Jay Cutler

Texans Had “Mild” Interest In Jay Cutler

The Texans contacted free agent quarterback Jay Cutler with “mild” interest, but head coach Bill O’Brien prefers incumbent Tom Savage to Cutler, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. After the Brock Osweiler fiasco of 2016, Houston’s front office decided to yield to O’Brien, and discussions with Cutler ended.Jay Cutler

Cutler hasn’t generated much of a market thus far during the free agent period, as only the Jets have expressed real interest. New York isn’t an option after signing Josh McCown, leaving the Texans as one obvious suitor. But Houston reportedly wasn’t interested in Cutler — or another veteran quarterback, Colin Kaepernick — even after learning Tony Romo was no longer a possibility. At present, the Texans have only two signal-callers on the roster: Savage and Brandon Weeden.

That depth chart figures to change in the coming weeks, however, as Houston is fully expected to land a quarterback in the draft. O’Brien “absolutely loves” Texas Tech passer Patrick Mahomes, and the Texans may indeed select Mahomes if he falls to No. 25. Other options in the draft might include Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and DeShone Kizer in the first round, or Davis Webb, Nathan Peterman, or Brad Kaaya on Day 2 or 3.

Cutler, meanwhile, is still considering the possibility of retirement. If no other clubs jump in with interest, Cutler’s decision to hang up his cleats may not be voluntary.

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Jay Cutler Still Mulling Retirement

Back in February, Jay Cutler was said to be mulling retirement. That’s still an option for the free agent quarterback, according to a league source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Roman Modrowski"<strong

The soon-to-be 34-year-old quarterback has been linked to the Jets, but we haven’t really heard his name in recent weeks. After earning upwards of $100MM over the course of his career, Cutler might not want to take the punishment of another NFL season. He might be motivated to try and leave the game as a winning quarterback, but the Jets won’t offer him a good chance at that and most contending clubs would only consider him as a backup. His only chance at starting for a playoff-caliber team would be with the Texans, but it’s not clear if they have interest.

In his 11 NFL seasons for the Broncos and Bears, Cutler has amassed a career 68-71 record. His best season came in 2008 for Denver when he threw for more than 4,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. That season earned Cutler his sole career Pro Bowl selection.

I have Cutler ranked as the best quarterback still available on the open market, ahead of Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cutler, Lynch, 49ers, Eagles

Free agent quarterback Jay Cutler continues to mull retirement, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. The Jets have been the only team to show real interest in the 34-year-old since the Bears released him in March, and Gang Green went on to sign a different veteran, one of Cutler’s former backups in Josh McCown. It seems the Jets would have added Cutler had he been willing to sign with them, as Caplan writes that he wasn’t gung-ho on joining a rebuilding club. As a playoff-caliber team without an obvious answer under center, the Texans and Cutler could theoretically be a match, but they’re uninterested in signing him. Cutler has started in all 139 of his appearances, so it would be understandable if he’d rather walk away from football than continue as a backup.

More from around the game:

  • Retired running back Marshawn Lynch, who’s considering returning to the league, was involved in an unflattering incident at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, video of which is available courtesy of TMZ. Lynch smacked a cellphone out of the hand of an autograph seeker, cracking the screen, and that person is now considering filing a police report for assault. The league declined to comment on the run-in, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
  • Contrary to a report from Tuesday, the 49ers aren’t ready to give up on running back Carlos Hyde, according to general manager John Lynch. They’re actually “really high on” Hyde, who’s “a very talented young man,” per Lynch (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle). It wouldn’t necessarily be wise to take Lynch’s comments at face value here, though Hyde did make his case to continue as San Francisco’s No. 1 back when he posted a 4.6 yards-per-carry average on 217 attempts and combined for nine touchdowns last season.
  • The Eagles have worked out Missouri defensive end Charles Harris, writes Tim McManus of ESPN.com. The potential first-rounder totaled nine sacks last season during his final year with the Tigers. Harris is part of what some executives and coaches are calling the best defensive draft class of the past two decades, tweets Dianna Russini of ESPN.
  • Free agent wide receiver Louis Murphy was arrested Wednesday at Tampa International Airport on a felony count of carrying a concealed weapon, per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times. Murphy, 29, played with the Raiders, Panthers, Giants and Buccaneers from 2009-15. He missed all of last season with a torn ACL, becoming a free agent after the Bucs waived him off injured reserve in November.

