season, so the Chiefs could just opt to release him. Don't be surprised if Darrel enters 2021 as the No. 2 RB behind CEH.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Darrel Williams, WR Byron Pringle


Las Vegas Raiders

Impending Free Agents: WR Nelson Agholor, WR Zay Jones, RB Devontae Booker, RB Theo Riddick

Potential Cap Casualties: QB Marcus Mariota ($11.4 miillion), RB Jalen Richard ($3.5 million), WR Tyrell Williams ($11.6 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (17th, 48th, 81st)

Estimated Cap Space: $6.2 million OVER (22nd)

New coaches/coordinators: DC Gus Bradley


In addition to the free agents and potential cuts, Jason Witten announced his retirement. Foster Moreau should be fine to take over the No. 2 TE job, but it's possible the Raiders use more three-wide formations (read: Hunter Renfrow) if they aren't as pleased with their TE depth behind Darren Waller.

Apart from Waller and Josh Jacobs, it's hard to know what we should make of the Raiders offense. Derek Carr isn't likely to be released for the $19.6 million in cap savings, but he could be traded to a new team, especially if Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock thinks they have a shot at Deshaun Watson.

Jacobs is the only RB under contract, while the WRs of note are 22-year-old Henry Ruggs, 22-year-old Bryan Edwards and the 25-year-old Renfrow. Re-signing Agholor won't necessarily be a huge priority, but it would make some sense. And even if he leaves, Agholor's 2020 performance should put him in the mix for a second or third receiver spot in someone's offense.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Derek Carr, WR Henry Ruggs, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Hunter Renfrow


Los Angeles Chargers

Impending Free Agents: TE Hunter Henry, RB Kalen Ballage (RFA)

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Mike Williams ($15.7 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (13th, 47th, 78th)

Estimated Cap Space: $22.2 million (8th)

New coaches/coordinators: HC Brandon Staley, OC Joe Lombardi, DC Renaldo Hill


Williams isn't likely to be released, but I also don't think he'll enter the season with a $15.7 million cap charge under the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. While an extension would be the easy answer, it's possible the Chargers view Williams as expendable, especially if they plan to re-sign Henry.

With Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler all under contract at reasonable prices for the next three years, GM Tom Telesco knows he's in good shape at the skill positions even if Henry and/or Williams slip away. The Chargers figure to keep at least one of the two, and the only thing stopping them from keeping both is the opportunity cost (the defense and O-Line are more obviously in need of help).

The team's free-agent list includes seven starters (Henry, C Dan Feeney, LG Forrest Lamp, LT Sam Tevi, CB Michael Davis, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DE Melvin Ingram), but none of them were all that good in 2020. Apart from Henry and Davis, the Chargers shouldn't need too much money to keep those guys around, and they might be better off letting them go anyway.

They have four veterans (DT Linval Joseph, CB Casey Hayward, CB Chris Harris, GG Trai Turner) whose releases would clear up $7.5 million or more in cap space apiece, and you could make a case for cutting any or all of them. If they do make some cuts, the Chargers can become players for top-of-the-market free agents.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Justin Jackson, WR Jalen Guyton


Los Angeles Rams

Impending Free Agents: WR Josh Reynolds, TE Gerald Everett, RB Malcolm Brown

Potential Cap Casualties: None

Top-100 Draft Picks: 1 - (57th)

Estimated Cap Space: $26.8 million OVER (27th)

New coaches/coordinators: DC Raheem Morris


Swapping out Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford will add $7.25 million to the 2021 cap sheet, but that number will be reduced or eliminated if/when Stafford renegotiates his contract. The Rams' cap situation beyond 2021 looks much better with Goff removed from the picture, though they'll still have some tough decisions to make, and they don't have many draft picks to find young replacements for departing veterans.

It's all but assumed Reynolds and Everett will leave, unless the market is so harsh that they're forced to settle for something near the veteran's minimum. The Rams have very little cap flexibility, and Stafford already has solid weapons in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Cam Akers and Tyler Higbee.

