Jeremy Hill

Contract Details: Cousins, Graham, Davis

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

  • Kirk Cousins, QB (Vikings): Three years, $84MM. Guaranteed salaries of $22.5MM, $27.5MM and $29.5MM. Guaranteed $500K workout bonuses each year. Up to $2MM in incentives per year. No-trade clause and a no-transition tag provision in 2021 (Twitter link via Dan Graziano of ESPN).
  • Jimmy Graham, TE (Packers): Three years, $30MM. $11MM signing bonus, $300K per-game roster bonuses each year. $2MM base salary in 2018, $3.45MM in 2019 and $7.45MM in 2020. $5.67MM 2018 cap number. $5MM roster bonus due on third day of 2019 season (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein).
  • Demario Davis, LB (Saints): Three years, $24MM. $16MM guaranteed. $9.2MM signing bonus. Annual salaries of $850K, $5.95MM (guaranteed) and $7.35MM. (Twitter links via Graziano and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Jeremy Hill, RB (Patriots): One year, $1.5MM. $150K signing bonus. $1M base salary. (via Pelissero, on Twitter, and ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss).
  • Bruce Ellington, WR (Texans): One year, $1.25MM. $730K base salary, $200K signing bonus (via Wilson, on Twitter).

Patriots To Sign Jeremy Hill

Just moments after adding veteran Adrian Clayborn to their defensive front four, the Patriots continued their reshuffling by reaching an agreement with former Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets

Yates reported on Thursday the team was set to meet with the running back on Friday and the two sides quickly agreed to a deal.

A second-round pick in 2014, Hill burst on the scene with 1,124 yards and nine rushing touchdowns as a rookie. The following season, the LSU product tied for the league lead with 11 rushing scores. After another solid season in 2016, Hill was phased out after the team drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in the second round. Hill recorded just 116 yards on 37 carries.

Despite the departure of Dion Lewis to the Titans, the Patriots’ depth chart at running back is still chock full. Earlier in the week, the team re-signed Rex Burkhead, and it already has pass catcher James White and Mike Gillislee under contract.

Hill has served in a two-headed rushing attack since entering the league, splitting carries with Giovani Bernard in his first three seasons as well as Mixon in 2017.

[RELATED: Patriots Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RB Jeremy Hill To Visit Patriots

Despite rostering three capable running backs, New England is apparently seeking more reinforcement at the position. Free agent Jeremy Hill is set to visit with the Patriots tomorrow, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

It’s been a relatively quiet offseason for Hill, who was listed ninth in our free agent positional rankings. It doesn’t sound like the former second-rounder will be returning to the Bengals, where he spent the first four seasons of his career. After rushing for 1,124 yards in his rookie season, Hill hasn’t been able to match that production in the past three years.

2017 was arguably the 25-year-old’s worst NFL season, as he finished the campaign with only 116 rushing yards on 37 carries (leading to a career-low 3.1 yards per carry). After having compiled 29 touchdowns through his first three seasons in the league, Hill finished last year with zero. The running back was limited to only seven games (seven starts) after injuring his ankle in November.

The Patriots running back depth chart is already relatively crowded, especially after the team re-signed Rex Burkhead earlier this week. New England is also rostering pass-catcher James White as well as Mike Gillislee (special teamer Brandon Bolden is also on the team). Despite the depth, the Patriots are clearly looking for another back, as they reportedly have interest in former player Danny Woodhead.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

Read more

Jeremy Hill Intends To Test Market

It appears the Bengals and Jeremy Hill are going their separate ways. The running back’s rookie deal expired at season’s end, and with the Bengals having both Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard signed long-term, Hill is going to test the free agent market.

Hill posted on Twitter that he won’t be playing for the Bengals next season and said (via Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer) he’s going to be available come March. He’d left the door somewhat ajar about a Bengals reunion after the season but is now set to head elsewhere.

I’m not nervous at all,” Hill said. “I think the chips will fall where they may and I’m good with that going forward. I’m going to put the work in and when you do that you can sleep good at night knowing you did everything you could, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Although the former second-round pick is just 25, he is not going to be entering free agency with much momentum.

The LSU product who enjoyed a strong rookie season (1,124 rushing yards, nine touchdowns) and followed it up with an 11-touchdown 2015, but he ventured to IR last season and was the third-string running back prior to doing so. Hill received just 37 carries in 2017 after an incredibly consistent workload (222, 223 and 222 carries during his first three seasons) prior to his contract year.

