Jahri Evans

Packers’ Evans Wants To Continue Playing

With his 35th birthday on the horizon, Packers free agent guard Jahri Evans says that he wants to continue playing. The veteran also says he would be open to another season in Green Bay.

I’m not opposed to coming back to Green Bay,” Evans said. “I loved my last year in Green Bay. Green Bay was great. I loved the coaching staff, I loved the locker room. I loved the organization, the community. It was awesome. It was a great fit for me. My goal is, I wanted to win another Super Bowl. I still do. So that’s my focus right now. But, you know, it’s still early. We’re sitting in the first week of April right now. So it’s very early.”

Evans, 35 in August, started in all 14 of his games with the Packers last season. He turned in a strong season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 30 ranked guard with quality marks for his pass blocking. Packers coach Mike McCarthy has indicated that the door is open for Evans to return.

Jahri is definitely part of the conversation,” McCarthy said earlier this week. “I don’t know exactly where he is as far as what his goals are, but we’re open (to him returning.”

Last year, the Packers signed Evans just days before the draft. This time around, Evans is once again willing to be patient as he says he’s unlikely to sign with any team in the spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Rumors: Packers, Ebron, Vikings

Bryan Bulaga has now seen two of his past five seasons either wiped out or largely nullified by severe injuries, and the Packers‘ starting right tackle is now entering the seasons of his contract where a cap-casualty cut is not incredibly prohibitive. Yet, the ninth-year blocker is expected to return for the fourth season of said deal.

Whenever players are injured it’s tough as personnel guys who are not 100 percent sure of when they’re coming back,” Green Bay GM Brian Gutekunst said, via Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But I know that he’s been working exceptionally hard. We’ve got a lot of faith that he’s going to come back sooner rather than later, and obviously when Bryan is in there, Bryan is a good player.”

Mike McCarthy also wants Bulaga to be part of the 2018 Packers, indicating he’s heard the 29-year-old edge protector is on schedule following an ACL tear. It would only save the Packers $4.2MM to release Bulaga while tagging them with a $3.2MM dead-money penalty. That savings figure spikes to nearly $7MM in 2019, so Bulaga staying healthy will likely be paramount to him seeing the final year of that contract.

Here’s the more out of Green Bay as well as some of the Packers’ top rivals.

  • Jahri Evans remains in the picture, to some degree, for a second season with the Packers. Although, the former perennial All-Pro is going to turn 35 next season. “Jahri is definitely part of the conversation,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know exactly where he is as far as what his goals are, but we’re open (to him returning.” On the strength of his pass-blocking, Evans graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 30 guard last season. While his 71.7 grade was slightly down from his Seahawks season, Evans showed in 14 games he’s still a viable NFL starter. He didn’t sign with the Packers initially until late April of last year, so the door may still be open on that front.
  • The Lions dangled Eric Ebron up until the deadline for his fifth-year option to vest before ultimately releasing him. Bob Quinn elaborated about why the former first-round pick ended up as a free agent instead of netting the Lions a draft pick in a deal. “I guess the general response that I got was, ‘The number’s too big,'” Quinn said, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com, of Ebron’s then-$8.25MM cap figure attached to the 2018 option. “The salary that came along with the fifth-year option was something that we weighed, you know, really up until the last minute, to be honest. It was just one of those things that we knew was coming down the pike, we obviously had some trade conversations with a few teams that didn’t work out.” Ebron ended up with the Colts on a two-year, $13MM pact.
  • Not receiving any compensation for Ebron, the Lions are targeting picks via trades prior to this draft. Detroit holds just six picks. “That’s something that’ll definitely be in the talks I’d say, a week or two leading up to the draft — try to get more picks,” Quinn said, via Meinke. The Lions have a basic draft allotment, holding all their own picks save for the sixth-rounder they surrendered for Greg Robinson last year.
  • With Joe Berger and Jeremiah Sirles now out of the picture, the Vikings‘ top remaining need is on their offensive line, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Although the team signed swing blocker Tom Compton, draft help is likely en route. Rick Spielman recently attended Billy Price‘s pro day at Ohio State, and Goessling notes the team could be on the lookout for another veteran. The Vikings still have $19MM-plus in cap space.

