The hectic times of NFL free agency have started to slow down following an eventful first week. With eight former Florida Gators inking new contracts to anchor down their spot for the 2021 season – and possibly beyond – the blue and orange blood continues to run deep at the next level.
On Thursday, two more were added to the list, in the form of wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive end Carlos Dunlap, both signing deals to stay with their current teams, Cheifs and Seahawks respectively.
Meanwhile, four former Gators are ripe for the taking as the free agency period looms on, leaving several destinations possible for their talents. Let's take a look at the current standing of the four available players and their possible landing destinations for next season.
Players Still On the Market
Brian Poole - Defensive Back
Receiving a one-year extension in March of 2020, Brian Poole was given the opportunity to prove himself before the Jets made a long-term decision on him following an impressive 2019 campaign. Accounting for 56 tackles, five pass breakups, one interception, one forced fumble, one safety and one touchdown, the fourth-year defensive back out of Florida made the most out of his 10 starts in 14 games.
Unfortunately for him – despite building upon his accomplishments from the year prior – the already challenging 2020 season was cut short due to a knee injury in week nine that would require season-ending surgery.
As of now, the uncertainty surrounding his recovery is likely keeping teams away from him for the time being; however, once he returns to playing shape, franchises looking to fill the slot corner spot will give him inevitably target the rising role player with hopes of replicating his pre-injury performance.
Possible Destination: New York Jets
Coming off of a season-ending injury, the likelihood that one of the other 31 franchises take a chance on Poole is very slim. However, given his production while on the field the past two seasons, a one-year deal the Jets would be a favorable spot for both sides as Poole would provide depth to the slot corner room while jockeying for a multi-year contract in 2022.
Quinton Dunbar - Defensive Back
The former Florida Gators wide receiver turned NFL starting cornerback has seen an abundance of unexpected success since making the flip across the line of scrimmage in the NFL.
Finding respectable success with the now-Washington Football Team in his early years in the NFL, Dunbar would combine for 150 tackles, 35 pass breakups, three TFLs and nine interceptions in five seasons. Playing in just six games in 2020, Dunbar still found a way to impact Seattle, coming away with 30 tackles, five passes defended and one interception in his limited time.
Showcasing his coverage in a way that highlights his understanding of the wide receiver position – given his previous experience playing in the role – Dunbar consistently makes plays on the football, coming away with at least one interception in every season.
While it looks like a mass exodus of the Seattle secondary from last season is being carried out, Dunbar still presents a retooling NFL franchise with his ball-hawk tendencies and experience to lead young defensive backs into battle on the field.
Possible Destination: Dallas Cowboys
A return to the NFC East is in store. This time, in the form of a multi-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys. The 'Boys have struggled to find success formulating a talented secondary in recent years. Following Byron Jones' departure last offseason, America's team is in dire need of an experienced veteran to enter the fold while not having to break the bank for his talents.
While Dunbar has produced at a high-level during his career, he does not present the hit to the payroll that many other veteran corners still available do. Securing their piece of the future in the secondary on a relative bargain seems to be a good move for Dallas.
Jordan Reed - Tight End
Struggling with injuries throughout most of his career, Jordan Reed is a high-risk, high-reward free agent option for teams looking for suitable tight end depth. However, despite having never played a full 16-game season, the production he has brought to the offenses he has been apart of is intriguing.
Pulling in 329 receptions for 3,602 yards and 24 touchdowns in 65 career games with Washington from 2013 to 2018, Reed was regarded as a potential rising star where tight ends were concerned. Being derailed by several concussions, Reed sat out the 2019 season but returned in 2020 to play 10 games, catching 20 balls for 231 yards and 4 touchdowns in San Francisco.
The uncertainty surrounding his health will likely lead him to be the last resort for teams looking at adding tight ends to their roster, but even his production, even recently, there is little chance a team does not come calling following the NFL Draft's conclusion.
Possible Destinations: Jacksonville Jaguars or Seattle Seahawks
With both Jacksonville and Seattle struggling at the tight end position, many believe that the draft will play a large role in filling those holes. However, if one squad comes away without a guy they had their sights set on, veteran tight ends will be slim pickings.
Taking a chance on a talented tight end to bolster their roster, Reed makes a ton of sense in providing a big-bodied receiving target for Russell Wilson or (presumably) Trevor Lawrence to utilize at their whim. Specifically, his connection to Urban Meyer, being recruited as part of the 2009 recruiting class, pits him as a possible familiar face that has driven offensive signings to this point in the Jaguars free agency acquisitions.
Trey Burton - Tight End
Similarly to Reed, Burton has flashed his potential throughout his NFL career to the point that he has earned recognition as a possible up-and-comer at TE. Starting his career slow, Burton turned it all around in 2016 when he hauled in 37 receptions for 327 yards and one touchdown as a backup in Philadelphia.
Resulting in a substantial increase in playing time two seasons later for the Chicago Bears. Starting in all 16 games that season, Burton would produce his best numbers in the pros and aid the Bears to their first playoff berth in eight seasons. Since then, his play has significantly plateaued, resulting in his departure from the Windy City after two seasons to Indianapolis on a one-year deal.
Again, Burton is looking for a new home as a player that has flashed immense potential but never lived up to his billing. The case outlined when discussing Reed stands here as well, with a team likely to look his way after the draft if their tight end room goes unaddressed.
Possible Destination: Philadelphia Eagles
A homecoming to Philly would be an excellent landing spot for both parties as Burton could regroup from what has been a frustrating past few seasons. Containing the memories of "The Philly Special" that captivated the city of Brotherly Love during the team's Super Bowl run in 2017, the Eagles could prepare for the inevitable trade of Zach Ertz in the coming weeks to months by giving Dallas Goedert a complementary piece in Burton on a short-term deal.