The young RB will have most of the breakout hype, but we should also keep an eye on Higbee, who could see a big uptick in snaps and targets if the Rams determine 2020 fourth-round pick Brycen Hopkins isn't ready to fill Everett's old role. Everett drew 62 targets this past season, with 39 of those (63 percent) coming in 11 personnel with Higbee off the field.

From a non-fantasy standpoint, it'll be interesting to see if the Rams find a way to keep CB Troy Hill (UFA), CB Darious Williams (RFA) and S John Johnson (UFA). They arguably had the best defense and best secondary in the league this past season, overcoming what looked like a major exodus of talent. Pulling the same trick again would be highly difficult, so they'll presumably do their best to retain two of the three DBs named above.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Van Jefferson, RB Darrell Henderson, TE Tyler Higbee


Miami Dolphins

Impending Free Agents: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Matt Breida, RB DeAndre Washington, WR Isaiah Ford, WR Mack Hollins

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Albert Wilson ($2.9 million), WR Jakeem Grant ($2.9 million), TE Durham Smythe ($2.2 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 5 - (3rd, 18th, 36th, 50th, 82nd)

Estimated Cap Space: $27.9 million (7th)

New coaches/coordinators: co-OCs Eric Studesville & George Godsey


The Dolphins might be able to get by with DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki and Preston Williams as their primary pass catchers. However, they have a lot of cap space and plenty of draft picks, so don't be surprised if they end up with an Allen Robinson or DeVonta Smith.

If not, Williams figures to get some breakout hype, coming back from foot surgery rather than an ACL tear this offseason. It's hard to say if he'll stay healthy or continue to develop, but Williams has at least made it clear he belongs in the league, and it doesn't require too much imagination to envision him getting 60 snaps and seven targets per game.

As for the QB situation and backfield, we should probably just accept that we don't really know. The Dolphins presumably hope to swap out Tua Tagovailoa for Deshaun Watson, but it isn't clear what they'll do (start Tua and sign a high-end backup?) if that doesn't work out. The RB situation should be far less of a priority for the Miami front office, though it's still plenty important to those of us in the fantasy world.

Will the Dolphins move forward with Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed, or will they use those assets to bring in someone more explosive? Are guys like Ahmed and Lynn Bowden even real NFL players, or are they just dudes who got forced into key roles because everyone else was injured?

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Preston Williams, RB Salvon Ahmed


Minnesota Vikings

Impending Free Agents: WR Chad Beebe (RFA), RB Ameer Abdullah

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Kyle Rudolph ($5 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (14th, 79th, 91st)

Estimated Cap Space: $7.7 million OVER (23rd)

New coaches/coordinators: OC Klint Kubiak


Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson all figure to be back for 2021, so TE will be the spot to watch this offseason. The cap savings for a Rudolph cut goes up from $5 million to $7.9 million if the Vikings designate him as a post-June 1 release. He said he won't accept a pay cut, and he acknowledged that the team pays him a lot of money relative to his limited receiving role in 2020.

With Rudolph potentially out of the picture, Irv Smith could reprise his three-down role from the end of the season. The 2019 second-round pick put up 15-183-3 over the final four weeks, accounting for more than half his total fantasy production. It was a disappointing year for Smith on the whole, but he has a lot working in his favor for a 2021 breakout.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: TE Irv Smith, RB Alexander Mattison


New England Patriots

Impending Free Agents: QB Cam Newton, RB James White, RB Rex Burkhead, WR Damiere Byrd

Potential Cap Casualties: RB Brandon Bolden ($1.5 million), TE Matt LaCosse ($1.3 million), RB Sony Michel ($1.8 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 2 - (15th, 46th)

Estimated Cap Space: $63 million (4th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


The Patriots don't have much talent to work with on offense, but they do have a ton of cap space and a good haul of draft picks. They're expected to add compensatory picks in the third, fourth and fourth rounds, which will boost their total to seven selections inside the Top 150.

