Stevie Johnson

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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Chargers To Release WR Stevie Johnson

The Chargers are releasing wide receiver Stevie Johnson, according to former U-T San Diego reporter Michael Gehlken (on Twitter). The move will clear about $3.5MM in cap space.

Stevie JohnsonJohnson ultimately played in 10 games for the Chargers after signing a three-year, $12MM deal with organization during the 2015 offseason. That year, the wideout collected 45 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns. The veteran ultimately missed the entire 2016 campaign after having surgery on his meniscus.

The 30-year-old has nine NFL seasons under his belt, including six with the Bills. From 2010 through 2012, Johnson averaged 79 receptions for 1041 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gehlken also notes (Twitter link) that tackle King Dunlap is scheduled to earn a $500K bonus if he is on the roster on March 18. Los Angeles is likely to release him or restructure his deal by then. Of course, they have time between now and the 3/18 deadline to make a move in that regard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Place Sean Lissemore On IR

The Chargers have lost a reserve defensive lineman for the season, as the club has placed veteran Sean Lissemore on injured reserve, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Receiver Stevie Johnson, whom previous reports had indicated was going to miss the year, was also placed on IR, per Caplan.Sean Lissemore (Vertical)

[RELATED: Relationship between Chargers, Joey Bosa damaged?]

Lissemore, 28, has been with the Chargers for the past three seasons, appearing in 41 games and starting 13 during that span. IN 2015, Lissemore, who’s also spent time with the Cowboys, appeared in 11 contests and played on roughly a quarter of San Diego’s defensive snaps. The William and Mary alum wasn’t going to start during the upcoming season, especially given that the Chargers invested money and draft capital in Brandon Mebane and Joey Bosa, respectively, but he might have acted as depth along the club’s front.

Of course, there was no guarantee that Lissemore was going to make the squad, and the Bolts may have chosen to release him, clearing his non-guaranteed $1.75MM salary off the books. San Diego won’t have that option now, as Lissemore and his cap charge will spend the year on the Chargers’ salary cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Stevie Johnson To Miss Season

After undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus on Tuesday, Stevie Johnson learned he will miss the season due to the allotted recovery time, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The surgery was successful, per Rapoport (via Twitter), but the Chargers will lose a key weapon regardless.

San Diego’s top slot receiver, Johnson injured his right knee on July 31 but will now face a much longer timeline to return to the field. The 30-year-old target was set to play the second season of a three-year, $10.5MM deal he signed in 2015.

The Chargers signed James Jones last week to help compensate for the loss of Johnson, who started eight games for the Bolts last season. However, Johnson only played in 10 contests for the Chargers in ’15, missing extensive time due to a groin injury.

The former Bills and 49ers pass-catcher enjoyed a productive start to the season, hauling in 45 receptions for 497 yards and three touchdowns in his abbreviated slate. Those numbers topped his work in 13 contests with the 49ers in 2014. Johnson was set to join Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin among San Diego’s starters.

The 6-foot-2 Johnson is on the Chargers’ books for $4.5MM next season but could be jettisoned on a $1MM dead-money charge and save the Chargers $3.5MM.

Johnson recorded three straight 1,000-plus-yard seasons from 2010-12 but hasn’t been able to recapture that form, partially due to injuries. He missed at least three games from 2013-15 and was among several key Chargers offensive talents to go down last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers Working Out WRs

12:58pm: In addition to Jones and Hartline, the Chargers are also working out Lance Moore, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Moore hooked on with the Lions last year and hauled in 29 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns. In the year prior, he was used sparingly as a member of the Steelers. Moore spent the 2006-2013 with the Saints, where he was often a key contributor in their offense.

9:36am: The Chargers are hosting veteran wide receiver James Jones on a visit today, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). San Diego will also work out Brian Hartline, Rapoport adds (Twitter link). "<strong

[RELATED: Latest On Chargers, Joey Bosa]

As Stevie Johnson deals with a knee injury, the Chargers are looking for an experienced fill-in to help round out their group of receivers. As shown on Roster Resource, Johnson is slated to work behind Keenan Allen and offseason pickup Travis Benjamin in the club’s wideout pecking order, but an ACL issue has put his season in jeopardy. The Bolts also have Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Javontee Herndon, Torrence Allen, and Isaiah Burse on the depth chart, though none of those players offer a resume like that of Jones or Hartline. In his first year with the Bolts, Johnson battled injuries and posted respectable production in 10 games, racking up 45 catches on 65 targets for 497 yards and three touchdowns."<strong

In June, Jones said that he would “love” to join the 49ers, though he acknowledged that he was not in a position to be choosy. Jones led the Packers in 2015 with 890 receiving yards off of 50 receptions. He also led Green Bay’s wide receivers with eight touchdowns. That was a different stat line than 2014, a year in which he corralled a career-high 73 receptions for just 666 yards and six touchdowns for the Raiders.

