Denard Robinson is back in the NFL, this time as a coach. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the Jaguars have hired Robinson as an offensive quality control coach.
Following a standout career as Michigan’s quarterback, Robinson was selected by the Jaguars in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. The organization ended up transitioning him into a running back, and he ultimately spent four seasons with Jacksonville. His best season came in 2014, when he had 706 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns.
The 29-year-old spent the 2019 season as an offensive analyst for the Jacksonville University football team.
Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…
While the Patriots would presumably like to sign Joe Thuney to an extension, ESPN’s Mike Reiss opines that the offensive lineman will end up playing next season on the franchise tag. As Reiss explains, Thuney has the leverage in negotiations, as he should be more-than-satisfied with his current one-year, $14.78MM deal. The reporter could see a scenario where the lineman signs a two-year deal that would buy the Patriots a bit of cap space for 2020, and Reiss believes that’s more realistic than Thuney getting traded or signing a long-term pact.
While Jamal Adams may already be saying farewell to some of his teammates, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport believes the Jets will “stand pat” and let the situation play out (Twitter link). The safety has two years remaining on his contract, and that’s part of the reason why New York hadn’t felt any urgency in signing the former first-rounder to an extension.
Seahawks running back Chris Carson has signed with Octagon Football for representation, tweets Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily. “From our perspective, he’s an elite running back in this league,” said agent Casey Muir. After averaging 1,190 rushing yards and eight touchdowns between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Carson is set to hit free agency following the 2020 campaign.
The workouts could have purely been exploratory, especially when you consider that the Cowboys are rostering an impressive trio of running backs in Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, and Darren McFadden. For what it’s worth, the team did carry four running backs last season, with Lance Dunbar (who has since signed with the Rams) collecting 31 rushing yards on nine carries while also catching 16 passes for 122 yards. The Cowboys are also currently rostering undrafted running back Jahad Thomas and fullback Keith Smith.
Of course, the Cowboys could also be looking to cover their tracks in case Elliott is suspended. We learned yesterday that the NFL’s investigation was wrapping up, although we probably won’t learn of any discipline until next week. The organization could simply be delaying a running back signing until they get more clarity on their 22-year-old star.
Neither Robinson or Hillman were particularly productive last season. Hillman appeared in eight games with the Chargers and Vikings, compiling only 131 yards on 41 carries. Robinson finished the season with 144 yards on the same amount of attempts. The two running backs have plenty of pass-catching experience, with the duo having combined for four 20-plus reception seasons.
The Cowboys worked out former Jaguars running back Denard Robinson on Thursday, Jane Slater of NFL.com tweets.
Dallas is pretty well set at running back as star Ezekiel Elliott is supported by a pair of former 1,000-yard rushers in Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. It’s possible that the Cowboys are looking at Robinson as someone who can compete for fourth RB spot (if they carry four on the final roster) along with undrafted rookie Jahad Thomas and RB/FB Rod Smith. The Cowboys enjoyed the luxury of having four talented backs on the roster last year, but they’re slightly thinner now that Lance Dunbar is with the Rams. Someone like Robinson could also fill a temporary role on the roster if Elliott is suspended for any length of time.
Robinson, 27 in September, posted the second-worst YPC (3.5) of his career in 2016 off of 41 attempts. In 2014, however, he had a productive year as he averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
The former Michigan star worked out for the Bears in May and the Jets in June, but left both auditions without signing.
Robinson, 27 in September, will participate in the Jets’ three-day mandatory minicamp and try to make a solid impression on coaches. After making a name for himself as a quarterback at Michigan, Robinson converted to running back for the Jaguars.
The fifth-round pick appeared in 55 of the Jaguars’ 64 games in that span and made 13 starts, with the bulk of his career 263 carries coming in 2014. That season, Robinson piled up 135 rushes for 582 yards – good for a quality YPC of 4.3 – scored four touchdowns and totaled a personal-high 23 catches. Unfortunately, Robinson’s production has dipped since then, as he posted the second-worst YPC (3.5) of his career in 2016 off of 41 attempts.
