Bobby Rainey‘s third tenure with the Ravens has come to an end. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports (via Twitter) that the team has released the veteran running back. The team has also signed offensive tackle Andrew Donnal, who was waived by the Rams last week.
After being released by the organization following the preseason, Rainey re-signed with the Ravens in early October. He proceeded to appear in four games for Baltimore, hauling in five receptions for 18 yards. He was primarily utilized on special teams, as he returned 11 kicks for 338 yards and one touchdown and a pair of punts for 22 yards. As Zrebiec notes, Rainey’s release in an indication that Michael Campanaro is set to return from a shoulder injury.
Donnal was waived by the Rams last week. The 2015 fifth-round pick had spent his entire three-year career with the organization, including a 2016 campaign where he appeared in 16 games (four starts). As Zrebiec points out, the Ravens are now restoring nine offensive lineman, and the team could look to move on from one of those players when running back Danny Woodhead is set to be activated.
October 10th, 2017 at 10:05am CST by Zachary Links
The Ravens have re-signed running back Bobby Rainey, according to a team announcement. To make room, the Ravens have cut offensive tackle Dieugot Joseph.
Rainey was among the Ravens’ final cuts before roster cutdowns in early September. The veteran, who turns 30 next week, was something of a surprise cut since he drew positive reviews from coaches throughout the summer. He’s back in the fold now, however, and it helps that he knows the playbook. He’ll help to provide depth at running back while Terrance West deals with an injured calf.
Rainey’s best pro seasons came with the Bucs in 2013 and 2014 when he rushed for more than 400 yards in each year.
At present, the Vikings have only two running backs on their roster after placing rookie Dalvin Cook — who suffered a torn ACL in Week 4 — on injured reserve. Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon will presumably split time in Minnesota’s backfield, while fullback C.J. Ham is also capable of playing tailback. While the Vikings could hypothetically promote Bronson Hill from their practice squad, one of the above free agents could give the club another option.
Ridley, of course, is most well-known for his four-year run with the Patriots, especially his 2012 campaign in which he totaled more than 1,200 yards on the ground and 12 rushing touchdowns. Injuries have sapped much of the now 28-year-old’s value since then, however, and Ridley has become something of a journeyman. He’s been employed by the Jets, Lions, Colts, Falcons, and — most recently — Broncos since 2015.
Rainey doesn’t quite rival Ridley’s history in terms of changing teams, but he’s been with five teams since entering the league in 2012. Typically used a passing back, Rainey spent the 2016 season with the Giants and was utilized heavily on special teams. He signed with the Ravens earlier this year, but couldn’t make it through final roster cutdowns.
Pope, 23, went undrafted out of Jacksonville State in 2016 and has since spent his NFL career with the Jets and Seahawks. In four career games, Pope has managed 12 carries for 44 yards and one reception for five yards. This year, Pope was part of the Colts’ offseason roster and also saw a few days of action on the club’s practice squad. The Vikings aren’t the only team interested in Pope, as he also has a workout scheduled with the Chargers, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.
September 1st, 2017 at 12:15pm CST by Zachary Links
The Ravens are getting a head start on their roster cuts. On Friday, they released both running back Bobby Rainey and tight end Larry Donnell.
Rainey was signed in late July and it was believed that he had a chance to make the team following Kenneth Dixon‘s season ending injury. Despite getting positive reviews from coaches this summer and performing well in preseason action against the Saints on Thursday night, the veteran is being shown the door. Rainey’s most notable pro seasons came with the Buccaneers in 2013 and 2014, as he rushed for more than 400 yards in each year. Despite his age (he’ll turn 30 in October), Rainey could still hold appeal for other clubs thanks to his experience and pass catching acumen.
Contract extensions may be in the offing for Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Colbert’s contract will expire after next year’s draft, while Tomlin is still under wraps for two more seasons. That’s typically when the Steelers have worked to extend their head coaches in the past, observes Bouchette. They’ve had just three since 1969, the year of Chuck Noll‘s hiring. Bill Cowher also came before Tomlin, who has mimicked those two with a resoundingly successful run in Pittsburgh. The Tomlin-led club has made the playoffs seven times out of 10, including last year, and hasn’t finished with fewer than eight wins in a season. Overall, the Steelers have gone 103-57 with a Super Bowl victory and two AFC championships under Tomlin.
More from the AFC:
One of Tomlin’s AFC North rivals, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, seems less secure in his role. Lewis is in a contract year, but owner Mike Brown indicated Tuesday that he’ll go at his own pace on a potential extension for the coach, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Still, Brown is satisfied with Lewis, who trails only the Patriots’ Bill Belichick in tenure among head coaches. “That should tell you how I feel about him. He has my respect, my regard, my confidence,” said Brown. “We’ve been through this before. Sometimes it was an additional prod. Heck, we all know how it went last year. We wish it had gone better, so maybe we’ll see a better year this year and things will sort out then.” The Bengals stumbled to a 6-9-1 mark in 2016, snapping a five-year playoff streak and giving them a 118-103-3 record during Lewis’ 14-season stint. Amazingly, the team has lost all seven of its postseason games with Lewis at the helm.
