Wright, 23, missed the Cardinals’ final cut in September but signed on with the practice squad the following day. Since then, he has been cycled through the NFL’s usual process for fringe players (promoted, cut, re-signed to practice squad, repeat). Through four weeks, he has dressed for three games.
Wright has yet to make a major impact at the NFL level, but he is well known in the area for his work at the University of Arizona. In 2014, Wright tallied an eye-popping 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and six forced fumbles. Unfortunately, he was slowed by injuries in 2015 and his draft stock suffered as a result. The Browns took him with one of the final picks in the draft, but he found his way to the Cardinals late last year.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The market has been slow to develop for Aiken but it sounds like things could pick up soon as he’s set to meet with the Colts and Seahawks. Aiken, 28 in May, had only 29 receptions last year, but he had 75 grabs for 944 yards in 2015.
Cruz was on the field for 15 regular season games last year and he could recapture some of his old form if a team uses him in the slot. Quick quietly had 44 catches for 564 yards and three touchdowns with the Rams last year, and he was playing in a less-than-stellar offense. Boldin, meanwhile, had 67 catches in 2016, but he averaged just 8.7 yards per reception.
It’s a thin group at tight end and everything drops off dramatically after Tamme and Rivera at the top. Donnell made some noise during his time with the Giants but it’s been a while since he’s done anything of note. Tamme and Rivera could be the only two players from this group to land a deal with any real guaranteed cash.
Things have thinned out at tackle but there are still some impact guys here including Clady, Dunlap, and the versatile Pasztor. Sebastian Vollmer, if healthy, would be an interesting pickup for a team in need of offensive line depth.
Evans can still go and he finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 36 guard in the NFL last season. We have a few notable centers here as well in Mangold, Sullivan, and Barnes. Some teams are asking Mangold to switch to guard, but he is hoping to continue in the middle.
Brown was thrust into a more prominent role yesterday as teammate John Brown was sidelined with symptoms stemming from sickle-cell trait. Serving as the team’s No. 3 wide receiver, Jaron Brown was forced to exit in the first half. If both Browns are out, then the team is left only with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and J.J. Nelson at receiver. The Cardinals could promote receivers Marquis Bundy and/or Brittan Golden from the practice squad, but they could also look out-of-house for options.
Prior to suffering the injury, Jaron Brown had been a more prominent part of the Cardinals’ offense this season compared to previous years. Brown had already tied his 16-game reception total from last season (11) and amassed 22 targets – one fewer than his 2015 amount. He also averaged an impressive 17.0 yards per catch and added a touchdown over the Cardinals’ first seven games.
October 18th, 2016 at 7:36pm CST by Connor J. Byrne
Free agent receiver Aaron Dobson visited the Colts on Tuesday, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). Dobson has worked out for several teams and had multiple stints with the Lions since the Patriots cut him Sept. 3. The three-year veteran has 53 receptions and four touchdowns in 24 games (13 starts).
The Colts also worked out running back David Cobb (Twitter link). The former Titan has tried out for a bevy of clubs since Tennessee cut him in August. Cobb briefly caught on with the Steelers, who waived him from their practice squad last week.
Along with Dobson and Cobb, receiver Marcus Leak, tight ends Alex Bayer and Darion Griswold, and linebackers Trevor Reilly and James Vaughters tried out with the Colts, tweets Howard Balzer of USA Today.
More workouts from the AFC (courtesy of Caplan, unless otherwise noted):
In addition to defensive end Kendall Reyes, whom they signed, the Chiefs tried out fellow DE Lynden Trail on Tuesday, according to Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter link). Joining them were linebackers Deion Barnes, Randell Johnson, and Kyle Kragen.
Veteran offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds worked out for the Ravens on Tuesday (Twitter link). Reynolds has been on the radar of a few teams since Los Angeles released him prior to Week 1. The 29-year-old has 42 appearances and 23 starts on his resume.
