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While many top NFL free agents have signed deals this offseason, players such as Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney still don’t have teams for the 2020 season. And it’s possible they’ll only sign one-year deals before testing the market again in 2021.
Even if that doesn’t happen, there will likely be some talented players on the free-agent market next year, some of whom could change teams. Of course, there’s also a lot of time between now and the 2021 free-agency period, so players could sign extensions that keep them from becoming available.
Regardless, here are some early predictions for several top players who currently aren’t signed beyond the 2020 season.
Dak Prescott, QB
If Dak Prescott hits free agency in 2021, he’ll be one of the top quarterbacks available on the market. However, there’s no guarantee it will even happen, as he could work out a long-term deal with the Dallas Cowboys well before then.
According to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell, the Cowboys have until July 15 to sign the 26-year-old to an extension. If that date passes without a deal between the two sides, then he would likely sign his franchise tag and earn $31.4 million this season on a one-year contract.
Prescott has been Dallas’ starting quarterback the past four seasons, beginning every game during that stretch. And although the Cowboys went 8-8 and missed the playoffs last year, he set career highs in passing yards (4,902) and passing touchdowns (30). His stats may not be the most impressive among NFL quarterbacks, but he’s helped Dallas go 40-24 since the start of 2016.
With running back Ezekiel Elliott and a strong receiving corps (Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and rookie CeeDee Lamb), the Cowboys have a great offensive core, and they’ll just need to decide if the Mississippi State product is the man they want leading that unit.
The early prediction here is that Prescott will have a long-term future in Dallas and re-sign with the team, potentially even before that July 15 deadline.
Prediction: Prescott re-signs with Cowboys
George Kittle, TE
Matt York/Associated Press
George Kittle will likely soon be the highest-paid tight end in the NFL. His agent, Jack Bechta, might be negotiating a deal well larger than that for the 26-year-old standout.
“I don’t care about the tight end market, I’m being paid to do a George Kittle deal,” Bechta recently told NFL Network’s Mike Silver (h/t Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier) last week.
The 26-year-old has emerged as a tremendous offensive weapon over his first three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. In 2018, he played all 16 games and hauled in 88 passes for 1,377 yards and five touchdowns. Last season, he had 85 receptions for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns, going on to help the 49ers win the NFC title and reach Super Bowl LIV.
In late April, San Francisco general manager John Lynch said on 95.7 The Game that “George isn’t going anywhere,” and expressed interest in signing him to a new deal (h/t Kyle Posey of Niners Nation).
And with the success that Kittle has experienced while playing for the 49ers and the boost he provides their offense, there’s no reason to think they won’t work it out before he hits free agency in 2021.
Prediction: Kittle re-signs with 49ers
Chris Godwin, WR
Jason Behnken/Associated Press
Another talented playmaker who is currently set to become a free agent after the 2020 season is Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin, who broke out in 2019 with a standout year.
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In 14 games, the 24-year-old notched 86 receptions for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns, giving the Bucs another top target alongside Mike Evans.
Now, Tampa Bay also has quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, making its offense even more dangerous for 2020 and potentially a bit longer. If it can keep Godwin beyond this season, then perhaps he’d have the chance to contribute on a Brady-led offense for another year or two longer.
Not only is the Penn State product one of Tampa Bay’s best offensive players, but he’s also one of the youngest. It should feel confident that he’ll continue to contribute if it signs him to a long-term deal, which could lead it to start extension negotiations well before he hits the market next year.
With the Buccaneers set up well for success, Godwin should have interest in returning and signing a new deal with them. Expect him to continue to play at a high level in Tampa for at least a few more seasons.
Prediction: Godwin re-signs with Buccaneers
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