The 2021 NFL season will not only provide new opportunities for teams to win it all. This will also give players the opportunity to cash in new contracts. Some players are practically blocked from making important trades before, during or immediately after this season (see: Lamar Jackson, Fred Warner, etc.). But what about those that might be overlooked?
Here, we’ve identified one underrated player from every NFC team who could be on the verge of a big payday:
* Note: Current player contracts include all exercised fifth year options.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 2.9 million (expires in 2022)
Edmonds’ wear and tear is minimal, considering he has only started four career games and has never made it past 100 races. So he’s ready for a breakthrough as Arizona’s No.1, even with James Conner in relief. Starting money is expected to be around the corner after Edmonds eclipsed 850 yards from the fray as Kenyan Drake’s sidekick in 2020.
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On-going contract : Four years, $ 2.6 million (expires in 2022)
His receiving scores have jumped in each of his three seasons in the NFL, and at 25, he’s ready for career numbers as a full-time player with Julio Jones gone. He also did a lot more in 2020 (72 catches, 786 yards) than some probably think, promising a reliable No. 2/3 at the very least. Someone will pay for it at their post.
On-going contract : Five years, $ 22.3 million (expires in 2023)
Like Gage, Moore has seen his receiving totals increase in three straight seasons. The difference? He’s a true number 1 going under the radar after catching assists from guys like Kyle Allen and Teddy Bridgewater. He’s not the biggest or the most explosive, but he does produce. A future extension could earn him at least $ 15 to $ 17 million a year.
On-going contract : Five years, $ 28.5 million (expires in 2023)
He’s not underrated in the Windy City, but nationally he could be. He’s a guy who not only lived up to it, but surpassed draft day expectations when in good health, totaling 361 tackles and 11 sacks in 44 games. As the Bears’ best short- and long-term defense building block, he could potentially reset the inside linebacker market.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 5.5 million (expires in 2022)
Unlike countless other Cowboys linemen to come through the draft, Williams hasn’t built a lasting All-Pro reputation. But he’s a solid inside starter, with some tackling flexibility, when he’s healthy. With a stable 2021, he could stand out from Dallas.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 3.5 million (expires in 2022)
The former third round struggled in 2020, falling on the depth chart over poor defense, but he made enough promises in his first two seasons that a team with new coordinator Aaron Glenn would allow him to replenish its stock as a young security with size and speed.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 6.8 million (expires in 2023)
For all the talk around David Bakhtiari and the late Corey Linsley, the Packers have another trench gem in Jenkins, who quietly emerged as a first professional bowler in 2020 during Green Bay’s much-vaunted offensive run. He still has a few years to approach the market, but at his current rate, he is expected to make at least $ 12 million per year on a future expansion.
On-going contract : One year, $ 4.8 million (expires in 2022)
Is he underrated or overrated starting with Jalen Ramsey? We’re leaning towards the former, mainly because Williams was so stingy on his own in 2020, despite entering the year almost after the fact. The former undrafted reserve has a chance of getting another pay rise by entering 2021 as Ramsey’s full-time running mate.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 5.8 million (expires in 2023)
At just 22, Smith is finally ready to take on the No.1 duties with Kyle Rudolph gone, and he’s flashed enough in limited work (66 catches, 676 yards, 7 touchdowns in 14 starts) to warrant high expectations in 2021, when he’s likely to be one of Kirk Cousins’ primary play and red zone targets. This bodes well for early expansion or a large free agent market.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 3.4 million (expires in 2022)
He failed to register 450 receiving yards in each of his three seasons, and yet the big play potential has always been evident. With 14 career scores and an almost 14 yard-per-catch average, he’s a deep-ball weapon waiting to emerge, and Jameis Winston likely succeeding Drew Brees could mean more action on the court.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 3.2 million (expires in 2023)
The G-Men may have paid Kenny Golladay and drafted Kadarius Toney because they don’t believe Slayton alone – or in tandem with Sterling Shepard – can make the front page of the WR Body. But he’s still probably not getting enough credit for his No. 2/3 potential, having topped 700 yards and 15 yards per catch in each of his first two years.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 5.6 million (expires in 2022)
Aside from occasional fights with falls and injuries, Goedert seemed just as capable of taking on the duties of No.1 in Philly as longtime star Zach Ertz. In fact, at his best, he’s probably more explosive. This year, as an expected starter, he is set to post career scores and be one of Jalen Hurts’ top passing targets. A future annual salary of $ 12.5 million appears to be the bottom line.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 3.3 million (expires in 2023)
Everyone knows Fred Warner, whose production at the same station puts him on the verge of landing a big deal. But Greenlaw could be the next best thing in San Francisco, where he quietly racked up 178 tackles, including 10 for losses, in two years. If the 49ers can’t afford to pay it off in a year or two, someone else will.
On-going contract : One year, $ 6 million (expires in 2022)
The old second round never really erupted in Los Angeles, with Tyler Higbee retaining the top job. In Seattle, Everett brings the size, skills and experience to become Russell Wilson’s favorite. If he posts career ratings while playing for the Seahawks (a real possibility), he will have to commit longer in the next offseason.
On-going contract : Four years, $ 4.4 million (expires in 2022)
He’s picked the right time to enjoy his best season, becoming a No.1 cover man for the Super Bowl-winning miserly defense in 2020. The rest of Davis’s resume isn’t necessarily elite, but he doesn’t get as much. attention that someone in its path should. Starting corners have a bonus in the NFL today, and it certainly is.
Washington Football Team: RB JD McKissic
On-going contract : Two years, $ 3.25 million (expires in 2022)
Raise your hand if you knew he caught 80 assists in 2020. McKissic won’t be a star in Washington as long as Antonio Gibson is there, but as a complementary piece / near receiver you can do a lot worse. The ex-Seahawks and Lions reserve may not get as many checks from Ryan Fitzpatrick, but someone could pay for their impressions of Tarik Cohen.
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