Brandon Tate

Bills Re-Sign KR/PR Brandon Tate

The Bills re-signed kick returner/punt returner Brandon Tate, the team announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Brandon Tate (vertical)

Tate, 30 in October, returned 26 punts for 301 yards last season, good for an 11.6 yards per attempt average. He also returned 29 kicks for 662 yards. He had only eight catches (12 targets) as a receiver and he’ll probably do most of his work on special teams once again in 2017. On our most recent edition of the free agent rankings, we had Tate as the No. 14 ranked available wide receiver.

In other Bills news, the rival Dolphins are hosting linebacker Zach Brown on a visit. Also, over the weekend, the Bills signed wide receiver Andre Holmes. Meanwhile, former Bills head coach Rex Ryan will be in the booth instead of on the sidelines in 2017.

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.

Read more

Bills Sign Brandon Tate

Brandon Tate has found a new NFL home. The Bills announced moments ago that they have signed the former Bengals kick returner. The Bills had a spot open on the 53-man roster, so they will not have to release anyone to clear a place for the veteran.Brandon Tate (vertical)

Tate, 28, was on Cincinnati’s roster since the 2011 season, but most of his contributions came on special teams rather than on offense. He’s returned more than 350 kicks and punts during his time with the Bengals, averaging 9.6 yards per return on kickoffs and 24.6 yards on punts. Highly-respected by the Cincinnati coaching staff and front office, Tate was released in advance of the 75-man deadline so that he might be able to latch on with another club.

Tate caught 17 passes for 193 yards in 2014, but recorded only two receptions in 2015. He may see some time on offense, but you shouldn’t expect to see him featured often as a wide receiver in Buffalo.

The kick return specialist worked out for the Broncos late last week but left Denver without a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Workout Notes: Pats, Chiefs, Broncos, Jets

Now that cutdowns are completed, teams have begun auditioning players that are still on the free agent market, either in an effort to upgrade their current roster or to update their emergency free agent lists. Let’s take a look at the workouts that have been reported today:

Bengals Cut Brandon Tate, Roster At 75

The Bengals have released wide receiver Brandon Tate, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), and they’ve also waived fellow WR Mario Alford with an injury designation, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). Additionally, Cincinnati has placed rookie defensive tackle Andrew Billings on injured reserve and fellow DT Brandon Thompson on PUP. The club’s roster is now at 75.Brandon Tate (Vertical)

[RELATED: Cedric Peerman Fractures Arm]

Tate, 28, has been on Cincinnati’s roster since the 2011 season, but most of his contributions have come on special teams rather than on offense. He’s returned more than 350 kicks and punts during his time with the Bengals, averaging 9.6 yards per return on kickoffs and 24.6 yards on punts. Tate is highly-respected by the Cincinnati coaching staff and front office, and Rapoport notes that the club released him now so that he might be able to latch on with another club.

Alford, meanwhile, was thought to be contending for both returner jobs, but injuries have kept him off the field. The former sixth-round pick will revert to the Bengals’ injured reserve list if he clears waivers.

The Bengals also released kicker Jon Brown from the injured reserve list, presumably with an injury settlement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/4/16

In addition to today’s notable roster moves and RFA/ERFA tender decisions, we’ve got some minor transactions to pass along, so let’s dive right in….

  • The Bengals re-signed a free agent wide receiver today, but it wasn’t Marvin Jones or Mohamed Sanu. Instead, it was fellow UFA Brandon Tate, who has spent the last five seasons in Cincinnati (Twitter link). Tate has primarily been a return man and special-teamer during his time with the Bengals — though he occasionally contributes on offense, he caught just two passes in 2015. He signed a one-year contract, per Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • The Patriots cut linebacker Darius Fleming today, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who passes along a farewell message from Fleming’s Instagram. Fleming made headlines in January when he sustained a calf injury rescuing a driver from her car at the scene of an accident. He’ll pass through waivers before becoming a free agent.

Bengals Re-Sign Brandon Tate

The Bengals have re-signed wide receiver and return man Brandon Tate, the team announced today (via Twitter). Terms of the agreement weren’t immediately disclosed.

Tate, 27, was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2009 draft, but only lasted two seasons in New England. The North Carolina product has spent the last four years in Cincinnati, returning kicks and punts for the club and occasionally contributing on offense as well.

Tate didn’t have much of an impact in the return game in 2014, averaging 9.7 yards per punt return and a career-low 22.1 yards per kick return; he hasn’t had a return touchdown since 2011. With the Bengals dealing with multiple injuries to pass-catchers, Tate played more on offense than he had in the previous two seasons, grabbing 17 balls for 193 yards and a TD.

