Deonte Thompson

Bills, Broncos, Cowboys Interested In WR Deonte Thompson

Despite being released by a team that possessed arguably the NFL’s worst wideout situation last season, Deonte Thompson is encountering a market for his services. And he’s fielded multiple offers, Mike Garafolo of tweets.

The former Bears castoff became a key target for the Bills upon signing with Buffalo in October. And the Bills have had discussions with the seventh-year wideout about re-signing him. However, they may be battling some competition. Both the Broncos and Cowboys are interested in the 29-year-old receiver, Garafolo reports.

It’s unclear if the Cowboys or Broncos have made an offer. The Broncos appear to have a bigger need of auxiliary receiving help, though.

Denver has struggled badly in this area since Wes Welker‘s departure, with no non-Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders wideout surpassing 350 yards in any of the past three seasons. The Broncos non-tendered then-RFA Bennie Fowler, whose 350 yards were by far the most by a Denver WR3 from 2015-17, this week and saw underwhelming supplementary target Cody Latimer become a free agent.

The Cowboys have not made any Dez Bryant move and also have Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer on their roster. Barring a Bryant decision, Dallas would seemingly have less need for Thompson than the Broncos or Bills, who saw Jordan Matthews‘ contract expire. Buffalo still has Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones and Andre Holmes under contract for 2018.

Thompson caught 38 passes for 555 yards with the Bears and Bills last season — by far a career high — and 430 of those air yards came after he caught on in Buffalo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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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Minor NFL Transactions: 10/17/17

Today’s minor moves:

Buffalo Bills

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

NFL Workout Updates: 10/16/17

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Detroit Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/11/17

Today’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Houston Texans

Bears Host RB Benny Cunningham

The Bears are meeting with free agent running back Benny Cunningham on Tuesday, tweets Jason La Canfora of, and have also re-signed wide receiver Deonte Thompson, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).Benny Cunningham (Vertical)

Given that clear-cut starter Jordan Howard is backed up by both Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey in Chicago, Cunningham would take on a purely special teams role with the Bears. The 26-year-old Cunningham didn’t play much on offense in 2016, anyway, as he managed only 21 carries for the Rams. His role as a returner, though, was far more clear.

On 22 kick returns, Cunningham ranked third in the NFL with 27.2 yards per return. Thompson, meanwhile, was Chicago’s kick returner last season, but only averaged 23 yards per return. The Bears lost 1.1 yards of field position on kick returns in 2016, according to Football Outsiders, so adding Cunningham could theoretically offer an improvement over Thompson.

Thompson is now under contract, however, which could lead the Bears to rethink a Cunningham acquisition. In contrast to Cunningham, Thompson played a bit of an offensive role last year, as he reeled in 22 of 36 targets for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FA Rumors: Dolphins, Broncos, Hillman, Bills

The Dolphins haven’t been linked to cornerback Leon Hall since the league year opened, despite the fact that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph coached Hall in Cincinnati. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald explains that Hall’s asking price has precluded the Dolphins from getting involved so far, but if that price tag eventually comes down, the veteran corner should see his market heat up, and Miami could get involved.

Here are a few more free agency updates from around the NFL:

  • The Broncos have reached out and expressed interest in bringing back free agent running back Ronnie Hillman, writes Mike Klis of 9NEWS. However, according to Klis, Denver is one of a few teams showing interest, and Hillman’s other suitors have more cap room than the Broncos.
  • The Bills continue to weigh their options on defense, bringing in a pair of defensive free agents for visits today. The club announced (via Twitter) that linebacker Zach Brown and defensive back Corey White arrived at One Bills Drive on Monday morning to meet with the team. Brown, who started 33 games for the Titans over the last four years and had 77 tackles in 2015, is one of the more intriguing free agents still available.
  • Tim Lelito, who received a low-end RFA tender from the Saints, garnered some interest from the Cowboys but opted not to sign an offer sheet with Dallas and sounds prepared to return to New Orleans for 2016, as Lyons Yellin of WWL outlines. Lelito technically remains a free agent until he formally signs his one-year, $1.671MM RFA tender.
  • Veteran guard Chris Chester, who underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, likely won’t be ready to go until sometime in June, which is why he remains unsigned, per Adam Caplan of (Twitter links). The free agent lineman, who spent last season in Atlanta, has a decent chance to start somewhere once he eventually gets healthy and signs.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune provides the details on a handful of recently-signed Bears contracts, reporting that offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, linebacker Sam Acho, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, and safety Chris Prosinski all received one-year, minimum salary benefit deals, with $80K signing bonuses.

