Robert Griffin III

CFL Team Holds Rights To Kaepernick, RG3

The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats have added quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III to their exclusive negotiation list, a source tells ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert (Twitter link). It’s not clear if Kaepernick or Griffin are open to playing north of the border, but if they do, their rights will be reserved by the Tiger-Cats. Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

Kaepernick and RG3 are among the best free agent quarterbacks left on the board, but, for different reasons, they haven’t garnered a lot of interest from NFL teams thus far. Kaepernick is a lightning-rod for controversy who is years removed from his best work. Griffin, meanwhile, is even further removed from his salad days and barely played in 2016 due to injury. In time, I expect that Griffin will find work, but it’s possible that all 32 teams could avoid Kaepernick over fear of a locker room distraction.

The Tiger-Cats also own the rights to Johnny Manziel, giving them three big-name QB possibilities.

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:

Updated 3-22-17, 10:44am CT

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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RG3 Wants To Play For Jets

This offseason, the Jets’ resource limitations kept them from pursuing quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins and Jimmy Garoppolo and keeping up with the bidding for free agent Mike Glennon. As their options dwindle, a new name could emerge as a possibility. The recently-released Robert Griffin III is interested in playing for the Jets, a source familiar with the situation tells NJ.com’s Connor Hughes. It’s not immediately clear whether that interest in being reciprocated at this time."<strong

Last year, we know that the Jets did have some level of interest in RG3. He was brought to Florham Park, New Jersey for a visit and he enjoyed his trip there, according to the source. Griffin, 27, looked like he was a rising star early in his career. As time went on, however, injuries slowed him down and his relationship with team brass in Washington became toxic. He went to Cleveland in search of a fresh start, but he was once again dogged by injury. He left the Browns after appearing in just five games for them in 2016.

Now, RG3 is looking for Act 3 of his career. And that could go down in New York, if the Jets feel that he is among their better options right now. All we know right now is that the Jets are thinking about signing Jay Cutler and Tony Romo won’t be an option of them for a number of reasons. If RG3 isn’t to their liking, they’ll be left to sift through a lot of QB2 types on the open market, including their own free agent Geno Smith.

Right now, the only quarterbacks on the Jets roster are Bryce Petty (who shares an alma mater with RG3) and Christian Hackenberg.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns To Release RG3

The Browns are releasing Robert Griffin III, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Griffin leaves the Browns after playing in just five games for the organization. <a rel=

After the Browns acquired Brock Osweiler on Thursday, it was speculated that the club could turn around and release Griffin. It’s still not certain that the Browns will forge ahead with Osweiler as their starter, but this could be a sign of that coming to fruition. Griffin will now re-enter the free agent market without much to show teams from last year.

Griffin suffered a serious shoulder injury in his very first game with Cleveland last year. After that, he was designated as the team’s one player for return from injured reserve. All in all, he played in five games and completed just 59.2% of his passes for 886 yards with 2 touchdowns against 3 interceptions. He also added 190 yards on the ground off of 31 carries and had two rushing touchdowns.

This is a far cry from his rookie performance with the Redskins in 2012. That season, the first-rounder completed 65.6-percent of his passes for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He added another 850 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. In the four seasons since, Griffin has only played in 27 games.

The quarterback visited the Jets as a free agent last offseason, but it’s unlikely the organization would have interest in him this time around. For team’s seeking a backup, there are a number of more reliable options available via free agency. However, you could argue that many of these quarterbacks don’t have the same ceiling as RG3.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Browns, Jets, Chiefs, Dolphins

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport has provided some more insight on the Browns‘ quarterback plans following their acquisition of Brock Osweiler earlier today (Twitter link). The reporter notes that the team is likely to release Robert Griffin III, and they’ll continue shopping Osweiler as they search for a proper deal. Rapoport also expects the organization to select a signal-caller in the draft.

