Last week, we checked in on the top cornerbacks still available and discussed the latest news as to each of those players. Today, we’ll check in on three more big-name free agents who are still without a 2017 employer (Darrelle Revis would be included in this post, but in addition to last week’s cornerback article, we also discussed Revis’ market in two separate posts this past week).
We start with Perry Riley, who quietly put together a very nice season with the Raiders in 2016, ranking as the 15th-best linebacker in the league according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. In 11 games for Oakland — he did not sign with the club until October — he posted 48 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and one pass deflection. Riley spent the first six years of his career with the Redskins, and he was a solid starter for much of that time. Now 29, it is a bit surprising that we have not heard more reports on Riley, as only the Raiders have expressed any public interest in his services. We heard prior to free agency that the Raiders were trying to get a new deal done with Riley, and just last week we learned that negotiations between the two sides progressed reasonably well. However, Riley and the Raiders could not come to terms, and while the team is still in the market for a middle linebacker, it sounds as if it is prepared to move on. The guess here, though, is that Riley will ultimately return to the Raiders, as the club’s middle linebacker position is arguably its weakest. The Raiders signed Jelani Jenkins this offseason, and they also drafted Wake Forest’s Marquel Lee in the fifth round of this year’s draft, but they can hardly expect either of them to be difference-makers (Jenkins, in fact, graded out as the worst full-time linebacker in the league last season per PFF and will likely only appear in sub-packages). As such, a reunion with Riley just makes too much sense.
Outside of Riley, Ryan Clady is the only member of our 2017 list of top 50 free agents to remain unsigned, and like Riley, Clady has not generated a great deal of interest on the open market. The Seahawks are the only team to have publicly reached out to Clady, and while the 30-year-old tackle (31 in September) visited Seattle in March, he left town without a contract. At his peak, Clady was one of the premier left tackles in the game, but injuries have derailed the career of the four-time Pro Bowler, as he has appeared in just 27 of a possible 64 regular-season games since 2013. He spent the first seven years of his career with the Broncos before signing with the Jets last season, but he played in only nine games (eight starts) for Gang Green before suffering a season-ending rotator cuff injury, and the club ultimately decided not to exercise his 2017 option. While no one can rely on him to serve as a starting-caliber left tackle for a full season at this point, it’s hard to imagine his not getting a chance to crack another tackle rotation this summer. Outside of the Seahawks, the Ravens may be a potential landing spot, as Baltimore lost starting right tackle Ricky Wagner this offseason and may prefer to keep guards Alex Lewis and Marshal Yanda on the interior of the line.
Speaking of the Ravens, Baltimore has been connected to another former Jet, Nick Mangold, this offseason. In addition to a potential right tackle vacancy, the Ravens also have a hole at center, and Mangold could represent a quality stopgap solution in that regard. The two sides met early last month, and the Ravens — unlike some other teams, who believe Mangold’s health makes him better-suited to a guard spot at this stage of his career — are comfortable with Mangold’s medicals, but compensation appears to be the obstacle at this point. Assuming Mangold is healthy, he would be a perfect fit in Baltimore. The team is apparently comfortable playing Lewis at right tackle, but signing Mangold would allow John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, and rookie Nico Siragusa to compete for the starting left guard spot and create solid depth throughout the rest of the rotation. Should the Ravens fail to sign a right tackle and/or a center, three of their starting offensive linemen would be mid-round draft choices with little to no track record at the professional level. Mangold has also drawn interest from the Giants, but with Weston Richburg entrenched at center, and with Justin Pugh and John Jerry on either side of him, it’s unclear how Mangold would fit in with Big Blue.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.