Texans Still Not Open To Cutler, Kaepernick?

Even after learning Tony Romo has chosen retirement over Houston (or any other NFL club), the Texans don’t view Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick as “strong options” for their quarterback vacancy, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).Jay Cutler (vertical)

Cutler, for his part, doesn’t seem to be garnering interest anywhere, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says Cutler’s name “rarely, if ever, comes up” during discussions with head coaches and general managers regarding quarterback openings. Following the Jets’ recent signing of veteran Josh McCown, Rapoport indicated New York — unsurprisingly — was no longer an option for Cutler, and also signaled the Texans were similarly disinterested in the former Bears quarterback.

The possibility of a Cutler retirement is still on the table, per Rapoport, confirming a scenario that was first floated in February. While Cutler may wait for an injury to occur that would enable him land a starting job, he might simply be forced into hanging up his cleats. If no team reaches out with sincere interest, an involuntary retirement could be on the table.

Kaepernick, meanwhile, hasn’t been linked to any clubs as of yet, and his asking price may be a problem. While some reports have indicated Kaepernick is pushing for a starting gig and $9-10MM, that figure may not be entirely accurate. Still, some teams are apparently concerned about his vegan diet and his commitment to football, which — in addition to his recent play and political beliefs — could limit his market.

At present, the Texans have just two quarterbacks — Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden — on their roster. If they don’t bring in a veteran passer, they could look to draft a signal-caller either at pick No. 25 or on Day 2.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Not Interested In Jay Cutler?

The Josh McCown accord indeed means the Jets are out on Jay Cutler, with both Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com noting (Twitter links) Gang Green’s $6MM fully guaranteed agreement means Cutler will have to look for his next NFL job elsewhere.

Another possible landing spot may not be in the cards for the 12th-year passer as well. The Texans have a glaring starting quarterback vacancy, but Rapoport tweets a Cutler/Houston setup is not an option. He adds the veteran may end up waiting for circumstances to change before signing with a team.

Cutler was slated to visit the Jets before the McCown agreement. That would have been the first-time free agent’s initial visit of the offseason. Said summit would have certainly featured questions about Cutler’s recovery from the torn labrum that ended his 2016 season. However, Cutler is not believed to be fully healed at this point, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes. Cutler underwent surgery in early December. Retirement talk also surrounded Cutler, but nothing along those lines has surfaced since Chicago cut him.

The Texans have obviously been connected to Tony Romo this offseason, especially after making their historic Brock Osweiler trade. But the Jets were the only team connected to Cutler since he became a free agent. Although, the 49ers were believed to have interest prior to the Bears severing ties with the soon-to-be 34-year-old quarterback. San Francisco, though, added both of Cutler’s backups last season in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. Hoyer profiles as the kind of stopgap Cutler would at this point.

Houston currently has just Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden as its quarterbacks, so another signal-caller will almost certainly be added. If Cutler is indeed not a Texans contingency plan, the quarterback market thins out quickly. Former Texans starters Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum now reside in the top-five non-Cutler options as far as UFAs go. Although, Romo likely remains in a picture.

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Josh McCown Signs With Jets

Josh McCown agreed to a one-year deal to join the Jets, according to the quarterback’s agent, Mike McCartney (on Twitter). McCown visited the Jets for multiple days last weekend. The Jets confirmed the move.