Free agent running back Denard Robinson will be among the Bears’ tryout players at rookie minicamp, tweets Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune.
The 26-year-old Robinson, formerly a quarterback at Michigan, spent the first four seasons of his career in Jacksonville after it selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Robinson appeared in 55 of the Jaguars’ 64 games in that span and made 13 starts, with the lion’s share of his 263 carries coming in 2014. That season, Robinson piled up 135 rushes for 582 yards – good for a quality YPC of 4.3 – scored four touchdowns and totaled a personal-high 23 catches. Robinson’s production has waned since then, as he posted the second-worst YPC (3.5) of his career last year on 41 attempts and hauled in only three receptions.
As was the case in Jacksonville, Robinson would be a backup in Chicago if he were to improbably make the team. Starter Jordan Howard was quietly among the best backs in the NFL as a rookie last year, but neither Jeremy Langford nor Ka’Deem Carey did much behind him. They remain in the fold, while free agent pickup Benny Cunningham is aboard as a newcomer.
The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.
Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:
Tony Romo is not a free agent…at least not yet. If the Cowboys do not find a suitable trade and release him, you’ll find him at the top of this list.
Laugh if you must, but Cutler is far and away the best quarterback available on the open market. While most of this year’s QB-needy teams are done with their free agent shopping, the Jets are still searching for their 2017 starter and no one would make more sense for them than Cutler. He’s not all that far removed from playing solid football and he’s a logical transitional option for the Jets until they can isolate a better, younger option for 2018.
Kaepernick’s reps wisely told the press that he will be standing for the National Anthem this year. Still, Kaepernick is an outspoken guy who wants to use his platform to discuss hot button issues, so there’s no guarantee that the media circus around him will cease. Jets owner Woody Johnson loves seeing his team on the back pages of the New York tabloids, but even he has to have more sense than to entertain Kaepernick. McCown, who has been contact with the team, would be an okay choice if they can’t get something done with Cutler. Chase Daniel could be an option too, but there isn’t much game film on him.
Needless to say, the No. 3 ranked player on this list isn’t an option in New York.
The Vikings have moved on and Peterson will not be back in Minnesota. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess. When Peterson’s option was declined by the Vikings earlier this month, there were tons of stories (likely sourced by Peterson’s camp) about interest from a litany of contenders. Since then, each team – through anonymous sources – has denied being in the mix for the veteran. It would be easy to doubt Peterson at this juncture, but he has come back from serious injuries multiple times in his career and he is only one year removed from his stellar 2015 campaign. He gets the top spot over the bruising Blount as well as Charles, who hasn’t been healthy in a long while.
Jennings was brought to New York with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse. Unfortunately, two of his three seasons with the G-Men were marred by injury. Jennings is currently putting his agility to good use on Dancing With The Stars and it remains to be seen how committed he is to football. After that, we have a trio of vets (Hightower, Williams, CJ2K) who could still advance the ball in limited spurts.
In case you’re wondering – Mike Gillislee is not listed here because he is a restricted free agent.
The market has been slow to develop for Aiken but it sounds like things could pick up soon as he’s set to meet with the Colts and Seahawks. Aiken, 28 in May, had only 29 receptions last year, but he had 75 grabs for 944 yards in 2015.
Cruz was on the field for 15 regular season games last year and he could recapture some of his old form if a team uses him in the slot. Quick quietly had 44 catches for 564 yards and three touchdowns with the Rams last year, and he was playing in a less-than-stellar offense. Boldin, meanwhile, had 67 catches in 2016, but he averaged just 8.7 yards per reception.
It’s a thin group at tight end and everything drops off dramatically after Tamme and Rivera at the top. Donnell made some noise during his time with the Giants but it’s been a while since he’s done anything of note. Tamme and Rivera could be the only two players from this group to land a deal with any real guaranteed cash.
Things have thinned out at tackle but there are still some impact guys here including Clady, Dunlap, and the versatile Pasztor. Sebastian Vollmer, if healthy, would be an interesting pickup for a team in need of offensive line depth.
