The NFL has handed free agent tight end Brandon Bostick a four-game suspension, according to Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (Twitter link). The reason for Bostick’s ban is unclear.
Bostick, 27, reached the open market when the Jets declined to tender the then-restricted free agent a contract last month. In 2016, his lone season with Gang Green, Bostick started in seven of 16 appearances for a club devoid of solid options at tight end and caught eight of 11 targets for 63 yards. With blocking factored in, Pro Football Focus ranked Bostick 51st in overall performance among the league’s 63 qualified tight ends.
Prior to joining the Jets, Bostick saw action with the Packers from 2013-14 and totaled nine receptions and two touchdowns in 24 regular-season games. In the NFC championship game in January 2015, Bostick’s final contest with the Packers, his inability to field an onside kick helped the Seahawks make an improbable comeback and advance to Super Bowl XLIX.
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.
Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:
Here are today’s reserve/futures contract signings from around the league. These deals will go into effect on the first day of the 2016 league year, with players joining their respective clubs’ 90-man rosters.
September 29th, 2015 at 6:29pm CST by Zachary Links
The Jets auditioned running back Bryce Brown on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Brown has showed flashes of promise in the past, but he was unable to stick with the Bills in 2015. The Bills traded a 2015 fourth-round pick to the Eagles to acquire Brown before the start of last season and that’s a deal that GM Doug Whaley probably wouldn’t make again. In 2014, Brown ran for a grand total of 126 yards off of 36 carries.
Here’s a rundown of other notable workouts from around the NFL..
Defensive end/outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury auditioned for the Lions on Tuesday, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
The Rams have auditioned a ton of wide receivers lately, as Wilson tweets. Issac Blakeney, Kain Colter, DaVaris Daniels, Jordan Leslie, Tyler Rutenbeck, and Corey Washington were among the wide receivers to audition for St. Louis. Nick Toon, who was also a part of those tryouts, inked a practice squad deal with St. Louis this week.
The Panthers auditioned three punters on Tuesday, including ex-Bears punter Adam Podlesh, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Spencer Lanning and Kasey Redfern also auditioned, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweets.
Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four NFC West teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams are noted below.
Additionally, as of 11:00am today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. For the 2014 and 2015 seasons, changes were made to practice squad rules that allow teams to carry eight players instead of 10, and the eligibility requirements for those extra two spots were also loosened. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.
Here are Sunday’s NFC West transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day: