November 9th, 2020 at 2:22pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Christian McCaffrey finally made his highly anticipated return from his ankle injury yesterday against the Chiefs, but unfortunately the Panthers superstar picked up another minor ailment toward the end of the game. McCaffrey hurt his shoulder on the final drive of the game, and head coach Matt Rhule is labeling him day to day moving forward. But McCaffrey is apparently in a great deal of pain and his status for this Sunday’s game against the Bucs is “very much in doubt,” reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video link). It doesn’t sound like anything long-term, but this could once again become Mike Davis‘ backfield, at least for this weekend.
Here are more health updates from around the league:
The Jaguars nearly picked up an upset win over the Texans in Jake Luton‘s NFL debut, and he’ll get another crack at it in Week 10. Head coach Doug Marrone told the media that Gardner Minshew is unlikely to be available this weekend due to his thumb injury, and that Luton will likely start once again. Luton had a pretty impressive debut for a sixth-round rookie, passing for 304 yards and a touchdown with an interception while coming very close to leading a comeback. It’s no guarantee Minshew gets his job back even when he’s healthy.
Speaking of the Jaguars, they at least did get some good news back on rookie receiver Laviska Shenault. Shenault left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury and was ruled out, but Rapoport tweets that he received good news from his MRI, and a source told him Shenault has a good chance to play this week against the Packers. The 42nd overall pick of April’s draft has been a consistent contributor, with at least three catches in every game that he’s finished.
The Cowboys on the other hand weren’t quite as fortunate. Rookie center Tyler Biadasz hurt his hamstring during pregame warmups, and EVP Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan this morning that he’ll be out 2-3 weeks with the injury. It’s another brutal blow to a Dallas offensive line that has been decimated by injuries. The fourth-round pick from Wisconsin had been the Cowboys’ center for the past 5.5 games. Joe Looney started the first few games, and he’ll now get his starting job back for the time being.
Colts tight end Jack Doyle is in the concussion protocol and likely won’t be able to be cleared in time for Indy’s Thursday Night Football AFC South showdown with the Titans, head coach Frank Reich announced Monday. Doyle had touchdowns in back to back weeks before going down on Sunday, and his absence will limit Indy’s ability to run the multi-tight end sets they like so much with Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton.
Thrust back into the role of the Colts’ top tight end, Jack Doyle now has another long-term contract. The Colts and Doyle agreed on a three-year extension Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
The deal is worth $21.3MM in new money and could spike to $29.1MM through incentives, Mike Chappell of CBS4 tweets. This marks another nice payday for the career-long Colt who now has a bigger role since the team placed Eric Ebron on IR. This marks a second Colts re-up for the Indianapolis native; Doyle’s three-year, $18.9MM deal was set to expire at season’s end.
While the pay bump is not much compared to what Doyle’s previous number was, it keeps the 29-year-old weapon tied to the Colts through the 2022 season. Considering Ebron may be set to walk in free agency, after a strange end to his season, the Colts did not waste much time in ensuring some continuity at tight end.
A former UDFA out of Western Kentucky arrived in Indianapolis in 2013, during the three-year stretch of Andrew Luck-led playoff berths, but played behind Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen for three seasons. Doyle emerged in his contract year, 2016, with a 584-yard, five-touchdown performance and made the 2017 Pro Bowl with a career-best 690 yards.
After Doyle suffered a season-ending injury in 2018, Ebron broke Dallas Clark‘s Colts record for touchdowns by a tight end. But Ebron did not come especially close to matching that production this year. Doyle is again the Colts’ top tight end target and will be pivotal to the fringe AFC contender’s playoff chances.
JackDoyle had a breakout season in 2017, earning a Pro Bowl nod along the way. Unfortunately, the Colts tight end couldn’t build off that campaign, as he struggled with injuries throughout 2018.
After appearing in the first two games of the season, Doyle missed the next five with a hip injury. The tight end made it back to the field for four games in October and November, but his season came to an end after he suffered a lacerated kidney. The 29-year-old ultimately finished the year having hauled in 26 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns in six games.
While Doyle was capable of running routes during the Colts offseason camp, he cautioned that he’s not targeting any specific return date.
“I really am trying to take it one day at a time, not rushing anything,” Doyle told Heather Bremer of The Herald Bulletin. “But I’m happy with where I’m at and happy with the progress I’ve made. It’s definitely going in the right direction, and when it’s time to get back out there, I’ll be excited to be back out there. I promise you that.”