Hartline, 29, suffered a broken collarbone during a December win over the 49ers and immediately underwent surgery to correct the issue. This offseason, the Browns released him. The local product, who played his college ball at Ohio State, finished his first and only season in Cleveland with 46 catches, 523 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. There hasn’t been much interest in Hartline since he was cut loose in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Seahawks, Rams, Raiders, Bolts

Seahawks rookie quarterback Trevone Boykin is facing a year in jail on one count of misdemeanor assault stemming from a New Year’s Eve fight in San Antonio, writes Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk (via TMZ). The ex-TCU standout – who signed with Seattle as an undrafted free agent and is a candidate to back up Russell Wilson (depth chart) – was initially charged with a felony count of assaulting a public servant, public intoxication and resisting arrest. Boykin is alleged to have struck an officer who was trying to take him into custody after staff members removed him from a bar. As a result, TCU suspended him for its victory over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2.

As we learned Saturday, longtime Seahawks backup and current free agent Tarvaris Jackson is facing a charge for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly pulled a gun on his wife Saturday. The Seahawks were interested in re-signing Jackson as of April, though that was obviously before his legal issues and prior to the team signing Boykin and Jake Heaps. Given their lack of an established option behind Wilson, PFR’s Dallas Robinson listed the Seahawks as a possible fit via trade for soon-to-be ex-Ram Nick Foles on Sunday.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary is returning to coaching this year in an advisory role for the Rams, he told WSCR-AM in Chicago on Tuesday (link via Marc Sessler of NFL.com). Singletary previously served as a linebackers assistant for the Vikings from 2011-13. He was the 49ers’ head coach before that, of course, with the team compiling an 18-22 record under him from 2008-10. The 57-year-old stated in January that he was aiming to at least become a coordinator, but that obviously wasn’t in the cards this season.
  • The Raiders have sent out an 83-question survey through the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce to 10,000-plus addresses in the chamber’s database, reports Richard N. Velotta of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Subjects center on such matters as interest in the team and stadium seating preferences, writes Velotta, who adds that stadium financing questions aren’t included. The proposed 65,000-seat, $1.45 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas calls for $750MM in taxpayer money, a record amount.
  • The Chargers are likely to run fewer three-receiver sets under offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt this year than they did last season when Frank Reich was at the helm, but they won’t phase veteran Stevie Johnson out of their attack, per Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. In his first year with the Bolts, Johnson battled injuries and posted respectable production in 10 games, racking up 45 catches on 65 targets for 497 yards and three touchdowns. As San Diego’s depth chart shows, the 30-year-old is behind Keenan Allen and offseason pickup Travis Benjamin in the club’s wideout pecking order. He’ll also have to compete with tight end Antonio Gates for targets.

Chargers To Sign Stevie Johnson

11:02am: Johnson’s three-year contract has a base value of $10.5MM and includes additional performance-based incentives, tweets Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the deal can be worth up to $12MM.

9:55am: After taking the night to weigh his options, Stevie Johnson has decided to sign with the Chargers rather than the Patriots, sources tell Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 Washington (Twitter link). Johnson has reportedly narrowed his choice down to those two teams after visiting San Diego and New England, and Russini tweets that his family played a big part in his decision. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), it’ll be a three-year deal for Johnson with the Chargers.

Johnson, 28, spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Bills before being sent to San Francisco a year ago in a trade. While the Kentucky product didn’t make a real impact for the 49ers, he enjoyed some success in Buffalo, putting up three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2010 to 2012, and grabbing 23 touchdowns during that three-year stretch.

Having been released by the Niners earlier this month, Johnson will return to the AFC for the 2015 season, joining forces with Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen in San Diego. The Chargers, who lost Eddie Royal to the Bears in free agency last week, had been on the lookout for veteran receiving help to complement Allen. The team also added Jacoby Jones, though it’s not clear how significant a role the return specialist will play on offense.

In addition to the Chargers and Patriots, the Jets and Browns were among the other teams mentioned as potential suitors for Johnson.

