The Steelers announced Thursday that they have agreed to a new contract with QB Ben Roethlisberger. That should give the team relief under the lowered salary cap for 2021. For fantasy purposes, it just confirms what we all expected: Roethlisberger will lead the offense for at least 1 more year. We'll see whether he gets JuJu Smith-Schuster back (don't bet on it) and how the backfield settles out (James Conner looks likely to leave). Roethlisberger is a solid pick in mid-QB2 range in current best-ball drafting.
The Giants released WR Golden Tate, saving a little over $6 million against the 2021 salary cap. Tate is coming off a tumultuous 2020 season, missing Week 1 for a performance-enhancing drug suspension and later getting benched for a game after publicly complaining about his role. He finished with a 35-388-2 line and turns 33 in August. We'll see where Tate lands, but he's not a great bet for a big 2021 fantasy impact. His departure from The Big Apple frees up opportunity for Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton and Evan Engram -- although we'll have to see what other moves the Giants make this offseason.
The Saints released TEs Jared Cook and Josh Hill. The Cook move was just a formality, with his contract set to expire later this month anyway. He gets a head start now on finding his next employer. The soon-to-be 34-year-old remained effective last season, posting a 37-504-7 line on 60 targets. Hill saw just 10 targets last year, so his departure doesn't move the needle. But the moves in tandem open the door for 2020 3rd-rounder Adam Trautman to take over as New Orleans' starter. He's a 2021 breakout candidate.
The Lions have agreed to a 1-year deal with WR Tyrell Williams worth "up to $6.2 million," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That lands the former Raider and Charger with a Detroit offense set to have Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola all reach free agency. Even if the Lions re-sign or franchise-tag Golladay, there's clear opportunity for Williams. The wideout lost 18 games to injury over his 2 years with the Raiders, including a torn shoulder labrum that cost him all of last season. When healthy, though, Williams has averaged 16.1 yards per catch for his career and scored on an above-average 11.7% of his receptions. He just turned 29 in February. We'll see what else Detroit adds -- and/or retains -- to the pass-catching corps. Williams is a fine shot to take near the end of best-ball drafts right now, though.
The Texans and RB David Johnson have agreed to a restructured 1-year contract. He'll make "up to" $6 million with $4.25 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It's a pay cut from the $8 million Johnson was originally scheduled to make this season -- but it should lock him in as Houston's lead back in 2021. Johnson averaged a career-best 4.7 yards per carry in his Texans debut last year, finishing with 691 rushing yards and 6 scores in 12 games. He added a 33-314-2 receiving line to finish 16th among RBs in PPR points per game.
The Vikings are set to release TE Kyle Rudolph, NFL Network reports. Rudolph remained useful last year, ranking 21st among 43 qualifying TEs in yards per route run and garnering strong blocking grades from Pro Football Focus. But he turned 31 in November and was set to count over $9 million against the 2021 salary cap. We'll see where Rudolph lands on the open market. Meanwhile in Minnesota, it's wheels up for TE Irv Smith, who's had a promising start to his pro career sharing the field with Rudolph. With Rudolph out for the final 4 games of this past season, Smith ranked 4th among TEs in PPR points.
Washington is set to release QB Alex Smith, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, saving nearly $15 million against the 2021 salary cap. Kudos to Smith for getting back on the field in 2020, but he looked like a shell of himself, averaging just 6.3 yards per attempt with 6 TDs vs. 8 INTs. The 36-year-old has said that he wants to continue playing, so we'll see where he lands. Taylor Heinicke is now the only QB on Washington's roster. The team will certainly add to the depth chart via free agency and/or the draft.
DE J.J. Watt is signing with the Cardinals, he reports. Multiple other reports say it's a 2-year deal worth $31 million, with $23 million of that guaranteed. (So it sounds like a pact he's likely to complete.) Watt will join an Arizona defense that jumped from 20th in Football Outsiders DVOA in 2019 to 10th last season. The Cardinals also tied for 10th among fantasy defenses, by ESPN scoring. Watt looked past his prime last season but should still upgrade an unspectacular D-line and enhance a Chandler Jones-led pass rush.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is expected to be ready for training camp after undergoing toe surgery on February 10, GM Brett Veach said. Mahomes has been slapped with a 3-month timeline for recovery, which would put him back at 100% by May. Veach is hoping Mahomes can get on the field for June minicamp (assuming minicamps happen this year). We'll continue to keep a close on the situation, but we're not expecting the toe to be a factor in 2021.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman is still "trying to work his way back" from the knee injury that cost him the final 10 games of last season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. We never got any details on that injury, but it was obviously significant. Edelman wants to play in 2021, per Rapoport, but it's unclear if his knee will let him. We'll keep an eye on the situation, but Edelman is hardly worth even a late-round dart in early fantasy drafts.