Tim Hightower

49ers Release Tim Hightower, Kapri Bibbs

The 49ers have released running back Tim Hightower, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com. The team also cut fellow RB Kapri Bibbs, per Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Hightower signed with the 49ers in April after spending the previous two seasons serving as Mark Ingram‘s backup on the Saints. 2016 was a bounce-back season for Hightower, who appeared in all 16 games for the first time since 2010 and totaled 748 yards (548 rushing, 200 receiving) and five touchdowns (four on the ground, one through the air). Prior to that, Hightower was effectively out of the NFL from 2012-2015, which represented a notable fall from grace for someone who had been a dependable rusher for the Cardinals early in his career.

San Francisco sent the 177th pick in this year’s draft to Denver for Bibbs and a fourth-rounder in 2018 during the spring, but the ball carrier failed to make his mark in the Bay Area. Bibbs wasn’t much of a factor as a rusher as a member of the Broncos, as he only totaled 29 carries, but he was a reliable special teamer with the club.

Thanks to the cuts of Hightower and Bibbs, the 49ers are set to lean on Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert and rookie Joe Williams behind Carlos Hyde.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Gabbert, ‘Hawks

Carson Palmer is getting towards the end of his career, but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says that he might already have his quarterback of the future on the roster.

Short-term, I’d be very comfortable if [Blaine Gabbert] had to play for us. Long-term, if he continues at this rate, he could be a starter,” the coach said (Twitter link via Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM).

Arians isn’t the only coach that likes Gabbert – Seattle considered him this offseason and Miami pondered trading for him after Ryan Tannehill‘s injury. Still, it’s somewhat surprising to hear that Arians views him as a future starter since the former No. 10 overall pick hasn’t really experienced success at the NFL level. In five games as San Francisco’s starter last season, Gabbert posted a 1-4 record, while completing 56.9% of his passes for five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Contract Details: Keenum, Gilberry, Escobar

The latest contract details, most of which come via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:

  • Quarterback Case Keenum‘s one-year, $2MM pact with the Vikings features $750K in guarantees. There’s also a $250K signing bonus, $250K in incentives and $46,875 in per game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry‘s accord is worth $1.4MM, including a $300K signing bonus and a $100K workout bonus. He could make another $500K via sack incentives and $6,250 in per game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Running back Tim Hightower‘s one-year deal with the 49ers is worth $1.107MM, including $300K guaranteed, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. He can earn an extra $400K in incentives for rushing yards.
  • Tight end Gavin Escobar‘s one-year Chiefs contract is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $855K, including $95K fully guaranteed. It also comes with an $80K signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Lions linebacker Nick Bellore also inked a minimum salary benefit contract. Like Escobar, Bellore’s contract includes an $80K signing bonus (Twitter link).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Rumors: Vikings, Zeke, Roseman, Cards

Harrison Smith underwent ankle surgery in February but is expected to be ready for training camp. The Vikings‘ top defensive back is ahead of schedule in his recovery from the left ankle operation, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, but the team is expected to be cautious with him this offseason. A high ankle sprain hampered Smith toward the end of last season, and although the Pro Bowl defender returned for the Vikings’ final two games after missing two in December, a corrective procedure became necessary. A source informed Tomasson that Smith opted for surgery after playing on the injured ankle in the Pro Bowl led to it “getting worse.” Smith will enter the first season of his five-year, $51.25MM contract in 2017.

Here’s more from the NFC.

  • Jerry Jones acknowledged the Ezekiel Elliott video that emerged via TMZ last month is “not good.” The video shows the Cowboys running back lowering a woman’s top on a float at a Dallas St. Patrick’s Day parade. “There is not much that I want to say other than that was unfortunate and not good,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News,” Jones said. “It wouldn’t be the right emphasis one way or the other to get into any communications or dialogue since that happened. … I wouldn’t want to say on communication, but I’m aware of the incident and I’m aware of the criticism.” Representatives of the 21-year-old Elliott expect him to be cleared of wrongdoing in a 2016 domestic violence case, but this incident adds to a growing list of off-the-field drama for the talented back.
  • The Rams did not pursue T.J. McDonald or Case Keenum in free agency, according to the Los Angeles Times. An impending eight-game suspension reduced interest in McDonald, who landed with the Dolphins. Keenum signed with the Vikings.
  • Howie Roseman‘s given more power over the Eagles‘ draft board to VP of player personnel Joe Douglas than he did previous lieutenants Ryan Grigson or Tom Gamble, Jeff McLane of Philly.com writes. “The draft is going to be really built by Joe,” Jeffrey Lurie said, via McLane, before adding “the final decision will be made by Howie.” This will be Douglas’ first draft with the Eagles after landing in Philadelphia last May. McLane writes this will take some of the prospect-evaluation burden off of Roseman.
  • The Cardinals do not look set to add any notable help at either running back or wide receiver. Bruce Arians said (via Kent Somers of AZCentral.com) the team is content with what it has there. The fifth-year Cardinals coach noted Kerwynn Williams can be the No. 2 back behind David Johnson, and the coach expects a healthier season from John Brown. Somers notes depth pieces could come via lower-round picks or UDFAs, but it appears Arizona will address other positions with its higher draft picks.
  • Tim Hightower‘s 49ers deal is a one-year agreement, according to Nick Shook of NFL.com. The former Cardinals, Redskins and Saints back will turn 31 in May.