Evans can still go and he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 guard in the NFL last season. We have a few notable centers here as well in Mangold, Sullivan, and Barnes. Some teams are asking Mangold to switch to guard, but he is hoping to continue in the middle.
NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.
Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.
Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:
Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.
As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.
Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.
Kyle Juszczyk graded out as the best fullback in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus. The Ravens would be wise to keep him, but if they don’t, he’ll draw interest from teams all over the league. Juszczyk earned his first career Pro Bowl nod as he caught 37 passes for 266 yards. His exceptional 92.1 pass blocking score from PFF led all other fullbacks by a wide margin.
Mike Tolbert is ranked lower than you might expect due to his age and diminished blocking skills. He’ll turn 32 in November and it’s not guaranteed that he’ll find another job after getting released by the Panthers, though the Jets are said to have interest in him. Gang Green could also look into signing Patrick DiMarco and Marcel Reece. If you ask me, they should target DiMarco if they want to truly emphasize the running game. DiMarco finished the year with the best run blocking score in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Brandon Marshall, welcome to the free agent pool. Marshall is just two years removed from a year in which he had 109 catches, 1,502 yards, and 14 touchdowns. However, his numbers dipped significantly last season as the entire Jets offense slumped. The veteran will get tons of interest this week and his suitors may include the Giants, Patriots, and Ravens.
Kenny Britt managed to put up big numbers in the midst of the Rams’ offensive quagmire last season. He now hits free agency at a great time and the WR-needy Eagles are the latest team to be connected to him. The South Jersey contingent of the Eagles fanbase will appreciate the homecoming of the Rutgers product. At the same time, they should hope he exhibits a better attitude than he did on the banks of the old Raritan.
The talent is definitely there with Markus Wheaton and the team that takes a chance on him could wind up very, very happy. Robert Woods, historically, thrived in games where Sammy Watkins was unavailable or limited. Woods doesn’t turn 25 in until April and there’s a case to be made that he should be higher on this list. Cordarrelle Patterson has turned out to be a very capable returner, but there are definitely ambitious coaches out there who think they can still mold him into a great receiver. Michael Floyd is now years removed from his best work in Arizona, so one has to wonder what he can contribute even if he has turned over a new leaf.
Victor Cruz is an exceptionally hard-worker and a team-first kind of guy. He’ll be a great addition to any locker room, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what he’ll do in 2017. We’ll say this: a return to the slot would greatly benefit him.
Anquan Boldinjust missed the top 15 and I don’t necessarily feel great about it. Brian Quickalso missed the cut and it was a toss-up between him and Cruz for that last spot.
Anthony Fasano finds himself ranked higher than some bigger names due to his blocking ability. PFF gave Fasano an 88.1 score for run blocking, which was the best of any tight end last year. His 72.9 pass blocking score was fourth-best among TEs. The Titans will make a real effort to keep him.
Andrew Whitworth spent some time at guard last season but his best (and most profitable) position is on the outside. He’s 35, so he won’t lead all FA tackles in total money this year despite being our top-ranked free at the position.
Russell Okung was thrust into the free agent market in February when the Broncos declined his option. This time around, it will be interesting to see whether he hires an agent. His previous deal was effectively a one-year pact with a club option for a four-year, $48MM deal with $20.5MM in guaranteed cash. After a so-so year, the Broncos wisely turned it down.
Austin Pasztor is listed as a tackle here, though it’s quite possible he reverts to the interior line in 2017. Mike Adams, a former second-round pick, makes the cut for his natural talent, even though he hasn’t shown much at the professional level. Will Beatty also found his way to the Top 15, but his market will be capped after two injury-ridden years.
Honorable mention: D.J. Fluker, A.Q. Shipley (C), Brian Schwenke (C)
Kevin Zeitler was the only offensive lineman to crack our Top 50 Free Agents list last week. Zeitler, 27 in March, was PFF’s No. 7 ranked guard in the NFL this year. After three consecutive strong seasons, he is going to get big bucks.
J.C. Tretter graded out as a top 10 center last year, according to PFF, and he just turned 26. Stefen Wisniewski offers experience at both guard and center and there should be at least a few teams looking at him as a potential starter.
