Brice Butler

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:


  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 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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Cowboys’ Brice Butler Wants To Start

On the cusp of free agency, wide receiver Brice Butler says he’ll go elsewhere unless he’s given a bigger role with the Cowboys. In interviews with FS1’s “Undisputed” and “The Herd,” Butler made his position crystal clear (transcription via the Dallas Morning News). Brice Butler

With Dallas, the situation has to be right for me to go back. I have to be a starter. If I’m not starting, I’m not going back,” Butler said.

The 27-year-old (28 later this month) also opined that he could have been more productive that teammate Dez Bryant had he been given the same number of targets. Butler finished out with just 15 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns versus Bryant’s 69 catches for 838 yards and six TDs, so it’s a bold claim on his part.

“100 percent,” said Butler when asked if he could have topped Bryant’s stat line with an equal number of opportunities. “Because I’m ready. It’s my time, I’ve been there for three years. I feel like me and Dak [Prescott] have a really good relationship. We work on routes. There’s times that we might not have completed a square-out throw in practice, and we’re taking that time out in practice to actually work on it. So I think that’s why when you saw us in the game, he tried to come to me, and most of the times we produced.

It remains to be seen whether Butler’s bravado will be appreciated by Jerry Jones & Co. Butler is scheduled to hit the open market in March after the conclusion of his one-year $1.1MM deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Giants, Redskins, Saints, ‘Boys

The Giants’ decision to hand defensive end Devin Taylor a minimum salary benefit deal last month has mostly generated positive reviews around the NFL, with one source calling it a “great signing,” reports Jordan Raanan of One NFC source took a less enthusiastic tone, however, calling Taylor “just a guy.” But, considering what they’re paying him, the Giants aren’t expecting Taylor to do much more than provide passable depth behind stars Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. Taylor, who started in all 16 of the Lions’ games last season and piled up a respectable 4.5 sacks (down from seven in 2015), will rotate at defensive end with the Giants and could see time as an interior rusher on passing downs, according to Raanan.

More from the NFC:

  • Late-March free agent signing Brian Quick won’t be long for the Redskins’ roster if he doesn’t impress in training camp, writes Rich Tandler of Quick didn’t perform well during offseason practices, and the team has a few locks at wide receiver, leaving the 28-year-old on the bubble as camp nears, per Tandler. The 2012 second-round pick spent his first five years as a member of the Rams, with whom he exceeded the 20-catch plateau only twice. To his credit, though, Quick posted a career year in 2016, hauling in personal highs in catches (41), targets (77), yards (564) and touchdowns (three).
  • Saints left tackle Terron Armstead underwent successful surgery for a torn labrum on Monday, reports Herbie Teope of While that’s a relief for Armstead and the Saints, it’s not going to change his expected recovery timeline. He’s still set to miss between four to six months, which will leave the club without arguably its best offensive lineman until sometime in the fall.
  • Cowboys receiver Brice Butler will head into camp with his roster spot in jeopardy, relays David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. Butler could face a challenge from rookie seventh-round pick Noah Brown, notes Moore, and the Cowboys also have shoo-ins to make the roster in fellow wideouts Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and fourth-rounder Ryan Switzer. Butler was a seventh-rounder himself not long ago, in 2013, and put up his first 16-game campaign last year. All told, he caught 16 passes for 219 yards and a career-high three scores.

Cowboys Re-Sign WR Brice Butler

Brice Butler is returning to Dallas. The wideout told Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he’s signed a new one-year deal with the Cowboys (Twitter link). The deal is worth $1.1MM with $300K fully guaranteed, Adam Caplan of tweets. The 27-year-old is hoping to prove himself in 2017 and earn a larger contract next offseason.

Brice ButlerThe 2013 seventh-round pick has spent the past two seasons in Dallas, appearing in 23 games. With the Cowboys, the San Diego State product hauled in 28 passes for 477 yards and three touchdowns. Butler spent the first two seasons of his career with the Raiders, where he caught a career-high 280 yards in 2014.

The Cowboys receiver depth chart currently consists of Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Lucky Whitehead. Despite previous reports, we learned last night that the team doesn’t have interest in free agent wideout DeSean Jackson. Kenny Britt has also been mentioned as a potential target.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Bracing To Lose Free Agents

The Cowboys’ list of pending free agents is rife with talented players, including cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, and wide receiver Terrance Williams, but Dallas might not be able to retain many (if any) of their unsigned free agents, as Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram reports the Cowboys “could lose them all.”Terrance Williams (Vertical)

[RELATED: Tony Romo Wants To Join Broncos]

At present, the Cowboys rank last in the league with just $3.3MM in cap space, and as such, don’t figure to be aggressive in the early goings of free agency, per Hill, who adds Dallas will “let the market come back to them.” At wideout, the Cowboys won’t be a factor in the Williams sweepstakes if his value approaches the $7MM range (as is expected), but the club will attempt to re-sign fellow free agent pass-catcher Brice Butler if the price is right.

In the secondary, the Cowboys won’t retain both Carr and Claiborne and could potentially lose both, while Church will also price himself out of Dallas’ range if he lands a contract north of $7MM (Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reported $5MM as the Church sweet spot earlier today). The Cowboys are reportedly open to starting Jeff Heath at safety opposite Byron Jones, per Hill, which lessens the need to re-sign either Church or Wilcox.