While Doyle may not be ready for the start of training camp, that won’t stop offensive coordinator NickSirianni from gushing about the depth at tight end. Doyle will be joining EricEbron, who finished last season with a career-high 13 touchdowns. The team is also rostering Mo Alie-Cox, who showed some flashes last year.
“It’s exciting to know that he is making a full recovery from his hip, from his kidney and we are going to have the Jack Doyle that we had at the start last year,” Sirianni said.
February 27th, 2019 at 6:19pm CST by Zachary Links
The Colts will likely be without tight end Jack Doyle for the bulk of the offseason, GM Chris Ballard told reporters on Wednesday. Doyle, of course, missed significant time in the 2018 season thanks to a hip injury and finished out the year on IR thanks to a kidney injury that required surgery.
In six games last year, Doyle caught 26 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Eric Ebron picked up the slack with 66 grabs for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Colts hope to have both players in the mix in two tight end sets, but if Doyle misses time, they have a deep TE unit to draw from including the recently re-signedRoss Travis and former basketball player Mo Alie-Cox.
Here’s more from Indy:
The Colts want to re-sign safety Clayton Geathers, GM Chris Ballard says (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of FOX 59). Geathers, 27 in June, amassed 89 tackles and three passes defensed as the Colts’ starting strong safety. However, he missed four games and earned a so-so 67.4 score from Pro Football Focus, positioning him as just the 51st best overall safety in the NFL.
Geathers, cornerback Pierre Desir, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman will be allowed to test the market in March, even though there is interest in bringing each player back, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter) hears. Holder adds that safety Matthias Farley will likely be tendered and should return to the squad in 2019.
The Colts are still exploring backup quarterbacks and those conversations almost led them to signing Calgary Stampeders QB Bo Levi Mitchell recently, Holder hears (Twitter link). Still, Holder does not expect those conversations to have any direct impact on Jacoby Brissett‘s status for the coming year. The Colts say they’re not shopping Brissett, but if they do, they should find a decent market for his services.
The surging Colts are likely to see a key cog in their offense head to injured reserve. Jack Doyle suffered an injury Sunday that will send him to IR, Stephen Holder of The Athletic reports (subscription required).
It’s a kidney injury, Frank Reich said (via Mike Chappell of Fox 59). Reich said Doyle was hospitalized because of this ailment and underwent a procedure.
Teaming with touchdown maven Eric Ebron, Doyle caught one of Andrew Luck‘s TD passes Sunday — Indianapolis’ fifth straight win — but appears set to see his season end early. Doyle missed five games earlier this season because of a hip injury but had returned to play in the Colts’ past three contests.
Indianapolis was down to just Ebron and Doyle on Sunday, with Erik Swoope, Mo Alie-Cox and Ryan Hewitt out. The Colts are likely to consider adding a reinforcement at this position, Holder notes.
Colts tight ends have caught 18 of Luck’s 32 touchdown passes this season. Though Ebron’s 11 TD grabs comprise much of that total, Doyle scored twice in limited action.
Swoope and Alie-Cox’s five combined scores make them potentially promising fill-ins, but their injuries complicate matters. An 80-reception, 690-yard season sent Doyle to the Pro Bowl last year. He’s signed through 2019 but has no guaranteed money remaining on a three-year, $18.9MM deal.
October 19th, 2018 at 9:36pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The final injury reports for Week 7 came out earlier today, and there was a lot of news. Lots of key players will be missing their team’s games, while others will be returning after extended absence. One notable rule-out was the Patriots declaring that starting right tackle Marcus Cannon would miss their game against the Bears. It’s a big loss for New England, especially in a week where they have to go up against Khalil Mack. Mack will now be lining up across from a backup tackle, and could end up making life miserable for Tom Brady.
Here are more injury updates from around the league:
The Colts have been the most injured team in recent memory the past few weeks, but are finally getting some good news. Star receiver T.Y. Hilton has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury, but is ready to make his return this week. Unfortunately for Indianapolis, they’ll still be without tight end Jack Doyle and receiver Ryan Grant as well as several key contributors on defense like safety Clayton Geathers and defensive tackle Denico Autry.
The Lions will be without running back Theo Riddick, who went down during the team’s win over the Packers. Riddick has been operating as the Lions’ third down back, and rookie Kerryon Johnson should get more run with him out of the way. On the bright side, the team looks like it could be getting back pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah, who hasn’t played since Detroit’s Week 1 loss. Ansah is listed as questionable but practiced all three days this week.
