We’re quickly approaching NFL free agency, one of the most exciting times of the year. As veterans continue to be traded and released in the weeks ahead, nothing is official until March 17 at 4 p.m. EDT. That won’t stop us from getting energized about any news, nor will it prevent a look ahead at possible scenarios.
Here are the positional breakdowns of known unrestricted free agent quarterbacks who may present fantasy football utility in 2021. Each player’s 2020 team is in parentheses.
2021 fantasy football free agents to watch
Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys): Coming off of a devastating ankle injury that required a pair of surgeries, Prescott will become a free agent in March, provided Dallas doesn’t secure his services via the franchise tag again or a long-term deal.
Expectation: This one will get worked out one way or another with Prescott remaining a Cowboy.
Jameis Winston (New Orleans Saints): It appears a foregone conclusion at this point that we’ve seen the last NFL pass from Drew Brees. With that in mind, the Saints could be prepared to offer Winston another one-year “prove it” deal that would have to be cap-friendly for the team with the least amount of money to spend. Talent alone, Winston is in a tier of his own after Prescott in this year’s natural class of free agents.
Expectation: Did Sean Payton see enough in practice to award Winston a shot at the starting job — all while starting Taysom Hill over the former Buccaneer? Hard to say, but reports suggest New Orleans is not out on Winston just yet. The biggest factor is whether Winston wants to settle for a lesser contract and a chance to start for a familiar, playoff-caliber team, or will he prefer to take the most lucrative offer after playing on a $1.1 million deal in 2020. He’s the true wild card of this group. Don’t write off Chicago, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Houston. Smart money puts him back in the Big Easy, however.
Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears): The former No. 2 overall pick has weathered a turbulent career thus far, and if it had not been for the Bears declining his fifth-year option, the team wouldn’t find itself in a predicament of sorts. Trubisky came to life as the season wore along, and it was obvious he developed more comfort in Bill Lazor’s system once the rust was shaken from the abbreviated offseason.
Expectation: Chicago still has Nick Foles under contract, and given an ominous yet favorable $6.66 million cap charge for a team up against it, the believe is Trubisky walks. While it wouldn’t be ideal, Foles may be granted a legit shot to start while the Bears work to find viable future at the position.
Cam Newton (New England Patriots): Recency bias affects us all, including NFL general managers. Newton was mostly a trash bin of flaming garbage in 2020. In his defense, he was coming off of surgery, had no offseason program, signed rather late with the team, needed to learn a complex offense, many key figures were missing from the Patriots, and the offense had basically no weapons in the passing game. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln …
Expectation: Washington is an intriguing situation following the release of Alex Smith. Signing in Washington would pair Newton with his former head coach, GM and offensive coordinator/QBs coach. It also would bring him to a roster on the rise. Denver is on the short list, too. Drew Lock can sit and watch as Newton joins a much better roster. Don’t totally rule out the Patriots settling on giving Cam one more year, although it’s a long shot at this stage.
UPDATED: Alex Smith (Washington Football Team): Nearly age 37, Smith is a free agent after a mutual parting with Washington.
Expectation: Smith will draw interest from several teams looking for a cerebral stopgap with the playoffs in sight (New England comes to mind). Chicago is in play, and the connection to Matt Nagy from their time together in KC should have the Bears near the top of this short list. Houston could be an option, if Deshaun Watson is dealt. Don’t write off Denver sniffing around, and New Orleans is a viable location, presuming Drew Brees hangs it up. If none of these situations work out, Smith could have to settle for a starting opportunity in Jacksonville