Bobby Rainey

Ravens Release RB Bobby Rainey

Bobby Raineys 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.

Bobby Rainey (vertical)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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Re-Sign RB Bobby Rainey

The Ravens have re-signed running back Bobby Rainey, according to a team announcement. To make room, the Ravens have cut offensive tackle Dieugot JosephBobby Rainey (vertical)

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Work Out RB Stevan Ridley

In need of help at the running back position, the Vikings worked out free agents Stevan Ridley, Bobby Rainey, Troymaine Pope, and Josh Rounds, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Stevan Ridley

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Cut 18 Players

The Ravens made some major strides towards getting under the 53-man limit. On Friday, they announced 24 roster moves, including the release of 18 players. Here’s the full rundown:

Waived:

Released outright (vested veterans who are not subject to waivers):

Placed on IR:

In addition to White, the following players have now been officially placed on IR:

The Ravens are now down to 66 players.

Ravens Cut Bobby Rainey, Larry Donnell

The Ravens are getting a head start on their roster cuts. On Friday, they released both running back Bobby Rainey and tight end Larry DonnellBobby Rainey (vertical)

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.

Donnell was also signed to fill a major gap for the Ravens, but he did not earn a spot despite the losses of Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore. Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle are now set to serve as the team’s top three tight ends heading into Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Bengals, Broncos

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.
  • The Ravens had expressed interest in running back Bobby Rainey even before Kenneth Dixon went down with a meniscus injury, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore had been in contact with Rainey throughout the summer, per Hensley, but news of Dixon’s impending operation presumably sped up contract talks and led to his signing Tuesday. Rainey, who had also drawn interest from the Jets earlier this year, joins a backfield that includes Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Dallas Robinson and Zach Links contributed to this post.

Ravens Sign RB Bobby Rainey

With Kenneth Dixon set for meniscus surgery, the Ravens are getting some reinforcements at just the right time. Baltimore will sign running back Bobby Rainey, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Bobby Rainey (Vertical)

[RELATED: Ravens RB Kenneth Dixon Done For Season]

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.

Rainey will now slot in behind Terrance WestDanny WoodheadBuck Allen, and Lorenzo Taliaferro on the Ravens’ running back depth chart. There could be a chance for him to stick in Baltimore now that Dixon has been ruled out for the season.

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Working Out Bobby Rainey, Dexter McCluster

The Jets are continuing to look at free agent offensive players, as running back Bobby Rainey and RB/WR Dexter McCluster are working out for New York during the club’s minicamp session, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Rainey and McCluster will join Denard Robinson and Kenbrell Thompkins as notable Jets tryout players this week.Bobby Rainey (Vertical)

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Offense

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:

Quarterback:

  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Colin Kaepernick
  5. Josh McCown
  6. Robert Griffin III
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Christian Ponder
  11. Blaine Gabbert
  12. Ryan Nassib
  13. Shaun Hill
  14. Kellen Moore
  15. Austin Davis

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. Jay Cutler (Vertical)

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.

Running back:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Rashad Jennings
  5. Tim Hightower
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Christine Michael
  9. Benny Cunningham
  10. Bobby Rainey
  11. Brandon Bolden
  12. Denard Robinson
  13. James Starks
  14. Matt Asiata
  15. Kenjon Barner

Honorable mention: DuJuan Harris, Antonio AndrewsKhiry Robinson

Adrian Peterson (vertical)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.

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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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