Even though he has been cleared for everything, Broncos coach Vance Joseph says that the team will be approaching things cautiously with Jamaal Charles in an effort to keep him fresh for the season. That makes James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) wonder if that means Charles has already made the team. For all of his career accomplishments, it has been said that Charles may only have a 50/50 shot of making the final cut.
The executive who signed Charles in free agency this year,John Elway, received a promotion when the Broncos awarded him a contract extension Monday, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. The Hall of Fame quarterback is now Denver’s president of football operations/general manager. He had been their executive VP of football operations/GM since 2011.
Rainey, 29, spent the 2016 campaign with the Giants but he only got to carry the ball 17 times while adding 20 receptions. On special teams, he averaged 6.5 yards per punt return and 25.5 yards per kick return. A five-year NFL veteran, Rainey’s most notable pro seasons came with the Buccaneers in 2013 and 2014, as he rushed for more than 400 yards in each year. Rainey didn’t get a lot of opportunities with the G-Men last year, but he has shown that he can be a decent runner with pass catching ability.
The signing actually marks Rainey’s second go ’round with the Ravens. Rainey’ broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore in 2012 and even spent time on the 53-man roster, but he was never on the active gameday roster. His time with the Ravens ended when he was cut prior to the 2013 campaign.
Rainey, 29, spent the 2016 campaign with the Giants, managing 17 carries and 20 receptions in a reserve role. He also played a role on special teams, averaging 6.5 yards per punt return and 25.5 yards per kick return. A five-year NFL veteran, Rainey’s most notable pro seasons came with the Buccaneers in 2013 and 2014, as he rushed for more than 400 yards in each year.
McCluster, meanwhile, signed with the Chargers last September after the club lost fellow back Danny Woodhead for the season. The 27-year-old McCluster appeared in six games before he went down with his own injury, a broken arm suffered during an in-home accident. McCluster didn’t contribute much to the Chargers’ offense, but did post 17 total returns during his short time with the team.
Clearly, the Jets are attempting to upgrade their special teams unit which ranked 31st in DVOA last season. Rainey, McCluster, Robinson, Thompkins, and recent signee Jordan Todman all have experience in the return game. Jalin Marshall, one of New York’s primary return men in 2016, is suspended for the first four games of the 2017 campaign.
The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These 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, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:
Tony Romo is not a free agent…at least not yet. If the Cowboys do not find a suitable trade and release him, you’ll find him at the top of this list.
Laugh if you must, but Cutler is far and away the best quarterback available on the open market. While most of this year’s QB-needy teams are done with their free agent shopping, the Jets are still searching for their 2017 starter and no one would make more sense for them than Cutler. He’s not all that far removed from playing solid football and he’s a logical transitional option for the Jets until they can isolate a better, younger option for 2018.
Kaepernick’s reps wisely told the press that he will be standing for the National Anthem this year. Still, Kaepernick is an outspoken guy who wants to use his platform to discuss hot button issues, so there’s no guarantee that the media circus around him will cease. Jets owner Woody Johnson loves seeing his team on the back pages of the New York tabloids, but even he has to have more sense than to entertain Kaepernick. McCown, who has been contact with the team, would be an okay choice if they can’t get something done with Cutler. Chase Daniel could be an option too, but there isn’t much game film on him.
Needless to say, the No. 3 ranked player on this list isn’t an option in New York.
The Vikings have moved on and Peterson will not be back in Minnesota. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. When Peterson’s option was declined by the Vikings earlier this month, there were tons of stories (likely sourced by Peterson’s camp) about interest from a litany of contenders. Since then, each team – through anonymous sources – has denied being in the mix for the veteran. It would be easy to doubt Peterson at this juncture, but he has come back from serious injuries multiple times in his career and he is only one year removed from his stellar 2015 campaign. He gets the top spot over the bruising Blount as well as Charles, who hasn’t been healthy in a long while.
Jennings was brought to New York with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse. Unfortunately, two of his three seasons with the G-Men were marred by injury. Jennings is currently putting his agility to good use on Dancing With The Stars and it remains to be seen how committed he is to football. After that, we have a trio of vets (Hightower, Williams, CJ2K) who could still advance the ball in limited spurts.
In case you’re wondering – Mike Gillislee is not listed here because he is a restricted free agent.
The market has been slow to develop for Aiken but it sounds like things could pick up soon as he’s set to meet with the Colts and Seahawks. Aiken, 28 in May, had only 29 receptions last year, but he had 75 grabs for 944 yards in 2015.