49ers Sign RB Tim Hightower

Veteran running back Tim Hightower has found a new home. The 30-year-old free agent has signed with the 49ers, general manager John Lynch announced on Twitter. We learned in mid-March that Hightower had taken a meeting with the organization.

Tim HightowerThe veteran had spent the past two seasons serving primarily as Mark Ingram‘s backup on the Saints. 2016 was a bounce-back season for the former fifth-rounder, as he appeared in all 16 games for the first time since 2010. He finished the campaign with 548 yards and four touchdowns on 133 attempts, and he added another 22 receptions for 200 yards and one score.

Hightower was effectively out of the NFL between 2012 and 2015. Prior to that, he was a dependable option in the Cardinals offense. In 2010, the running back finished the season with a career-high 736 rushing yards. During his rookie campaign, Hightower rushed for an equally-impressive 10 touchdowns.

Hightower will be joining a 49ers running back corps that currently features Carlos Hyde, DuJuan Harris, Mike Davis, and Raheem Mostert. Hightower was listed as the fifth-best running back in our recent positional free agent rankings. The Redskins were among the teams to also reach out to the veteran.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FA Notes: Fins, Seahawks, Redskins, Jags

Although the Dolphins and free agent linebacker Zach Brown are fairly far apart in negotiations, the club still believes it has a chance to land him, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). In order for an agreement to happen, though, Brown will have to reduce his asking price, which is in the range of $6MM per annum on a multiyear deal.

More from the open market:

  • The Seahawks hosted linebacker Terence Garvin on a visit Wednesday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Garvin, 27, spent last year with Washington and was with the Steelers in the previous three seasons. Garvin has 59 career appearances on his resume but just one start.
  • Along with Garvin, the Seahawks met with yet another linebacker, Gerald Hodges, on Wednesday. The two sides “had a good visit,” though there’s no deal yet, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Hodges is coming off a quietly impressive season that saw him tally 80 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 15 games (12 starts) with San Francisco. He also graded 21st among Pro Football Focus’ 87 qualified linebackers.
  • The Redskins and running back Tim Hightower had a meeting, but they aren’t moving toward an agreement, reports John Keim of ESPN.com. It doesn’t appear that will change anytime soon, with Keim noting that Washington could circle back to Hightower as an insurance option down the road.
  • The Jaguars worked out free agent kicker Zach Hocker today, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Incumbent Jacksonville kicker Jason Myers‘ field goal conversion rate dipped below 80% last season, and he also missed three extra points, so the Jags may be open to adding competition. Hocker. 25, last appeared in the NFL in 2015 as a member of the Saints and Rams. Jacksonville also auditioned punter Tom Hornsey, adds Wilson.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Redskins Host RB Tim Hightower On Visit

The Redskins are hosting Tim Hightower on a free agent visit, a source tells Mike Jones of The Washington Post (on Twitter). This marks the second known trip for the Saints free agent this month. He previously met with the 49ers. Tim Hightower

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Hightower was with the Redskins in 2011 but played in only five games due to a torn ACL. After that, he was out of the NFL for several years until re-emerging with the Saints in 2015. Last year, he finished out with 548 yards off of 133 carries with four rushing touchdowns. He also added 22 catches for 200 yards.

The Redskins already have four running backs under contract in Robert Kelley, Keith Marshall, Matt Jones, and Mack Brown. Many also expect the Redskins to consider a running back with their No. 17 overall pick in this year’s draft.

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:


  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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49ers To Host Tim Hightower

Free agent running back Tim Hightower will take a meeting with the 49ers, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.Tim Hightower

Hightower, 30, has spent the past two years with the Saints backing up Mark Ingram. During that time, Hightower has managed 229 carries while picking up four yards per touch. He’s scored eight touchdowns on the ground, while adding 34 receptions and another score through the air. New Orleans re-signed Travaris Cadet earlier today, but that shouldn’t preclude the club from having interest in Hightower.

The 49ers currently have three running backs on their roster: Carlos Hyde, Mike Davis, and Raheem Mostert. San Francisco also inked fullback Kyle Juszczyk during the free agent period, and he’s expected to act as more of an “offensive weapon” than as a true fullback. If signed, Hightower would serve as the clear-cut No. 2 behind Hyde.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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


  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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