Carlos Hyde

Chiefs To Send Carlos Hyde To Texans

The Texans will have an experienced running back headed their way. The Chiefs reached an agreement to trade Carlos Hyde to the Texans in exchange for offensive lineman Martinas Rankin, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Houston will address the league’s thinnest backfield position, adding a seasoned starter to its mix. The Texans were looking for running back help on the trade market, and they found it in the form of a player the Chiefs were set to release. The Chiefs signed Hyde earlier this offseason, but he was likely set to miss their 53-man roster.

Hyde spent 2018 with the Browns and Jaguars, being traded midseason. He initially signed a multiyear deal with the Browns, but the Jaguars released him after last season. The Chiefs added Hyde but will go with younger backs Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson behind holdover starter Damien Williams.

A former 49ers second-round pick, Hyde posted back-to-back 900-plus-yard seasons in 2016 and ’17. He totaled 1,288 yards from scrimmage for the ’17 49ers, scoring eight touchdowns. The 28-year-old back will join Duke Johnson in Houston.

Rankin was a 2018 third-round pick who made four starts with Houston last season. He will be set for a depth role in Kansas City.

Chiefs Sign RB Carlos Hyde

Carlos Hyde‘s Saturday visit to Kansas City will land him a deal. One of the Jaguars’ Friday cap casualties, the running back will sign with the three-time defending AFC West champions, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Chiefs announced the move.

It’s a one-year deal for Hyde, who will be on his third AFC team in the past six months. The 28-year-old back’s contract is worth $2.8MM, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com tweets.

Despite the Chiefs having accomplished far more than Hyde’s previous teams, he will have a better chance of earning a starting job in Kansas City.

The Browns traded Hyde last season to allow for Nick Chubb to commandeer their top backfield role, and the Jaguars have Leonard Fournette in tow. The Chiefs cut Kareem Hunt midway through last season, and previous third-stringer Damien Williams ended up as the No. 1-seeded team’s top running back in the playoffs.

Williams signed a two-year, $5.1MM extension and will play on a $1.7MM cap number in 2019. The Chiefs may well end up drafting another back, but a Williams-Hyde partnership may be the 2019 team’s primary tandem. Kansas City, of course, has plenty of defensive needs it may want to address in the draft. It appears the Justin HoustonDee Ford pairing will break up, creating an immediate need that didn’t exist entering last year’s draft.

This does double as a fairly steep downgrade for Hyde, who signed a three-year, $15MM contract with the Browns last year. However, he may be a bargain for Chiefs. Hyde is relatively fresh for a running back entering his age-29 season.

Since being a 49ers second-round pick in 2014, he has only taken 827 handoffs. Injuries posed a problem earlier in Hyde’s career, but he was a 16-game San Francisco starter in 2017 and suited up for 14 contests last year. Hyde, however, averaged just 3.3 yards per carry with the Browns and Jags in 2018. His 2017 season featured a 3.9 yards-per-carry figure. Although Hyde was barely used as a receiver last season (10 catches, 33 yards), he totaled 59 receptions and 350 yards for the ’17 49ers, adding a potential auxiliary weapon to a Chiefs offense that likes to involve its backs as outlet options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Carlos Hyde To Visit Chiefs

Carlos Hyde will visit with the Chiefs tomorrow, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The running back was released by the Jaguars earlier today, and isn’t wasting any time setting up a meeting before the free agency negotiating period opens on Monday.

As a player who was released before his contract expired, Hyde doesn’t have to wait for free agency to open and can sign whenever. The Chiefs left a huge hole in their backfield when they released Kareem Hunt in the midst of his scandal last season, so their interest makes some sense. Schefter notes that Hyde could be a nice complement to and share time with the Chiefs’ starting running back to end the season, Damien Williams.

Hyde signed a three-year, $15MM contract with the Browns last March, but he never worked out in Cleveland. The team quickly decided they wanted to give rookie Nick Chubb more carries, and decided to trade Hyde. They shipped Hyde off to the Jaguars mid-season, but Jacksonville soon fell out of playoff contention.