The list of players under contract includes: RBs Damien Harris and Sony Michel; WRs Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers; and TEs Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi. The Pats would save only $3.4 million in cap space if they got rid of Edelman, so a trade probably makes more sense than an outright release.

That's not to say Edelman's departure is a sure thing by any means, as even the very end of his career might be better than New England's alternatives. This is one of the toughest teams to get a read on at the beginning of the offseason, with Harris presumably being the only top-100 fantasy pick in early fantasy drafts. 

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: WR Jakobi Meyers, WR Julian Edelman, QB Cam Newton


New Orleans Saints

Impending Free Agents: QB Jameis Winston, TE Jared Cook, RB Ty Montgomery

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Emmanuel Sanders ($4 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 2 - (28th, 60th)

Estimated Cap Space: $74.6 million OVER (32nd)

New coaches/coordinators: None


It's not quite as bad as the number above suggests, but there's no doubt the Saints will need to shed some veteran talent to become cap compliant for 2021. The process should involve a mix of contract renegotiations, extensions, releases and trades, with guys who were untouchable a year ago (e.g. Marshon Lattimore, Cameron Jordan) potentially made available to other teams.

With Sanders, Murray and Cook likely part of the exodus, there's an opportunity for Adam Trautman or one of the young wideouts (Tre'Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, etc.) to step up as Option C behind Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The QB position likely will be manned by Taysom Hill or a cheap veteran (Jameis?), as New Orleans doesn't have the resources to add anyone better.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport claims Winston is "in the driver's seat" for the starting job, but you'll forgive me if I'm skeptical, as it was only a couple months ago that Sean Payton chose Hill over Famous Jameis when he needed a fill-in QB.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: TE Adam Trautman, QB Taysom Hill, TE Jared Cook


New York Giants

Impending Free Agents: RB Wayne Gallman, RB Dion Lewis, RB Alfred Morris

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Golden Tate ($6.1 million), TE Levine Toilolo ($2.95 million), WR Cody Core ($2 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (11th, 42nd, 76th)

Estimated Cap Space: $1.1 million (19th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


Tate would be an easy cut even if he and the Giants had remained on good terms. As is, we can probably assume he'll land elsewhere for next season, leaving Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram as the Giants' top pass catchers under contract. 

The trio doesn't lack for talent, but none exactly inspires trust or confidence, so the Giants would be wise to add another legit receiving threat (or two). They might even try to move Engram, who is expected to make around $6 million under the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

Saquon Barkley is the team's only RB with significant NFL experience under contract for 2021, and none of the impending free agents (Gallman, Lewis, Morris) is a lock to find work elsewhere if they don't re-sign with the Giants. I guess you can make a case for Gallman as a late-round pick in best ball.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Daniel Jones, RB Wayne Gallman, WR Darius Slayton, WR Sterling Shepard


New York Jets

Impending Free Agents: RB Frank Gore, WR Breshad Perriman, RB Josh Adams (RFA), QB Joe Flacco

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Jamison Crowder ($10.4 million), TE Chris Herndon ($2.2 million), TE Ryan Griffin ($1.8 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 6 - (2nd, 23rd, 34th, 66th, 87th, 98th)

Estimated Cap Space: $67.8 million (3rd)

New coaches/coordinators: HC Robert Saleh, OC Mike LaFleur, DC Jeff Ulbrich


The Jets are in the same boat as the Jaguars, with tons of cap space and draft capital but very few quality starters on the roster. Crowder is one of the better players, but he also has the largest cap hit scheduled for 2020, and he'll be a 28-year-old slot receiver on a rebuilding team.

Of course, Crowder won't have trouble finding work if the Jets decide to cut or trade him, so you might even argue it's a good thing his future appears uncertain. The volume might not match his Gase/Darnold peak, but Crowder's efficiency could benefit from playing in a real NFL offense.

