Marcel Reece

Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

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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Seahawks Sign Jeron Johnson

The Seahawks have officially placed safety Earl Thomas on injured reserve, and filled his roster spot by signing fellow safety Jeron Johnson, the club announced today. Seattle also confirmed the previously-reported signing of fullback Marcel Reece, and announced that it has waived running back George Farmer to create a roster spot.Jeron Johnson (Vertical)

[RELATED: Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart]

Johnson, 28, is a familiar face in Seattle, as he spent the 2011-14 campaigns serving as a reserve defensive back and a special-teamer for the Seahawks. He signed with the Redskins last year with the hope of getting more playing time, but was ultimately released just one season into a two-year deal. After briefly hooking on with the Chiefs in August, Johnson was cut and had been roaming the workout circuit, meeting with the Giants, Ravens, and Bills.

Steven Terrell figures to take most of Thomas’ vacated snaps at free safety, meaning Johnson is likely to return to his special teams role for the Hawks. Johnson wasn’t the only safety Seattle worked out today, as Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link) that the Seahawks also took a look at veterans Duke Williams and Rahim Moore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahakws To Sign FB Marcel Reece

The Seahawks are signing fullback Marcel Reece, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Seattle auditioned Reece, who was released by the Raiders in September, last week, and have now finalized an agreement.Marcel Reece (vertical)

[RELATED: Earl Thomas Done For Season]

Reece will add depth to the Seahawks’ roster while incumbent fullback Will Tukuafu is in the concussion protocol. If Tukuafu isn’t able to get cleared by Sunday, Reece would likely be active as Seattle faces Green Bay in a critical NFC matchup. The Seahawks are likely to clear a roster spot for Reece by officially placing Earl Thomas — who is lost for the season after suffering a broken tibia last night — on injured reserve.

Reece, 31, is a multiple-time Pro Bowler thanks to his blocking ability and pass-catching acumen. In 2015, Reece caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and also added 36 rushing yards. A versatile back who can play a variety of roles, Reece averaged 34 receptions per season from 2010-15.

In addition to the Seahawks, Reece also worked out for the Patriots and Jets after being cut by the Raiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Audition Marcel Reece

The Marcel Reece tour continues. Today, the fullback tried out for the Seahawks, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Marcel Reece (vertical)

Reece was hit with a PED suspension that cost him part of the 2016 season. When he was eligible to return in late September, the Raiders released him. Since then, Reece has auditioned for the Patriots, Jets, and Bengals, but has yet to find an NFL home.

Reece, 31, is a multiple-time Pro Bowler thanks to his blocking ability and pass-catching acumen. In 2015, Reece caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and also added 36 rushing yards. A versatile back who can play a variety of roles, Reece averaged 34 receptions per season from 2010-15.

The Seahawks already have a fullback on the roster in Will Tukuafu, but he has appeared in just 45 offensive snaps this year. Seattle could be looking at Reece for a more traditional fullback role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Work Out Reece, Gilberry, Others

Since hitting the free agent market, Marcel Reece has yet to find a taker to give him a second chance. But several teams have been interested, with the Bengals being the latest after working out the veteran fullback today, Doug Kyed of NESN.com tweets.

The Bengals worked out Reece, along with their former defensive end Wallace Gilberry, defensive tackle Jordan Hill and tight end Justice Cunningham, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan (Twitter links).

Cut by the Raiders on the heels of his PED suspension ending in September, the eighth-year fullback worked out for the Patriots and Jets over the past five weeks but has not played this season. The 31-year-old Reece made the Pro Bowl from 2012-14 and was a consistent outlet option for Derek Carr and previous Raiders passers during his time in Oakland.

Cincinnati does not employ a traditional fullback presently but does house four tight ends.

Gilberry signed a one-year deal with the Lions this offseason but was cut last month. The 31-year-old pass-rusher played for the Bengals from 2012-15, starting in 19 games for the team and recording 16.5 of his 35.5 career sacks with Cincinnati. He’s played in four games this season, starting one.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Work Out FB Marcel Reece

The Jets took a look at fullback Marcel Reece today, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). A longtime member of the Raiders, Reece was cut loose by Oakland in late September. Marcel Reece (vertical)

Reece, 31, had been with Oakland since since 2009. He violated the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs last December, and the ensuing multi-game ban cost him a trip to the Pro Bowl. While Reece was out, the Raiders found a capable (and cheaper) replacement in Jamize Olawale.

In 2015, Reece caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and also added 36 rushing yards. A versatile back who can play a variety of roles, Reece averaged 34 receptions per season from 2010-15. The Patriots passed on him after a recent workout, but the rival Jets might find a place for him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Audition Marcel Reece, Four Others

The Patriots brought in former Raiders fullback Marcel Reece for a workout today, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Oakland released Reece earlier this week.Marcel Reece (vertical)

[RELATED: Latest On Patriots’ QBs]

Reece, 31, had been with Oakland since since 2009. He violated the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs last December, and the ensuing multi-game ban cost him a trip to the Pro Bowl and, apparently, led the Raiders to finding his full-time replacement. Reece was scheduled to play out the 2016 season at a cap number of $3.53MM, but Oakland has opted against taking on that cap hit.

