The new league year will kick off at 3 p.m. (CT) today, opening free agency.
Reports of players agreeing to terms have surfaced over the past two days since the legal tampering period began, but this afternoon is when transactions can become official.
As another free agency frenzy approaches, there are plenty of top talents for the taking. Analytics site Pro Football Focus earlier today rolled out its "100 best available NFL free agents remaining in 2021."
Two NFC North names topped PFF's list: wide receiver Kenny Golladay and safety Anthony Harris.
Vikings fans are well-familiar with both.
Golladay has spent the past four seasons in Detroit. Originally a third-round draft pick in 2017, this will be the 27-year-old's first chance to test the waters of free agency if he doesn't re-sign with the Lions. Regardless, he'll be playing with a new quarterback – unless he ends up with the Rams, who acquired longtime Lions QB Matthew Stafford in a trade that will become official once the new league year begins.
He battled injuries this season, but Golladay's 628 yards on deep (20-plus yard) passes ranked second in the league in 2019.
Golladay has the size and athleticism required to be a big target on the outside, along with that contested-catch prowess, but he also possesses enough nuance in his route running to function well in any system. The NFC North has featured some great receivers in recent seasons, and Golladay is up there with the best of them.
Harris remains on the market after spending his first six seasons in Vikings Purple. Will the 29-year-old remain in Minnesota or be part of a new team for the 2021 season?
Anthony Harris has been one of the best safeties in football for the past few seasons, steadily earning himself increased playing time in Minnesota. He put together an All-Pro caliber season in 2019 before taking a step back [in 2020] along with the rest of the Vikings defense. Harris earned a 91.1 overall PFF grade a season ago, which came hot on the heels of the 89.0 mark he posted [in 2018] when he played 624 snaps and started half the season due to injury. He has been a perfect free safety within [Vikings Head Coach] Mike Zimmer's defense, which employs a lot of split-safety looks and has been particularly adept at making plays on the football, with coverage being by far his biggest asset.
PFF's top four players on its free agency list are receivers and defensive backs, as Harris is followed by wideout Will Fuller V. Despite Fuller's battle with injuries, PFF pointed out that his "speed threat is transformative for an offense that doesn't have it."
And next highlighted is cornerback Richard Sherman, who will turn 33 on March 30.
The five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro spent the majority of his career in Seattle, where he played for seven seasons, before joining division-rival San Francisco for the past three seasons.
Sherman may be getting up there in age, but the savvy vet likely has some juice left in the tank.
In 2019, once fully recovered from an Achilles injury, Sherman had one of the best seasons of his entire career, allowing just 227 receiving yards all season long. He surrendered a passer rating of just 46.8 before things came unglued a little in the Super Bowl loss to Kansas City. In 2020, Sherman produced a 67.2 coverage grade on just 332 snaps, the lowest grade of his career.
Sherman's intelligence and tape study gives him a mental edge over most offenses he faces, and that more than makes up for less than stellar straight-line speed. In the kind of defense he plays in San Francisco, he can remain a valuable player even at his age and could be an attractive short-term option for a number of teams in need of a quick fix.
To see PFF's full list, click here.
Brugler lists top 12 LBs for 2021 NFL Draft
Free agency opening today also means that the 2021 NFL Draft is fast-approaching.
This year's event is scheduled for April 29-May 1, and the Vikings currently are slated to have 12 selections after being awarded a pair of compensatory picks last week.
Dane Brugler of The Athletic is going position-by-position to highlight the top players available from the collegiate ranks, and he recently rolled out his list of top 12 linebackers. He led the rankings with Penn State's Micah Parsons, who won't yet be 22 years old by draft night. Brugler wrote:
Parsons is an excellent ball hunter because of his vision and agility near the line of scrimmage. He also displays exceptional sideline range. He needs to improve his maturity (on and off the field), spacing and anticipation in coverage, but the athleticism and budding awareness are there. Overall, Parsons is an impressive size/speed/strength athlete with the reaction to movement and combative mentality to develop into a cornerstone defender and three-down linebacker for an NFL club. He projects as one of the best talents in this NFL Draft.
Click here for Brugler's full breakdown of linebackers.