Pats, Chargers Vying For Stevie Johnson

8:22pm: The Jets have jumped in to express their interest in Johnson, but the receiver has narrowed his choice to the Patriots or the Chargers, tweets Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Johnson will make his decision tomorrow morning, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

3:34pm: Johnson’s decision is expected to come down to New England and San Diego, with the 49ers unlikely to bring back the veteran receiver, according to Russini and Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links).

2:39pm: Johnson left his visit with the Patriots today without signing, tweets Russini. That doesn’t necessarily mean the wideout won’t eventually agree to join the Pats, but he appears to be weighing all his options before making a decision. Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports tweets that the Chargers are still in play as well.

1:16pm: Stevie Johnson is visiting the Patriots today, and it appears very possible that the veteran wideout won’t leave New England without a new deal in place. According to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 Washington (via Twitter), sources say Johnson is “very likely” to sign with the Pats, perhaps as soon as today.

The Patriots are familiar with Johnson, who spent the first six years of his career with the division-rival Bills. The 28-year-old was very productive in Buffalo from 2008 to 2013, recording three separate seasons of 70+ catches and 1,000+ yards. The Bills traded Johnson to San Francisco last offseason and he wasn’t nearly as successful as a 49er, totaling just 35 receptions in 13 games for the team.

If Johnson ends up making things official with the Pats, he’d join a receiving corps that includes Danny Amendola – who restructured his contract to remain in New England – as well as Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, and Brandon Gibson. Throw in Rob Gronkowski and another former Bill, Scott Chandler, who reportedly agreed to terms with the Pats, and Tom Brady should have plenty of pass-catching targets at his disposal in 2015.

Johnson also visited the Chargers and has drawn interest from the Browns, among other potential suitors.

AFC East Notes: Johnson, Revis, Gachkar, Clay

The Patriots have been targeting wide receiver Stevie Johnson since his release from the 49ers, and we learned yesterday that Johnson would be visiting the team on Monday. Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com believes that could be the last visit Johnson takes, saying the team “find a way to make sure he sticks around.” 

“He is only 28-years-old, 6’2″ a little under 200 pounds, absolutely electric in getting off the line of scrimmage and making people miss,” said Curran. “What happened last year at San Francisco you wonder? That’s a horrible passing game. I talked to our collegue Matt Maiocco with CSN Bay Area, and he said the only guy that could be satisfied out there was Anquan Boldin.”

AFC Rumors: Bowe, Johnson, Cameron

Dwayne Bowe will spend the night in Cleveland and begin his visit after dinner with Browns officials, ESPN’s Josina Anderson reports on Twitter.

Bowe’s visit will continue into Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot reports.

Displaced from his near-decade-long post as the Chiefs‘ No. 1 wide receiver by Jeremy Maclin earlier this week, Bowe is currently discussing work in a place that’s had worse wideout luck. The Chiefs released Bowe after eight seasons earlier this week after making substantial 2015 commitments to Maclin and franchise player Justin Houston.

A 2007 first-round pick, Bowe has an obvious connection to the Browns, with current GM Ray Farmer having served as the Chiefs’ director of pro personnel from 2006-12.

Down their own No. 1 wide receiver in Josh Gordon, the Browns added possession target Brian Hartline earlier and lost out on retaining their top eligible pass-catcher, Jordan Cameron, in a confusing back-and-forth sequence Thursday. Despite Bowe’s inconsistency, he’d be an upgrade in Cleveland and likely on a friendlier cap number than the $14MM he was to occupy on the Chiefs’ cap this season after signing a long-term extension in 2013.

In other AFC news …

  • Cabot sheds some light on the latest Cleveland talent relocating his talents to South Beach. In the piece, Cabot discusses the Browns’ preference for Charles Clay over Cameron before backing off due to the Bills‘ infatuation with the Dolphins’ transition player. Cameron said in his introductory presser with the Dolphins he never had a verbal agreement with the Browns despite the media reports to the contrary. The other key piece of information from this report: Cleveland offered Cameron to the Seahawks for Percy Harvin last season before the wideout was dealt to the Jets.
  • Stevie Johnson will visit the Patriots on Monday, tweets NBC4 (Washington D.C.) anchor Dianna Marie Russini. This summit comes after Johnson met with the Chargers on Friday. The Patriots already signed Brandon Gibson to bolster competition among their reserve wideouts, although Johnson comes with a higher pedigree. The Jets also are a team that could make a play for Johnson as his former offensive coordinator and quarterback — Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick, respectively — reside there, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter.
  • The Chargers’ receiver pursuit also includes ex-Jaguars No. 1 target Cecil Shorts, tweets Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.