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/24/16

Here are today’s minor roster moves from around the NFL:

  • Bills offensive lineman Jordan Mills has inked his low-round tender, according to Rand Getlin of (on Twitter). Mills will earn $1.671MM for 2016.

Earlier Updates:

  • Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson has re-signed with the Bengals, according to his representatives at Element Sports Group (Twitter link). Thompson, who visited the Seahawks earlier in free agency, figures to join Pat Sims in a rotational role behind starting defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. Rand Getlin of the NFL Network tweets that it’s a one-year deal, while Ian Rapoport of suggests (via Twitter) that there will be playing-time bonuses or incentives for Thompson, who tore his ACL near the end of the 2015 season.
  • The Bears have re-signed receiver and return man Deonte Thompson on a one-year contract, the club announced today (via Twitter). Thompson, who didn’t play much of a role on Chicago’s offense last season, did post an impressive 29.2 yard average on kickoff returns, though he got just 14 attempts.
  • Ravens tight end Chase Ford has signed his restricted free agent tender, officially taking him off the market, the team announced today (via Twitter). Baltimore signed Ford off the Vikings’ practice squad last year, but placed him on IR with a season-ending shoulder injury shortly thereafter. He got the low-end RFA tender, worth $1.671MM.
  • The Seahawks have released snapper Andrew East, as Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times tweets.

FA Rumors: Dunbar, Bears, Givens, Bills

Free agent running back Lance Dunbar is continuing his NFC tour today, according to Adam Schefter of, who tweets that Dunbar is visiting the Bears. The veteran back, who has spent his first four seasons in Dallas, has also paid visits to the Seahawks and 49ers since free agency began.

Dunbar, 26, was on the verge of becoming a legit weapon out of the backfield for the Cowboys last season, racking up 21 receptions in just three full games, including 10 catches for 100 yards in Week 3 against the Falcons. However, in his fourth game, Dunbar suffered a torn ACL that sidelined him for the remainder of the season. While his upside will appeal to teams seeking a receiving option at running back, Dunbar will have to convince those clubs that he’ll be back to full health for the 2016 season.

Here’s more on free agency from around the NFL:

  • After visiting the Jets on Tuesday, wide receiver Chris Givens is meeting with the Eagles today, according to Schefter (via Twitter). Givens, who was traded from the Rams to the Ravens last October, was targeted 53 times in Baltimore, but only hauled in 19 of them for 346 yards and a touchdown.
  • In addition to confirming a pair of previously-reported visits, the Bills also announced today (via Twitter) that they’re hosting tight end Jim Dray for a Wednesday visit, and brought in wide receiver Deonte Thompson on Tuesday.
  • The Seahawks hosted free agent guard Amini Silatolu for a visit on Tuesday, tweets Adam Caplan of former-second pick, who also met with the Cardinals, hasn’t been a full-time starter since his rookie season in 2012, but he’s only 26 years old and could appeal to a Seattle team that doesn’t seem interested in spending a ton on its offensive line.
  • Free agent linebacker Sean Spence, having already visited the Dolphins and Jaguars, is meeting with the Titans on Wednesday, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of (Twitter link). A third-round pick in 2012, Spence was limited to just 31 games during his four years with the Steelers due to injuries.
  • The Jets and Texans are both making an effort to sign free agent safety Antonio Allen, tweets Newsday’s Kimberley Martin. Allen, who visited Houston this week, missed the entire 2015 campaign with an Achilles injury.

RFA Tender Decisions: 3/9/16

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted free agents. We’ll round up those decisions here: