Perfect scheme fits for top NFL free agents 2021: Landing spots for JuJu Smith-Schuster, Aaron Jones, more

NFL free agency kicks off next week, and it's a loaded class, even looking beyond the players who were franchise tagged.

While Dak Prescott is now off the market, free-agent quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick have a chance to be starters somewhere in 2021. At the skill positions, Aaron Jones, JuJu-Smith Schuster, Allen Robinson II, Will Fuller V and Jonnu Smith are among the talented, young players who will cash in and have big roles next season. There's also a great group of edge rushers and defensive backs available. There are also a few under-the-radar players who could thrive on new teams.

Where do the top players in this class fit best? That often goes overlooked, but it's a crucial part of the free-agent evaluation process. Teams can spend tens of millions of dollars to fill needs and create roster competition, but if those players don't fit in with how the coaching staff operates, the bust potential is much higher, and their production won't match the contract.

That's why I wanted to run through the best scheme fits for the top guys. Where could each player thrive? Let's start with the signal-callers:

Jump to:
QB | RB | WR | TE | OL

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

Best scheme fit: Patriots | 2020 team: Dolphins | Age: 38

The Patriots could also be in play for a veteran such as Marcus Mariota or Jimmy Garoppolo. But I like Fitzpatrick in Josh McDaniels' offensive scheme. Give me an aggressive, veteran thrower who can deliver the ball off play-action and use his movement traits to escape/extend. In nine games last season, Fitzpatrick posted a QBR of 76.9 -- good for fifth overall in the league -- with a completion percentage of 70% on play-action throws. In New England, McDaniels can set the table for him on defined reads out of 12 and 21 personnel, and the arm talent is there to throw schemed-up verticals.

A one-year deal makes sense for Fitzpatrick, who also has enough second-reaction ability to play off-schedule. Chicago could be in the mix, too, as Matt Nagy still needs a No. 1 quarterback.