Sebastian Vollmer

Former Pats OL Sebastian Vollmer Retires

Sebastian Vollmer is not coming back to the NFL. The former Patriots offensive lineman told SiriusXM (Twitter links) that he is enjoying post-football life and he is not planning on a return. He is currently pursuing a career in broadcasting and he proudly stated that he is down 75 pounds from his playing days. Sebastian Vollmer (vertical)

Vollmer, 33 this summer, was a mainstay at tackle for New England from 2009 through 2015. However, his performance dipped in ’15 as he dealt with a bad hip and he missed the entire 2016 season thanks to the ailment. In 2015, his last year in football, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 42nd-best tackle out of 77 qualified players. That’s not atrocious by any means, but it’s a far cry from where he was in previous years. The Patriots passed on negotiating an extension with Vollmer prior to the 2016 season because of his health situation and, unfortunately, time proved them right. In March of this year, the Pats released him.

Vollmer earned a Super Bowl ring with the Pats following the 2014 season and he almost certainly has a ring for the 2016 championship as well. After seven strong seasons in the league, Vollmer is leaving the game as a champion and, of course, a multi-millionaire. We wish Vollmer the best in retirement and look forward to seeing him on TV or hearing him on the radio on Sundays.

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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Patriots Release Sebastian Vollmer

The Patriots have released Sebastian Vollmer, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Vollmer, 33 this summer, continues to struggle with hip issues. Sebastian Vollmer (vertical)

Vollmer was originally set for free agency following the 2016 season, but his contract tolled after he spent the year on the PUP list. The Pats could have held on to him for 2017, but they are cutting him loose instead.

Vollmer, was a mainstay at tackle for New England from 2009 through 2015. However, his performance slipped in 2015 and 2016 was a lost year for him. In ’15, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 42nd-best tackle out of 77 qualified players. Last summer, the Patriots passed on discussing an extension with him because of his injury woes and time unfortunately proved them right.

Before his step back in 2015, Vollmer consistently ranked as one of the better tackles in the NFL by PFF’s measure. During that time, he never dipped lower than the top-3o range and placed as high as top ten in the league.

Personally, I have Vollmer as one of the ten best tackles available this offseason, but slotted behind the likes of Andrew Whitworth, Ricky Wagner Russell Okung, Kelvin Beachum, Riley Reiff, Ryan Clady, and Austin Pasztor.

News of Vollmer’s release was first reported by Tom Pelissero of USA Today (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sebastian Vollmer Mulling Retirement

The Patriots decided to release offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer on Thursday, and that could go down as a career-ending move for the soon-to-be 33-year-old. The newly unemployed Vollmer is mulling retirement because of lingering hip pain, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (link via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com).

Sebastian Vollmer

Vollmer’s hip issues cost him a chance at an extension with the Patriots last offseason and then forced him to sit out all of the Super Bowl champions’ games in 2016. Before the career-threatening injury arose, the 2009 second-round pick amassed 88 appearances and 80 starts during his first seven seasons. In his latest action, 2015, Vollmer’s performance ranked 42nd among Pro Football Focus’ 77 qualified tackles. That represented a step back for Vollmer, who consistently finished as one of PFF’s top 30 tackles in previous seasons.

If Vollmer decides he’s healthy enough to continue his career, he could score a contract as one of the most established bookends available on the open market. PFR’s Zach Links places him eighth in this year’s free agent tackle class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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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Patriots Place Lewis, Vollmer On PUP

The Patriots have formally placed Dion Lewis on the PUP list. The running back is in need of a second knee surgery and reportedly will be out for at least another eight or 9 weeks. The PUP list designation sidelines him for the first six weeks of the season. Dion Lewis (vertical)

The Patriots will also place tackle Sebastian Vollmer on the PUP list, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Theoretically, New England can bring him back, but it’s more likely that he will not play this year due to his nagging hip problems.

Lewis’ injury does not involve the ACL or any other ligaments, which is good news for his recovery. Lewis was a key cog of New England’s offense before his ACL tear, rushing 49 times for 234 yards and catching 36 passes for 388 yards. He also scored four total touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground.

Vollmer, when healthy, has been a mainstay at tackle for New England since 2009. However, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Vollmer as the 42nd-best tackle out of 77 qualified players last season, and he was thought to be on the roster bubble earlier this year. His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2016 campaign and earlier this offseason Patriots passed on discussing an extension with him as a result of his injury issues.

In related news, the Patriots cut linebacker Ramon Humber, tight end Steven Scheu, and offensive tackle Keavon Milton.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Vollmer, Fleming, Stork

Sebastian Vollmer approached the Patriots about a contract extension in November, and they declined, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets. Of course, Vollmer’s injury problems were part of the reason why the Pats were reluctant to commit to him on a new multi-year deal. Over the weekend, the Pats learned that the offensive tackle is headed to IR with an undisclosed ailment, so they’re probably glad that they do not have him under contract beyond the 2016 season.

