That hasn’t stopped NFL free agency from rolling on, with franchises signing players to big contracts in a bid to improve their teams for 2021 and beyond. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was handed a gigantic contract to remain in Dallas, but there were several high-profile players who changed teams in free agency.
Which NFL free agents will give their new teams a boost in 2021?
#1 Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Washington Football Team
The veteran quarterback joined his ninth NFL team this off-season. Fitzpatrick is set to become the starter in Washington after signing a one-year deal in March. He played in nine games last season, passing for 2,091 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The 16-year veteran saw his playing time decrease due to rookie quarterback Tua Tagavailoa’s emergence in Miami. WFT head coach Ron Rivera juggled multiple starting quarterbacks last season and ultimately signed Fitzpatrick, seeking some consistency in 2021. Now that he’s the presumed starter in Washington D.C., look for "Fitzmagic" to improve the offensive output in the capital.
Wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel are also primed to have big seasons with the 38-year-old QB at the helm.
#2 Joe Thuney, OG, Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs front office had one goal in mind this NFL off-season: drastically improve the offensive line and protect star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The first step in doing that was signing former New England Patriots offensive guard Joe Thuney. On paper, the two-time Super Bowl winner immediately upgrades the Chiefs' offensive line. He is extremely durable, having started 80 NFL games during his time in New England.
Thuney signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs in March this year. He will be joined by former Ravens tackle Orlando Brown, who the Chiefs traded for this off-season. A repeat of the Super Bowl debacle looks unlikely with Thuney and Brown protecting Patrick Mahomes in Kansas this season.
#3 JJ Watt, Edge, Arizona Cardinals
Former Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt made headlines when he announced he was leaving the Lone Star State this off-season. The ten-year NFL veteran signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals in March this year.
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been hampered by injuries over the past few seasons. Nevertheless, Watt is still one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL.
A change in scenery could lead to Watt rediscovering his Pro Bowl form and producing a big season for the Cardinals. The combination of Watt and Chandler Jones could be a scary pair to face for opposing offenses this year.
#4 Will Fuller, WR, Miami Dolphins
Another former Texans player, Will Fuller is seeking to make an immediate impact with his new team in 2021. The wide receiver joined the Miami Dolphins this year, giving young QB Tua Tagavailoa another offensive weapon to wreak havoc with.
Fuller recorded 879 yards and eight touchdowns last year in Houston. He joins a new-look Dolphins receiving core featuring DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant and rookie Jaylen Waddle.
#5 John Johnson, S, Cleveland Browns
Former Los Angeles Rams safety John Johnson was one of the free agency signings that flew under the radar this off-season. While Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey got all the spotlight in Los Angeles, Johnson was a solid last line of defense.
The four-year NFL player reportedly turned down more money from the Rams to sign with the Cleveland Browns this off-season. Last year, Johnson recorded 105 tackles, one forced fumble and eight interceptions.
The Browns' secondary is now one of the best squads on paper in the NFL.