TravisSwanson is calling it career. The offensive lineman announced on Instagram that he’s decided to retire, with the 28-year-old citing his desire to spend more time with family.
“I decided to retire from the game of football,” Swanson wrote. “Those words are hard to write. However, I have a sense of comfort knowing Emily and I are walking away from this game with offers that were on the table. This ultimately came down to a family decision between Emily and I.
“I have been an offensive lineman for 22 years of my life and will be for the remainder. In my years as a lineman, I have learned so many life lessons. It is extraordinary that this game has the power to take a kid from Kingwood, Texas to places all over the globe.”
The Arkansas product was a third-round pick by the Lions back in 2014, and he proceeded to play the first four seasons of his career in Detroit. He joined the Jets as a free agent last offseason, but he was cut prior to the start of the regular season. He quickly caught on with the Dolphins, and he proceeded to appear in 12 games (11 starts) as he filled in for injured lineman DanielKilgore.
September 10th, 2018 at 2:15pm CST by Sam Robinson
Travis Swanson enjoyed a one-day stint as a Dolphin last week. He’ll try to exceed that south Florida stay length a week later.
The Dolphins are re-signing the former Lions starting center on Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
Swanson joined the Dolphins on Sept. 3 but was released on Sept. 4 to make room for running back Brandon Bolden, so it’s hard to say this particular deal will lead to a relevant run in Miami. The Dolphins have Ted Larsen stationed as a swing backup behind center starter Daniel Kilgore.
Swanson, however, did serve as a three-season starter in Detroit. The former third-round pick ended his Lions run starting 42 games from 2014-17. He could not make the Jets’ 53-man roster this year but will have another chance to make an impression with the Dolphins.
September 4th, 2018 at 9:51am CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Dolphins are signing longtime New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
To make room on the roster for Bolden, the team cut center Travis Swanson, who was just signed yesterday. Bolden will get to continue his career in the AFC East, as he spent his first six seasons in New England before being released at final cuts on Saturday.
The Ole Miss product improbably made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent back in 2012, and stuck up until now, a remarkable feat for an undrafted player. He became a core special teams player during his time in New England, as well as handling a significant amount of carries his first few seasons.
In total, he rushed 216 times for 912 yards, good for 4.2 yards per carry, with six touchdowns with the Patriots. He also caught 47 passes for 373 yards and two more touchdowns. He’ll join a Dolphins running backs room that includes Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, and rookie Kalen Ballage.
September 3rd, 2018 at 11:06am CST by Andrew Ortenberg
The Dolphins filled their open roster spot today, signing center Travis Swanson according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
Swanson finds a new home in the AFC East, as he was cut by the Jets on Saturday as they trimmed their roster down to 53. Salguero noted in a follow-up tweet that the team had been interested in him earlier this spring before the Jets signed him. He also points out that Swanson has a history with the Dolphins’ offensive line coach, Jeremiah Washburn, from their time in Detroit together.
Swanson came into the league as a third round pick of the Lions back in 2014. He was an effective player when healthy, but struggled with concussion issues his last two seasons with Detroit. Overall, he started 42 games for the Lions and is a nice depth signing for the Dolphins with extensive starting experience. He’ll slide in as the backup to Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore, but could start in a pinch.
Swanson was a somewhat surprising cut by the Jets, and didn’t take long to resurface. The former Arkansas Razorback received very low grades from Pro Football Focus in 2017, but was better before that. If he can show he’s put his concussion issues behind him and stay healthy, he should be able to stick in Miami.
Rawls, 25, first entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015 with the Seahawks and broke out immediately when Marshawn Lynch was sidelined with an abdomen injury. In his very first start for Seattle, Rawls amassed 104 yards off of 16 carries and later turned in a 209-yard game. Things trailed off after that, however. He missed significant time in 2016 with a fractured fibula and became an afterthought in 2017. Rawls initially seemed to have a good chance at making the Jets’ roster in 2018, but he was unable to find a place behind top RBs Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell.
West was also fighting for a supporting RB job, and his limited highlight reel with the Chiefs suggested that he had a puncher’s chance to make the roster. West missed most of KC’s camp this year with a concussion and hooked on with the Jets a little over one week ago. Crowell also missed time with a concussion and reserve Elijah McGuire was dealing with a broken foot, but West still couldn’t make enough of an impression on coaches in such a short period of time.
