Mychal Rivera

Jaguars Decline Option On Mychal Rivera

The Jaguars have declined their 2018 options on tight end Mychal Rivera and wide receiver Arrelious Benn, the club announced today.Mychal Rivera

Rivera, 27, signed a two-year deal with the Jaguars prior to the 2017 campaign, but was placed on injured reserve in September and never saw the field in Jacksonville. He’d been scheduled to earn $1.25MM base salary next year, but the Jaguars will now incur $250K in dead money by cutting ties. Rivera’s high water mark came back in 2014, when he collected 58 passes and 534 yards for the Raiders.

Benn, meanwhile, was active for the Jaguars’ first nine games in 2017 before being placed on injured reserve. The former second-round pick played only 80 offensive snaps and managed just a single reception, but he did see time on 180 special teams snaps. Had his option been picked up, Benn would have earned a $790K base salary next year.

Although Rivera and Benn’s options have been declined, they will not immediately become free agents. Instead, they will hit the open market on March 14 like the majority of free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Trim Roster To 75

The Jaguars have cut their roster from 90 players to 75, according to John Oehser of the team’s website:

Waived:

  • TE Caleb Bluitt
  • OL Malcolm Bunche
  • LB P.J. Davis
  • CB Charles James
  • DT Tueni Lupeamanu
  • WR Larry Pinkard
  • OL Demetrius Rhaney
  • WR Jamal Robinson
  • CB Dwayne Thomas
  • FB Marquez Williams (waived/injured)

Released outright (vested veterans who are not subject to waivers):

Placed on IR:

Jaguars To Sign TE Mychal Rivera

The Jaguars have agreed to terms with tight end Mychal Rivera, Jeff Darlington of ESPN tweets. It’s a two-year deal with a max value of $6.75MM, but year two is a team option, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com adds (on Twitter). Mychal Rivera

[RELATED: Jaguars Offered Dontari Poe More Money Than Falcons]

Rivera started 13 games for the Raiders between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The ’14 campaign was a career year as he logged 58 receptions, 534 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. In 2016, Clive Walford surpassed him on the depth chart. It has been long known that the Raiders were likely to move on from him.

Rivera now joins Marcedes Lewis atop the tight end depth chart. Lesser known tight ends Ben Koyack, Neal Sterling, and Alex Ellis are also on the roster for the time being. The Jaguars have been on the lookout for TE help ever since trading Julius Thomas to the Dolphins in February. The intra-state swap sent Thomas to Miami in exchange for a 2017 seventh-round pick. Then, in a separate deal, left tackle Branden Albert came to Jacksonville for a 2018 seventh-round selection.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mychal Rivera To Meet With Colts

Mychal Rivera‘s Jets meeting did not end with a contract, so Rivera will continue on as a first-time UFA. The tight end will visit the Colts next, Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com tweets.

The Colts have authored an interesting month at their tight end position, re-signing Jack Doyle and trading Dwayne Allen to the Patriots. This comes a year after Coby Fleener defected to the Saints. They have made several additions but most have come on the defensive side of the ball.

Rivera spent four seasons with the Raiders, seeing his role decline considerably. After being the Raiders’ primary pass-catching tight end in 2013-14, Rivera did not top 300 yards receiving in either of the past two seasons. He exceeded 400 as a rookie and second-year player, hauling in four touchdown passes in each season. But Clive Walford‘s arrival in Oakland in 2015 helped limit Rivera’s work. The Raiders also signed Jared Cook last week, ensuring Rivera would not be back in Oakland for a fifth season.

Indianapolis has used a two-tight end set as a primary formation throughout Andrew Luck‘s tenure. There would be opportunities for Rivera if the Colts elect to sign him, despite Doyle’s presence. The Colts also met with UFA wide receiver Kamar Aiken late last week.

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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Jets To Host TE Mychal Rivera

Free agent tight end Mychal Rivera will meet with the Jets on Monday, according to Peter Schrager of FOX Sports (Twitter link). New York will be Rivera’s first known free agent stop. "<strong

The Jets have been in search of a tight end (and a quarterback and a handful of players at key positions) and Rivera could be their solution. As it stands, the Jets’ tight end depth chart consists of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Eric Tomlinson, and Braedon Bowman. Seferian-Jenkins, by the way, will out of action for the first two games of the 2017 season thanks to a suspension stemming from a DUI.

Rivera started 13 games for Oakland between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The ’14 campaign proved to be his best to date as he had 58 receptions, 534 receiving yards, and four touchdowns. In 2016, Clive Walford leapfrogged him on the depth chart. The Raiders are unlikely to bring him back.

As of today, the Jets officially have $22,717,504 in cap room to work with, though that number does not include the deals for offensive tackle Ben Ijalana, defensive tackle Mike Pennel, or cornerback Morris Claiborne (via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Unlikely To Keep McGloin, Smith

Linebacker Malcolm Smith, tight end Mychal Rivera, and quarterback Matt McGloin are expected to sign elsewhere this week, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Right now, the Raiders are prepared to go with Connor Cook as their No. 2 quarterback, though they could conceivably bring in competition for him (Twitter link).

Last week, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio spoke openly about the club possibly installing Cook as the No. 2 QB, but he also did not ruled out acquiring another backup for starter Derek Carr.

I think, for us, we want to develop Connor Cook first as our backup quarterback. He’s the guy we know we have right now,” Del Rio said (via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com). “But there’s always competition in this league, and I wouldn’t close the door there, to say we wouldn’t make it competitive for him.”

“Moxy” McGloin is presently ranked as my No. 8 free agent quarterback. He’s highly unlikely to garner consideration as a starter, but he has had his moments over four years as a reserve in Oakland.

Smith, our No. 12 linebacker remaining on the board, is coming off of a two-year deal which had a $7MM base value and $3.75MM fully guaranteed. After taking on a starting role with the Raiders, he may be in line for a raise. Last year, Smith totaled 103 tackles. In 2015, he had 123 total tackles and a career-high four sacks.

The Raiders’ primary receiving tight end prior to the team elevating Clive Walford, Rivera started 13 games between the 2013 and ’14 seasons. The 2014 season proved to be his best to date, with his second season including 58 receptions, 534 receiving yards and four touchdowns. However, Pro Football Focus consistently scrutinized his work, rating Rivera near the bottom of its tight end hierarchy in both the ’14 and ’15 seasons. The site graded Rivera as its No. 33 tight end in 2016, but he caught just 18 passes, as Walford usurped him on the depth chart.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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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Raiders TE Mychal Rivera Drawing Trade Interest

Teams in need of a tight end have called up the Raiders for Mychal Rivera, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. However, it sounds like Rivera will be staying put in Oakland. Mychal Rivera

The Raiders are understandably high on Clive Walford and will probably put more emphasis on him in the offense this year. However, they also like what Rivera offers and it probably makes sense to hang on to him after Walford suffered a knee injury earlier this offseason.

Rivera, 25, started 10 games for the Raiders in 2014, catching a career-high 58 balls for 534 yards and four touchdowns. Last year, he saw his role reduced upon the arrival of Walford, a 2015 third-round pick.

Although Rivera still caught more passes in 2015 than Walford (32 to 28), he averaged just 8.8 yards per reception and found the end zone only once. Walford had three TDs and averaged nearly 12 yards per catch, and also assumed a larger role within the offense during the second half of the season.

After earning the minimum salary for his first three seasons, Rivera will see his base salary jump to $1.671MM for 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.