Dan Skuta faced a misdemeanor battery charge after a June 19 arrest, but the Jaguars linebacker saw his case dismissed once the prosecution declined to pursue charges, according to an ESPN.com report. The 30-year-old Skuta was accused of pushing a woman’s face into a glass window, an allegation he denied. However, Assistant State Attorney Natalie Lord categorized the case as one “not suitable for prosecution.”
Skuta’s lawyers wrote the eighth-year defender didn’t receive special consideration in this matter.
Here’s more from north Florida’s NFL franchise.
Not determined to be impaired after driving a car into a retention pond earlier this month, Denard Robinson received a citation for careless driving, Joe Daraskevich of the Florida Times-Union reports. The officer issuing the citation was the same one who determined the Jaguars running back was not impaired, writes Daraskevich, who notes Robinson accepted the citation. An investigation into the police officers’ conduct on the morning of July 3, when Robinson and a female companion were found asleep in a car that was drifting into a pond, remains ongoing, however.
Ryan Davis joins Skuta, Myles Jack, Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny as linebackers who are essentially locks to make the 53-man roster, Ryan O’Halloran of the Times-Union writes. The fifth-year performer signed the second-round tender ($2.55MM) the Jaguars placed on him this offseason as an RFA. Jacksonville moved him to linebacker this offseason after he previously functioned as a defensive end. Davis, who has registered 11 career sacks, is expected to back up Skuta on the strong side. It’s an interesting move for Davis, who has dropped weight this offseason, since the 27-year-old ex-UDFA has experience lining up as a defensive tackle in sub packages for the Jags. Although Davis is still expected to play some defensive end, the team is expected to deploy a healthy Dante Fowler Jr., adding to a deeper defensive front.
The Jags paid Malik Jackson a lot of money to serve as their primary interior pass-rushing threat, and both Tania Ganguli and Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com rate the former Broncos versatile lineman is the AFC South’s top newcomer. Jackson’s experience as a 4-3 defensive tackle in 2013 will serve him well in his expected role in Jacksonville. He moved to the 4-3 defensive end spot in 2014 with the Broncos and saw his stock rise exponentially as a 3-4 end in Wade Phillips‘ scheme last season.
How far have the Jaguars come this offseason? Have they done enough to challenge the Texans or Colts for a division title? Check out PFR’s Jaguars Offseason in Review.
In his sixth NFL season, safety Kurt Coleman enjoyed something of a career renaissance with the Panthers, starting 15 games while posting seven interceptions, good for second in the NFL. With Josh Norman and Roman Harper no longer around, Coleman will be counted on to act as a veteran leader in Carolina’s secondary, and though he’s entering the final year of his contract, he’s not worried about inking a new deal.
“I respect everyone that’s involved in the process and I’m trusting that both sides are going to do what’s right and what’s fair,” Coleman told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “Honestly, it’s out of my hands. My job isn’t to negotiate. I probably wouldn’t be that good at it. My personal feelings might get (involved). I just control what I can control.”
After driving into a retention pond and preceding to fall asleep Sunday morning, Jaguars running back Denard Robinson was — somewhat surprisingly — determined to not be impaired while at the wheel, as Joe Daraskevich of the Florida Times-Union reported. Robinson and a passenger were apparently both found asleep at around 4:20am on Sunday, and each reportedly dismissed an officer’s attempt to remove them from the car. “I should not have been driving that late or when I was that tired, but again, I’m just glad that everyone was safe,” Robinson said in part.
While Andrew Luck‘s new contract set a new NFL record in terms of average annual value, manyobservers were surprised that the Colts quarterback didn’t receive more (in either guarantees or yearly salary). Personally, I count myself among those that believe that Luck could have held out for a larger payday, but former agent Joel Corry (now a CBSSports.com contributor) has a different take. “I’m surprised that so many people seem so underwhelmed by the deal, because it did establish new benchmarks and certain parameters,” Corry told Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, pointing to Luck’s cash flow and effective guarantees as positives in the contract.