Mark Sanchez

This Date In Transactions History: Mark Sanchez

Nine years ago today, the Jets agreed to terms on the biggest rookie deal in the history of the franchise. They committed $50MM over five years with $28MM guaranteed to the quarterback they thought was going to be their signal caller for many years to come.

When the Jets traded up with the Browns to secure the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft and take Mark Sanchez, they thought they had found the franchise quarterback they had spent many years looking for. After just one season as the starter at USC, Sanchez declared early for the NFL draft. Sanchez’s deal with the Jets came during one of the last years where rookie contracts were still negotiable before everything switched to pre-arranged slot values. The contract was reportedly worth up to $60MM with incentives and was a bit unusual in that it was only for five years instead of six, which was the norm at the time for top picks.

The Sanchez era was a tumultuous one in New York, full of ups and downs. He started right away as a rookie and would go on to start all but two games for the Jets over the next four seasons. Despite mediocre to poor individual stats, the Jets made back-to-back AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010 with Sanchez under center. Sanchez enjoyed the best season of his career statistically in 2011, throwing for 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. Although the Jets missed the playoffs, the team rewarded Sanchez with a three year contract extension after the season.

After a down 2012 where Sanchez was at one point benched as he threw just 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, he would miss the entire 2013 season due to a shoulder injury. He wound up never playing another game for the Jets, as he was released after the 2013 season.

He did play out the entire five years of his rookie contract with the team, but Sanchez never played a year of the extension he signed after the 2011 season despite the Jets giving him an additional $20.5MM guaranteed. Sanchez has bounced around the league since his release, spending time with the Eagles, Broncos, and Bears. Although his tenure didn’t go as well as many hoped and expected, Sanchez was still the face of the franchise for almost five years, and June 10th will always be a significant date in Jets history.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mark Sanchez Facing Four-Game Suspension

Mark Sanchez is not currently on an NFL roster, but if he lands with a team for what would be a 10th season, he won’t be eligible to play for a bit.

Barring a successful appeal, the free agent quarterback will be suspended four games, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). NFL.com’s James Palmer adds (via Twitter) this was for a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The 31-year-old passer released a statement (via Instagram) about being “blindsided” by the news.

During the past 9 years as an NFL player I have been subject to 73 drug tests — an average of over 8 tests per season — and all but one have been clean,” Sanchez said. “I have taken the same regimen of supplements for the past five years without any issues. The timing and results of my tests establish circumstances of unknowing supplement contamination, not the use of performance enhancing substances.”

Sanchez has been connected to the Bears and Seahawks’ reserve-quarterback vacancies at different points this offseason. However, the Bears signed Chase Daniel. The Seahawks’ Stephen Morris addition likely still leaves them in need of a veteran backup, but this news will not help Sanchez’s cause. He spent the 2017 season in Chicago but didn’t attempt a pass in a game. Sanchez played for the Cowboys in 2016 after failing to beat out Trevor Siemian for the Broncos’ starting job that summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bucs, Hargreaves, Seahawks

A video of Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves smoking a cigarette containing an unknown substance surfaced on Instagram this week, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times details. Hargreaves, a University of Florida product, has struggled in the first two years of his young career. Last year, the Bucs tried employing Hargreaves as their nickel cornerback before a hamstring injury ended his season after nine games.

The video alone is unlikely to get Hargreaves into trouble with the law or the NFL, but a positive test for a banned substance such as marijuana would violate the league’s substance abuse policy. All in all, it’s simply not a good look for a player who has failed to make good on his first-round status.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • At the owners’ meetings, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link) heard Mark Sanchez‘s name “as a possibility” for the Seahawks. Someone like Sanchez could serve as a veteran backup to Russell Wilson now that Trevone Boykin is out of the picture.
  • The “Josh McDaniels rule” which would have allowed assistant coaches to sign on as head coaches elsewhere during the playoffs did not pass at this week’s owners’ meetings. Surprisingly, Colts GM Chris Ballard was not among those in support of the rule. “When you’re a playoff team, you’re trying to eliminate all the distractions that you can. And we’re going to be a playoff team and we’re going to have these issues,” Ballard said (via Stephen Holder of the Indy Star). “It becomes a slippery slope. We have rules in place for a reason. I think they’re good rules. It gives you a chance to interview and then, after the season, whatever happens, happens. In our case, he changed his mind and we moved on.”
  • New Broncos defender Su’a Cravens has the ability to play both safety and linebacker, but the team views him strictly as a safety, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Broncos acquired Cravens from Washington on Wednesday in a deal that will net the Redskins a fifth-round pick plus upgraded picks in the fourth and fifth round and a conditional sixth-round choice in 2020.