September 21st, 2018 at 9:41pm CST by Andrew Ortenberg
Marcus Mariota‘s injury remains a mystery. It hasn’t been disclosed exactly what he’s dealing with although it has reportedly caused him to lose some feeling in his hand. Blaine Gabbert started, and won, for the Titans last week, and it’s possible he’s asked to do so again this week against the Jaguars.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters that he would make the decision between Gabbert and Mariota within the next “24 hours” and that he would let them know then according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website (Twitter link). If Mariota can’t go it would be a huge blow for Tennessee against the league’s top defense. One thing that could make their matchup a bit easier is that Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, although it’s unclear if he’s in any danger of missing the game.
Here’s more injury updates from around the league:
The Falcons just can’t seem to catch a break. It was already known they’d be without Devonta Freeman and several other starters, but it was announced today that they’d also be without talented pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is currently dealing with a groin injury.
The Colts will be quite shorthanded for their trip to Philadelphia as the team ruled out tight end Jack Doyle, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Denico Autry, and right tackle Anthony Castonzo. Doyle’s injury is a big blow, as he formed an effective tight end duo with Eric Ebron through the first two games.
The Eagles will also be significantly shorthanded on offense, with their backfield being particularly banged up. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles have been ruled out, while Corey Clement is questionable. If Clement isn’t able to go, the running back situation would be dire. Alshon Jeffery is questionable, but reporters have written that he’s very unlikely to play.
The Colts injury bug hits again. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reports (via Twitter) that offensive guard Jack Mewhort is headed to the injured reserve. The lineman’s knee swelled up yesterday, and a subsequent MRI revealed that he needed surgery.
Mewhort, 26, has started each of his 45 NFL games since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2014. This isn’t the first time the lineman has experienced knee issues. After suffering an injury during the 2016 preseason, Mewhort missed the first few weeks of the regular season. He went on to play in 10 games for the Colts, but his campaign ultimately ended on the IR.
This is yet another blow to a Colts offensive line that has allowed 18 total sacks this season. The team has previously lost Denzelle GoodandDeyshawn Bond, although neither of those players were as essential as Mewhort. While Pro Football Focus wasn’t particularly fond of his performance in 2017 (he only ranks 48th among 72 eligible guards), he was rated much higher in previous seasons. With Mewhort done for the season, one of Le’Raven Clark, Mike Person, or Kyle Kalis could be promoted to the starting lineup.
Fortunately, there is some good news for the Colts. ESPN’s Mike Wells tweets that tight end Jack Doyle has cleared the concussion protocol and will play on Monday night. The 27-year-old missed last week’s game against the 49ers.
Updates on the contracts signed over the past couple of days, mostly via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle…
Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston‘s contract includes $13.5MM in guaranteed money, as well as a guaranteed base salary of $3MM for the 2017 season (via Twitter). The 25-year-old’s $6.5MM 2018 salary becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2017 league year.
Defensive tackle Khyri Thornton‘s deal with the Lions is worth $3.3MM with a $325K bonus (Twitter). Thornton will make $700K in 2017, followed by a $1.325MM salary in 2018. He can earn another $12.5K via annual per game active roster bonus, as well as $225K via a weight bonus.
Punter Britton Colquitt‘s new deal with the Browns is worth $11.2MM and $4.5MM guaranteed (via Twitter). The former fourth-rounder will earn $1.65MM in 2017, followed by salaries of $2.55MM (2018), $2.7MM (2019), and $2.8M (2020).
Colts tight end Jack Doyle will earn $18.9MM on his next contract (via Twitter). Doyle will earn a guaranteed $1MM next season, followed by a $3.5MM salary in 2018 (guaranteed fifth day of league year) and $5.15MM salary in 2019. The tight end will also earn a $6.5MM roster bonus on March 10th.
Fullback James Develin earned a $2.45MM contract from the Patriots along with a $300K signing bonus, reports Wilson (Twitter). Develin will earn $800K each year, with a guaranteed $200K base salary for 2017. He can earn another $12.5K via a per-game active annual roster bonus.
ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets that tight end Vernon Davis will receive $15MM ($7.5MM guaranteed) from the Redskins. The veteran will make $6MM in the first year of the three-year deal.
Punter Shane Lechler‘s new deal with the Texans is for one-year and $2MM ($1MM guaranteed), reports Caplan (via Twitter).
It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.
The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.
Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.
With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:
1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM. Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.
2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal. Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.
3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close. Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.
4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible. Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM.
5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price. Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.
