Carlos Hyde

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.

NFC Notes: Keenum, Garoppolo, Beathard, Hyde, McCloughan

Case Keenum and the Vikings are now 7-2 after beating a tough Redskins squad today on the road. The third-string quarterback has been of the bigger surprise of stories of the season, especially with his play of late. Apart from leading his team to victory in their last five contests, the 29 year-old signal caller has thrown for 8 touchdowns during that stretch and collected his second 300 yard game of the season during today’s win.

Keenum’s inspiring play of late has kept him ahead of the now healthy Teddy Bridgewater on the depth chart and has Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports saying that the quarterback deserves to be re-signed by the team this season’s end. In a column published tonight, the veteran NFL analyst suggests that Keenum should be the priority of the Vikings three upcoming free agent QB’s (Keenum, Bridgewater and Sam Bradford) because of the other two quarterback’s history of injury issues.

La Canfora notes that Keenum brings a sense of mobility to the position that the team won’t have in the other signal callers and just seems to be getting better as he continues to get playing time. It’s a story that you couldn’t imagine seeing at the start of the offseason, but makes sense now considering the circumstances that have unfolded in Minnesota. There’s a ton of talent that could become available this offseason, but Keenum has made his case to the Vikings for why he should get some serious consideration as a legitimate starting option moving forward.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo almost made his San Francisco debut into today’s win over the Giants after starting quarterback C.J. Beathard injured his thumb. However, the rookie signal caller toughed out the injury and was able to finish off the victory. While the 49ers are now no longer winless, the team does intend to start their newly acquired QB in Week 12, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. But, head coach Kyle Shanahan offered a different view of the situation in his postgame press conference. “No, that never was the plan,” the first year head coach told the media. “As I told you guys, I’m taking it week by week so I don’t have to really pause on everything. I’m looking forward to seeing our guys tomorrow so we can review this and coach up. Take a team photo and try to get away from each other for a while. We’ll continue to work with Jimmy over the bye week here and there. We’ll have a bonus practice next Monday to get everyone loose and we’ll see where it goes from there. It’s not just about C.J. or just about Jimmy, there’s a lot of things that go into it,” (via Schefter). It remains to seen what will unfold regarding the 49ers QB depth chart after the team’s bye in Week 11, but there’s no doubt that Garoppolo is getting more comfortable in the offense and was ready to go if Beathard wasn’t able to continue playing.
  • In other 49ers news, running back Carlos Hyde went on the record before today’s win to address his upcoming free agency. At least for now the lead back doesn’t want to discuss a deal with his current team, according to Cam Inman of The Mercury News“I spoke to my agent about it, but I told him I don’t want to talk about contract extensions or anything like that right now,” Hyde said Thursday. “I want to focus on getting our first win, finishing the season off. I told him if we get to that point, then we can talk about it.” Now even though San Francisco is in the win column, it would be a lot to expect a change in heart from the 26 year-old. Hyde could be in line for a solid contract from his current franchise or potentially another RB needy team. The fourth-year back has hasn’t broke the 100 yard marker in any game this season, but has managed to put up decent numbers in an offense without a reliable passing game. He’s just one of many running backs available on the current list of 2018 Free Agents.
  • In off the field news, former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is set to have his grievance hearing on December 18, according to Pro Football Talk. McCloughan has filed the lawsuit because he wants to be paid the remainder of the balance left on his contract. Washington argues that they should not pay their former G.M. because he was fired for alcohol abuse.

NFC Notes: Hyde, Ngata, McAdoo, Bucs QBs

Despite the noise of a Carlos Hyde trade, Kyle Shanahan attempted to put an end to those rumors during a media session today. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along that the first-year 49ers head coach said that the reports of a speculative trade involving the running back were “absolutely, absolutely 100 percent false.” The rumors started to pick up after San Francisco was making calls to teams about now-former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman. Despite the pushback, rookie Matt Breida has slowly started to cut into Hyde’s touches in recent weeks. The former Georgia Southern running back had his first double-digit carry game two weeks ago against the Colts, even though the rookie touched the ball just six times this past Sunday. Nevertheless, the 49ers are still winless through six weeks, which means that the trade winds will continue to swirl around the team with the deadline just a few weeks away.

  • Building off the news that Ben McAdoo gave up play calling to offenisve coordinator Mike Sullivan for their Sunday night contest against the Broncos, it is now known that neither owner John Mara nor Giants executive chairman Steve Tisch asked the head coach to give up the offensive playbook, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. It would seem that McAdoo made this decision on his own with the results being positive thus far as the team shocked many by going into Denver and winning by double digits.
  • Now that Haloti Ngata is out for the season with a torn biceps, the question remains: Just how long will the 33-year-old continue to play in the NFL? The Lions defensive lineman told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press that he has not made any decision about the future yet. “We’ll have to see. To be determined,” Ngata told the pressThe veteran has not been the same player he was with the Ravens since he joined Detroit in 2015. Ngata did show signs of life this seasn, racking up two sacks in the team’s first five games, which matched the halfway mark of the number of QB takedowns he put up in the two seasons prior.
  • Although Jameis Winston left last Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury, the Buccaneers still don’t expect to sign another QB for this week’s affair against the Bills, tweets Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Auman reports that Tampa Bay seems to be comfortable with Winston suiting up as an emergency backup for Ryan Fitzpatrick, if he can’t start. The move sounds a bit risky considering that the team still does not have a third-string QB with Ryan Griffin currently working to get off the IR. However, the news may be encouraging to some as it seems Winston has most likely avoided a long-term injury.