Free Agent Rumors: Landry, Hitchens, Bills

The Dolphins are attempting to trade wide receiver Jarvis Landry after assigning him the franchise tag last week, but the club probably shouldn’t expect a first-round pick for their slot receiver, as Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Instead, fair compensation is likely to be a third-round pick, a low second-rounder, or perhaps a player, multiple sources tell Salguero. Landry can be an effective weapon, but any team that acquires him is either committing to carrying his $16MM+ salary in 2018, or inking him to a new deal, so Miami isn’t likely to get blown away in terms of trade offers. The Dolphins were expected to meet with Landry’s representatives at the combine on Wednesday, so a resolution could be coming soon.

Here’s more on 2018 free agency:

  • Cowboys free agent linebacker Anthony Hitchens is seeking $10MM per year on the open market, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Dallas ranks in the bottom-third of the league in available cap space, so that price point could force Hitchens out of the club’s range. Indeed, multiple beat writers don’t believe Hitchens will re-sign with the Cowboys, while the Colts — who now employ former Dallas linebackers coach Matt Eberflus — are expected to pursue the 25-year-old. A fourth-round pick out of Iowa in 2014, Hitchens appeared in 12 games a season ago and registered 55 tackles.
  • Although the Bills inked veteran defensive back Vontae Davis to a one-year deal earlier this week, they’re not giving up hope of re-signing free agent cornerback E.J. Gaines, general manager Brandon Beane told reporters, including Joe Buscaglia of WKBW (Twitter link). Buffalo acquired Gaines in 2017 as part of the return for wideout Sammy Watkins, and the 26-year-old went on to start 11 games, ranking 11th in the league in yards per pass. He’s expected to garner at least $6MM annually on the open market.
  • While new Lions head coach Matt Patricia has a clear working relationship with free agent cornerback Malcolm Butler, Detroit is more likely to fill its secondary needs internally, said general manager Bob Quinn (link via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). Given that they may need to replace both Nevin Lawson and D.J. Hayden (and find a new slot corner with Quandre Diggs moving to safety), the Lions will likely give opportunities to 2017 rookies Teez Tabor and Jamal Agnew. “We drafted those guys for a reason last year, and when we evaluated them in the postseason process, we liked what they did and their role,” said Quinn.
  • Veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez didn’t attempt a single pass for the Bears last season, but Chicago could nonetheless be open to a reunion. “You know, he did a good job this year,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said, via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. “All the things we value with him: his veteran leadership and his experiences. Again he’s a free agent; those are all evaluations that are ongoing.” Chicago doesn’t have a backup for Mitch Trubisky on its current roster after announcing its intent to release Mike Glennon earlier today.
  • If linebacker Derrick Johnson doesn’t land a new deal on the open market, he has a standing to return to the Chiefs as a coach, head coach Andy Reid told reporters, including Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). The Chiefs recently announced that they won’t re-sign the 35-year-old, but Johnson still wants to continue his career. Johnson is highly respected for his locker room presence, so it’s no surprise Reid would want the veteran defender on staff if his playing career is over.

Extra Points: Raiders, Steelers, Jeffery

The city of Oakland is attempting a last-ditch effort to keep the Raiders in advance of what promises to be a seminal vote Monday at the owners’ meetings. But this latest $1.3 billion proposal may not be enough to stop the owners from green-lighting a Las Vegas move. Oakland’s updated pitch “did not move the chains forward” with the NFL, Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News reports (on Twitter). The league is reviewing the proposal, but Bonsignore adds (Twitter link) the core issues at the root of the NFL’s reluctance regarding this project are not resolved. Bonsignore does not estimate the project can move forward (Twitter link) as presently constructed, setting the stage for a possible third Raiders relocation. This belief would stand to continue the league’s pessimism on the Oakland front.

Here’s the latest from Oakland and the rest of the NFL.

