Rashad Jennings

Rashad Jennings Blackballed For “Dancing With The Stars”?

Rashad Jennings had a strong showing on “Dancing With The Stars” Monday night, or at least that’s what this recap from USA Today tells us. The Giants free agent running back used his “quick-footed Cha Cha” and stylish golden blazer to win over judges, putting him into DWTS frontrunner status. Rashad Jennings (vertical)

His performance netted him four “sparkle points” out of five from USA Today, but the rest of the league isn’t going wild over his newfound hobby. Word is that the free agent running back is being blackballed for participating in the show, longtime NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets.

Jennings is the latest in a long line of NFL players to take a shot at ballroom dancing on network television. Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Chad Johnson, Hines Ward, Warren Sapp, Kurt Warner, Lawrence Taylor, Emmitt Smith, Donald Driver, Jason Taylor, Michael Irvin, Jerry Rice, and Von Miller have all strutted their stuff, with varying degrees of success. Most of those players did the show after retiring and only one, Miller, went on DWTS during a critical time for contract negotiations.

No one questioned Miller’s commitment to football during his reality show stint, but that might be because Miller was in his prime and one of the league’s very best defensive players. Jennings, on the other hand, is a soon-to-be 32-year-old coming off of an injury-riddled season. Teams probably expected that Jennings would be spending the offseason working out and meeting with interested teams. Instead, teams might be left with the impression that he is trying to follow the path of ex-Giant Michael Strahan. As a charismatic and good looking guy, Jennings could be zeroed in on a broadcasting career and that could detract from his commitment to football.

I have Jennings ranked as the fourth-best running back left in free agency.

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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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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Giants Release RB Rashad Jennings

This is shaping up to be a busy day for the Giants. The G-Men are releasing former starting running back Rashad Jennings, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). "<strong

[RELATED: Giants Release Victor Cruz]

Jennings was set to carry a cap charge of $3MM. By releasing him, the Giants will save $2.5MM.

The veteran running back was brought to New York in 2014 with the idea that he would be the team’s workhorse in the backfield. Instead, injuries held him back in two of his three seasons. In 2016, he averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per rush on 181 carries. Jennings made a name for himself in 2013 with the Raiders when he averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored a career-high six touchdowns. Now on the verge of his 32nd birthday, it’s fair to wonder if he can get back to that level of production.

The Giants are now expected to turn to youngster Paul Perkins to hold down the running back job. As it stands, the Giants also have veteran Shane Vereen on the books for one more year at a roughly $5MM cap charge.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Steelers, Hawks, Giants, Chiefs

The oldest defensive player in the NFL, linebacker James Harrison, is reportedly planning to return for his age-39 season in 2017, and the Steelers are interested in bringing back the pending free agent. “Obviously, we need to have a contract. But I think we’re definitely open to it,” team president Art Rooney II told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Tuesday. “And, from what I understand, at least he’s open to it.” Despite his advanced age, Harrison led the Steelers in sacks (five) in his 14th NFL season and became the franchise’s all-time leader in that category (79.5).

Regardless of whether Harrison’s career continues with the Steelers, they’ll prioritize upgrading their pass rush this offseason, Rooney indicated. “That’s a piece of the puzzle that I think we can identify we want to improve on,” said Rooney, whose club finished ninth in sacks and 15th in quarterback hurries in 2016.