6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact. Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.
7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago. Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.
8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week. Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.
9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month. Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.
10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here. Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.
11. Tony Jefferson, S (Cardinals): The numbers at Pro Football Focus placed Jefferson slightly ahead of Eric Berry in 2016. He’s also a full three years younger than the KC star. The Cardinals want to keep Jefferson, but they expect to lose him. The Buccaneers, Redskins, Titans, and Panthers could all be in the mix for Jefferson. Now that Berry is off the market, I expect Jefferson to command $10MM per season on a multi-year deal – maybe more. Signed with Ravens for four years, $36MM.
12. Duron Harmon, S (Patriots): Surprised to see Harmon so close to fellow safety Tony Jefferson on this list? Don’t be. Free safety is where the money is at and Harmon figures to get make more than any of us anticipated six months ago. Like Ryan, Harmon is also just 26. The Patriots would presumably like to keep Harmon. If they don’t, teams like the Lions, Steelers, and Chargers could be in the mix. Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $17MM.
13. Mike Glennon, QB (Buccaneers): I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that players are ranked here based on projected earnings, not ability. As of this writing, Glennon is the best QB in this year’s free agent class and he could get a deal that pays roughly $15MM/year (the guarantee amount, however, will be the thing to watch). The Bears are apparently very, very high on the 6’7″ QB. The 49ers, who were previously linked to him, will not be in pursuit. Signed with Bears for three years, $45MM.
14. T.J. Lang, G (Packers): In 2016, Lang earned a strong 87.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus (8th amongst guards), including a 92.9 score for pass blocking (2nd). Lang, who turns 30 in September, also spent some time at tackle early in his career and could be moved around the line in a pinch. Signed with the Lions for three years, $29MM.
15. Brandon Williams, DT (Ravens): The Ravens are prioritizing a new deal for Williams this offseason, but if they don’t re-sign him, the Dolphins could be among the teams in pursuit. Williams doesn’t fill up a stat sheet, but he is an effective run-stuffer with age on his side. At 28, teams won’t be hesitant about making a multi-year commitment. Re-signed with Ravens for five years, $52.5MM.
16. Kenny Britt, WR (Rams): Britt managed to turn in his first career 1,000+ yard season despite playing in the NFL’s worst offense. He could match or even best Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson when it comes to average annual value and his age could lead to a longer deal. The Giants could bring the Rutgers product back to New Jersey to fill Victor Cruz‘s spot and take attention away from Odell Beckham Jr., but we’re expecting them to put their resources in other areas. The 49ers and Cowboys are both said to have their eyes on Britt. San Francisco is flush with cap space, but Dallas will have to do some maneuvering to make that deal work. Signed with Browns for four years, $32.5MM.
17. Dontari Poe, DT (Chiefs): Poe is a bit inconsistent, but when he’s on it’s a clear reminder of why the Chiefs made him the No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Memphis product boasts two Pro Bowl selections and his athleticism may allow him to occasionally play a bit on the outside. If he leaves KC, the Raiders, Texans, Colts, and Packers (if they’re finally serious about spending in free agency) would all make sense for him. Signed with Falcons for one year, $8MM.
18. Nick Perry, DE (Packers): After this year’s premier edge defenders were franchised, Perry stands as the best defensive end available. In just 14 games (12 starts), the former first-round pick amassed 11 sacks. Teams employing a 3-4 scheme will be especially interested in his services. Re-signed with Packers for five years, $60MM.
19. Johnathan Hankins, DT (Giants): Hankins has youth on his side as he won’t turn 25 until late March. He also played a hand in the Giants’ strong run defense last year – as a team, they allowed just 88.6 yards on the ground per game. On the flipside, the advanced metrics indicate that Hankins wasn’t all that great last year. Signed with Colts for three years, $27MM.
20. Martellus Bennett, TE (Patriots): Rob Gronkowski‘s injury woes were unfortunate, but the Patriots barely missed a beat thanks to Bennett. Recently, Bennett gloated about Super Bowl winners getting overpaid and he’s not wrong – the shine of a championship ring tends to illuminate free agents. Still, Bennett shouldn’t sell himself short: he’s a big, bruising tight end who can be a major factor in the red zone, as evidenced by his seven touchdowns last season. Signed with the Packers for three years, $21MM.
21. Larry Warford, G (Lions): The knock on Warford when he was coming out of Kentucky was that he might not be able to make it at the next level due to his lack of agility and athleticism. Today, he’s not the quickest guard in the NFL, but he’s unquestionably starting caliber. Warford has never missed more than three games in one NFL season and he’s just entering his age-26 season. Signed with Saints for four years, $37MM.