Hill averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie but failed to exceed four yards per tote in each of the following slates. Hill, who switched agents early in the season, told Owczarski he played through ankle trouble over a multiyear period and decided to undergo surgery to get ready for free agency.

I had some bone spurs build up in my ankle the past few years, just from rolling it, playing through it,” Hill told said. “… At that point in the season, they decided to go forward with Joe and my people, my family and myself, we just thought it would be best for me to have surgery and make sure I’m good to go going forward, putting my career over this season. That was a decision that I felt was best for me going forward and that’s what I did.”

He’ll join Carlos Hyde, Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and Jerick McKinnon among fifth-year players looking for their second contract. Le’Veon Bell is technically a free agent, but the Steelers are expected to either use the franchise tag on him or reach an extension agreement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Winston, Freeman, Fuller, Hurns

We heard yesterday that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston could miss “an extended period” of time as he recovered from a shoulder injury. However, head coach Dirk Koetter was still adamant that the franchise signal-caller would take the field again this season.

“Again, (the plan we adopted) was for Jameis to rest for two weeks and then we’re going to see where he’s at,” Koetter said (via Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders). “We’ve talked to multiple doctors (about it) and that’s what the plan is.

 “And I know that Jameis plans on playing again (this year). And there’s been no discussion between Jason and myself of him not playing again so that would all be something that would have to come up in the future.’’

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Falcons running back Devonta Freeman is unlikely to suit up for next Monday’s game against the Seahawks, reports ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Freeman suffered his second concussion of the season this past weekend, although Schefter notes that the player isn’t expected to miss multiple games. The 25-year-old has compiled 515 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season.
  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee may be forced to shut it down for several weeks. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the defender is unlikely to play this week or during the team’s Thanksgiving contest against the Chargers. Head coach Jason Garrett confirmed that Lee may miss several games, noting that “it might be some time” before he returns (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com).
  • Texans wideout Will Fuller suffered a cracked rib during his team’s loss to the Rams this weekend, according to Rapoport (via Twitter). Fortunately, the second-year player didn’t experience extensive damage and may only miss a single game. The 23-year-old has been a touchdown machine this season, hauling in seven scores.
  • We learned last week that Bengals running back Jeremy Hill‘s season was over, and it sounds like it was the player’s decision to be placed on the injured reserve. Head coach Marvin Lewis said it was Hill who ultimately opted for the ankle surgery, which resulted in him landing on the injured reserve (via Rapoport on Twitter). The former second-rounder has compiled only 116 rushing yards on 37 carries this season, a far cry from his 1,124-yard performance in 2014.
  • Jaguars wideout Allen Hurns suffered a right ankle injury against the Chargers on Sunday, and coach Doug Marrone doesn’t see him taking the field this weekend. “Yeah, I don’t anticipate him playing this week,’’ Marrone said (via Cummings). “I would say yes (in terms of him missing this week), but I wouldn’t know (about his availability) after that.’’ As Cummings points out, Hurns absence could force the team to finally play wideout Dede Westbrook, who is eligible to be activated off of the injured reserve.

Bengals Place RB Jeremy Hill On IR

The Bengals have been busy this morning, making a series of roster moves. The team announced on Twitter that they’ve placed running back Jeremy Hill on the injured reserve and waived kicker Marshall Koehn. To take their place on the roster, the team has promoted safety Brandon Wilson and defensive tackle Josh Tupou.

Jeremy HillHill has been battling an ankle injury recently, forcing him to miss last weekend’s game against the Jaguars. Despite starting all seven games this season, the 25-year-old was on pace to set career-lows in several statistic categories. The former second-rounder has compiled only 116 rushing yards on 37 carries, a far cry from his 1,124-yard performance in 2014. The impending free agent running back had also hauled in only four receptions for 16 yards. With Hill done for the season, the team will presumably turn to Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard to handle the majority of the carries.

Marshall Koehn filled in for Randy Bullock during last weekend’s game, converting his lone extra point attempt. With the team waiving the rookie out of Iowa, it’s a clear indication that Bullock should be ready to go this weekend against the Titans.