Elsewhere around the league…

  • The Seahawks made a contract offer to pending free agent tight end Luke Willson, but it wasn’t “extremely serious” and he “didn’t really respond to it,” the 27-year-old told KJR-AM 950 (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). Willson also revealed that, although his preference is to re-sign with the Seahawks, he’s “excited” about the chance to test the open market. While Willson hasn’t put up gaudy numbers in his four-year Seattle career (74 catches, 976 yards and seven touchdowns in 56 games), he could have a case for a significant payday. As Condotta notes, Willson has similar numbers to San Francisco’s Vance McDonald (64 receptions, 866 yards, seven TDs in 48 games), who landed an extension featuring $16MM in guarantees in December. The Seahawks already have one expensive tight end in Jimmy Graham, who’s due a $7.9MM salary next season.
  • A subpar season – not to mention the $2.5MM in cap savings that would accompany his release – could cost running back Rashad Jennings his place on the Giants’ roster, but he expects to return in 2017. “I’ve got one more year on my contract, and I’ve got a lot to prove. I look forward to doing it in New York again,” the soon-to-be 32-year-old told James Kratch of NJ Advance Media. Jennings, who averaged a paltry 3.3 yards per rush on 181 carries in 2016, added that he and head coach Ben McAdoo had a “very upbeat” exit meeting.
  • Chiefs long snapper James Winchester‘s contract extension is a five-year, $4.45MM pact featuring $500K in guarantees and a $500K roster bonus for 2017, reports Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Winchester can also earn $10K in workout bonuses for every year of the deal.
  • Free agent linebacker Justin Tuggle worked out for the Raiders, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The son of longtime NFL linebacker Jessie Tuggle spent 2013-15 in Houston, where he appeared in 42 games and started 11, but didn’t play this season after he was unable to survive the Browns’ final cuts in early September.

Giants Hoping Rashad Jennings Returns This Week

The Giants are optimistic that running back Rashad Jennings will be able to return to game action in Week 4 against the Vikings, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). New York announced earlier today that Shane Vereen is will be sidelined for awhile, so the club can use all the backfield help it can get.Rashad Jennings (Vertical)

[RELATED: New York Giants Depth Chart]

Jennings, 31, miss Sunday’s loss to the Redskins due to a left thumb injury. The ailment wouldn’t have affected his ability to carry the ball, but Jennings was concerned that it would hinder his passing game role, reports Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. On the season, Jenning has managed 102 yards on 32 carries, adding another 16 yards through the air. If Jennings can’t go on Sunday, the Giants will rely on Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey, and Paul Perkins to maintain the ground game.

The Giants will likely have an open roster spot once they place Vereen on injured reserve, so they could potentially add another running back to their current crop if they choose.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Carlson, Okung, Thomas

Former Cardinals tight end John Carlson unexpectedly announced his retirement in May, leaving Arizona searching for a veteran replacement this summer. As Carlson tells Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune, he considered the health risks inherent in continuing to play after suffering multiple concussions when he made his decision. But with three kids under the age of five at home, he admits that his priorities were shifting as well.

“It was clear already that I didn’t have that same passion and love for the game that I had in the past,” Carlson said, adding that committing so much time to the NFL meant he wasn’t “nearly the husband and father” he wanted to be.

While Carlson adjusts to retirement, the Cardinals are eyeing possible free agent alternatives like Jermaine Gresham and Chris Cooley. Here’s more from across the NFC:

  • Seahawks tackle Russell Okung, who has parted ways with his agent, is consulting with agents and may hire one to assist with his contract, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Okung would pay that consultant a flat fee rather than a percentage of his new deal.
  • Meanwhile, Okung tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that he’s “optimistic” about his future with the Seahawks and will be speaking with the team soon about his situation. I’d speculated earlier this week that Okung may prefer to wait until after the season to discuss his contract, so as not to interfere with his on-field performance this summer.
  • With Okung planning to negotiate his own deal, and Giants running back Rashad Jennings encouraging other players to do the same (as Nick Powell of NJ.com writes), Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk lists several things an agent can do to help a player and earn his commission, outside of simply negotiating a contract. It’s worth approaching any praise of agents from reporters with a critical eye – since agents are often the sources of insider information for those reporters – but Florio’s breakdown is a good one.
  • Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, recovering from shoulder surgery, acknowledges to Ed Werder of ESPN.com that he’s not sure if he’ll be ready to go when the regular season gets underway.
  • With their division rivals making roster upgrades this offseason, Chip Kelly and the Eagles decided Philadelphia’s upside wasn’t quite high enough, and the team couldn’t afford to stand pat, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News in a look at the NFC East.