Let’s take a look at some other AFC notes on a busy day around the NFL…

  • Rams free agent running back Benny Cunningham is set to visit the Jets, reports Jason La Canfora (via Twitter). The former undrafted free agent has spent his entire four-year career with the Rams. He finished last season with 101 rushing yards and 16 receptions while serving primarily as a third-down back.
  • Linebacker Gerald Hodges will visit the Chiefs, according to ProFootballTalk (via Twitter). The former 49ers defender had a career-season in 2016, finishing with 83 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumble.
  • The Dolphins have restructured defensive end Nick Williams‘ contract, reports Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (via Twitter). The 27-year-old played in 10 games between the Chiefs and Dolphins last season, finishing with eight tackles.
  • Lawrence Timmons will be visiting the Dolphins on Friday, tweets ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. The veteran linebacker spent his entire 10-year career with the Steelers, and he finished last season with 114 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two interceptions.

Texans Trade Brock Osweiler To Browns

Whoa! The Texans are trading quarterback Brock Osweiler and a 2018 second-round pick to the Browns in order to move his $16MM salary off the books, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Facebook link). The deal will also see the Browns’ fourth-round pick go to Houston and the Texans’ sixth-round choice to go Cleveland. The Texans have made the deal official, announcing its completion via press release."<strong

This type of deal rarely goes down in the NFL and is more of an NBA or MLB type of transaction. In this swap, the Browns are absorbing an albatross of a deal in order to acquire significant draft compensation. The wheeling and dealing might not stop here: Cleveland is not committed to keeping Osweiler and is likely to try to trade him, sources tell Schefter.

On the other hand, maybe they’ll keep him. The Browns are expected to move on from Robert Griffin III and the Brock Osweiler acquisition should clear the way for that, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

The move clears out tons of cap space for the Texans who are expected to use that money towards signing Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, Schefter writes. The deal saves $10MM in cap space for the Texans and $16MM in cash.

The Texans signed Osweiler to a four-year, $72MM roughly one year ago today with the hope that he would be their QB of the future. That, obviously, did not work out. Osweiler’s deal calls for him to earn $16MM guaranteed this year. After that, he has $18MM and $17MM non-guaranteed salaries in 2018 and 2019.

The Browns came into this week with upwards of $100MM to spend and Schefter writes that they would have struggled to spend all of it. Still, this seems like a very strange way to utilize that space. The only way this trade would make real sense for the Browns, in my view, is if they already have a final leg of the trade set up in which they deal Osweiler for something else of value. As of this writing, the Browns are spending $16MM in cash to acquire a second-round choice and that is not good business.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Browns’ QB Possibilities

Colin Kaepernick has informed all 32 NFL teams he’s going to opt out of his contract with the 49ers and become a free agent. When that happens, one team that definitely won’t pursue Kaepernick is the quarterback-needy Browns, a league source told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com.

Colin Kaepernick

Browns head coach Hue Jackson has demonstrated an affinity for Kaepernick in the past, so it’s conceivable the 29-year-old could have been on their radar. Jackson had interest last offseason in Kaepernick, who was then coming off an injury-plagued, statistically subpar campaign. But Kaepernick bounced back to a degree in 2016, as he tossed 16 touchdown passes against four interceptions, averaged 7.2 yards per attempt (up from 6.2 in 2015) and finished second among QBs in rushing yards (468, on a lofty 6.8 per carry) as part of a two-win team.

The only signal-caller who outrushed Kaepernick last year, the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor, will be on the Browns’ list if Buffalo releases him, reiterates Cabot. So could Buccaneers backup and soon-to-be free agent Mike Glennon, and the Browns also aren’t going to give up on acquiring either Patriots No. 2 Jimmy Garoppolo or Bengals reserve A.J. McCarron via trade, according to Cabot. The Patriots are reportedly unlikely to deal Garoppolo, though, while the Bengals will place a high price tag on McCarron – a former Jackson pupil – if anyone inquires about his availability.