In 2015, Reece caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns and also added 36 rushing yards. A versatile back who can play a variety of roles, Reece averaged 34 receptions per season from 2010-15, and he’d likely assume the role of pass-catching back in New England if signed. With Dion Lewis sidelined through at least Week 6, James White has been absorbing most of the running back looks in the Patriots’ passing game.

As Reiss notes, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been extremely complementary of Reece in the past. “You put a big guy on him, he’s probably going to have a hard time matching up with Reece’s speed and quickness,” Belichick said in 2014. “Put a smaller guy on him, he might match up with his speed and quickness, but it would be hard to match up with his size. I’d say that’s a dilemma. Who do you have that has the same skill set as Reece?”

In addition to Reece, the Patriots also worked out guards Jake Bernstein and Chase Farris, center Robert Kugler, and tight end Greg Scruggs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Cut FB Marcel Reece

The Raiders have released fullback Marcel Reece, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Reece was scheduled to return from suspension this week. Marcel Reece (vertical)

Reece, who was in Oakland since making his NFL debut in 2009, violated the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. The multi-game ban cost him a trip to the Pro Bowl after last season and, apparently, led the Raiders to finding his full-time replacement. Reece was scheduled to play out the 2016 season at a cap number of $3.53MM, but Oakland has opted against taking on that cap hit.

In 2015, Reece caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three TDs and also added 36 rushing yards. Most importantly, he served as a solid blocker for quarterback Derek Carr and running back Latavius Murray in the backfield. Now, Jamize Olawale is being counted on to do the dirty work for Oakland.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Stadium Proposals, Lions, Reece

The NFL officially confirmed today in a statement that it has received stadium proposals from the cities of Oakland, St. Louis, and San Diego in advance of the deadline, per Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports.

“We are able to confirm that we have received submissions from Oakland, St. Louis, and San Diego as requested,” the league’s statement reads. “All three submissions are generally consistent with our most recent discussions with public officials and task forces. We appreciate the leadership that public officials have demonstrated on behalf of the three cities. There is a great deal of information for the three teams and all of NFL ownership to review and consider. At this point, no applications for relocation of a franchise have been filed.”

The announcement doesn’t come as a surprise — it would have been more noteworthy if one of the cities had not submitted a proposal. But it takes us another step closer to the NFL eventually making its decision on the Raiders, Rams, Chargers, and Los Angeles.

Here are a few more Wednesday odds and ends:

  • If he had a vote in the matter, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson would have head coach Jim Caldwell return to Detroit for the 2016 season, he told reporters today. According to Johnson, Caldwell is one of the best coaches he has had in his career, and he thinks the rest of the locker room wants to see him return for next season as well (Twitter links via Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com).
  • In a statement to Pro Football Talk, Raiders fullback Marcel Reece explained why he failed a drug test, resulting in his four-game suspension. “I have NEVER, and would NEVER, ingest any banned substance that would result in a failed drug test,” Reece said. “What I did consume was a natural plant root extract by the name of ‘Umcka,’ which is a completely safe substance that is clearly legal by NFL policy, in terms of being acceptable to consume. What I didn’t know is that this plant root, once ingested in the human body, converts to the substance ‘methylhexanamine,’ which is a banned substance by NFL standards.”
  • Pat McManamon of ESPN.com lays out four reasons why the Browns should retain general manager Ray Farmer, then turns around and provides four reasons why the team should move on from on its GM.
  • The Ravens elevated defensive back Sheldon Price to their active roster on Tuesday, and head coach John Harbaugh explains that Price was receiving interest from another team, prompting Baltimore to promote him to avoid losing him (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun).

Raiders’ Marcel Reece Suspended Four Games

The Raiders announced that fullback/running back Marcel Reece has been suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. Reece can participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games, but he is no longer eligible to play in the 2016 Pro Bowl.

The Raiders, of course, are not headed to the playoffs, so Reece will serve his suspension in Week 17 and sit out the first three weeks of the 2016 season. As it stands, Reece is slated to make his NFL return with Oakland still as he is under contract with the club for next season at a cap number of $3.53MM. In 2015, Reece caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three TDs and also added 36 rushing yards. Most importantly, he served as a solid blocker for quarterback Derek Carr and running back Latavius Murray in the backfield.

It’s not immediately clear whether Reece will still collect on the $100K roster bonus he received for making the Pro Bowl. This season marked the fourth consecutive year that Reece earned a Pro Bowl nod.