Wilson, a sixth-round pick in this past year’s draft, had spent the entire season on the Bengals’ practice squad. The Houston product will presumably slide in behind Shawn Williams, George Iloka, and Clayton Fejedelem on the Bengals’ depth chart. Meanwhile, Tupou is expected to fill in for defensive lineman Pat Sims, who is dealing with a calf injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Murray, Steelers, Hill

The Broncos are under .500 for the first time since October 2012 and have seen their aerial attack sputter this month. They are considering benching Trevor Siemian for Brock Osweiler, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Osweiler was once ahead of Siemian in Denver’s pecking order prior to departing as a free agent, starting seven games in relief of Peyton Manning in 2015, but has seen his stock plummet considerably in between Broncos stays. Siemian, though, threw three interceptions against the Chiefs and has now thrown 10 this season — as many as he did in 14 games in 2016. Paxton Lynch would be the more logical choice for a longer-term change but has only practiced three times thus far. Still, if the Broncos’ losing streak continues — and games against the Eagles and Patriots loom the next two weeks — it would stand to reason Lynch could see the field soon for the lengthy audition he’s yet to receive.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on trade deadline day.

  • DeMarco Murray has heard “rumblings” he could be traded, Ed Werder tweets. This would be an obviously interesting move given the Titans‘ placement in the AFC South and wild-card races and their affinity for ground success under Mike Mularkey. Murray has no guaranteed money left on his through-2019 deal. The Cowboys are reportedly calling about running backs after Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension was restored, and Werder notes Murray makes sense due to his All-Pro season for Dallas in 2014.
  • Martavis Bryant has been informed he’s going to be part of the Steelers‘ Week 10 game plan, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports, continuing to squelch the notion the mercurial pass-catcher could be traded today. The Steelers have said they are not trading the fourth-year wide receiver, one who has another season remaining on his rookie contract since it tolled while he was suspended. Fowler notes Pittsburgh could get blown away by an offer but doesn’t see a trade coming.
  • Steelers rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton returned to practice on Tuesday, the team announced. He remains on IR, and the Steelers have 21 days to activate the third-round pick. Pittsburgh has six cornerbacks on its active roster presently.
  • Jeremy Hill‘s contract year is not going especially well, and the Bengals running back made an agency switch, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). Hill will now be represented by Joel Segal and Greg Barnett, per Owczarski. The fourth-year ball-carrier has just 113 rushing yards on 37 carries. He profiles as a possible trade candidate due to Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard being signed long-term. Hill rushed for at least 790 yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, which would seemingly make him an intriguing free agent despite the role reduction this season.

Extra Points: Bills, Redskins, Bengals, 49ers

Bills general manager Doug Whaley might be content to go into 2017 with Cardale Jones at quarterback, but the team is only going to release Tyrod Taylor if rookie head coach Sean McDermott signs off on it, according to Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. Whaley and McDermott have equal say in how the Bills assemble their roster, per Carucci, who notes the coach hired an offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison, who might be able to get more out of Taylor. Dennison is a Taylor fan, having previously coached him in Baltimore, and Albert Breer of The MMQB senses that the coordinator would like for Buffalo to continue with Taylor under center.

More from around the NFL:

  • The Redskins haven’t engaged in negotiations with any of their impending free agents yet, but talks will take place at next week’s combine, reports Mike Jones of Washington Post. John Keim of ESPN.com passed along slightly different information earlier this month, writing that the Redskins had held discussions with unsigned tight end Vernon Davis. Regardless, no deal has materialized for Davis, who’s on a list of UFAs that also includes quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and defensive lineman Chris Baker.
  • The torn ACL Giovani Bernard suffered in November could help spur the Bengals to select a running back as early as Round 1 of the draft, writes Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Neither Bernard nor Jeremy Hill reached the 4.0 yards-per-carry mark last year, though the former posted strong pass-catching numbers and the latter scored nine touchdowns. Hill is set to enter the last year of his contract in 2017, while Rex Burkhead is on track to hit free agency next month after putting up a lofty 4.6 YPC on 74 tries in 2016. Head coach Marvin Lewis spoke on both Hill and Burkhead on Friday, telling Geoff Hobson of the team’s website: “We have to coach [Hill] better. We bet on him. We have no other choice. We bet on Jeremy to continue to progress and move forward. Our job is to try and re-sign Rex. That doesn’t affect Jeremy.”
  • After spending 12 years with the 49ers, including the past four as their director of college scouting, Matt Malaspina took a job as a college scout with the Packers on Friday, per Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. In doing so, Malaspina became the second front office member to leave the San Francisco organization this week. The 49ers and assistant general manager Tom Gamble parted ways Wednesday.
  • In other 49ers news, defensive tackle Earl Mitchell‘s four-year, $16MM agreement with the club includes $6.5MM in guarantees, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.

AFC Mailbags: Bengals, Steelers, Colts, Jags

ESPN’s NFL writers answered questions from their readers this weekend. Let’s take a look at some interesting notes from the AFC…