It’s a $6MM fully guaranteed deal for McCown, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets. That’s high-end backup money on the surface, but Breer adds another $7MM in incentives ($2MM in playing-time bonuses, $5MM in team-based bumps) could come his way. The team incentives aren’t likely to be earned, being associated with the playoffs and Super Bowl (per Breer, on Twitter), but McCown will receive $125K for each game in which he plays 50 percent of Gang Green’s snaps.

Until the parties finalized this agreement, Jay Cutler was slated to visit the Jets this week, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds a Jets/Cutler union is now off the table (Twitter link). The Jets reached out to both Cutler and McCown last week, but McCown was summoned for the initial visit. His asking price almost certainly wasn’t what Cutler’s is. The Jets paid Ryan Fitzpatrick $12MM last season after a lengthy impasse.

This agreement comes after the Jets brought in Chase Daniel for a visit today and have been linked throughout the offseason to Cutler. McCown profiles as a stopgap option, and it’s not a lock that this addition will stop the Jets from adding a younger veteran, but the team has two younger quarterbacks on the roster already in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. McCown looks set to have a great chance to start during what will be his 16th season.

Also connected to the Cowboys this offseason, McCown visited Dallas just before the new league year started. But the Cowboys weren’t willing to pay their next backup this much money, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). The Cowboys reunited with Kellen Moore earlier today.

McCown has history with Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, working under him for two years as Cutler’s backup in Chicago. The 37-year-old McCown’s enjoyed a unique career arc, having spent many NFL seasons as a backup. But a strong showing in relief of Cutler on the 2013 Bears led to multiple agreements to serve as a starter. This could well be a third such commitment from a team.

McCown served as the primary starter for the 2014 Buccaneers and 2015 Browns. After an injury-plagued 2016 season in Cleveland, the Browns cut him with one year remaining on his deal. While the teams McCown’s quarterbacked during his late-career time as a starter have not enjoyed much success — McCown is 2-20 as a starter over the past three seasons — he has had stretches to generate intrigue. McCown completed nearly 64 percent of his passes for a Browns team that didn’t have Josh Gordon in 2015, throwing for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight starts. For the ’13 Bears, McCown shined, completing nearly 67 percent of his throws and tossing 13 TD passes compared to just one INT in five starts of Cutler relief.

He will turn 38 in July. A Sunday-night PFR poll resulted in readers tabbing a McCown/Jets union as far less likely than the team deploying Cutler come Week 1. That could still happen, but it would likely require the Jets to carry four quarterbacks. Although the Jets aren’t particularly sold yet on the long-term viability of Petty or Hackenberg, it might be a rash decision for either to be cut out of training camp.

The Jets were also linked to Mike Glennon this offseason, but his $15MM-per-year price tag induced them to bow out. Brian Hoyer also intrigued Gang Green, but the 49ers added him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets, Josh McCown Progressing Toward Deal?

Josh McCown‘s Jets visit is continuing into Saturday, and the sides are progressing on talks. Contract parameters have emerged during this visit, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv.

With this powwow going “very well,” Vacchiano notes McCown may now lead the pack in the running to be the next Jets stopgap quarterback. Vacchiano confirms the team remains interested in Jay Cutler while also clearly stating the team has no desire to pursue Colin Kaepernick. A Cutler visit was expected, with the Jets reaching out to the 33-year-old passer this week, but it hasn’t occurred yet.

The 37-year-old McCown (he’ll be 38 by Week 1) profiles as another short-term option after Ryan Fitzpatrick previously served in that role. Cutler started in front of McCown from 2011-13 on the Bears and is viewed as the more talented player, so it would be interesting if the Jets opted to sign McCown before hosting Cutler on a visit. New Jets QBs coach Jeremy Bates coached Cutler in both Denver and Chicago but also instructed McCown during two of McCown’s three years in the Windy City.

Gang Green moved from Mike Glennon to Tyrod Taylor to Brian Hoyer, per Vacchiano, this offseason. Glennon’s price tag “scared off” the Jets, Vacchiano notes, before he received his Bears offer (three years, $45MM). The Jets were also open to re-signing Geno Smith before the Giants added him, per Vacchiano, who adds it’s unlikely the Jets use one of their high draft picks on a quarterback after having taken Christian Hackenberg in the second round last year.

