Facebook Twitter

2021 NFL free agency: Here’s the latest on Utah ties on the open market

SHARE 2021 NFL free agency: Here’s the latest on Utah ties on the open market

New England Patriots linebacker Harvey Langi roars as he runs onto the practice field during the team’s NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Friday, July 27, 2018. Langi is returning to the Patriots, according to agent Kenny Zuckerman. He had previously been with the New York Jets since October 2018 before becoming a free agent this offseason.

Charles Krupa, Associated Press

The Deseret News will provide updates as Utah ties sign contracts during NFL free agency.

Harvey Langi returning to New England

Former BYU linebacker Harvey Langi is changing teams, going back to where his NFL career began. Langi, who also played at Utah and Bingham High, is rejoining the New England Patriots, the team confirmed, after becoming a restricted free agent this offseason.

Langi joined the New York Jets midseason in 2018 and spent more than two years in New York, starting nine games and making 76 tackles for the Jets. He had a career-best 60 tackles for New York in 2020, adding a fumble recovery and a pass deflection.

Langi signed with New England after going undrafted in 2017. He spent the majority of that season on injured reserve after he and his wife, Cassidy, were involved in a serious car accident. Langi was released by the Patriots the following year on final cutdowns before signing with the Jets a month later.

He’ll reunite with another former BYU linebacker in New England: Kyle Van Noy rejoined the Patriots this offseason after one year in Miami. Van Noy was surprisingly cut by the Dolphins in March, then signed with his old team in New England, where he’s won a pair of Super Bowl rings.

Alex Smith calls it a career

Former Utah quarterback Alex Smith has retired, ending his 16-year career after going No. 1 overall in the 2015 NFL draft.

Smith threw for 35,650 yards, 199 touchdowns and 109 interceptions while playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Football Team, and in 2020, he earned the 2020 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year honor, recovering from an injury that nearly cost him his leg in 2018.

He went 99-67-1 during the regular season as a starter, and he picked up two playoff victories as a starter — one each with the 49ers and Chiefs.

Smith — coming off that devastating leg injury — started the 2020 season as the team’s third-string quarterback, then took over as the starter as injuries and ineffective play from other quarterbacks thrust him into the starting role. He went 5-1 as the starter, helping the Football Team reach the playoffs.

Daniel Sorensen heading back to Kansas City for 2021

Former BYU safety Daniel Sorensen will return to the NFL team he’s called home for his seven pro seasons — the Chiefs — as first reported by The Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope.

Sorensen is re-signing with Kansas City on a one-year deal worth $2.46 million, fully guaranteed, Teope reported.

Sorensen, who became an unrestricted free agent when the NFL’s new league year began March 17, has been a key role player on defense for the Chiefs, particularly during their playoff runs the past two seasons. He won a Super Bowl title with the team in February 2020.

Sorensen is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, when he had 89 tackles, five pass deflections, three interceptions and two forced fumbles while starting 11 games last season.

Van Noy announces he’s going back to New England

After one year away, former BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy is returning to the New England Patriots.

Van Noy, who was recently released by the Dolphins after one year in Miami as part of a cost-cutting move, shared the news via Twitter that he is going back to the Patriots.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported Van Noy will get a two-year deal with New England worth up to $13.2 million.

Van Noy played three and a half seasons for the Patriots, winning two Super Bowl rings during his previous stint there.

5 Utah ties to watch in free agency

It’s several months until the 2021 NFL season kicks off — this year’s schedule isn’t even released yet — and six weeks until the NFL draft. 

Still, that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of NFL-related news taking up plenty of air time in the upcoming days and weeks. That’s because the NFL’s new league year begins Wednesday, and with it, free agency opens.

There are several names familiar to Utahns to follow during the free agency period this offseason. Here are the ones to watch.

Jamaal Williams: The former BYU running back spent the first four years of his career with the Green Bay Packers. Even before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent, though, Williams’ future destination is reportedly known: Detroit. Late Tuesday night, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Williams will sign a two-year contract with the Lions worth up to $7.5 million. Later that night, Williams confirmed the news in a tweet.

Williams rushed for 505 yards and had 236 receiving yards while scoring three touchdowns for Green Bay in 2020. He will join a Lions backfield that currently includes second-year back D’Andre Swift — who was second on the team last year with 521 rushing yards and eight touchdowns — and fourth-year Kerryon Johnson.

Alex Smith: The former University of Utah star was released by the Washington Football Team a little under two weeks ago following his AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign in 2020. He led Washington to a 5-1 record after starting the year as the team’s third-string quarterback, and now the 36-year-old could provide valuable veteran leadership to a team’s quarterback room. 

Kyle Van Noy: One of the surprise moves of the offseason so far came when the former BYU linebacker was released by the Miami Dolphins to cut costs. Van Noy is a two-time Super Bowl champion who’s on the move one year after signing a four-year, $51 million deal with the Dolphins and, after serving as a captain last year, will be a veteran with leadership capabilities wherever he signs.

Daniel Sorensen: The former BYU safety has been a staple in the Kansas City Chiefs’ secondary for the past seven seasons, but he is an unrestricted free agent. Sorensen put up some of his best career numbers this past season, starting 11 games, and has valuable postseason experience with the Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl ring two seasons ago. 

Tim Patrick: The former Utes wideout has become a reliable target for the Denver Broncos — he had a breakout year in 2020 with 51 receptions for 742 yards and six touchdowns — and he is a restricted free agent this offseason. The Broncos announced Tuesday they have placed a second-round tender on Patrick, meaning Denver would be able to match any offer from another team or receive a second-round pick in return if another team acquired Patrick away from the Broncos. 

Utah ties, NFL free agency tracker

Street/other free agents

Players waived or released prior to the new league year who can sign with a team at any time

Key NFL offseason dates

Key NFL offseason dates

  • Wednesday, March 17, the NFL’s new league year begins. Free agency starts at 2 p.m. MDT, and at that time contracts with unrestricted free agents and prior trades can become official.
  • April 23, the final day of the restricted free-agent signing period
  • April 29-31, the NFL draft in Cleveland, Ohio

Unrestricted free agents

Restricted free agents

Signed before new league year

Players with expired contracts who signed or renegotiated contracts this offseason before the NFL’s new league year starting March 17

Franchise tagged

  • Marcus Williams, FS, Utah — New Orleans Saints: Williams was set to become an unrestricted free agent before the Saints placed the franchise tag on him, and he’s set to make $10.612 million in 2021, per overthecap.com.