Injury Updates: Monday

As is typically the case on Mondays, teams around the NFL are receiving updates on injured players, and while in some instances that news is reassuring, that’s not always the case. Here are a few items related to injuries that may force clubs to make roster moves:

  • As feared, Titans safety Bernard Pollard has a ruptured Achilles and will miss the rest of the season, tweets Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com. While the team has yet to officially make a move, we can expect Pollard to hit IR at some point this week.
  • A pair of Ravens are expected to miss multiple weeks, according to Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com, who writes that cornerback Asa Jackson suffered a severly sprained toe, while defensive end Chris Canty is dealing with an infection in his wrist. Head coach John Harbaugh indicated today that the club’s current plan is to place Jackson on the injured reserve with the designation to return. The team will also look to add a cornerback in his absence, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Broncos running back Montee Ball suffered a strained groin, and could miss up to three weeks, head coach John Fox said today (Twitter link via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com).
  • The Giants figure to be without running back Rashad Jennings for the near future, as the offseason signee confirmed today that he sustained a sprained MCL (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News). While Jennings should remain on the 53-man roster, the team could bolster the running back position by promoting Michael Cox from the practice squad, notes Vacchiano (via Twitter).
  • The Jets got a scare when linebacker David Harris injured his shoulder, but an MRI showed no structural damage and he’s considered day-to-day, tweets Brian Costello of the New York Post.

Injury Updates: Sunday

Here are some injuries that occurred during Sunday’s game action:

  • Chargers‘ center Doug Legursky left the blowout victory over the Jets with a knee injury, and Michael Gehlken of the U-T San Diego reports that he will likely be out much longer (via Twitter).
  • The Jets also lost a key member of their team, with linebacker David Harris suffering a shoulder injury, reports Brian Costello of the New York Post (via Twitter). He will undergo an MRI tomorrow.
  • Calais Campbell‘s injury reported earlier was an MCL injury, and will keep him out between three and four weeks, reports Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (via Twitter).

Earlier Updates:

  • Saints‘ star tight end Jimmy Graham suffered a sprained shoulder during the team’s overtime victory against the Buccaneers earlier today. The team is going into their bye week, which should give the All-Pro pass catcher time to recover. Graham hopes to return to the field the following week against the Lions.
  • Titans‘ safety Bernard Pollard left the locker room using crutches, reports Jim Wyatt of the Tennesseean (via Twitter). The team fears that he has torn his achilles, writes Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk. Pollard will have an MRI on Monday.
  • Titans‘ starting quarterback Jake Locker has also faced an injury, being forced out of the team’s loss at the hands of the Browns. Locker injured his thumb in the game, and while X-rays were negative, he will have an MRI on Monday, writes Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.
  • Giants‘ running back Rashad Jennings is set to have an MRI on his knee tomorrow, but believes the injury is not serious, according to Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News (via Twitter).
  • There have been a number of injuries for the Cardinals during their matchup against the Broncos. Starting quarterback Drew Stanton, who was already filling in for an injured Carson Palmer, has been forced out of the game with a concussion, reports Mark Dalton of the Arizona Cardinals (via Twitter). Rookie Logan Thomas has replaced him in the game. The team does not have an emergency quarterback left on their roster. Defensive end Calais Campbell has also been removed from the game with a knee injury, reports Lindsay Jones of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • The Broncos have not been unscathed so far, losing running back Montee Ball to a groin injury, reports Chris Cwik of CBS Sports.
  • The Chargers have also experienced some key injuries despite building a big lead over the Jets. Tackle D.J. Fluker and receiver Malcolm Floyd have both left the game with lower leg injuries, and failed to return, reports Eric Williams of ESPN (via Twitter). Running back Donald Brown also left the game with a concussion, writes Michael Gehlken of the U-T San Diego (via Twitter).