The Cowboys are the other serious suitor to emerge for McCown, having hosted him on a visit. This came after Dallas tried to trade for the veteran passer in 2016.

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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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Jets Reach Out To Jay Cutler

The Jets are in contact with free agent quarterback Jay Cutler and are expected to meet with him at some point, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Jay Cutler (vertical)

Cutler has been linked to the Jets for more than a month, and a potential match between the two sides only grew more apparent when Gang Green hired longtime Cutler backer Jeremy Bates as its new quarterbacks coach. New York’s interest in Cutler is reportedly mutual, as Rapoport indicated last week, making the Jets the first club to be officially tied to the former Bears signal-caller. The 49ers were mentioned as a possible landing spot for Cutler before free agency began, but San Francisco has since agreed to terms with Cutler’s ex-teammates Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

The Jets currently have two quarterbacks on their roster in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, but the team’s front office reportedly doesn’t believe either of those recent draft picks can develop into anything more than a long-term backup. New York was involved in the early Mike Glennon sweepstakes before he signed on to replace Hoyer in Chicago, and has also been tied to draft prospects Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky as its seeks to stabilize the quarterback position.

Cutler, 33, spent most of the 2016 campaign sidelined by injuries, and wasn’t effective when he was on the field. In five starts, Cutler tossed four touchdowns against five interceptions, and posted a Total Quarterback Rating of just 33.1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Rumors: Cutler, Hightower, Bills

The team most linked to Jay Cutler now that he’s a first-time free agent, the Jets may be split on acquiring the former Broncos and Bears quarterback. Gang Green is intrigued by the 12th-year passer, and the feeling is believed to be mutual. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes a faction of the Jets wants the 33-year-old Cutler on the roster, linking former Broncos and Bears assistant Jeremy Bates — the Jets’ new quarterbacks coach — to being in the pro-Cutler camp. The Jets, though, aren’t presently inclined to spend much on Cutler, with Mehta noting if he were available for “a few million” the Jets’ brass would probably sign him. Cutler played three seasons of the seven-year, $126MM Bears deal he signed in 2014.

Here’s more from the Jets and some of their division rivals.

  • One team involved in talks with UFA linebacker Dont’a Hightower is convinced he will sign to stay with the Patriots, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets. Breer doesn’t specify the team here, but the Patriots have been connected to the sixth-year ‘backer throughout free agency despite not placing the franchise tag on him. New England has been the only known team to be pursuing Hightower. While there are surely others in the hunt for a top-level free agent, none have been revealed yet.
  • Lorenzo Alexander expects the two-year, $9MM contract he signed with the Bills to be his last. “I see myself walking off into the sunset and transitioning into life after football after I’m done,” the soon-to-be 34-year-old pass-rusher said, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. The Bills re-signed the 2016 wonder despite being set to shift to a 4-3 defense. Prior to last season, Alexander (12.5 sacks in ’16) had nine career sacks in nine seasons.
  • The Jets would be interested in acquiring Trevor Siemian from the Broncos in the event they sign or trade for Tony Romo, Mehta reports. Unloading a late-round pick for Siemian would be something the Jets would consider. Cutler might be the Jets’ backup plan behind Siemian, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reported earlier this week. But there are a lot of moving parts to this string of deals, one that became murkier when the Texans cleared eight figures in cap space via their unorthodox Brock Osweiler trade. That opens the door for Houston to pursue Romo, and it’s unlikely the team will look to move Tom Savage in that event. The Broncos, though, would have less use for Siemian if they land Romo since Paxton Lynch is still tentatively viewed as their quarterback of the future. Siemian has two years remaining on his rookie contract.
  • In addition to keeping Alexander, the Bills re-upped right tackle Jordan Mills on Saturday.