Should the Browns fail to reel in a palatable long-term option via trades or free agency, the draft – in which they’re set to pick first and 12th overall – could be the avenue they take. Cabot notes they’ll “strongly consider” selecting a potential franchise passer then.

For now, their most established option under center is Robert Griffin III, who’s due a $750K roster bonus March 11. It’s possible Griffin will stay on the roster beyond that date, though, head of football operations Sashi Brown said Wednesday (via Cabot).

“That’s not going to be a major decision for us one way or the other in terms of a lever for making that decision,” he revealed. “We’re going to evaluate Robert, not his contract. And we’ve had some discussions there.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Smith, Tyrod, Cutler, Steelers

Already under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place last Saturday, Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith is now on the NFL’s radar, writes Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “We are looking in to the matter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told McDonald in an email Tuesday. Smith has been serving a substance abuse suspension since November 2015 and has a chance to gain reinstatement in March, but the league could push back its decision or even hand him an indefinite ban as a result of his latest off-field issue, per McDonald.

Elsewhere in the AFC…

  • If the Bills move on from quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they should sign soon-to-be released Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler to replace him, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com in a piece focusing on potential offseason moves in the AFC East. Tony Romo or Jimmy Garoppolo are more appealing choices, Barnwell acknowledges, but he doesn’t expect the former to sign in Buffalo (if the Cowboys cut him) or the Patriots to trade the latter within the division. If those two are unattainable, the draft could be an option, though Barnwell argues that the Bills shouldn’t reach for a QB with the 10th overall pick. That would leave Cutler as the most logical solution. Not only would he come on a short-term deal, but he’d reunite with new Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Cutler played under Dennison in Denver and has spoken highly of him in the past.
  • Speaking of Taylor, the Browns’ hiring of his former quarterbacks coach, David Lee, increased the passer’s odds of ending up in Cleveland, contends Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Taylor, who’s on the Browns’ “radar,” played under Lee in Buffalo the past two seasons and fared respectably in his first 29 games as a starter. The former Baltimore backup would replace Robert Griffin III, whom Cabot expects the Browns to release before his roster bonus is due March 11.
  • The Steelers’ contract talks with wide receiver Antonio Brown and linebacker Lawrence Timmons don’t figure to move quickly, tweets CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who expects running back Le’Veon Bell to be their biggest priority. Unlike Brown, who has another year on his deal, both Timmons and Bell could become free agents next month. Bell is clearly the more valuable of the two, of course, and the Steelers will place the franchise tag on the runner if they’re unable to re-sign him.

Browns Notes: Pryor, RG3, McCown, Erving

Contract-year wide receiver Terrelle Pryor made it clear multiple times earlier this season that he wants to remain with the Browns going forward. However, with free agency looming, Pryor acknowledged Thursday that he could on the cusp of playing his final game with the team. “I love to play for [Hue Jackson] and I enjoy playing for him this year and I’d love to play for him longer,” Pryor told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. “But at the end of the day, it’s got to come down to what my agents think is right for me.” Those agents, Drew and Jason Rosenhaus, have tabled extension talks with the Browns until after the season and likely want their client to test the market off a breakout campaign, per Cabot. The 27-year-old Pryor, a former quarterback, leads the Browns in targets (129), receptions (70), yards (913) and touchdowns (four).

More from Cleveland, which is no longer in danger of enduring a winless season as Week 17 nears:

  • Quarterback Robert Griffin III cleared concussion protocol after suffering a head injury last week and is on track to start Sunday in Pittsburgh, writes Cabot. Health has been a problem throughout the season for Griffin, who has not revived his career since signing a two-year deal with Cleveland last winter and could end up on the chopping block this offseason. In four appearances this year, Griffin has completed a meager 54.2 of his 107 passes and hasn’t thrown a touchdown. Moving on from the former Redskin would free up $7.5MM in spending space for the Browns, who would incur $1.75MM in dead cap.
  • Fellow signal-caller Josh McCown hinted at retirement last week, but the 37-year-old declared Thursday that he aims to return in 2017. “My plan is to play,” he said (via Pat McManamon of ESPN.com). “I have another year left on my deal. So right now, that’s the plan.” It’s unclear whether McCown will be open to continuing his career if the Browns release him, which looks like a distinct possibility. By cutting McCown, Cleveland would save $4.375MM on its cap against roughly $667K in dead money next year. If McCown’s playing career does conclude, he could have a place on Jackson’s staff next year. “I told him already if he ever wanted to coach, he could coach for me anytime he wants,” said Jackson.
  • Jackson revealed nearly two months ago that the Browns would try second-year man Cameron Erving at tackle if his play didn’t turn around at center. Erving was then Pro Football Focus’ worst-rated center, which hasn’t changed. As a result, the Browns will try the 2015 first-rounder at right tackle Sunday, per Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. Erving hasn’t fared well along the interior in the NFL, though he was an accomplished left tackle at Florida State and is eager to serve as a bookend again. “It’s definitely a little exciting, just to be able to potentially have that opportunity to go out and play tackle again,” Erving said.

AFC Notes: Bouye, RG3, Green, Jets, Nelson

Entering this season as a relative unknown, Texans fourth-year corner A.J. Bouye may have moved himself in position to sign a lucrative NFL contract for the first time. A UDFA in 2013 that started just eight games total before 2016, Bouye has stood out on a team that made far bigger investments at corner. A deal for Bouye could cost a team as much as $8MM-per-year in 2017, the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson notes.

Wilson describes a growing buzz around the physical defender, who could join Trumaine Johnson, Prince Amukamara, Stephon Gilmore and Darius Butler among the list of cornerbacks who stand tot be UFAs. Bouye rates behind only Chris Harris, Malcolm Butler and Aqib Talib among corners this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and will have the chance to stand out on a national stage in a home playoff game.

The Texans have two corners who stand to make more than $7MM next season in Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. Separating from Jackson would be more difficult financially than Joseph if Houston wished to retain Bouye since $4.5MM in dead money would match the amount the team could save by making that move. Houston stands to have $17MM-plus in cap space prior to making any offseason moves.

PFR’s Dallas Robinson ranked Bouye ninth among all players on his free agent power rankings.

Here’s more from the AFC.

  • Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III suffered a concussion on Saturday, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. His status for Week 17 is not immediately clear. RG3 missed most of this season with a shoulder injury but did become the only Browns QB to start in a win. However, the Browns gave Cody Kessler — the expected Week 17 starter, per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal — several starts this season and have a decision to make on Griffin. He’s due a relatively small $750K roster bonus in March and would count $9.25MM against Cleveland’s 2017 cap. The Browns could afford that, but Griffin didn’t give them much reason to trust him in 2016.
  • Andy Dalton confirmed a Saturday report that ownership made the decision to yank A.J. Green from the Bengals‘ Week 16 game plan, sending the wideout home for Christmas at his request, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. “He felt like he was in position [to help the team with a return] and the ownership made a decision,” Dalton said. “Would I have loved to have him out there? Absolutely. But the decision was made.”
  • Bryce Petty also is uncertain for Week 17 after hearing a pop in his shoulder during the Jets‘ loss to the Patriots. The second-year passer left the stadium with his shoulder in a sling and will undergo a Christmas Day MRI, Daryl Slater of NJ.com reports. Ryan Fitzpatrick could be called on to make one more start for Gang Green in the event the team holds Petty out against the Bills. Todd Bowles didn’t dismiss a Christian Hackenberg start, but the rookie has not played in a game this season.
  • By intercepting his fifth pass of the season today, Raiders safety Reggie Nelson earned a $250K incentive bonus, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. In the first season of a two-year contract with Oakland, Nelson made the Pro Bowl for a second straight year and now has 13 INTs in the past two seasons.

Zach Links contributed to this report