Shaun Hill

Poll: Which Free Agent QB Will Sign First?

Last week, a veteran quarterback came off the board, but it wasn’t one of the names that the football world has really been waiting on. Dan Orlovsky will now look to make the Rams’ final cut while more notable players continue to look for work.

Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

Things continue to be eerily quiet for Colin Kaepernick, despite the fact that he is widely regarded as the best backup quarterback option available. The Ravens say that they have some degree of interest, but they’re also concerned about how adding him to the roster would be publicly perceived. A late May workout with the Seahawks did not result in a deal and, depending on who you ask, Seattle may have passed because of Kaepernick’s salary expectations. The Cowboys also found themselves in the market for a quarterback when Zac Dysert went down with injury, but they scooped up Luke McCown without calling Kaepernick. For what it’s worth, Chip Kelly says that Kaepernick’s political activism was not a distraction while they were together in San Francisco.

Robert Griffin III (vertical)There was hope for Robert Griffin III to find a home after he had a successful audition with the Chargers earlier this month. Unfortunately for the former Redskins star, it seems that the Bolts used his quality tryout to leverage the Bills into a more favorable trade for Cardale Jones. The Bolts workout was Griffin’s first of the offseason and although the Ravens are thinking about bringing him in for a workout, it’s not clear if they’ll follow through. Griffin is eager to show teams that he can recapture some of the magic from his rookie season in 2012. But, after Griffin missed the bulk of 2016 with a shoulder injury and fell flat in his five starts, teams are not all that interested in seeing what he can do.

Kaepernick and Griffin are the most well-known QBs left on the market, but other notable names left include 37-year-old Shaun Hill, former first round pick Christian Ponder, and ex-Titans signal caller Zach Mettenberger. Of those five players – who do you think will be the next to sign? Click below to cast your vote and back up your choice in the comments.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Rumors: Kaepernick, RG3, Eagles

Three NFL executives tell Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that they see former 49ers signal caller Colin Kaepernick as the best backup quarterback option available. Of course, we have watched many other QBs come off of the board while Kaepernick remains unsigned.

Kaep, [Shaun] Hill, Dan Orlovsky, Robert Griffin III,” said one AFC exec when asked to rank the best remaining options.

A fourth exec surveyed by Fowler opined that Griffin is actually the best QB left on the market. Meanwhile, one official in the group said he wouldn’t sign Griffin “under any circumstances.” It seems like teams agree more with the latter opinion as Griffin has drawn very little interest this offseason.

Here’s a look at the NFC:

Dallas Robinson contributed to this post.

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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Extra Points: Spiller, Vikings, Ajayi, Bynes

Former Saints running back C.J. Spiller told ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson that he was surprised by his release earlier today, but he insisted that he was leaving the organization on good terms.

“This organization really believed in me during free agency,” Spiller told Anderson (via Zac Jackson of ProFootballTalk.com). “They gave me another opportunity when my contract was up in Buffalo. I have nothing but good relationships that I have built here. It’s a first class organization that gives the players everything they need to be successful. So, I definitely don’t have any hard feelings.

“Now, I’m just going to wait for the next right opportunity. I still have a lot of football left in me. I’m pretty sure in the ext day or so, me and my agent will start getting in to it.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Following the release of Spiller, the Saints now have $40MM of dead money on their 2016 salary cap, tweets ESPN’s Field Yates. Meanwhile, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes that Spiller’s contract included offset language, so the team “will get credit for the first $1.6 million he earns in 2016 salary elsewhere.”
  • Vikings coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged that quarterback Shaun Hill did well during Sunday’s win over the Titans, but he added (via Vikings.com) that the team is taking the quarterback situation “one week at a time.” It’s uncertain if the coaching staff is leaning towards Hill or Sam Bradford for this weekend’s game against the Packers.
  • After being inactive for the Dolphins‘ first game of the season, running back Jay Ajayi may have an opportunity to redeem himself. Coach Adam Gase said the second-year player is starting with a clean slate heading into the second week of the season. “We’re back to basically [where] he’s back in meetings, he’s back in the building,” Gase said (via ESPN.com’s James Walker). “We left him back. That was my decision and we’ve cleaned that up. We’ll move past that and basically this is a new day for him today.”
  • Linebacker Josh Bynes‘ injury settlement with the Lions is for four weeks, a source tells PFR (Twitter link). As such, Bynes wouldn’t be able to re-sign with Detroit until late October, given that he’s required to sit out for the duration of the settlement plus an additional three weeks. Those stipulations only apply to a potential reunion with the Lions, as Bynes an sign with another club at any time.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Vikings To Start Shaun Hill On Sunday

The Vikings will start quarterback Shaun Hill, not new acquisition Sam Bradford, in their Week 1 showdown with the Titans on Sunday, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The team hasn’t made a formal announcement yet, but Vikings players were informed of the decision, per Rapoport.