22. Kevin Minter, LB (Cardinals): The Cardinals have lots of free agents to address this offseason and that could lead to the 26-year-old Minter going elsewhere. Last year, he racked up 81 total tackles and 3.5 sacks in 16 games. Signed with Bengals for one year, $4.25MM.
23. Andrew Whitworth, OT (Bengals): Whitworth is a stud, but his earning power is capped by his age (he’ll celebrate his 36th birthday in December). Last year, PFF rated him as the second-best tackle in the entire NFL and he’s been a Top 5/Top 10 guy for the last five years in a row. It should also be noted that he has been remarkably durable throughout his career, missing only two games since 2009. Signed with Rams for three years, $36MM.
24. Pierre Garcon, WR (Redskins): Garcon is a solid possession receiver, a label that he personally rejects. We understand where he’s coming from. This year, the Redskins had the veteran running deeper routes than he has in the past and he showed that he could stretch the field a bit, even though he wasn’t the fastest guy on the WR depth chart. He didn’t approach his gaudy 2013 numbers, but he still turned in a respectable stat line of 79 catches for 1,041 yards. His 69.1% catch rate was a career-high. Signed with 49ers for two years, $23MM.
25. Zach Brown, LB (Bills): Finally, Brown lived up to his second-round draft status in 2016. After settling for a cheap one-year deal last year, Brown should do a lot better this time around. Signed with Redskins for one year, $2.25MM.
26. DeSean Jackson, WR (Redskins): Jackson is on the wrong side of 30 and, typically, blazing speed does not age well. Still, he’s one of the game’s best deep threats and we can’t help but think that the Eagles could overspend to bring this fan favorite home. If that doesn’t come to fruition, don’t be surprised if he winds up with the Bucs. Signed with Buccaneers for three years, $33.5MM.
27. Chris Baker, DT (Redskins): Baker is well-rounded and can be used on both the interior and outside of the defensive line. The Redskins have been leaning on him more each year and he has thrived with the increased responsibilities. Signed with Buccaneers for three years, $15.75MM.
28. Prince Amukamara, CB (Jaguars): After being slowed by injuries in New York, Amukamara managed to stay on the field for most of the season in Jacksonville. He probably won’t blossom into a shutdown corner this late in the game, but the former first-round pick would make a fine CB2 somewhere. Signed with Bears for one year, $7MM.
29. Jabaal Sheard, DL (Patriots): Sheard saw his playing time reduced in the middle of the season and was even a healthy scratch for one game in November. Despite that bump in the road, the 27-year-old (28 in May) still managed to finish out the year with five sacks and 33 total tackles. Teams may have some questions about Sheard’s effort and/or conditioning after he wound up in Belichick’s doghouse. His stock could be affected if the Patriots don’t make a genuine effort to re-sign him. The Falcons could use him to fortify their front seven and he’ll be cheaper than a lot of the other defensive linemen out there. The rival Saints may also come calling. Signed with Colts for three years, $25.5MM.
30. Jonathan Cyprien, S (Jaguars): Jacksonville fans are often frustrated with Cyprien, but he’s coming off of a career year and he appears to have put many of his bad habits behind him. He finished out 2016 with 126 total tackles, one sack, and four pass deflections. PFF’s 87.8 overall grade was the best of his career and placed him No. 7 among safeties, just ahead of Berry. Signed with Titans for four years, $25MM.
31. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB (Bengals): We’re still waiting for Kirkpatrick to live up to his first-round billing. Personally, I wouldn’t commit serious money to Kirkpatrick on a long-term deal, but another club desperate for cornerback help might. The Steelers have some level of interest in Kirkpatrick after watching him up close for multiple years. As disappointing as he has been, something in the $8MM/year range cannot be ruled out. Re-signed with Bengals for five years, $52.5MM.
32. Ronald Leary, G (Cowboys): Leary has no interest in a reserve role and he’ll get the full-time starting job he craves this spring. Teams in need of a strong run-blocking guard will be all over him. Signed with Broncos for four years, $35MM.
33. J.C. Tretter, C (Packers): In an admittedly small sample last year, PFF rated Tretter as the ninth-best center in the NFL last season. Despite playing in only six games before his season-ending injury, Tretter should outearn every other center thanks in large part to his youth. The former fourth-round pick just recently turned 26. Signed with Browns for three years, $16.75MM.
