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When does 2021 NFL free agency start? Dates, times and predictions

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
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With the NFL playoffs underway, many teams are already looking to the 2021 NFL free agency market to begin repairs on glaring issues for their team.

When does the 2021 NFL free agency period begin? Does the NFL Draft come first or after? As well as who are the top free agents and where could they possibly go? Let's dive into the 2021 NFL free agency.


When Does the 2021 NFL Free Agency period begin?

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs

The NFL runs on a "league year" as opposed to a calendar year. As such, all players who contracts expire this year, won't be free agents until the 2021-22 league year begins. The 2021 league year begins on March 17th, 2021.

As such, the 2021 NFL free agency period will open and free agents will legally be able to sign with any team that has offered them a contract beginning then.

However, agents of soon-to-be free agents can begin negotiating contracts during the "legal tampering" period, which begins 48 hours prior to the start of the new league year and the 2021 NFL free agency period. The legal tampering period this year begins on March 15, 2021.


What time does NFL Free Agency start?

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings

Both the legal tampering period and the new league year are subject to start at the traditional 4 p.m. (EST) deadline. As such, the legal tampering period will officially begin on March 15, 2021 at 4 p.m. EST, while the 2021 NFL Free Agency period will begin when the new league year starts on March 17th, 2021 at 4 p.m. EST.


Is NFL Free Agency before the draft?

Chicago Bears v Washington Redskins
Chicago Bears v Washington Redskins

The NFL Draft is currently scheduled for April 29th, 2021-May 1st, 2021. This means NFL teams will be able to repair any glaring issues with veteran NFL talent during the 2021 NFL free agency period, rather than rookie talent if they so choose.


Who will be the top NFL free agents?

New Orleans Saints v Detroit Lions
New Orleans Saints v Detroit Lions

2021 NFL free agency; Top 25 free agents (w/ predictions):

  1. QB Dak Prescott, (Cowboys re-sign on a 4-yr/$145 million contract)
  2. WR Allen Robinson (Patriots sign on a 4-yr/$88 million contract)
  3. WR Chris Godwin (Franchise tagged by the Bucs)
  4. WR Kenny Golladay (Franchise tagged by the Lions)
  5. S Justin Simmons (Broncos re-sign on a 5-yr/$90 million contract)
  6. LB Lavonte David (Buccaneers re-sign on a 2-yr/$30 million contract)
  7. OT Trent Williams (Jaguars on a 3-yr/$65 million contract)
  8. OG Brandon Scherff (WFT re-signs on a 5-yr/$85 million contract)
  9. S Anthony Harris (Jets sign on a 4-yr/$60 million contract)
  10. TE Hunter Henry (Chargers re-sign on a 4-yr/$44 million contract)
  11. QB Phillip Rivers (Colts re-sign on a 1-yr/$25 million contract)
  12. OG Joe Thuney (Jets sign on a 4-yr/$60 million contract)
  13. WR Will Fuller (Packers sign on a 3-yr/$43.5 million contract)
  14. OT Taylor Moton (Franchise tagged by the Panthers)
  15. EDGE Shaq Barrett (Bucs sign on a 3-yr/$54 million contract)
  16. S Marcus Williams (Jaguars sign on a 4-yr/$46 million contract)
  17. CB William Jackson III (Bengals re-sign on a 3-yr/$36 million contract)
  18. CB Richard Sherman (Patriots sign on a 2-yr/$30 million contract)
  19. CB Desmond King II (Falcons sign on a 3-yr/$33 million contract)
  20. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Patriots sign on a 4-yr/$75 million contract)
  21. QB Jameis Winston (Patriots sign on a 2-yr/$11 million contract)
  22. DL Leonard Williams (Jaguars sign on a 3-yr/$32 million contract)
  23. S Marcus Maye (Jets re-sign on a 4-yr/$65 million contract)
  24. S John Johnson III (Jaguars sign on a 4-yr/$74 million contract
  25. QB Cam Newton (49ers sign on a 1-yr/$4 million contract)
Edited by Amaar Burton
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