Swanson will almost certainly join New York as a reserve, as the Jets already signed former Redskin Spencer Long last month to be their starting center. While Swanson could also conceivably play guard, Gang Green is also set — for now — with James Carpenter and Brian Winters. While Winters is under contract through the 2020 campaign, Carpenter is only signed through 2018, and New York could create $4.7MM in cap space by cutting ties with the 29-year-old.
But based on his 2017 production, Swanson may be better served as a depth piece. Although he was a Detroit starter for the past three years, Swanson was not effective last season, as Pro Football Focus graded the former third-round pick as a bottom-five center. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, charted the Lions with the fewest adjusted line yards when running behind its center in 2017.
The Jets announced that free agent center Travis Swanson visited with the team. To this point, Swanson has spent his entire four-year NFL career with the Lions.
Swanson has been the Lions’ full-time starter at center for the last three seasons. This marks his first reported visit of the free agency period, however, and his late-season concussion might have something to do with that. For what it’s worth, Swanson’s representatives say he didn’t actually suffer a concussion in 2017, despite what was on the injury report. Instead, they claim his symptoms were cause by a bad reaction to medicine he was given.
The 27-year-old has 42 games worth of starting experience, but he’d be a backup behind free agent pickup Spencer Long if he signs with the Jets. The Dolphins also expressed preliminary interest in Swanson earlier this month.
NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, 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. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.
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 2018:
Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.
Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.
There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.
What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.
Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.
Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.
Carlos Hyde didn’t have the kind of platform year he was hoping for, but he’s still just 26 and could headline a running back by committee group.
Jerick McKinnon‘s placement on this list figures to be controversial, but his athleticism and pass-catching ability can blow a game wide open. No one will bank on McKinnon to carry the ball 20 times per game, but he can be a real difference maker for a team out there.
Can Frank Gore outrun father time? History indicates that he can’t and so does his 3.7 yards per carry average in 2017. You have to give credit where credit is due, however. Gore has been ruled out by many for years, but he has not missed a regular season game since the 2010 season. He’s also just one year removed from cracking 1,000 yards and he almost did the same last year.
For most teams, Allen Robinson would be a franchise tag candidate. However, that may be too much of a luxury for the cash-strapped Jaguars. He presents a fascinating free agent case. Robinson missed all but three snaps of the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL, but he’s the most talented wide receiver on the board in the eyes of many. His 2015 season – 80 catches, 1,400 yards, and a league-leading 14 touchdowns – makes GMs drool. His quieter year in 2016 (73 catches, 883 yards, and six touchdowns) is less worthy of salivation. His 2017 season, of course, was a lost cause. For all the question marks, you can expect Robinson to see more dollars than any other free agent WR this year, particularly since Jarvis Landry has been held back by the tag.
Some in the football world may prefer Sammy Watkins for his big-play ability, but his down contract year amidst a capable offense is cause for concern. His injury history doesn’t do him any favors either. No matter your feelings on Watkins, there’s no debating that this year’s WR market has a top tier comprised of just two players – Watkins and Robinson. With few quality receivers out there, they’ll both get paid.
Marqise Lee represents a much less sexy option (speaking in football terms, of course), but he had the most receptions of any Jaguars receiver in 2017 (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). Teams looking for a quality WR2 in free agency could do a lot worse than Lee and he’ll be far cheaper than the two-man top tier.
Danny Amendola hauled in 61 receptions for 659 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs. However, teams will wonder if he can thrive in his age-33 season while playing outside of the Patriots’ offense. It’s also quite possible that he never tests the market as his stated preference is to remain in New England.
After that, you’ll notice a pretty significant drop off. That’s because this year’s WR class isn’t all that deep. Terrelle Pryor had to settle for a one-year prove-it contract last year and, to put it mildly, he did not prove it. Paul Richardson caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, but that marked his first NFL season of real note.
Trey Burton spent most of the year behind Zach Ertz on the Eagles’ depth chart, but he emerged late in the season and set himself up nicely for free agency. Given his age and potential, there’s no question that he is the belle of the ball at tight end.
The rest of the tight end crop is not nearly as inspiring. Jimmy Graham has enjoyed back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks, but he’ll turn 32 in November and he’s no longer the monster playmaker that he was in New Orleans. He had ten touchdowns in 2017, but his 9.1 yards per reception average is a career low.
