The idea that NFL players will train harder and play better in a contract year has some basic common sense behind it. Yes, if I’m up for a promotion in my job, I will likely at least try to look better to my employer. But unlike the NFL, my job isn’t a constant high-level physical competition on a football field. NFL players must be at their best at all times or they are toast, no matter their contract status.
There is no data to support that there is a clear trend that players are better in a contract season, but if you rather lean toward player up for their promotions, I don’t think it’s that harmful as long as the player is in a good spot to see usage. Below we have listed out the more prominent unrestricted free agents going into the 2021 season at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end.
Robert Griffin III
Ted Ginn Jr.