Jerome Felton

Jerome Felton To Retire

Unable to land an NFL contract this year, former Pro Bowler Jerome Felton spent the 2017 season out of the game. Unless something changes in the next few weeks, he says he’s walking away from football. Jerome Felton (vertical)

I guess if I were to get a call over the next few weeks I would answer, but this will be my last year regardless,” the nine-year veteran told Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I had a good run. I’m happy with how my career has went. I played a long time, but times are changing for fullbacks. I’m not going to just hang around waiting for a call. That’s not my mentality.”

Felton did not receive any offers as a free agent, though he says he did draw some interest from the Jets. The 31-year-old spent the last two years with the Bills, but the new regime was not interested in a reunion. The lack of opportunities, he says, stems from a growing number of teams who are not utilizing a fullback.

A lot has to do with the quarterbacks coming out of college; they run that scheme,” Felton said. “And sometimes offensive coordinators want to be the latest, greatest in new inventions, and they think they have to do a bunch of crazy stuff to operate on offense.”

Felton played nine seasons in the NFL with the Lions, Colts, Panthers, Vikings, and Bills.

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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Bills To Re-Sign Jerome Felton

Weeks after cutting him, the Bills have agreed to re-sign Jerome Felton, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Felton was a roster casualty when the Bills trimmed down to a 53-man roster. Jerome Felton (vertical)

Felton was signed as a free agent last offseason to a four-year pact worth $9.2MM with $4MM guaranteed. Known as a great lead blocker, Felton put himself on the map as he cleared the way for Adrian Peterson in his 2012 MVP campaign. This offseason, however, he found himself leapfrogged by Glenn Gronkowski, a younger and cheaper fullback option.

In other Bills news, we learned today that the team could be without Sammy Watkins for multiple games as the wide receiver is experiencing pain in his surgically-repaired foot.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Trim Roster To 53

The Bills announced that they’ve moved their roster to 53 players by cutting 21 players. That list of cuts includes notable names like fullback Jerome Felton, linebacker Manny Lawson, versatile cornerback Sterling Moore, and linebacker Randell Johnson."<strong

The Bills will save $2.35MM against the cap by releasing Lawson and $1.55MM by cutting Felton. By freeing up that cash, the Bills will have a little more room to work with as they negotiate a new deal with cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Felton was signed as a free agent last offseason to a four-year pact worth $9.2MM, with $4MM guaranteed. Considering how the fullback position has been phased out by many NFL teams, that was a steep price to pay for the former Viking. With Minnesota, Felton acted as the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson‘s 2012 MVP campaign, paving the way for Peterson to nearly break the all-time rushing record. Felton himself went to the Pro Bowl that season, and was named second-team All Pro. The team is saving money by dropping the 30-year-old, but his release is also a sign of their confidence in Glenn Gronkowski.

Over the last three seasons, Lawson has appeared in all but one regular season game for the Bills. In 2015, Lawson appeared in every contest and started 14 games, racking up 45 tackles, 1 sack, and 5 pass deflections. Lawson is facing a one-game ban as a result of a domestic violence incident and that was thought to be a big blow in the season opener considering that the team will also be without top rookies Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson plus reserve linebacker IK Enemkpali. For one reason or another, the Bills have decided that they are better off without him.

Moore, 26, came over from Tampa Bay during the offseason, and has also spent time with the Patriots, Cowboys, and Raiders. Johnson, meanwhile, has been with Buffalo for the past two seasons, starting one game during that time.

Here is the complete list of cuts:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Mailbags: Bills, Titans, Broncos, Jets

It’s Saturday, and that means the NFL’s various beat reporters are opening their mailbags and answering questions from the readers. Let’s take a look at some of the notable responses out of the AFC…

