The Chargers have made it clear they are going all-in during Justin Herbert‘s rookie contract. One of the smaller moves they have made during free agency is retaining his backup QB. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team is re-signing Chase Daniel to a one-year, 2.25MM deal (Twitter link).
The 35-year-old signed in L.A. last year, making the Chargers his sixth NFL team. The career backup had spent time with the Saints, Chiefs, Eagles, Bears and Lions previously. He appeared in a single game in 2021, but did not attempt any passes.
The former Missouri Tiger originally signed a three-year deal with Detroit, but the team ended up releasing him after they were unable to find a trade partner. In Los Angeles, he reunited with both head coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi.
While he wasn’t needed on the field, Daniel obviously made a good impression with the Bolts. He took over Tyrod Taylor‘s role of mentoring Herbert while providing experienced depth, something which will now continue for at least one more campaign. If the Chargers’ major moves made already pay off as they hope, he may even find himself getting a Super Bowl ring for the first time in his career.
Chase Daniel will make his way to Los Angeles to mentor the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Chargers agreed to terms with the veteran backup on Friday night, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year agreement.
Recently released by the Lions, Daniel will move to his sixth NFL team and work as Justin Herbert‘s backup. Daniel was with the Bears during Brandon Staley‘s final season in Chicago (2018). Being quite well traveled, Daniel also has a history with new Bolts OC Joe Lombardi. Daniel worked with Lombardi during both his Saints stints.
The University of Missouri product has been one of the most financially successful backup quarterbacks ever, and despite being set for his age-35 season, Daniel has remained a coveted QB2. The Lions signed him to a three-year, $13.1MM accord in 2020 and used him at points. The Lions attempted to trade their backup but ended up releasing him. Now, Daniel and Matthew Stafford are each L.A.-bound.
Daniel has remained a viable passer despite having never started more than two games in a season. The former Heisman finalist has only started two games in just one of his 12 NFL seasons (2018, when a Mitchell Trubisky injury thrust his backup into action). Over his career, Daniel is a 68% passer. But that total has come on just 261 attempts.
He will step into the role Tyrod Taylor vacated. Brought in to be Philip Rivers‘ backup in 2019, Taylor entered the 2020 season as the Chargers’ starter. However, a pregame injection mishap began the Herbert era in Week 2 of last season. Taylor has since signed with the Texans.
The Lions couldn’t find a taker for quarterback Chase Daniel. The backup has been released, along with defensive tackle Danny Shelton (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport).
The Lions kicked off their offseason by trading Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff plus draft picks. Daniel, they thought, could have fetched them some later round capital, but no one wanted to take on the remainder of his three-year, $13.05MM deal.
Daniel has hardly played, but coaches still love him as a veteran backup. He has just five career starts under his belt, and just three since the 2014 season. The most recent of those came in a 2019 spot start with Chicago. The Missouri product has also spent time with the Saints, Chiefs, Eagles, and Bears. Now, a team looking to groom a young QB could add Daniel as a mentor.
Shelton — who entered the league as the No. 12 pick in the 2015 draft — never lived up to his draft status, but he’s built a solid career as a run-stuffer. The 345-pound lineman played a key role with the Pats in 2019 and found a home as the Lions starter this past season. Unfortunately, after eleven starts, his season was ended by a knee injury.
Together, the cuts will save the Lions over $4MM with $4.25MM in dead money.
The Lions already made the big blockbuster trade of this offseason by swapping Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and picks, and they apparently might not be done dealing quarterbacks.
Detroit has had trade discussions with teams about backup Chase Daniel, sources told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). We’ve heard trade rumors about tons of quarterbacks in what should be an unusually busy cycle for signal-caller movement, but this is a new one.
Daniel of course has never actually produced much on the field, but teams are continuously enamored with him as a veteran backup. He only has five career starts under his belt, and just three since the 2014 season. The most recent of those came in a 2019 spot start with Chicago. The Missouri product spent time with the Saints, Chiefs, and Eagles prior to joining Chicago.
He then signed a surprisingly lucrative three-year, $13.05MM deal with the Lions last offseason. If the Lions do trade him it won’t be for anything more than a late-round pick, but it’s interesting that teams are talking. It could be squads with a recently drafted quarterback making calls, as Schefter notes that Daniel “has been considered an ideal mentor for young QBs” around the league.