Dallas still plans to target a wide receiver and pass rusher this offseason, but owner Jerry Jones believes those needs can be addressed either through the draft or the second wave of free agency, according to Hill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: 49ers, Eagles, Seahawks, Cowboys

49ers fans have been waiting for the better part of a month for the organization to hire their next head coach and general manager. The team will seemingly have to wait at least another two weeks to hire frontrunner Kyle Shanahan from the Falcons, and they may be waiting a bit longer to bring in a new general manager.

On Tuesday, CEO Jed York preached patience when it comes to the team’s hirings.

“The message is we’re going to re-establish a championship culture,” York said (via Cam Inman of The Mercury News). “We’re not going to do that by filling a job quickly. We need to be patient. We need to be willing to wait.

“And when we get the right people, we’ll start putting everything into place.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Last offseason, the Eagles dealt with some turmoil when quarterback Sam Bradford was upset following the team’s draft selection of Carson Wentz. This offseason, the front office is hoping to be completely transparent with their franchise signal-caller. “The way the league rules are, you’d love to be able to bring him down and throw to these guys,” said vice president of football operations Howie Roseman (via Jimmy Kempski of “That would be unbelievable. It just doesn’t work that way. But from our perspective, we want to make sure that he’s on board with some of these things, and he’s looking at some … probably more in free agency than in the draft, because it’s hard for him to get caught up on the draft prospects.”
  • The Eagles traded former second-round pick Eric Rowe to the Patriots earlier this season, and the cornerback proceeded to start seven games for the AFC champs. Roseman provided some logic for cutting bait on the promising defensive back. “When we sat down and discussed the offer, we really started thinking about the likelihood that we had to sign him to an extension,” Roseman said (via Reuben Frank of“We want to build this team with some continuity. We felt at that time that we were not going to sign him to an extension and to be able to get that value for him and possibly add someone who would be here for a longer period of time made sense for where we were.
” Rowe’s contract expires following the 2018 season.
  • Perrish Cox‘s new one-year contract with the Seahawks is worth $855K, reports’s Sheil Kapadia. The cornerback’s initial cap hit is $680K, and he’ll earn $443K if he suffers an injury prior to the start of the regular season.
  • Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones said his team would like to keep free agent wideouts Terrance Williams and Brice Butler (via Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News on Twitter). Williams had one of his least-productive seasons in 2016, but he still finished the campaign with 44 receptions for 594 yards and four touchdowns. Butler, a former seventh-round pick, finished the season with 16 receptions for 219 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Jones also passed along that Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will need back surgery for the second straight offseason (via George on Twitter). The former second-round pick has only played in 32 games over his three seasons in the NFL, including nine games (three starts) in 2016.

Extra Points: Foster, Kitchen, Gregory

Texans running back Arian Foster said Tuesday while promoting a charity fundraiser that he’d like to finish his career in Houston, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). “I don’t want to put on another uniform,” Foster said. “It’s a business though. I’m a cog in a wheel.” The 29-year-old’s current contract expires after next season, so he’d have to re-sign with the Texans if he plans to play beyond age 30 in Houston.

Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • After bringing him in on Tuesday for a visit, the Texans aren’t immediately signing former Browns defensive tackle Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Wilson adds that Kitchen had a strong workout and that the team could always revisit the possibility of signing him.
  • While Dez Bryant‘s foot injury is dominating the headlines in Dallas this week, the Cowboys received more bad news on the injury front, according to Ed Werder of, who tweets that promising rookie pass rusher Randy Gregory sustained a high ankle sprain and will be sidelined for four to six weeks.
  • Former Cleveland wide receiver Josh Lenz, who was waived during the Browns’ cutdown to 53 players this month, worked out for the Giants on Tuesday, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • The Cowboys liked what they saw in workouts with Nick Toon and Clyde Gates, but the staff felt better about going after Brice Butler, Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram tweets. Dallas acquired Butler from Oakland on Tuesday.

Cowboys Acquire Brice Butler From Raiders

The Cowboys acquired receiver Brice Butler from the Raiders, according to Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram. If Butler is on the Cowboys’ 53-player roster for six games, Dallas will swap its fifth-round pick for the Raiders’ sixth-rounder in 2016, according to a source who spoke with Williams.

If Butler is on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster for six games, then the Cowboys will give up their fifth-round pick in 2016 but get the Raiders’ sixth-round pick next year in return as well, Todd Archer of writes. With a bye week on the horizon, the Cowboys have seven weeks to make a judgment on whether to keep him.

Butler, 25, was a seventh-round pick of the Raiders in 2013. The 6’3″, 210-pounder has shown flashes in the 25 games he’s played and also has a few impressive practice highlights floating around online. Butler has 30 compiled catches for 383 yards and two touchdowns over the course of his career.

Of course, the Cowboys are in need of wide receiver depth after losing star Dez Bryant to a foot injury. Butler now becomes the fifth active receiver on Dallas’ roster next to Terrance Williams, Devin Street, Cole Beasley, and Lucky Whitehead.