Andre Ellington

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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Texans Claim RB Andre Ellington

The Texans have claimed Andre Ellington off waivers, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Cardinals released the running back on Monday, giving the league’s other 31 teams a chance to snag him.Andre Ellington (vertical)

Ellington will help provide depth to a badly depleted group in Houston. Rookie D’Onta Foreman landed on injured reserve this week with a torn Achilles, joining Tyler Ervin (knee). Meanwhile, Alfred Blue‘s status is unclear due to a lingering hamstring injury. Ellington will slot in as one of three fully healthy backs along with starter Lamar Miller and reserve Jordan Todman.

Ellington, cousin of Texans wide receiver Bruce Ellington, had just 15 carries for 53 yards before his release from Arizona. He did, however, have 33 receptions for 297 yards. He could prove to be a nice complement to Miller, even if he’s not as effective of a runner as he once was. In his first two NFL seasons, Ellington ran for 1,312 yards on 319 carries and caught 85 passes for 766 yards.

The 4-6 Texans were No. 8 in line to claim Ellington based on the inverse of the standings. This means the Browns, 49ers, Giants, Bears, Broncos, Colts, and Bengals all passed on claiming the 28-year-old.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Waive RB Andre Ellington

The Cardinals have waived running back Andre Ellington. Arizona has also signed running back Bronson Hill to its practice squad."<strong

Although Ellington is a vested veteran, he will be subject to waivers since we are past the trading deadline. He hasn’t had the role of a starter or looked the part of one in some time (he was inactive on Sunday, his final game with the Cardinals), but he could hold value for several teams looking to fortify their running situation. The Redskins, for example, might consider claiming him after losing Chris Thompson for the season. Ellington is not as explosive as Thompson, but he does have soft hands out of the backfield.

In eight games this year, Ellington had 15 carries for 53 yards – good for just 3.5 yards per attempt – and one touchdown. He made a bigger impact as a pass-catcher, hauling in 33 grabs for 297 yards Heading into the season, the Cardinals planned to line up Ellington exclusively as a receiver instead of at running back, though they backed down from that plan in June.

The 0-10 Browns will have top priority on the waiver wire, so they’ll have the first opportunity to add Ellington to the roster. The 49ers (1-9), Giants (2-8), Bears (3-7), Colts (3-7), and Broncos (3-7) will also be among the teams at the front of the line.

In September, the Cardinals planned to have David Johnson, T.J. Logan, and Ellington as their top three backs. Thanks to injuries and Ellington’s ineffectiveness, all three players are out of the equation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Move Andre Ellington Back To RB

The Cardinals’ experiment of moving Andre Ellington to wide receiver is over. Starting today, he is back to practicing as a running back, coach Bruce Arians told reporters (Twitter link via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). Andre Ellington (vertical)

We typically don’t cover position changes in great detail here at Pro Football Rumors, but Ellington’s switch is notable since it could impact other moves made by the Cardinals this summer. For one, Ellington’s move back to RB could hurt Chris Johnson‘s chances of returning to the team. Now, Ellington and Kerwynn Williams stand as the top reserves behind starter David Johnson with youngsters T.J. Logan and Eli Penny jockeying for roster spots.

Ellington’s classification as a running back may also improve the chances of receivers like Brittan Golden, Jeremy Ross, and Marquis Bundy of making the roster. With Ellington back at his original position, the Cards’ top five receivers are Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, J.J. Nelson, third round pick Chad Williams, and Jaron Brown.

Ellington, 28, had just 96 rushing yards off of 34 carries last season. He also added 12 grabs for 85 yards. His best season arguably came as a rookie in 2013 when he ran for 652 yards off of 118 carries (5.5 ypc) and three scores. In that year, he also had 39 receptions for 371 yards and one score.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Rumors: Cards, Seahawks, Rams

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians feels only one 2017 quarterback prospect is ready to play immediately, but he wouldn’t divulge the identity of said player, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. Arizona may be amenable to finding Carson Palmer‘s long-term successor this year, especially after the veteran quarterback flirted with retirement before announcing his intention to return. “It would be one of the best situations for a young quarterback to walk into,” said Arians, noting a youthful signal-caller could sit behind Palmer for a year or two, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

  • After spending the first four seasons of his career as a running back, Andre Ellington will play receiver for the Cardinals next year, Arians confirmed today (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reported earlier this month Ellington would likely play more receiver than running back in 2017. With Ellington moving to the WR room, the Cardinals may need to another back, as Kerwynn Williams is the only runner on the roster behind David Johnson.
  • Running back Marshawn Lynch did not ask Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll to remove him from the reserve/retired list when the pair talked 10 days ago, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Lynch, of course, is reportedly considering a comeback but wants to play for the Raiders, not Seattle. Before any such move can take place, the Seahawks need to process Lynch off the retired list.
  • Kicker Steven Hauschka “capped out three times higher” than what the Seahawks were willing to pay, Carroll told reporters, including Condotta (Twitter link). The Bills signed Hauschka to a three-year, $8.85MM deal that includes $4MM in full guarantees, while Seattle went with a far cheaper option. Blair Walsh is the Seahawks’ new kicker after inking a one-year pact worth just north of $1MM.
  • Although general manager Les Snead will make the final call on draft day, new Rams head coach Sean McVay and his staff will play a large role in setting the team’s board, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links). Los Angeles has needs all over the roster, but won’t make a selection until Round Two after trading the farm for Jared Goff in 2016. Under McVay and new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams will be running new schemes on both sides of the ball, meaning communication between the field staff and the front office will be crucial as the draft approaches.
  • Evan Boehm will enter camp as the Cardinals‘ starting right guard, Arians told reporters, including Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910 (Twitter link). Now entering his second NFL season, Boehm started only one game last year and played in just 10.6% of Arizona’s offensive snaps. The Cards are seeking to replace Evan Mathis and Earl Watford, who departed via retirement and free agency, respectively.