34. Barry Church, S (Cowboys): Church isn’t a megastar, but he is a well-rounded strong safety who should draw plenty of interest. Berry re-signing with the Chiefs should cause a domino effect that enhances his market. Signed with Jaguars for four years, $21.6MM.
35. Adrian Peterson, RB (Vikings): As expected, the Vikings will decline Peterson’s hefty option for the 2017 season. A return to Minnesota is still possible and contenders like the Giants and Raiders will also be making a strong push to add AD to their backfield. Still, given his injury history, it’s hard to see Peterson getting a lucrative multi-year deal on the cusp of his 32nd birthday, hence his ranking this far down on the list. We have him as our top running back in the Top 50 because he should still score a fat one-year contract. The Giants and Raiders have both been linked to Peterson. The Packers could come into play if they lose their No. 1 RB this week. Signed with Saints for two years, $7MM.
36. Riley Reiff, OT (Lions): Personally, I prefer Russell Okung and Kelvin Beachum to Reiff, but I anticipate Reiff getting more money than both. He’s younger than Okung and coming off of a much better year than Beachum. Signed with Vikings for five years, $58.75MM.
37. Brandon Marshall, WR (Jets): The Jets dropped Marshall earlier this month, at his request. He didn’t do much last season, but neither did anyone else on the Jets. He could really wind up torturing Jets fans if he winds up with the Giants or Patriots as rumored. The Ravens love big-name aging receivers, so they would also be a natural fit for him. Signed with Giants for two years, $12MM.
38. Eddie Lacy, RB (Packers): Lacy’s weight issues are well documented but when he’s on, he’s on. Before his unfortunate injury this past fall, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry. Signed with Seahawks for one year, $4.25MM.
39. T.J. McDonald, S (Rams): I’m not as high on him as others, but he’s young and can knock receivers into next week. Signed with Dolphins for one year, $775K.
40. Morris Claiborne, CB (Cowboys): After multiple disappointing seasons, Claiborne broke out in his contract year. Then, his campaign ended after seven games. Will teams take the glass-half-full view of the former No. 6 overall pick? We believe they will, but there’s also a good crop of defensive backs in this year’s draft. Signed with Jets for one year, $5MM.
41. John Simon, LB/DE (Texans): J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus get the attention in Houston, but Simon is a quality edge rusher in his own right. This spring, the 26-year-old could go from supersub to starter with a significant pay bump. Signed with Colts for three years, $13.5MM.
42. Micah Hyde, S (Packers): Hyde, who just turned 26 in December, offers versatility and can be slotted anywhere in the secondary. In that respect, you might be thinking that he’s Darius Butler-lite. Many will prefer Butler as a player for the here and now, but Hyde could get more years and dollars thanks to the age gap. Signed with Bills for five years, $30MM.
43. Russell Okung, OT (Broncos): Last year, Okung went into free agency without an agent. That decision bit him in the behind after he turned in a so-so year and the Broncos turned down his pricey multi-year option. This time around, I hope he doesn’t cheap out and hires proper representation. Regardless, his market will be a lot softer than it was in 2016. Signed with Chargers for four years, $53MM.
44. Latavius Murray, RB (Raiders): He’s not the most explosive runner out there, but he’s a quality option for teams in need. Here’s an interesting scenario based on what we’ve been hearing: Murray could land with the Vikings while Peterson joins up with Oakland. Signed with Vikings for three years, $15MM.
45. Kayvon Webster, CB (Broncos): Webster wants more playing time and he’s not going to get that opportunity in Denver. He will almost certainly go elsewhere and I see him getting a solid payday based on his age (just turned 26), athleticism, and special teams ability. Signed with Rams for two years, $8MM.
46. Perry Riley, LB (Raiders): After he was a cap casualty of the Redskins last year, Riley quietly had a bounce-back year in Oakland.
47. Jack Doyle, TE (Colts): Every time we hear an update on Doyle, his projected salary keeps on rising. If the Patriots let Bennett leave, as expected, it’s possible they could look at Doyle as a new safety net for Gronk. Re-signed with Colts for three years, $19MM.
48. Darius Butler, DB (Colts): His ability to play multiple positions will work in his favor. Here’s a thought: if the Packers lose Hyde, they could make a play for Butler. He’ll be cheaper than Hyde due to the age gap and he’s arguably the better player for 2017. Re-signed with Colts for one year, $3MM.
49. Ryan Clady, OT (Jets): Lots of injury concerns, but also lots of potential.