With the Jags no longer contending, they didn’t have much of a reason to play Hyde. Between Cleveland and Jacksonville, he carried the ball 172 times for 571 yards last season, averaging only 3.3 yards per carry. Hyde is still only 28, so he should have something left in the tank for whoever he signs with.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars To Release Carlos Hyde

The Jaguars showed Malik Jackson the door, and Carlos Hyde will follow him out. The running back will be released by the Jaguars on Friday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). 

The Jaguars tried to trade Jackson and Hyde, but couldn’t find a worthwhile deal. Hyde, who joined the Jaguars in a midseason trade with the Browns, had two years left on his deal but nothing in the way of guarantees. Understandably, clubs passed on trading for Hyde and taking on a $4.7MM cap hold. Hyde will now get an early crack at free agency before the market formally opens on Thursday.

Last year, Hyde ran for 189 yards and zero touchdowns in his eight games (two starts) with Jacksonville. In theory, Hyde could have returned on a lesser deal to help stopgap Leonard Fournette, but the Jags will instead look in another direction. Fournette could be backed up by T.J. Yeldon, but that would require re-signing the impending free agent.

The Jags have opened up significant cap room by dismissing Hyde and Jackson – by our calculation, they’ve gone from having $2.6MM in space to roughly $20MM by virtue of the two cuts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Foles, QB Summit, Running Backs

If the Eagles franchise tag Nick Foles and attempt to trade him, as is expected, they’ll be taking somewhat of a risk, writes former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry. “There is a school of thought that franchising Foles strictly for trade purposes violates the CBA. Language requiring a good-faith intention to negotiate with a tendered player or keep him for the upcoming season at his tender exists in the CBA”, Corry points out, although he notes it’s unlikely to be enforced.

The real issue is the cap ramifications of tagging and trading Foles, Corry writes. “With Philadelphia’s current contractual obligations, a Foles franchise tag would put the Eagles roughly $20 million over the projected salary cap. Several contracts would need to be restructured and/or players released just to be able to carry Foles’ cap number for as long as he remained with the Eagles even if he was dealt as soon as the 2019 league year started”, he observes. It’s an interesting point, and if the Eagles can’t agree in principle with another team on a good deal for Foles before the franchise tag period is over, they may not end up tagging him after all.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The league is hosting a “QB Summit” to help promote minority coaching candidates, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. According to La Canfora, “the conference will bring together young minority coaches on the offensive side of the ball (quarterbacks coaches, quality control coaches, interns) with established head coaches of all backgrounds in an attempt to facilitate more integration into NFL staffs.” La Canfora writes that “with so many owners seeking a ‘quarterback guru’ and offensive play-callers as head coaches in recent years, and so few African American and Latino coaches currently in those positions in the NFL, the league hopes this ongoing event will foster more integration in the offensive coaching ranks.”
  • With free agency right around the corner, Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com broke down the running backs most likely to be cut this offseason. Carlos Hyde, who has a salary of $4.7MM for the Jaguars while only playing a bit role the second half of the season, is on top of the list. One somewhat surprising name he floats is LeSean McCoy by the Bills, writing that “it’s probably best for both sides to move on.” The team has said in the past that they plan to keep McCoy for 2019, but if they go all in on a youth movement, it wouldn’t be shocking if McCoy wanted out so he could go to a contender in the twilight of his career.
  • In case you missed it, the Ravens believe the presence of Lamar Jackson will help attract free agents this spring.

Browns Trade Carlos Hyde To Jaguars

The Browns have agreed to trade running back Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a blockbuster deal that gives the Jaguars a proven tailback in the absence of starter Leonard Fournette

Just eight months ago, Hyde signed a three-year, $15MM free agent deal with the Browns to become their No. 1 running back. But, with a pair of talented options behind him on the depth chart, the Browns pounced on the opportunity to build on their draft capital while taking a significant salary off the books.

Through six games this year, Hyde hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. He’s averaged just 3.4 yards per carry this year – a career low – though he does have five rushing touchdowns on his stat line.

Prior to joining the Browns, Hyde spent the first four years of his career with the 49ers and served as the starting running back for the final three. All in all, he averaged a solid 4.2 yards per carry in SF and a strong 4.6 yards per attempt in 2016. Hyde also offers capable hands, as evidenced by his 59 catches for 350 yards last season.