Packers Notes: GM Search, Ball, Wolf, Evans

Now that the Packers have reassigned former general manager Ted Thompson (he’s now a senior advisor to football operations, the club announced today), Green Bay is searching for a new decision-maker atop its personnel department. Incumbent vice president of football administration Russ Ball is thought to be a candidate for the position and has a “close relationship” with Packers president Mark Murphy, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, but promoting Ball could cause other problems for Green Bay. If Ball (or an external candidate is hired), the Packers will likely lose fellow personnel men Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst to other clubs, reports Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. However, if one of Wolf or Gutenkunst is promoted to GM, the other man will likely stay in Green Bay, per Silverstein.

Here’s more on the Packers:

  • While the Packers will utilize search firm Korn Ferry as they look for a new general manager, Murphy told reporters that he will make the final call on the club’s top personnel job (Twitter links via Jason Wilde of ESPN.com). Additionally, Green Bay’s next GM will have the power to fire the team’s head coach, an interesting development given that Mike McCarthy is currently signed through 2019. Murphy said “[McCarthy] will be our coach,” an indication that the new Packers general manager will be stuck with McCarthy for at least one campaign.
  • Green Bay’s decision to extend McCarthy’s contract will allow the longtime head coach more flexibility as he seeks to fill out his staff, writes Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The most pressing decision for McCarthy will be to hire a new defensive coordinator following Dom Capers‘ firing, but the Packers will also see change on the offensive side of the ball. Luke Getsy, who’s served as Green Bay’s wide receivers coach for the past two seasons, is now Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator, per Demovsky.
  • The Packers have interest in re-signing veteran guard Jahri Evans, who will become a free agent in March, per Ryan Wood of PackersNews.com (Twitter link). Evans would likely need to accept less than the $2.25MM he earned in 2017, per Wood, and the 34-year-old offensive lineman would almost certainly ink a one-year pact. In his first season outside of New Orleans, Evans ranked as the No. 30 guard among 82 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Packers To Sign G Jahri Evans

Guard Jahri Evans is signing with the Packers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Evans will help to fill the void for Green Bay after T.J. Lang got away in free agency. Jahri Evans

In 2016, Evans was Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 ranked guard in the NFL. His 78.6 overall score was roughly in line with the work he has done over the past four NFL seasons. It took him a long time to find an NFL home, but Evans has himself a deal for 2017 and a chance to win a Super Bowl ring.

To date, Evans has never played a regular season (or playoff) game for another franchise since being drafted by the Saints in 2006. He did sign a free agent deal with the Seahawks, but his stint there ended before the start of the 2016 season. Over the course of his eleven seasons in New Orleans, Evans racked up six Pro Bowl nods and four First-Team All-Pro selections.

Heading into the draft, the Packers offensive line features David Bakhtiari, Evans, Corey Linsley, Jason Spriggs, and Bryan Bulaga in the starting lineup. Guard Lane Taylor, guard/tackle Don Barclay, and Kyle Murphy are in reserve. Evans is the fifth free agent of note to join the Packers this offseason and the first free agent addition to the O-Line.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jahri Evans Wants To Continue Playing

Heading into the start of free agency, we had Jahri Evans ranked as the fifth-best interior offensive lineman available. One month later, all of the players ranked ahead of Evans and all of the players ranked beneath him on that top 15 list come off of the board, but Evans remains. Undeterred by the way his free agency has played out, Evans says that he still wants to play in 2017. Jahri Evans (vertical)

Not at all,” Evans told NFL Network (video link, via Twitter) when asked if this would be the end of the line. “I had a good season last year. We did a lot of good things, and I’m just waiting for that phone call, [waiting for] the right situation. As long I’m playing at an elite level, I’ll still strap on that helmet and give it a go.”