The Lions have agreed to sign Chase Daniel, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). It’ll be a three-year, $13.05MM deal for the former Bears quarterback and, interestingly, Schefter hears that the deal will include a voidable clause.
Daniel joined the Bears on a two-year deal back in 2018 – a pact that also included a void clause. The provision works in Daniel’s favor. If he breaks out a la Nick Foles, he can cash in on the open market. If he remains as a steady clipboard-holding hand, the Lions will get to keep him at a reasonable rate for a respected backup.
Daniel represents a fascinating case in the NFL. At the age of 33 (he’ll be 34 in October), he’s started in just five career NFL games. Still, coaches love his talent and his locker room leadership, so he has cashed in with various clubs in recent years.
Last year, Daniel’s lone start came against the Raiders – the Bears lost that game 24-21. In 2018 (just a few starts ago) he led the Bears to victory over the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
The Bears are expected to sign quarterback Chase Daniel to a two-year deal worth $10MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal includes $7MM guaranteed and it can void after one season.
The void clause, as Rapoport puts it, gives Daniel options in the event that he “becomes this year’s Nick Foles.” If Mitch Trubisky gets injured and Daniel is a breakout star, he can become a free agent in 2019 and cash in.
This time last year, the Bears signed Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45MM deal with the notion that he would be the team’s starter. Weeks later, the Bears selected Mitch Trubisky high in the 2017 draft, which radically changed everything. Glennon got the hook after one month and Trubisky did not cede the starting job the rest of the way. Mark Sanchez was the only other quarterback rostered by the Bears last year and is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
This time around, things are a bit more cut and dry. Trubisky is entrenched as the upcoming starter and Daniel is here to mentor and serve as the backup in the event of injury. Glennon has already moved on since his release and has signed to back up Sam Bradford with the Cardinals.
Daniel, 31, spent last season backing up Drew Brees with the Saints and has also had stops with the Eagles and Chiefs. He has two career starts, which both came while with the Chiefs from 2013-15. The Saints originally signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of Missouri. Daniel has completed 65.4% of his passes in 78 career attempts, with a touchdown and an interception.
NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, 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. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.
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 2018:
Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.
Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.
There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.
What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.
Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.
Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.
Carlos Hyde didn’t have the kind of platform year he was hoping for, but he’s still just 26 and could headline a running back by committee group.
Jerick McKinnon‘s placement on this list figures to be controversial, but his athleticism and pass-catching ability can blow a game wide open. No one will bank on McKinnon to carry the ball 20 times per game, but he can be a real difference maker for a team out there.
Can Frank Gore outrun father time? History indicates that he can’t and so does his 3.7 yards per carry average in 2017. You have to give credit where credit is due, however. Gore has been ruled out by many for years, but he has not missed a regular season game since the 2010 season. He’s also just one year removed from cracking 1,000 yards and he almost did the same last year.
For most teams, Allen Robinson would be a franchise tag candidate. However, that may be too much of a luxury for the cash-strapped Jaguars. He presents a fascinating free agent case. Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on the board in the eyes of many. His 2015 season – 80 catches, 1,400 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdowns – makes GMs drool. His quieter year in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns) is less worthy of salivation. His 2017 season, of course, was a lost cause. For all the question marks, you can expect Robinson to see more dollars than any other free agent WR this year, particularly since Jarvis Landry has been held back by the tag.
Some in the football world may prefer Sammy Watkins for his big-play ability, but his down contract year amidst a capable offense is cause for concern. His injury history doesn’t do him any favors either. No matter your feelings on Watkins, there’s no debating that this year’s WR market has a top tier comprised of just two players – Watkins and Robinson. With few quality receivers out there, they’ll both get paid.
Marqise Lee represents a much less sexy option (speaking in football terms, of course), but he had the most receptions of any Jaguars receiver in 2017 (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). Teams looking for a quality WR2 in free agency could do a lot worse than Lee and he’ll be far cheaper than the two-man top tier.
Danny Amendola hauled in 61 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs. However, teams will wonder if he can thrive in his age-33 season while playing outside of the Patriots’ offense. It’s also quite possible that he never tests the market as his stated preference is to remain in New England.
After that, you’ll notice a pretty significant drop off. That’s because this year’s WR class isn’t all that deep. Terrelle Pryor had to settle for a one-year prove-it contract last year and, to put it mildly, he did not prove it. Paul Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, but that marked his first NFL season of real note.