Here’s more on the Pats:

  • The Patriots could begin the season with just three offensive tackles and stash Cameron Fleming on the practice squad, Doug Kyed of NESN.com tweets. Center Bryan Stork and guard Joe Thuney can serve as emergency options if the team needs help at tackle, Kyed notes. For a full view of the Patriots’ depth chart, check out their page on Roster Resource.
  • Meanwhile, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe doesn’t see Stork making the 53-man roster. He reasons that Stork appears to be losing the center battle with Andrews and he hasn’t been as consistent from a performance or injury standpoint as Josh Kline or Ted Karras. However, if Jonathan Cooper‘s foot injury lands him on IR-DTR, that could save Stork’s spot.
  • Offseason pickups running back Donald Brown, tight end Clay Harbor, wide receiver Keshawn Martin, and defensive tackles Terrance Knighton and Markus Kuhn are fighting for their jobs, Howe writes. Some of these players have significant signing bonuses, meaning that the Pats will have effectively wasted that money if they don’t make the team.
  • Could the Patriots make a play for the recently-waived Karlos Williams? The Pats are one of ten teams that we feel could have interest.

Dion Lewis Needs Second Knee Surgery; Sebastian Vollmer To IR

Patriots running back Dion Lewis, who tore his ACL last November, will need a second knee surgery, according to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe (via Twitter). Interestingly, this report came on the heels of a tweet from NESN’s Doug Kyed, who indicated that Lewis had just walked into the team’s locker room with no knee brace. Kyed, however, subsequently deferred to McBride’s report.

Nov 8, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis (33) carries the ball during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Luckily for the Patriots, Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com reports that, although the nature of the procedure is not yet known, it does not involve the ACL or any other ligaments. Depending upon when he has the procedure, it should be about eight to 10 weeks before Lewis can begin training, which means he will begin the season on the PUP list.

Lewis was a key cog of New England’s offense before his ACL tear, rushing 49 times for 234 yards and catching 36 passes for 388 yards. He also scored four total touchdowns, two through the air and two on the ground. After just three games with the club, Lewis signed a team-friendly, two-year extension that gave the diminutive back–who had not played a single regular season snap between 2012 and 2015–some much-needed financial security. He tore his ACL a month later.

It was reported just two weeks ago that Lewis had not suffered a setback in his recovery, and that he was still on track to play Week 1. Now, players like James White and James Develin could see their playing time increase, and while White has been solid in the preseason, Lewis’ injury is still a major blow, particularly in light of Tom Brady‘s suspension.

As if that was not bad enough, McBride also tweets that offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who has been on the PUP list with an undisclosed injury, will be placed on IR. It is unclear whether he will land on season-ending IR, or if he will be given a “Designated to Return” status, though Kyed suspects that Vollmer’s season will indeed be over, since the Patriots could have just kept Vollmer on the PUP list if they expected him to return this year.

Vollmer, when healthy, has been a mainstay at tackle for New England since 2009. However, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Vollmer as the 42nd-best tackle out of 77 qualified players last season, and he was thought to be on the roster bubble earlier this year. His contract is set to expire at the end of the 2016 campaign, and Marcus Cannon will likely serve as the team’s starting right tackle in Vollmer’s absence.

McBride was not done delivering bad news, as he also tweeted that second-year guard Shaq Mason suffered a broken right hand and will be out indefinitely. As Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets, these injury reports are especially unwelcome for New England, as running back and offensive line are the only two real question marks on the team’s roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Patriots Notes: Jones, Hightower, Ebner, Hogan

The Patriots have filled the vacancy created when Bob Quinn left for the Lions, as Dave Ziegler has been promoted to director of pro personnel, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Ziegler, 38, had spent the past three year’s as Quinn’s No. 2, and previously worked for the Broncos under current New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Here’s a bit more on the Patriots…

  • New England has an impressive crop of players entering the final year of their contracts, as Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Malcolm Butler — among others — will be free agents after the 2016 season. But the club hadn’t initiated extension talks with any of those players as of Friday, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. The Patriots might begin contract conversations after free agency concludes, per Volin, but Hightower, for his part, appears likely to play out the season on his fifth-year option without coming to a long-term agreement.
  • Receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell are both potential cap casualties, but the Patriots haven’t “tipped their hand” about their plans for the pass-catchers, writes Volin. Additionally, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon, also though to be on the roster bubble, aren’t sure of their status.
  • The Patriots want to retain free agent defensive back Nate Ebner — a special-teams ace — but the team is playing “hardball” at the moment, and hopes that it can re-sign Ebner for the veteran’s minimum.
  • Defensive tackle Alan Branch‘s $400K option bonus is due on the third day of the new league year, according to Reiss. If he’s retained, the 31-year-old Branch is due to count $2.75MM against New England’s cap.
  • The Patriots have a history of targeting restricted free agents — both those who are tendered by their clubs and those who aren’t — and one such player who might interest New England this offseason is Bills receiver Chris Hogan, per Reiss, who notes that Buffalo may not tender Hogan due to its salary cap restraints.