Contract Details: Foles, Carr, Poe, Cowboys

Here’s a fun fact from Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter links): Of the 155 free-agent contracts that have been filed since March 9, only 23 have more than $3MM fully guaranteed in post-2017 money. In essence, that means 85.2% of the contracts done over the last ten days are one-year deals with team options.

Now for the latest contract details:

  • Cornerback Brandon Carr‘s four-year, $23MM Ravens contract comes with $6MM in 2017 – most of which is by way of a $4MM signing bonus – and then the Ravens will have a 2018 team option, reports Breer (on Twitter).
  • Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe‘s one-year, $8MM accord features a $500K signing bonus and incentives for playing time, sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance (Twitter link via Breer).
  • Quarterback Nick Folespreviously reported two-year, $11MM deal with the Eagles is actually a five-year, $27.5MM pact, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. However, the final three years of the contract will void if Foles is still on Philadelphia’s roster 23 days before the start of the 2019 league year. The arrangement comes with $5MM in incentives and an esclator for 2018 worth as much as $6MM (Twitter links).
  • Panthers defensive tackle Kyle Love‘s two-year contract is worth $2.2MM and features a few bonuses – $200K for signing, $25K for workouts and $10K per game active – as well as $500K in annual incentives, tweets Wilson.
  • Cowboys running back Darren McFadden‘s one-year contract is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $980K (a salary of $900K and an $80K signing bonus). Guard Jonathan Cooper‘s single-year accord is worth $2MM and has a $31,250 bonus per game active, $500K in incentives and a $100K workout base de-esclator (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Cardinals running back/wide receiver Andre Ellington will earn a $775K base salary on his one-year agreement, tweets Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910.
  • Redskins defensive tackle Ziggy Hood’s two-year, $2.7MM deal includes a $300K signing bonus, per-game active bonuses of $15,625 each, $600K in incentives and a $600K escalator. Meanwhile, the Redskins gave linebacker Chris Carter a minimum salary benefit deal worth $855K, including $775K in salary and a signing bonus of $80K, relays Wilson (Twitter links).
  • Saints running back Travaris Cadet also got a minimum salary benefit contract for 2017, says Wilson (Twitter link). It’s worth $855K ($775K in salary and an $80K signing bonus).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Bears, Kaepernick, Cardinals

Rival clubs are “baffled” by some of the Bears‘ free agent signings, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Specifically, Chicago’s decisions to bring in Mike Glennon ($15MM per year), Prince Amukamara ($7.5MM), and Markus Wheaton (two years, $11MM) “raised some eyebrows,” per La Canfora. While the Bears did unsuccessfully target other free agents such as A.J. Bouye, the club made other surprisingly large commitments to cornerback Marcus Cooper and tight end Dion Sims.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • While a strategy is in place to market quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the “right” team, NFL clubs are pessimistic Kaepernick will be able to land a “decent” deal, per La Canfora. Kaepernick, 29, opted out of the final year of his 49ers contract, and San Francisco likely would have released him had he not made that decision. Having said that he’ll stand for the national anthem in 2017, Kaepernick ranked as PFR’s No. 6 free agent quarterback heading into the free agent period.
  • After agreeing to a new deal with the Cardinals, Andre Ellington may be playing more wide receiver than running back in 2017, per Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Ellington will spend time at both positions, according to Somers, but Arizona wants to see what the 28-year-old can do at wideout. While he posted 85 receptions during his first two years in the league, Ellington has only managed 27 catches from 2015-16.
  • Frostee Rucker may follow Ellington in re-signing with the Cardinals, as Somers tweets he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Rucker is the next player to land a new contract with Arizona. Rucker, 33, appeared in 13 games (one start) with the Cards in 2016, posting 13 tackles and grading as the league’s No. 96 interior player among 127 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Rucker earned nearly $1.4MM last year under the terms of an extension he agreed to in 2015.

Cardinals Re-Sign RB Andre Ellington

The Cardinals have re-signed running back Andre Ellington, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). We had Ellington ranked as one of the 15 best free agent running backs this year. Andre Ellington (vertical)

Ellington, 28, was once the Cardinals’ primary running back and thought to be the future at the position. However, he struggled to stay healthy while David Johnson and Chris Johnson leapfrogged him in the pecking order. Right now, it’s not clear if CJ2K will be back in Arizona, so Ellington may have the No. 2 RB spot if the team does not add another impact runner in free agency or the draft.

Last year, Ellington appeared in every regular season game but had only 34 carries for 96 yards. He added 12 catches for 85 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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