Although he’s back on the roster, Tate isn’t necessarily guaranteed a role as the team’s primary returner, or even a spot on the roster. Coley Harvey of ESPN.com and Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer both tweet that they still expect the Bengals to draft a return-type receiver in a few weeks, with Tate providing insurance and competition.

Tate previously paid a visit to the Chiefs.

West Notes: D. Thomas, Wheeler, Tate

Here are a few Monday afternoon updates from out of the AFC and NFC West divisions….

  • Demaryius Thomas, who has yet to sign his franchise tender, won’t take part in Peyton Manning‘s annual workouts at Duke or attend the Broncos‘ offseason program, the star wideout said today, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com. It’s not unusual for a player who receives the franchise tag to skip his team’s spring workouts, and Thomas is still hoping that he and the team can work out a longer-term deal. “My agent is dealing with that right now,” Thomas said. “I’m in the loop, but I’m letting [GM John] Elway and my agent handle that, come up with something.”
  • Former Dolphins linebacker Philip Wheeler is visiting the 49ers today, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Wheeler saw most of his 384 defensive snaps last season as an outside linebacker in Miami’s 4-3 scheme, but presumably the Niners are viewing him as an inside linebacker, after Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired.
  • Rapoport also passes along word of another visit, tweeting that former Bengals receiver and return man Brandon Tate visited the Chiefs. Tate caught just 31 passes during his four years in Cincinnati, but returned more than 250 combined punts and kicks during that stretch.

AFC North Notes: Tate, Jones, Cameron, Hoyer

Wide receiver Brandon Tate is entering his fourth season with the Bengals, but he understand that he is not a shoo-in for a spot on the final roster. After all, he hasn’t provided much offensively for the team, compiling 217 yards and one touchdown in three seasons. He’s made the majority of his impact on special teams, but he’s now battling younger players who could contribute in the return game and in the passing game.

Having been in the league for five seasons, Tate knows that competition is just part of the job. Via ESPN.com’s Coley Harvey

“We’ve got a new O-coordinator (Hugh Jackson) and the one thing he stressed is that everything is open,” Tate said. “He doesn’t want nobody to be comfortable.”

Special teams coach Darrin Simmons agreed with the sentiment…

“That’s what you always try to create in training camp. You try to create competition,” Simmons said. “Everybody should feel heat because there’s always somebody right behind you nipping at your tail.”

Still, the coaches are confident that Tate can rise above the rest…

“He’s got a lot of fight this camp; there’s no doubt about it,” receivers coach James Urban said. “But I’ve always felt that way with him. Brandon is a proud man. So he knows if he has any sense of feeling that he’s fighting for a job, then he’s going to come out there every day and fight for his job.” 

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC North…

  • We learned earlier today that Bengals receiver Marvin Jones will miss “a few weeks.” Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets that the team is hoping Jones can return following their bye week, which would be against the Patriots on October 5th.
  • Browns tight end Jordan Cameron indicated to August Fagerstrom of the Akron Beacon Journal that extension talks are going well. “Yeah, it’s positive,” Cameron said. “The whole process has been positive. I’ll leave it at that. It’s ongoing and it’s going well.”
  • While there may be a lot of hype surrounding Browns rookie Johnny Manziel, quarterback Brian Hoyer made it clear that the starting gig belongs to the veteran. To me, this is my team until someone else tells me otherwise,” Hoyer told Vic Carucci of ClevelandBrowns.com.

AFC North Links: Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers

When Anquan Boldin left the Ravens last offseason, it looked like former undrafted rookie Deonte Thompson could potentially step up and fill the void. However, the former Florida Gator struggled during his sophomore season. The wideout missed the first three games with a foot injury and was reportedly arrested in February (the case was dropped).

As a result, Thompson is trying to make up for lost time. With the odds stacked against him, the 25-year-old is hoping for a breakout season. Via Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com

It’s a big year,” Thompson said. “I’m motivated, man. I’m so motivated. You can’t take anything for granted out here. You have to give it your all.

“It’s going to be a great competition, man. No doubt. The cream always rises to the top, so the best will definitely stick out.”

Thompson also touched on his disappointing 2013 season…

Everything was going good and I felt like the sky was going to be the limit, then bam, I get hurt.

“When I got back, just catching back up and trying to get back in, the season’s already rolling and guys are plugged in. That really set me back.”

Thompson certainly has some competition for a roster spot. Besides shoo-ins Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones, he’ll also have to compete with Jeremy Butler, Michael Campanaro and LaQuan Williams.

Let’s check out some more news from the AFC North…