In my mind, the 33-year-old (34 in August) has proven that he still has something left in the tank. Last year, he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 guard in the NFL. His 78.6 overall score is roughly in line with the work he has done over the past four NFL seasons.

It’s not clear where Evans will wind up, but it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll return to New Orleans after sending out a farewell to Saints fans via social media earlier this year. Evans has never played a regular season (or playoff) game for another franchise since being drafted by the Saints in 2006. Over the course of his eleven seasons in New Orleans, Evans racked up six Pro Bowl nods and four First-Team All-Pro selections.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Offense

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:

Quarterback:

  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Chase Daniel
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  4. Colin Kaepernick
  5. Josh McCown
  6. Robert Griffin III
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Christian Ponder
  11. Blaine Gabbert
  12. Ryan Nassib
  13. Shaun Hill
  14. Kellen Moore
  15. Austin Davis

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. Jay Cutler (Vertical)

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.

Running back:

  1. Adrian Peterson
  2. LeGarrette Blount
  3. Jamaal Charles
  4. Rashad Jennings
  5. Tim Hightower
  6. DeAngelo Williams
  7. Chris Johnson
  8. Christine Michael
  9. Benny Cunningham
  10. Bobby Rainey
  11. Brandon Bolden
  12. Denard Robinson
  13. James Starks
  14. Matt Asiata
  15. Kenjon Barner

Honorable mention: DuJuan Harris, Antonio AndrewsKhiry Robinson

Adrian Peterson (vertical)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.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

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:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 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.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)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.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

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.

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Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, 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.

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 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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NFC South Notes: Newton, Evans, Shorts

Quarterback Cam Newton took at least four helmet-to-helmet hits in the Panthers’ season-opening loss to Denver on Thursday, but officials only flagged the Broncos once. That led Panthers head coach Ron Rivera to opine Friday that refs discriminate against the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton because of his size (via David Newton of ESPN).

“There’s a little bit of prejudice to that,” stated Rivera. “It’s kind of like what happened to [former NBA star] Shaquille O’Neal. Here’s a big, physical basketball player and he goes to set a pick, a guy falls down and they call a foul on him. He goes to shoot a little layup and gets hacked and hammered and they don’t call it.”

The NFL admitted Friday that a helmet-to-helmet shot Newton took from Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall should have been called, per Judy Battista of NFL.com (on Twitter).

On whether proper concussion protocol was followed with the banged-up Newton, Rivera added, “I’m not going to question the doctors. OK?” There is a protocol. There is a set of rules that these doctors, these trained professionals have to follow. The understanding is when everything first happened, they followed the protocol.”

According to Battista (Twitter links here), medical officials checked on Newton during a stoppage late in the game and determined that he did not have a concussion. Officials have since examined Newton several more times, including Friday, and still haven’t seen concussion symptoms.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • Guard Jahri Evans’ one-year deal with the Saints is worth $1MM and contains no guarantees or signing bonus, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets.
  • Wide receiver Cecil Shorts‘ contract with the Buccaneers is a one-year, $1.05MM pact, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He’ll also earn a $15K+ roster bonus for each game he’s active.
  • Former Alabama quarterback Blake Sims worked out for the Falcons as a running back, but it doesn’t sound like they’ll be signing him at this time, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com tweets.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.

Saints Re-Sign Jahri Evans

5:48pm: The Saints announced their reunion with Evans, via Twitter.

11:35am: Jahri Evans is back with the Saints. The team agreed to bring the offensive guard back into the fold today on a one-year deal, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Over the course of ten seasons in New Orleans, Evans started in all 153 of his appearances and earned four first-team All-Pro nods. However, knee and ankle injuries limited him to 11 games in 2015 and he was cut loose this offseason for cap reasons. Evans hooked on with the Seahawks in early August, but he was released last week after he failed to win a starting job.

Now, New Orleans is expected to move former first-round pick Andrus Peat to left guard, placing Evans on the right side. Evans, 33, may or may not start ahead of Tim Lelito.

The Saints freed up a roster spot this morning when they cut quarterback Garrett Grayson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.