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The NFL free-agent class of 2021 could feature some big-name wide receivers. Chris Godwin and Keenan Allen headline the list of the playmakers who could be available, which also includes Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, A.J. Green and T.Y. Hilton.
All these players could sign extensions with their current teams before they hit the market. If that doesn’t happen, though, the offensive landscape of the NFL would greatly change.
Here are predictions for where several of the top receivers set to become free agents in 2021 will land.
Chris Godwin has got progressively better over his first three NFL seasons. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver enjoyed a breakout 2019, notching 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns, all career highs, in 14 games. That earned Godwin, a third-round draft pick in 2017, his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
Godwin has the potential to be even better in 2020, especially considering he will be playing with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady. And if Godwin has another big year, he will be set up to receive a big payday next offseason, when he’s set to become a free agent for the first time. Spotrac is already projecting Godwin’s market value to be an average annual salary of $16.8 million, which would be a considerable raise from the $2.1 million he’s set to make in 2020.
In April, Godwin told Scott Smith of the team’s website that there “haven’t been many conversations thus far” between him and the team about an extension. But the 24-year-old said the Bucs have made it clear that he’s a priority, which makes sense considering his talent.
If Godwin makes it to free agency, every wide receiver-needy team that could afford him should be interested. But don’t be surprised if he works out a long-term deal with Tampa Bay, especially if it performs well in 2020 with Brady at the helm.
For now, there’s no reason to think Godwin wouldn’t want to be part of the Bucs’ likely success moving forward.
Prediction: Godwin re-signs with Buccaneers.
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The Los Angeles Chargers will have decisions to make and some work to do during or after the 2020 season. Among their players set to hit free agency in 2021 are Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry, Desmond King and Melvin Ingram.
Henry has had trouble staying healthy early in his NFL career, and if that doesn’t change in 2020, the Chargers could go a different way at tight end. That could make it even more important for them to work out a long-term deal with Allen, who would serve as a great top target for Justin Herbert as the quarterback adjusts to the NFL level.
While Tyrod Taylor may be Los Angeles’ starting quarterback in the short term, it doesn’t change the fact that Allen is already an integral part of the team’s offense and would be tough to replace if he doesn’t return in 2021. Mike Williams has been inconsistent, and the Chargers don’t have any other No. 1 receivers on their roster.
Over the past three seasons, Allen has been reliable. He’s played in all 16 games and scored six touchdowns each year, compiling at least 1,196 yards. The Chargers are likely going to give Allen a big contract, even if that means parting ways with one or two other key free agents to do so.
Prediction: Allen re-signs with Chargers.
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Even though quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has had some struggles, Allen Robinson has impressed over his first two years with the Chicago Bears. Last season, he recorded 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns, marking the first time he’s eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark since his breakout 2015 campaign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Robinson is entering the final season of the three-year deal he signed with the Bears prior to the 2018 campaign. And if either Trubisky or free-agent acquisition Nick Foles can’t lead Chicago back to the playoffs, Robinson could consider leaving next offseason.
The Bears are likely going to have interest in bringing back Robinson, who is their clear No. 1 wide receiver. But if the 26-year-old has another big year, testing the market may be appealing.
One potential fit for Robinson could be the Miami Dolphins, who now have a franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa but could use some more playmakers on their offense. If Robinson paired with DeVante Parker to form a strong receiving duo, Tagovailoa has the potential to lead the Dolphins to more success.
Prediction: Robinson signs with Dolphins.