Apart from 2020 draft picks La'Mical Perine and Denzel Mims, it's hard to identify potential fantasy assets who will definitely be on the Jets in 2021. A good portion of the Week 1 starting lineup figures to come from the free-agent pool or NFL Draft.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB La'Mical Perine, WR Denzel Mims


Philadelphia Eagles

Impending Free Agents: QB Nate Sudfeld, RB Corey Clement, TE Richard Rodgers

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Alshon Jeffery ($3.2 million), WR DeSean Jackson ($4.9 million), TE Zach Ertz ($4.7 million), WR Marquise Goodwin ($4.3 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (6th, 37th, 70th)

Estimated Cap Space: $49 million OVER (31st)   $43 million OVER (31st)

New coaches/coordinators: HC Nick Sirianni, OC Shane Steichen, DC Jonathan Gannon


The Eagles are pretending they might not trade Carson Wentz, but it seems the relationship has soured to the point where it would be foolish to keep him around. While a trade will free up only $853k in cap space in the likely event it happens before June 1, the Eagles will instantly add a ton of flexibility without Wentz on their cap sheet for 2022 and beyond. (Update: they traded Wentz.)

Jackson was cut loose in February, with Jeffery soon to follow and Ertz presumably the subject of trade talks.

I'm envisioning an offense built around QB Jalen Hurts, RB Miles Sanders, WR Jalen Reagor and TE Dallas Goedert. While Sanders and Goedert figure to be top-100 fantasy picks, the rest of the Philadelphia offense could come cheap.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Jalen Hurts, WR Jalen Reagor, WR Greg Ward, RB Boston Scott


Pittsburgh Steelers

Impending Free Agents: RB James Conner, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Eric Ebron ($6 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (24th, 55th, 88th)

Estimated Cap Space: $30.6 million OVER (29th)

New coaches/coordinators: OC Matt Canada


Vance McDonald already announced his retirement, which will clear out $5.2 million in cap space once it's official. The Steelers could also move on from Ebron, who was solid in 2020 but far from irreplaceable. With Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington still under contract, the Steelers arguably could make do without Ebron or JuJu.

It sounds like Big Ben will play another year, while Smith-Schuster seems more likely to find a new team. Steelers owner Art Rooney seemed to hint at Conner leaving as well, though in the RB's case it might not cost a lot to keep him around.

A lot of offseason attention will be focused on the Pittsburgh backfield, with mock drafters surely viewing the Steelers as a potential destination for top RB prospects. The team used a mid-round pick on the position in each of the past four drafts, so Jaylen Samuels (2018), Benny Snell (2019) and Anthony McFarland (2020) are still on rookie contracts.

Snell got most of the backup work last year, but he managed just 3.3 YPC and 4.4 YPT, failing to make much noise after Week 1. I'm fine with Snell or McFarland (or Conner!) as a late flier; just don't expect anything to be handed to any of them.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR James Washington, RB Benny Snell, RB Anthony McFarland


San Francisco 49ers

Impending Free Agents: WR Kendrick Bourne, RB Jerick McKinnon, RB Tevin Coleman, TE Jordan Reed, WR Trent Taylor, TE Ross Dwelley (RFA), QB Nick Mullens (RFA), FB Kyle Juszczyk

Potential Cap Casualties: QB Jimmy Garoppolo ($23.6 million), RB Raheem Mostert ($3.15 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 2 - (12th, 43rd)

Estimated Cap Space: $14 million (14th)

New coaches/coordinators: OC Mike McDaniel


The passing game will focus on George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, regardless of who starts at quarterback. The Niners are expected to pursue upgrades, though it's possible they end up with Garoppolo and/or Mullens again. I'll avoid the QBs in early drafts, and will treat the RBs with caution.

Wilson already signed a one-year contract for 2021 to avoid the RFA process, while Mostert could be a cap casualty after injuries stopped him from making good on the pay boost he got last offseason. There's not much reason to re-sign McKinnon or Coleman — a pair of has-beens who were never that good in the first place.