  • Bills coach Rex Ryan and his staff are “operating under the premise that they have to “get it right” this year,” writes Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News. While the writer wouldn’t definitively say if Ryan could end up on the hot seat, he did note that fans have started to recognize the weaknesses in his coaching style, allowing them to question whether he’s actually “the right man for the job.” With a lack of a coach’s salary cap and with more money to use, Carucci does acknowledge that NFL owners are justified in having a quick “trigger finger,” which might not bode well for Ryan.
  • Bills undrafted free agent Glenn Gronkowski isn’t necessarily competing for a tight end spot, notes Carucci. Instead, Ryan has been using him as more of a fullback, so Rob Gronkowski‘s brother would need to unseat Jerome Felton in order to make the roster.
  • Running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry are locks to make the Titans roster, and Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes Dexter McCluster will also make the team. As a result, Wyatt sees David CobbBishop SankeyAntonio Andrews and David Fluellen fighting for one roster spot.
  • It could be a “make or break” preseason for Broncos running back Kapri Bibbs, writes Mike Klis of 9News.com. With C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman, and Devontae Booker having a secure hold on the top three spots on the depth chart, Bibbs will be competing with Juwan Thompson for one of the final spots on the roster.
  • The Broncos are trying to extend wideout Emmanuel Sanders, but Klis says it won’t be easy. If the 29-year-old wants to be paid like a top receiver (similar to Jeremy Maclin‘s $11MM annual salary), the Broncos may be priced out of the negotiations.
  • While a Darrelle Revis-type one-year (plus an option) contract would seemingly make sense for the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini outlines a number of reasons why this scenario probably wouldn’t work. Notably, the Jets apparent leverage would be greatly diminished if Fitzpatrick had an opportunity to test the market again next offseason.

NFC Links: Vikings, 49ers, Cowboys

Some assorted notes from around the NFC…

  • The bridge hasn’t been completely burned between the Vikings and Adrian Peterson. ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling tweets that the organization is still trying to “work things out” with the embattled running back.
  • Prior to signing with the Bills, the Vikings asked Jerome Felton to bring them back a counter offer, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (via Twitter). The fullback did just that, but Minnesota refused to come close to the four-year, $9.2MM deal he got from Buffalo.
  • 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said there’s no interest in bringing in defensive end Greg Hardy, according to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee (via Twitter).
  • The Cowboys are hosting fullback Jed Collins tonight, according to Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram. The Cowboys are hunting for a replacement for Tyler Clutts, who is a free agent. He is the first player the Cowboys have hosted during free agency.

Bills Sign Jerome Felton

WEDNESDAY, 12:57pm: Despite GM Doug Whaley suggesting earlier today that the Bills didn’t have an agreement in place with Felton, the fullback has now signed his contract with the team, tweets Tim Graham of the Buffalo News. It’s a four-year deal worth $9.2MM, with $4MM guaranteed, says Carucci (via Twitter).

TUESDAY, 3:56pm: After acquiring LeSean McCoy last week, the Bills have found him a lead-blocker, agreeing to terms with fullback Jerome Felton, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’s expected to be a four-year pact worth $2.3MM annually, tweets Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.

The 28-year-old Felton opted out his contract with the Vikings last month, reportedly unhappy his role on the team. He should more pleased in Buffalo, where Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman are expected to install a power-running game with McCoy and veteran Fred Jackson.

Felton acted as the lead blocker for Adrian Peterson‘s 2012 MVP campaign, paving the way for Peterson to nearly break the all-time rushing record — Felton himself went to the Pro Bowl that season, and was named second-team All Pro.

East Rumors: Revis, Mariota, Washington

The Jets had a significantly higher offer on the table for cornerback Darrelle Revis than the Patriots did, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets. Howe isn’t exactly sure of what the gap was, but the Pats apparently didn’t approach the five-year, $70MM pact that includes $39MM in guaranteed cash. Howe (link) was also told that the Patriots did not give Revis permission to explore his value from the competition before the official opening of free agency on Tuesday like they did with Browner. Here’s more from the AFC and NFC East..

  • John Clayton of ESPN.com (on Twitter) is convinced that Washington will take quarterback Marcus Mariota if he falls to No. 5 overall.
  • Sal Paolantonio of ESPN said on 97.5 The Fanatic that relative of Nick Foles relative said the quarterback is ecstatic to no longer be a member of the Eagles, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. “I just talked to a member of Nick Foles’ family. He is absolutely pumped, overjoyed he’s out of Philly,” Paolantonio said. Foles is now a member of the Rams following Tuesday’s trade.
  • New Washington defensive lineman Stephen Paea says the Lions, Broncos, and Buccaneers were also in the mix for his services, as John Keim of ESPN.com writes.
  • When asked if the Bills ever considered cutting running back Fred Jackson, GM Doug Whaley flatly said “no,” Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. Whaley also said that he does not have a framework of a deal with fullback Jerome Felton, Joe Buscaglia of WGR tweets.
  • Earlier today, we rounded up the latest on Cowboys free agent running back DeMarco Murray.