The Patriots tried out out two offensive tackles – Ryan Mack and Pearce Slater – as well as defensive end Jordan Williams, reports Doug Kyed of NESN (via Twitter).
Along with linebacker Quentin Gaus and tight end Steven Scheu, both of whom joined their practice squad, the Broncos worked out linebackers Lenny Jones, J.R. Tavai and Kyrie Wilson; defensive ends Deonte Gibson, Ian Seau and Josh Shirley; and safety Elijah Shumate (Twitterlinks via Balzer).
Armonty Bryant will be in position to make his Lions debut Sunday after the team activated the suspended defensive end, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. As a result, Aaron Dobson‘s Detroit debut might never come after the Lions again made him a Saturday cut again.
Bryant missed the first four games this season due to a suspension that stemmed from his December 2015 arrest for possessing Adderall without a prescription. The Browns waived him earlier this week, re-routing Bryant to Detroit via waiver claim.
An outside linebacker in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme, Bryant played defensive end at Division II East Central (Okla.), so moving back to that role in the Lions’ 4-3 look might not be a big issue for the fourth-year player. He started just four games in his three years in Cleveland but is coming off a career-best campaign that included 5.5 sacks.
The Lions will be without reigning NFC sack leader Ziggy Ansah again on Sunday. Aside from Kerry Hyder‘s five sacks, the remainder of Detroit’s defensive front has just three.
Dobson may not have as easy a path back to the Lions as he did when the team waived him last month for temporary help. Bryant is expected to stay on the 53-man roster, so the former Patriots wide receiver could venture back onto the workout circuit where he resided in between being cut by New England after the preseason and signing with Detroit.
The Lions cut Dobson two weeks ago due to a depth issue at linebacker before re-signing him shortly after. He’s yet to be active for a game this season. Detroit also cut tackle Brian Mihalik, Caplan reports.
September 27th, 2016 at 4:16pm CST by Zachary Links
The Lions announced that they have re-signed wide receiver Aaron Dobson. In a related move, linebacker Zaviar Gooden has been re-signed to the practice squad.
Dobson worked out for the Jets, Eagles, Chargers, and 49ers this month before a Lions tryout finally landed him a deal. He was dropped prior to the team’s Week 3 game against the Packers, but he’s back in the fold now. Since a decent showing in his rookie season, Dobson has just 16 catches for 179 yards over the last two years.
Detroit promoted linebacker Zaviar Gooden for Sunday’s game as DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams were sidelined. After being waived, Gooden is back on the taxi squad.
September 24th, 2016 at 3:18pm CST by Sam Robinson
Aaron Dobson could be back on the workout circuit again after the Lions made the decision to waive the former Patriots wideout in advance of their Week 3 game against the Packers, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).
The Lions, who are without DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams for Sunday’s game, promoted linebacker Zaviar Gooden from their practice squad, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
Since Dobson is in his fourth season, he does not have enough service time to qualify as a vested veteran. He will head to waivers and would have an interesting employment case since five teams saw enough to give him auditions in between his failure to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster and his signing with the Lions.
The former second-round pick’s Lions stay didn’t last long, however. He did not make it a week. Dobson worked out for the Jets, Eagles, Chargers, 49ers and Lions this month.
Provided no one claims him on waivers or signs him subsequently as a free agent in the event he reaches free agency again, the Lions could look to re-sign Dobson after their linebacker situation improves.
Dobson’s signing could signal that the Lions are set to go with five wide receivers. Alternatively, it could mean that Andre Roberts‘ time is through in Detroit. Roberts currently sits at the bottom of Detroit’s four-man WR depth chart behind Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Anquan Boldin.
Dobson has yet to impress in his three NFL seasons to date but he is hoping to show the talent that made him a second-round pick in 2013. The Marshall product had his moments in his rookie campaign, compiling 37 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns. Since then, however, Dobson has only hauled in 16 catches for 179 yards in 12 games.