Trey Burton spent most of the year behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ depth chart, but he emerged late in the season and set himself up nicely for free agency. Given his age and potential, there’s no question that he is the belle of the ball at tight end.
The rest of the tight end crop is not nearly as inspiring. Jimmy Graham has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks, but he’ll turn 32 in November and he’s no longer the monster playmaker that he was in New Orleans. He had ten touchdowns in 2017, but his 9.1 yards per reception average is a career low.
Odds are, you have Tyler Eifert ranked over Austin Seferian-Jenkins given the fact that Eifert has played just ten games over the last two years. ASJ, meanwhile, rebounded from personal issues to post a 50-catch season for the Jets. Personally, I’m picking Eifert based on upside. Hopefully, we can still be friends.
Offensive line play is down across the board and evaluators around the league have been openly complaining about an increasing dearth of tackles coming out of college. That makes for a generally uninspiring lot in free agency.
Nate Solder battled through injuries in 2017 and did not miss a game. He’s no longer a top-flight option, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 32 tackle last year, meaning that he’s starter quality at left tackle. You’ll notice that three of the top five tackles on this list are Patriots. There’s little chance that the Pats let all three get away.
Justin Pugh offers the ability to play both guard and right tackle, though he might not do either one particularly well.
Andrew Norwell is the undisputed king of this category after netting an All-Pro selection in 2017. Norwell also earned a career-high 88.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, which positioned him third in the entire NFL amongst guards. A team with greater means than the Panthers might have used the franchise tag on him. Fortunately for rival teams in need of interior help (such as the Giants), they won’t cuff him with the one-year placeholder.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears the Jets and Colts are “possible destinations” for Patriots free agent running back Dion Lewis. The language in Fowler’s report is admittedly soft, but free agents are technically forbidden from talking to rival teams during this time, so this may be a wink-wink acknowledgement that both teams have engaged in some secretive discussions prior to the legal tampering period on March 12. Recently, Mike Florio of PFT indicated that the Texans, 49ers, and Raiders were also potential destinations for the 27-year-old (28 in September).
No surprise here, but free agent tight end Trey Burton is a popular man. With the Eagles unlikely to retain him, 16 clubs have already checked in on his status this week, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link).
Some executives who spoke with Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com indicated that Dontari Poe could be a fit for the Buccaneers. Poe, who did well on his one-year platform deal with the Falcons, may also fit the Redskins, Broncos, and Colts, per JLC.
More from JLC, who cautions of a potential bidding war between the Bears and Chiefs over backup quarterback Chase Daniel. The Saints would like to retain the veteran, but they might not be able to afford him with a big money extension on the horizon for Drew Brees. The Bears and Chiefs both make sense for Daniel given the ties he has to both coaching staffs.
Count the Saints among the clubs that may consider Mixon, as the controversial prospect met with New Orleans today, tweets Nick Underhill of the Advocate. While a number of teams, including New England and Miami have ruled out selecting Mixon due to an assault incident, the Saints are reportedly among the clubs “digging in” on the 20-year-old. In New Orleans, Mixon would pair with Mark Ingram to give the Saints a lethal running back combination.
Missouri defensive end Charles Harris worked out for the Titans on Monday, as he detailed to SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Harris is expected come off the board during the second half of the first round, and could conceivably be an option for Tennessee at pick No. 18. He put up 16 sacks over the past two seasons for the Tigers.
The Buccaneers are hosting USC cornerback Adoree’ Jackson on Monday, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Jackson, who ranks as Daniel Jermiah of NFL.com‘s 37th overall player, would give Tampa Bay another young defensive back after the team spent a first-round pick on Vernon Hargreaves in 2016. Also a dynamic returner, Jackson could augment a Buccaneers special teams unit that was below average on both kick and punt returns last year.
While Chase Daniel had other proposals on the table, the longtime backup chose a reunion with the Saints in part because Drew Brees‘ contract expires after 2017, as Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com writes. “[Brees] could play until he’s 45 if he wanted to,” Daniel said. “And the way his contract is sort of set up, yeah, it’s the last year of his contract, but for me, I’d be crazy to say that didn’t play a little bit into effect to come here, to play behind Drew again, to learn this offense, to get noticed in this offense and to see where it takes me.” Daniel, however, only signed for a single season, as well.