Despite having not played in a regular-season game since 2016, Crockett Gillmore received a workout opportunity in a familiar place Friday.
The Ravens brought in their former third-round tight end pick for an audition, Albert Breer of SI.com notes (on Twitter). Injuries limited Gillmore during his time in Baltimore. The team did express interest in bringing him back, but that was 2 1/2 years ago.
Neither Gillmore nor 2015 second-rounder Maxx Williams panned out to the Ravens’ liking, and the team has shifted to a new group of tight ends — headlined by Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle. Gillmore attempted to move to the offensive line as a free agent in 2018, but not much interest followed.
The 2014 draftee’s most notable NFL work came in 2015, when he caught 33 passes for 412 yards and four touchdowns. A back injury ended that promising season after 10 games. Gillmore suffered a season-ending knee injury in the summer of 2017, ending his time as a Ravens regular. Should the 6-foot-6 free agent be given another opportunity, this would be his age-29 season.
Gillmore, 26, spent the first four years of his career as a tight end for the Ravens, but multiple injuries repeatedly kept him off the field. After posting a career-best season in 2015 (33 receptions, 412 yards, four touchdowns), Gillmore managed only seven games in 2016 before going down with the aforementioned MCL injury.
As Zrebiec has indicated at various points this offseason, Baltimore still has interest in re-signing Gillmore, who has been on the open market since March. The Ravens are largely set across their offensive line after re-signing James Hurst and using a third-round pick on Orlando Brown, but the club could still have room for Gillmore as a reserve. Baltimore, theoretically, should have the most recent and accurate information regarding Gillmore’s health.
Whether any other team will be willing to consider Gillmore is unclear. Clearly, his injury history will limit his overall market and earning capacity, at least in the near term. But Gillmore’s positional change is the more intriguing matter at hand, and just how many clubs are open to signing him as an offensive lineman is an open question.
The Lions met with tight end Eric Ebron on Thursday to discuss his future, Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. Team officials let him know that they are are open to dealing him and didn’t not guarantee that he’ll be back with the team for 2018.
Ebron, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has had an up-and-down career in Detroit. On the plus side, he had less issues with dropped passes in 2017 than in years past.
There’s reason to believe that Ebron, who doesn’t turn 25 until April, can grow from here. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged 57 catches for 642 yards and it’s possible that a change of scenery can help him reach the next level.
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.
February 26th, 2018 at 11:50am CST by Dallas Robinson
The Dolphins are “strongly” considering releasing offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James instead of paying his $9.341MM base salary in 2018, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. James, a former first-round pick, is under contract next season thanks to his fifth-year option, but given that his salary is non-guaranteed, Miami can get out of the deal with no penalty. While the Dolphins could speculatively be interested in retaining James at a reduced price, the 25-year-old has little incentive to accept a pay cut, as he’d immediately become one of the best tackles on the open market if he were to be released. Indeed, the top end of an extremely weak free agent tackle class includes Nate Solder, Justin Pugh, Cameron Fleming, and Chris Hubbard, so James would surely draw interest.
Here’s more from the AFC:
Blake Bortles‘ new three-year deal with the Jaguars contains offset language, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). Jacksonville inked Bortles to a $54MM extension over the weekend that includes a partially guaranteed ($6.5MM of $16MM) base salary in 2019. If the former first-round pick flops during the upcoming campaign, the Jaguars could release him next spring and still create $4.5MM worth of cap space. That figure could be even greater thanks to offset language, however, as the Jaguars would be off the hook for whatever salary Bortles hypothetically earns with his next club.
The Ravens and tight end-turned-offensive linemanCrockett Gillmore have mutual interest in new contract, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Reports last week indicated Gillmore would transition to offensive line, and he’s apparently begun the change by packing on “considerable bulk” to aid the move. Baltimore, understandably, wants a “better gauge” of Gillmore’s physical condition, not solely due to his upcoming position switch, but because he missed the entire 2017 with a knee injury. Gillmore, 26, was always considered an outstanding blocking tight end while playing in the 250-pound range.
Cornerback David Amersoninked a one-year deal with the Chiefs earlier this month, and while Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star previously reported the pact has a base value of $2.25MM, Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter link) has now provided the contract’s specifics. Amerson, 26, receives a $500K signing bonus, a $1MM base salary, $625K in per-game roster bonuses, and a $125K workout bonus. The deal also contains unknown incentives which, as Paylor indicated, could bring the total value of the agreement to $6MM.
In desperate need of offensive line depth, the Bengalsrecently signed ex-Giants tackle Bobby Hart, but his contract details show that he’s not a lock for Cincinnati’s roster, as Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Facebook link). Hart got a $50K signing bonus and will collect another $200K bonus if he’s on the Bengals’ Week 1 roster. All told, Hart will be an easy cut for Cincinnati if he doesn’t prove his worth during the summer.
February 21st, 2018 at 11:12am CST by Zachary Links
Pending free agent Crockett Gillmore could be changing teams in 2018. He could also wind up changing positions. The tight end is looking to transition to the offensive line, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (viaTwitter).
Gillmore is training with former NFL player LeCharles Bentley, who runs an academy for offensive linemen. Gillmore has long talked about wanting to transition to the O-Line, according to Zrebiec, and has added “considerable bulk” in order to make the move.
Gillmore, 27 in November, had 33 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. Unfortunately, injuries have hampered him ever since. In 2016, he appeared in only seven games thanks to back and knee issues. Then, last year, a July knee injury cost him all of 2017.
Gillmore, 25, had 33 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. Unfortunately, injuries have hampered him ever since. In 2016, he appeared in only seven games thanks to back and knee issues. Now, he’ll have to wait until 2018 to see the field again.
By exposing Gillmore to waivers, the Ravens run the risk of another team swooping in on him and planting him on the roster. If Gillmore clears waivers – probably the most likely scenario given his current status – then he will revert to the team’s injured reserve. From there, the Ravens can either park him on IR or release him with an injury settlement.
Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore had surgery on his MCL and is likely going to miss the season, the team announced. Gillmore’s recovery timetable is five months, meaning that he cannot realistically think about getting back on the field until 2018.
The Ravens were hoping that Gillmore would only need a “trim” to his meniscus rather than a full repair. A trim could have allowed Gillmore to return mid-season, but the severity of his tear left him with only one option.
The Ravens signed former Giants tight endLarry Donnell earlier this week, giving them a bit of extra padding at tight end. So far this offseason, the position has been ravaged by injuries and other events. Dennis Pitta was cut after suffering a likely career-ending injury and Darren Waller is suspended for the full season. Maxx Williams and Ben Watson, meanwhile, are recovering from injuries of their own.
Gillmore, 25, had 33 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. Last year, back and knee injuries limited him to just seven games.
Ravens tight end Crockett Gillmore will undergo meniscus surgery on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Baltimore will be able to further assess Gillmore’s condition once the operation is complete, per Rapoport.
Meniscus injuries typically require one of two treatments: either a trim, or a full repair. A trim will typically allow a player to return much more quickly following the surgery. A full repair, meanwhile, is better for the long-term health of the player’s knee, but often requires a season-long absence. Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon, for example, recently underwent a repair, meaning he’ll miss the 2017 campaign.
Gillmore, 25, was last productive during the 2015 season, when he posted 33 receptions for 412 yards and four touchdowns. In 2016, Gillmore appeared in only seven games, while dealing with back and knee injuries.