Maybe the backfield chaos leads to an early draft pick, but it might also open the door for a UDFA like Hasty or a cheap free agent. We already know Kyle Shanahan can make his running game work without a high-end RB.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Jeff Wilson, RB JaMycal Hasty


Seattle Seahawks

Impending Free Agents: RB Chris Carson, RB Carlos Hyde, WR David Moore, TE Greg Olsen, TE Jacob Hollister

Potential Cap Casualties: RB Rashaad Penny ($1.4 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 1 - (56th)

Estimated Cap Space: $2.1 million (18th)

New coaches/coordinators: OC Shane Waldron


Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are locked in. Everything else at the skill positions is up in the air. It's a good spot to speculate on someone like Penny or Will Dissly, though neither looked particularly explosive after returning from a severe injury.

Of course, the team should have some cap space to play with after it makes some cuts and renegotiates a contract or three, so we shouldn't assume vacancies will be filled in-house. While draft capital is lacking, Seattle could make a splash in free agency.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Rashaad Penny, TE Will Dissly, RB DeeJay Dallas


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Impending Free Agents: RB Leonard Fournette, WR Chris Godwin, WR Antonio Brown, TE Rob Gronkowski

Potential Cap Casualties: TE Cameron Brate ($6.5 million), TE O.J. Howard ($6 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (32nd, 64th, 96th)

Estimated Cap Space: $15.7 million (13th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


Tom Brady is widely expected to continue his career, but it's less clear who he'll throw passes to, apart from Mike Evans. The Bucs would be wise to prioritize Godwin over the RB and the greybeards, with most reports suggesting the team will use a franchise tag if it can't re-sign the star wideout before the new league year begins in mid-March.

Gronk presumably will play for Tampa or not at all, while Brate and Howard could be cut/traded if they won't accept pay reductions. Howard suffered a torn Achilles in Week 4, giving him 11 months to recover before Week 1.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, WR Scotty Miller, TE Rob Gronkowski


Tennessee Titans

Impending Free Agents: WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, TE Anthony Firkser (RFA), TE Geoff Swaim, TE MyCole Pruitt

Potential Cap Casualties: WR Adam Humphries ($4.75 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 3 - (22nd, 53rd, 86th)

Estimated Cap Space: $3.1 million OVER (21st)

New coaches/coordinators: OC Todd Downing


The Titans have their No. 1 TE and No. 2 WR headed for free agency, while their slot guy will either accept a pay cut or be released. Davis is coming off a career-best season, but both he and Smith could benefit from escaping the shadows of Big Dog and AJB in Nashville.

Smith, in particular, appears unlikely to reach his potential as a receiving threat as a member of the Titans. That doesn't mean the team won't try to re-sign him, but Smith could prefer a destination where he'll run more routes and throw fewer blocks. He's already shown elite YAC ability and good skills in the red zone, so even 70-80 targets could be enough to make him a decent TE1 for fantasy.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: TE Jonnu Smith, RB Darrynton Evans


Washington Football Team

Impending Free Agents: WR Cam Sims (RFA)

Potential Cap Casualties: QB Alex Smith ($14.7 million), RB Peyton Barber ($1.3 million)

Top-100 Draft Picks: 4 - (19th, 51st, 74th, 83rd)

Estimated Cap Space: $39.6 million (5th)

New coaches/coordinators: None


Same as all the other cap-space leaders, Washington enters the offseason without a franchise QB on the roster. While the Jets and Jaguars figure to find their signal-callers in the draft, Washington's path to solving the problem could require a bunch of draft picks and/or a big chunk of that estimated $35.1 million in cap space.

Still, the team should be able to find another receiving threat; ideally, a wide receiver. Cam Sims wasn't terrible as the No. 2 receiver in the second half of 2020, but he also wasn't good enough to lock down the job. A better WR group could also push targets away from TE Logan Thomas and RB J.D. McKissic, both coming off high-volume, low-efficiency seasons. I'm skeptical of both Thomas and McKissic now that Washington is positioned to add more-explosive players.

Late-Round Best Ball Targets: Just draft Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson.


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Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
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