49ers Agreed To Trade NaVorro Bowman To Saints

We learned last night that at least two teams had serious interest in trading for former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman before he was released by San Francisco, and it turns out that one of those interested teams was the Saints. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, the 49ers agreed to trade Bowman to New Orleans for a seventh-round draft pick, but the Saints learned the veteran linebacker preferred to be a free agent and talk to all teams before deciding on one. As such, the 49ers opted to grant Bowman’s wish and give him his release instead of going forward with the trade.

NaVorro Bowman (vertical)

Schefter adds that San Francisco also engaged in trade talks with the Ravens, Browns, and Panthers, but none of those teams appear to be vying for Bowman’s services in free agency. Instead, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, there is strong mutual interest between Bowman and the Raiders, and Bowman appears set to visit Oakland in the coming days.

In related news, Schefter reports that the 49ers have not had any trade talks involving running back Carlos Hyde — despite speculation to the contrary — and they do not plan to have any such talks. We heard just last week, of course, that San Francisco was attempting to extend the oft-injured RB, who is set to become a free agent at the end of the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Trying To Extend Carlos Hyde

The 49ers are attempting to extend running back Carlos Hyde, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Hyde, who has missed time due to injury in each of his first four seasons in the league (including two of San Francisco’s first four games this year), has been excellent during the two games he has been on the field in 2017, piling up 169 yards on just 24 carries for a whopping seven yards per rush.

Carlos Hyde (vertical)

The 49ers’ decision to try and extend Hyde’s contract represents quite a reversal from earlier this year, when it was reported that the team’s new regime was not sold on Hyde and was perhaps looking for his replacement. As late as August, we heard that the 49ers were not really considering an extension for the Ohio State product, but his performance in head coach Kyle Shanahan‘s offense has compelled the team to reconsider.

As La Canfora notes, however, Hyde might not be interested in an extension. Although his injury history suggests he could be open to a multi-year deal now in the hopes of obtaining some financial security, he could be selling himself short if we were to accept such a deal. After all, the 2018 free agent class of running backs is quite weak outside of Steelers’ star Le’Veon Bell, and it is almost impossible to envision Pittsburgh allowing Bell to get away. As such, Hyde could hit the market at a perfect time for him to cash in, as there would surely be a handful of teams willing to take a big gamble on someone with his ability (he has averaged 4.5 yards per carry in his career).

49ers GM John Lynch is apparently now sold on Hyde and may be trying to buy low. Whether Hyde is willing to seriously entertain extension contract negotiations with the rebuilding 49ers at this time remains to be seen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Folk, Hyde, Eagles

Buccaneers kicker Nick Folk missed three field goals in his team’s five-point loss to the Patriots on Thursday night. We’ve already learned that the team will be auditioning several free agent kickers this week, and Folk acknowledged that this is all part of the business.

“You have to be able to evaluate yourself, look at it and improve, learn, see what went wrong, make the corrections and move forward,” he told ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. “Just go out there and swing. Don’t make it too hard. It’s not real hard when you get down to it.”

After connecting on more than 87-percent of his field goal attempts last season, Tampa Bay opted for the veteran over former second-rounder Roberto Aguayo. So far, Folk has only made six of his 11 attempts, and coach Dirk Koetter told Laine that he’s been surprised about the player’s struggles.

“When we decided on Nick as our kicker — I’ve told you guys this many times — whoever our kicker is, I’ve got total confidence in him,” Koetter said. “I think Nick was kicking very well up until a week ago. He had a rough day against the Giants, he came back, and the one day we kicked in practice [this week] he kicked very, very well. We had no reason to think Nick wasn’t going to kick well last night.

“There are a couple there that you’re expecting him to make. When I say, ‘We’re disappointed today’ at opportunities that we missed, that’s at a lot of different positions. That’s certainly one.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • 49ers running back Carlos Hyde is on pace to have one of his best NFL seasons, as he currently owns a career-high 4.9-yard-per-carry mark. Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com observes that the 27-year-old is having this success on a contract year, and it could lead to a hefty contract. Of course, part of the player’s improvement can be attributed to getting into shape, as general Manager John Lynch said on 95.7 The Game. “He got lighter and in much better shape. It’s showing. It’s paying dividends on the field. So we’re thrilled with the way he’s playing. He’s got to continue to do it,” Lynch said (via Cam Inman of MercuryNews.com).
  • Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood is set to miss tomorrow’s game, which would currently leave the team with LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner. Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com notes (via Twitter) that none of those players are threats in the passing game, so he wonders if the team could promote Byron Marshall from the practice squad. The Oregon product appeared in three games last season, collecting three receptions for ten yards and 19 carries for 64 yards.
  • In case you missed it, second-round rookie defensive tackle Malik McDowell — who suffered a severe concussion in a July September ATV accident — could potentially return to the Seahawks this season.