Cruz was on the field for 15 regular season games last year and he could recapture some of his old form if a team uses him in the slot. Quick quietly had 44 catches for 564 yards and three touchdowns with the Rams last year, and he was playing in a less-than-stellar offense. Boldin, meanwhile, had 67 catches in 2016, but he averaged just 8.7 yards per reception.
It’s a thin group at tight end and everything drops off dramatically after Tamme and Rivera at the top. Donnell made some noise during his time with the Giants but it’s been a while since he’s done anything of note. Tamme and Rivera could be the only two players from this group to land a deal with any real guaranteed cash.
Things have thinned out at tackle but there are still some impact guys here including Clady, Dunlap, and the versatile Pasztor. Sebastian Vollmer, if healthy, would be an interesting pickup for a team in need of offensive line depth.
Evans can still go and he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 guard in the NFL last season. We have a few notable centers here as well in Mangold, Sullivan, and Barnes. Some teams are asking Mangold to switch to guard, but he is hoping to continue in the middle.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Kyle Juszczyk graded out as the best fullback in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. The Ravens would be wise to keep him, but if they don’t, he’ll draw interest from teams all over the league. Juszczyk earned his first career Pro Bowl nod as he caught 37 passes for 266 yards. His exceptional 92.1 pass blocking score from PFF led all other fullbacks by a wide margin.
Mike Tolbert is ranked lower than you might expect due to his age and diminished blocking skills. He’ll turn 32 in November and it’s not guaranteed that he’ll find another job after getting released by the Panthers, though the Jets are said to have interest in him. Gang Green could also look into signing Patrick DiMarco and Marcel Reece. If you ask me, they should target DiMarco if they want to truly emphasize the running game. DiMarco finished the year with the best run blocking score in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Brandon Marshall, welcome to the free agent pool. Marshall is just two years removed from a year in which he had 109 catches, 1,502 yards, and 14 touchdowns. However, his numbers dipped significantly last season as the entire Jets offense slumped. The veteran will get tons of interest this week and his suitors may include the Giants, Patriots, and Ravens.
Kenny Britt managed to put up big numbers in the midst of the Rams’ offensive quagmire last season. He now hits free agency at a great time and the WR-needy Eagles are the latest team to be connected to him. The South Jersey contingent of the Eagles fanbase will appreciate the homecoming of the Rutgers product. At the same time, they should hope he exhibits a better attitude than he did on the banks of the old Raritan.
The talent is definitely there with Markus Wheaton and the team that takes a chance on him could wind up very, very happy. Robert Woods, historically, thrived in games where Sammy Watkins was unavailable or limited. Woods doesn’t turn 25 in until April and there’s a case to be made that he should be higher on this list. Cordarrelle Patterson has turned out to be a very capable returner, but there are definitely ambitious coaches out there who think they can still mold him into a great receiver. Michael Floyd is now years removed from his best work in Arizona, so one has to wonder what he can contribute even if he has turned over a new leaf.
Victor Cruz is an exceptionally hard-worker and a team-first kind of guy. He’ll be a great addition to any locker room, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what he’ll do in 2017. We’ll say this: a return to the slot would greatly benefit him.
Anquan Boldinjust missed the top 15 and I don’t necessarily feel great about it. Brian Quickalso missed the cut and it was a toss-up between him and Cruz for that last spot.
Anthony Fasano finds himself ranked higher than some bigger names due to his blocking ability. PFF gave Fasano an 88.1 score for run blocking, which was the best of any tight end last year. His 72.9 pass blocking score was fourth-best among TEs. The Titans will make a real effort to keep him.
Andrew Whitworth spent some time at guard last season but his best (and most profitable) position is on the outside. He’s 35, so he won’t lead all FA tackles in total money this year despite being our top-ranked free at the position.
Russell Okung was thrust into the free agent market in February when the Broncos declined his option. This time around, it will be interesting to see whether he hires an agent. His previous deal was effectively a one-year pact with a club option for a four-year, $48MM deal with $20.5MM in guaranteed cash. After a so-so year, the Broncos wisely turned it down.
Austin Pasztor is listed as a tackle here, though it’s quite possible he reverts to the interior line in 2017. Mike Adams, a former second-round pick, makes the cut for his natural talent, even though he hasn’t shown much at the professional level. Will Beatty also found his way to the Top 15, but his market will be capped after two injury-ridden years.
Honorable mention: D.J. Fluker, A.Q. Shipley (C), Brian Schwenke (C)
Kevin Zeitler was the only offensive lineman to crack our Top 50 Free Agents list last week. Zeitler, 27 in March, was PFF’s No. 7 ranked guard in the NFL this year. After three consecutive strong seasons, he is going to get big bucks.
J.C. Tretter graded out as a top 10 center last year, according to PFF, and he just turned 26. Stefen Wisniewski offers experience at both guard and center and there should be at least a few teams looking at him as a potential starter.