Jay Cutler

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

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:

Updated 3-24-17, 9:34am CT

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.

FA Rumors: Charles, Hightower, Cutler, Bills

The latest free agency rumors from around the league:

  • Jamaal Charles will visit the Seahawks next week, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT. The Seahawks’ interest in Charles was first reported on Thursday morning. If he signs with Seattle, he’ll join Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise on the RB depth chart.
  • A Dont’a Hightower/Patriots re-up remains on the table, with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reporting (on Twitter) the parties remain in good communication about keeping Hightower in New England.
  • The Jetsinterest in Jay Cutler is being reciprocated by the veteran quarterback, Rapoport notes (on Twitter). The Bears released Cutler today after eight seasons.
  • Malcolm Smith will receive a raise from the 49ers after his two years with the Raiders. Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets it’s a five-year, $26.5MM deal for the outside ‘backer, with $13MM guaranteed. This $5.3MM-AAV pact represents quite the bump from his $3.5MM deal in Oakland, one that didn’t come with rave reviews from the advanced metrics community.
  • The Bills remain interested in retaining Lorenzo Alexander, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News tweets. The sides are continuing to work at completing a deal for the edge defender. Although the Bills are moving to a 4-3 scheme, Alexander — who thrived as a 3-4 outside ‘backer in the form of 12.5 sacks in 2016 — looks to still be part of their plans.
  • It sounds like the Bills and Lions are in the lead for wide receiver Russell Shepard (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler). He could still wind up returning to the Buccaneers.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

Extra Points: Bears, Cutler, Bills, Gilmore, Kendricks, Eagles

No surprise here, but the Bears tried to trade Jay Cutler before releasing him on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. After his 2016 struggles, teams were not willing to take on his contract. He’s now a free agent.

Here’s more from around the NFL:.

  • Bills brass decided well before the 2016 season they wouldn’t pay Stephon Gilmore anything close to the $14MM/year figure he’ll reportedly get from the Patriots, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News tweets.
  • There has been no movement on a potential Mychal Kendricks trade for the Eagles, a source tells Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). He’ll see his $4.35MM salary guaranteed if he remains on the roster on Saturday.
  • The Falcons had talks about defensive tackle Terrell McClain, according to source who spoke with Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, McClain will be joining up with Washington on a multi-year deal.
  • The Eagles have some interest in bringing back Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Kaye of First Coast News tweets. Wisniewski has the ability to play either guard or center and did well in starts at left guard last season.

Bears Release QB Jay Cutler

The Bears are releasing quarterback Jay Cutler, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Cutler asked for and was granted his release on Thursday morning. He is now a free agent and free to sign with any team. The Bears have since confirmed the move via press release.Jay Cutler (vertical)

Cutler’s release has been anticipated for some time now and it more or less solidified by the Bears’ free agent deal with Mike Glennon. Because Cutler was the one to ask for his deal to be terminated, it’s possible that the Bears asked him to serve as Glennon’s No. 2 quarterback. Cutler, who has been a longtime starter, presumably would have rejected such a proposal.

Right now, Cutler has to be considered one of the best free agent quarterback options out there along with Tony Romo. Cutler didn’t have such a hot 2016, but he is a starter with experience and teams in need of a short-term option under center will have interest. The Jets are already interested in Cutler, according to Schefter (Twitter link), and New York could conceivably add Cutler as something of a bridge quarterback while developing a younger option.

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. He’s been loosely to linked to a couple of clubs this offseason, but no team has expressed any known solid interest.

The Bears reportedly tried to trade Cutler earlier this year, but were rebuffed. Meanwhile, Cutler has apparently tossed out the idea of retirement, although that could simply be a negotiating ploy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Bucs, Glennon, Graham

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht expects quarterback Mike Glennon to test the open market, but the door is not closed to a return, as Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets. Licht added that the team offered Glennon a contract extension “quite a while ago.”

In a weak crop of free agent quarterbacks, Glennon stands as one of the best available options. Glennon hasn’t seen the field much since the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston in 2015, but talent evaluators are still bullish on the 6’7″ signal caller. The 27-year-old could wind up as someone’s starter in 2017. At worst, he should command a handsome payday as a backup.

With tons of news coming out of the Combine today, here’s a look at all things NFC:

  • General manager John Schneider says there is no question that Jimmy Graham will be part of Seahawks next season, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. The Seahawks could have opened up $10MM in spending room with no dead money by releasing the tight end.
  • Bears GM Ryan Pace used the term “fluid” describe Jay Cutler’s situation and said keeping him is an option (Twitter link via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times). Personally, I don’t think the Bears will seriously entertain another season with Cutler.
  • The Buccaneers are not expected to aggressively pursue Adrian Peterson at this point, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Things can change, but the team still has “loose plans” for Doug Martin, Fowler adds.
  • The Cardinals are scheduled to meet with Calais Campbell’s agent this week in Indy, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Campbell is slated to be an unrestricted free agent March 9 and Arizona has at least some interest in finding out what it would cost to bring him back. I have Campbell ranked as the most talented edge defender on the market this year, so I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals get outbid for him.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says the team would like to have Chris Johnson back next year (Twitter link via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com). Last month, we ranked Johnson as one of the 15 best running backs in free agency.
  • Arians says the Cardinals wants to re-sign cornerback Marcus Cooper, but his price be too high (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). When asked about Cooper and other potential defensive losses, Arians said, “hopefully we’re prepared.”
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hopes the team will retain center A.Q. Shipley (Twitter link via Weinfuss).