In conjunction with T.J. Yeldon, Hyde should provide the Jaguars with a competent rushing game for however long Fournette is sidelined. However, Hyde can hardly be expected to be a panacea for what ails Jacksonville. Blake Bortles‘ inconsistency is clearly costing the Jags as they’re 1-3 in their last four games. In those contests, Bortles has thrown just four touchdown passes against six picks. He’s also been sacked 13 times, so the Jags’ offensive line will have to do better in order to keep defenses honest and open holes for their new running back.

With Hyde out of the picture, the Browns should be able to increase rookie Nick Chubb‘s workload. Browns fans have good reason to be excited about the Georgia product after he amassed 105 yards and two touchdowns off of just two carries in Week 4 against the Raiders. Pass-catching wizard Duke Johnson also figures to get more touches in the team’s revamped backfield.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Sign RB Carlos Hyde

The Browns have agreed to sign free agent running back Carlos Hyde to a three-year, $15MM deal that includes $6MM in 2018, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Hyde, 27, ranked as PFR’s No. 2 available running back and the No. 33 overall free agent. Among our list of the top free agent backs, only Dion Lewis, Isaiah Crowell, and Chris Ivory (who was released early and thus could sign earlier) have landed new contracts. Lewis, whom PFR tabbed as the best back on the market, received four years and $20MM from the Titans, outpacing Hyde in contact length but matching him in annual value.

Now that they’ll pair Hyde with a pass-catching back in Duke Johnson, the Browns may be out of the Saquon Barkley sweepstakes. Cleveland had reportedly been considering the Penn State standout with the first overall selection, but with a pair of veteran runners now poised to dominate carries in their backfield, the Browns could use that No. 1 pick — and the No. 4 overall slot they acquired from the Texans — on other positions, namely quarterback.

Hyde spent the first four seasons of his career with the 49ers, and had toted the ball more than 200 times in each of the past two seasons. Last year, Hyde put up 938 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns, but also posted a career-low 3.9 yards per carry. In the pass game, Hyde finished sixth among running backs with 59 receptions, but also graded as the single-worst pass-blocking back in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.

With Hyde off the board, the best remaining free agent running backs include Jerick McKinnon, Rex Burkhead, Frank Gore, and Orleans Darkwa.

[RELATED: Browns Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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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:

Quarterback:

  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 ESPN.com 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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NFC Notes: Griffin, Stafford, Forbath, 49ers

The Seahawks defense continues to take hits on the injury front as the team has now learned that starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. the 49ers with a concussion, according to Gregg Bell of The News Tribune (Twitter link). Bell adds that lineman Oday Aboushi will miss the matchup with a shoulder injury as well, so Seattle will once again have to expose backups to expansive playing time.

It would seem that cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will get the starts on the outside, with either rookie Ethan Pocic or third-year lineman Mark Glowinski filling in for Aboushi at right guard.

Seattle’s roster looks a whole lot different without the likes of Griffin, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the starting lineup, which has contributed greatly to the Seahawks up-and-down sort of season. The team still has an outstanding defensive line and is right in the thick of the playoff race, but is currently facing a lot of adversity as it continues to lose quality players as the season wears on.

  • In what was a tremendous show of resiliency on Thanksgiving, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford actually finished the game after he suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury. However, even though the talented QB was able to return, you can clearly see that he is not 100% in a video posted to Instagram by Davie Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, depicting Stafford hobbling away after his postgame press conference. It remains to be seen whether Stafford can continue to play in the weeks to come, but we should learn more about the overall severity of the injury next week.
  • Vikings kicker Kai Forbath apparently cut his foot on the nullified block field goal, but should not miss any time moving forward, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Forbath had been one of the best kickers in the league up until the last few weeks when he missed two field goals against the Rams and suffered the aforementioned blocked kick yesterday.
  • The 49ers are as expected not in playoff contention this year, but still await some key decisions on potential free agents at season’s end. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, looked at six impending free agents who could be on the way out after the 2017 season is over. Branch noted running back Carlos Hyde, safety Eric Reid, center Daniel Kilgore, defensive end Aaron Lynch, defensive lineman Tank Carradine and cornerback Dontae Johnson as all guys that seemed primed to test the open market. There are a variety of factors that go into these decisions, but it’s interesting to see how the team may approach these players in the final six weeks of the season given their impending free agency.