  • The Fortress Investment Group’s involvement in this project may not be a plus investment for the Raiders, who would “have to be in desperate straits” to sign up for an arrangement in which the team wouldn’t have much stake in its own stadium, Stanford economics professor Roger Noll said, via J.K. Dineen of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Even if Las Vegas doesn’t work out, the Raiders could get a better deal in San Diego or St. Louis,” Noll said. “There has never been a major league sports team that has had a deal like this where a third party is the main financier of the stadium and the main beneficiary of the revenue it generates.” The project would in large part be financed by a Fortress loan of $600MM, along with another $500MM loan backed by seat licensing fees, Dineen reports.
  • Dont’a Hightower agreed to take less money from the Patriots than he would have gotten from the Jets as a UFA, but the Steelers also offered the linebacker a better deal, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. Pittsburgh offered the sixth-year linebacker a deal that would have paid him more then $9MM per year. He signed to stay with the Patriots for $8.7MM AAV. However, both the Steelers and Jets were concerned with Hightower’s health. This led to the Jets pulling their offer after Hightower’s physical. La Canfora adds the Jets and Steelers felt they were being used as leverage during this process.
  • Mark Sanchez‘s one-year Bears deal is worth $2MM, with $1MM guaranteed, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports (on Twitter). The journeyman backup can earn another $2MM in incentives.
  • A thorough piece on Adam Schefter — by TheMMQB.com’s Tim Rohan — revealed a phone conversation ESPN’s chief NFL reporter had with Alshon Jeffery during the first day of free agency. Rohan reports Jeffery called Schefter asking him how much money the other UFA wide receivers were going to sign for. “It’s all about the guarantee, Alshon,” Schefter said, per Rohan, who noted players sometimes call the longtime NFL reporter with similar queries. “It’s all about the guarantee … Your average per year could be $100 million. It doesn’t matter. If they’re going to guarantee you the majority of the contract, that’s what you want.” Jeffery, who signed with the Eagles, does not remember the events unfolding like this. “I NEVER sought advice from media before I decided to sign my contract with the Eagles,” Jeffery tweeted. The wideout who is attempting to shake off an injury- and suspension-marred past two years signed with Philadelphia for one year and $9.5MM ($8.75MM guaranteed).

Bears Sign Mark Sanchez

The Bears are finalizing a contract with free agent quarterback Mark Sanchez, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). It’ll be a one-year deal, tweets ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The team has confirmed the signing via press release.

Mark Sanchez

Sanchez will be the second signal-caller to join the Bears since free agency opened earlier this month, though he’ll come at a much lower cost than expected starter Mike Glennon, who inked a three-year, $45MM deal with $19MM in guarantees. Chicago is the only team that publicly pursued Sanchez, who visited the club Thursday.

At 30 years old, Sanchez has achieved journeyman status since the Jets chose him fifth overall in the 2009 draft. The Bears will be the fifth NFL team for the ex-USC star. He spent the 2016 campaign in Dallas, where he backed up Dak Prescott and completed 10 of 18 passes for 93 yards and two interceptions.

Last season easily represented a career low in playing time for Sanchez, whose on-field action has declined significantly since his Jets tenure. As a member of Gang Green, Sanchez started in all 62 of his appearances in the first four years of his career. With the Eagles and Cowboys over the past three seasons, he picked up just 15 appearances and 10 starts. Sanchez also had a brief stint last year with the Broncos, but they cut him prior to the season.

While Sanchez was part of Jets teams that went to back-to-back AFC championship games in his first two years, their success came as a result of an elite defense and a top-notch running game. Sanchez has been mediocre to below average since entering the league, having thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions (86), completed just 56.7 percent of passes and posted a 73.9 quarterback rating. He did draw praise for his behind-the-scenes work with Prescott last year, though, and should give Chicago a passable backup behind Glennon. Of course, it’s not clear if the largely untested Glennon even has the chops to serve as a satisfactory starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Hosting QB Mark Sanchez On Visit

Free agent quarterback Mark Sanchez will meet with the Bears on Thursday, reports Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (via Twitter). The veteran is presumably being pursued for a backup role, as the organization signed Mike Glennon to a $45MM deal earlier this offseason.

Mark SanchezIt’s been a relatively quiet offseason for Sanchez, who hasn’t been connected to any teams so far. The former first-rounder spent the 2016 season serving as a backup to Dak Prescott on the Cowboys. In two games, Sanchez completed 55.6-percent of his passes for 93 yards and a pair of interceptions.

The last time he got regular playing time was in 2014 with the Eagles, when he threw for 2,418 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in nine games. Despite his lack of production over the past couple of seasons, the 30-year-old was still listed ninth on our recent free agent positional rankings.

The Bears are currently rostering a pair of quarterbacks in Glennon and Connor Shaw, and they could bring back exclusive rights free agent David Fales. Regardless of whether they sign Sanchez, the team’s quarterback depth chart will look a whole lot different next year, as the organization moved on from Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley this offseason.

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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