Shaun Hill (vertical)

In a stunning move, Minnesota paid a lofty price – a first-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-rounder in 2018 – to acquire Bradford from Philadelphia last weekend. However, the 28-year-old simply hasn’t had enough time to get up to speed in a new offense yet. That temporarily opens the door for Hill, who’s in his second year with the Vikings. The 36-year-old journeyman’s most extensive recent action came in 2014, when he started in eight of nine appearances with the Rams and completed 63.3 percent of attempts for 1,657 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Of course, the Vikings are only in their current position because of the devastating knee injury starter Teddy Bridgewater suffered at the conclusion of August. Bridgewater has since undergone season-ending surgery on multiple torn ligaments, though he should be back in 2017. Without Bridgewater, who helped lead the Vikings to an NFC North title last season, the club will try to return to the playoffs with a combined effort from Hill and Bradford.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Vikings’ QB Situation

Rick Spielman on Thursday night expressed confidence Shaun Hill can take the Vikings back to the playoffs. As a result, the team will not make a trade that includes a promising young talent or a high draft pick, Ben Goessling of ESPN.com reports.

The fifth-year GM revealed the Vikings are “considering all their options” as they attempt to move forward without Teddy Bridgewater this season. But other teams are demanding a high return from the Vikings in exchange for quarterback help.

People are asking for some crazy things,” Spielman said. “People think you’re desperate. I’m not doing anything that jeopardizes the franchise.”

Nevertheless, Spielman hopes to land a quarterback in the next two days. Teams must cut their rosters down to 53 by Saturday afternoon. There will be outside help available, although none that would qualify as a surefire starter over Hill since the pickup would be joining a new team on the heels of being waived or released less than a week before the season.

We heard last night the price for some teams whose backups have been the subject of trade rumors — Josh McCown, A.J. McCarron and Mike Glennon are among three who fit this category — is thought to be a Day 2 draft choice at the least, with the possibility of a first-round pick being sought.

Bridgewater, who suffered a torn ACL and dislocated knee in a gruesome injury on Tuesday, will decide on a surgeon within the next few days, per Goessling.

Once a UDFA who began his career with the 2005 Vikings behind Daunte Culpepper and Brad Johnson, the 36-year-old Hill has played for four teams. He’s started at least eight games in three different seasons but only sported an over-.500 record in one of those campaigns — with the 2008 49ers. With the Rams in 2014, he went 3-5 but completed more than 63% of his passes, throwing eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

The Vikings, though, look to sport better talent than the previous teams that gave Hill the starting reins. Hill, who threw a career-high 16 TD passes in 10 starts for the Lions in 2010, resided as Bridgewater’s backup in 2015 as well. He threw seven passes last season.

 

Vikings Sign Shaun Hill

The Vikings have signed veteran quarterback Shaun Hill, according to Ross Jones of Fox Sports (via Twitter). Hill and Minnesota agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $7MM, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

Hill, 35, will take the place of Matt Cassel – whom the Vikings traded to Buffalo last week – as Teddy Bridgewater‘s backup. Hill has played for four teams, including a stint with the Vikings from 2002-05. His latest stop was in St. Louis, where he played nine games (eight starts) last year and threw eight touchdowns against seven interceptions for an 83.9 passer rating.

NFC FA Rumors: Irving, Cowboys, Falcons

The Cardinals are expected to lock up former Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon to a new contract once free agency opens, but the team has interest in adding two free agent linebackers, not just one, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport reports that Nate Irving could be that second linebacker, as the former Bronco is likely to visit Arizona this week.

  • The Cowboys have some interest in free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie, tweets Rapoport. Cromartie has been almost exclusively linked to the Jets, but there’s no agreement in place between the two sides yet.
  • Mike Jones of the Washington Post tweets that he has been told “repeatedly” that the Falcons aren’t real players for Brian Orakpo. However, Jones adds that Atlanta does appear to have interest in another Washington free agent, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson.
  • Running back Antone Smith has yet to hear a whole lot about his free agent status, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who says (via Twitter) that the Falcons would like to bring him back. Smith has also reportedly drawn some interest from the Giants.
  • In the wake of the Saints‘ release of Curtis Lofton, there’s mutual interest between the team and Ramon Humber in getting a deal done to help bolster the inside linebacker spot, tweets Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com.
  • No longer a free agent, Randall Cobb told reporters today, including Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) that he had five other offers when he decided to return to the Packers, and got a sixth after he had made his decision.
  • After offering him a contract, the Vikings remain in contact with quarterback Shaun Hill, who has yet to make a decision, tweets Ben Goessling of ESPN.com.