Odds are, you have Tyler Eifert ranked over Austin Seferian-Jenkins given the fact that Eifert has played just ten games over the last two years. ASJ, meanwhile, rebounded from personal issues to post a 50-catch season for the Jets. Personally, I’m picking Eifert based on upside. Hopefully, we can still be friends.
Offensive line play is down across the board and evaluators around the league have been openly complaining about an increasing dearth of tackles coming out of college. That makes for a generally uninspiring lot in free agency.
Nate Solder battled through injuries in 2017 and did not miss a game. He’s no longer a top-flight option, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 32 tackle last year, meaning that he’s starter quality at left tackle. You’ll notice that three of the top five tackles on this list are Patriots. There’s little chance that the Pats let all three get away.
Justin Pugh offers the ability to play both guard and right tackle, though he might not do either one particularly well.
Andrew Norwell is the undisputed king of this category after netting an All-Pro selection in 2017. Norwell also earned a career-high 88.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, which positioned him third in the entire NFL amongst guards. A team with greater means than the Panthers might have used the franchise tag on him. Fortunately for rival teams in need of interior help (such as the Giants), they won’t cuff him with the one-year placeholder.
The Ravens were reportedly interested in signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick before the 2017 campaign, but a high-ranking U.S. military official may have been part of squashing the club’s plans to meet with the signal-caller, according to TMZ Sports. Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh consulted with several friends while his team was discussing Kaepernick, and one such friend — the unnamed official — “cautioned” Harbaugh about the former 49ers signal-caller. While the official did not tell Harbaugh not to sign Kaepernick, he did indicate the Ravens should give Kaepernick a “set of specific guidelines to follow” in order to remain employed. Kaepernick, of course, was the progenitor of kneeling for the national anthem as a form of silent protest. After passing on Kaepernick, Baltimore went on to sign journeyman Thad Lewis to serve as depth behind starter Joe Flacco.
Here’s more from around the NFL:
Lions center Travis Swanson is headed towards free agency, and it’s conceivable his reported late-season concussion could be a red flag for interested teams. However, Swanson’s representatives claim that he didn’t actually suffer a concussion in 2017, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes. Instead, Swanson says a bad reaction to the medicine he was given to treat his (non) concussion was the source of his symptoms. The 27-year-old pivot has a medical note to back up his version of the story, but the Lions are sticking by the original injury report that landed Swanson on injured reserve prior to Week 17. Thus far, both the Jets and Dolphins have expressed preliminary interest in Swanson, who offers 42 games worth of starting experience.
At least one unidentified NFL team has Louisville’s Lamar Jackson rated as the draft’s No. 2 quarterback prospect, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Jackson, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, is generally listed behind Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen is consensus rankings, but it sounds as though at least one team prefers Jackson to many of those signal-callers. Some teams reportedly had interest in working out Jackson as a receiver at the combine, but he declined to take part in non-quarterback drills.
The upcoming season is likely to be a “make-or-break” campaign for Redskins president Bruce Allen, per John Keim of ESPN.com. Washington has had its fair share of turnover — in the front office, on the coaching staff, and on the roster — during Allen’s tenure, but he’s managed to stick around since 2009. During that time, the Redskins have posted a disappointing 52-75-1 record. Additionally, the club has lost respected general manager Scot McCloughan (reportedly because of a rift with Allen), and will not re-sign franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The NFL’s scouting combine will remain in Indianapolis through at least 2020, but the function’s long-term location is unclear, writes Mike Chappell of FOX59. While speculation has arisen that Los Angeles or Las Vegas could be the combine’s next home, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk indicates Indianapolis is considered ideal given that every part of the event — meetings, workouts, medical testing — to be located within a small radius.
Given that Sherman and Talib are both after a second Super Bowl ring, it’s no surprise to hear that they would both be intrigued by the possibility of joining up with the Pats. Both players are under contract, but it’s a situation to watch, particularly since Seattle is in the bottom third of the league in cap space.
Here’s more from the AFC East:
The Jets have yet to approach cornerback Buster Skrine about taking a pay cut for the 2018 season, Darryl Slater of NJ.com hears. Skrine is slated to carry an $8.5MM cap figure with a $6MM salary. When asked about the possibility in December, Skrine seemed to ball at the idea of taking a trim. “What’s my cap, 8.5 next year?” said Skrine, who turns 29 in April. “So I’m expecting 8.5. I don’t think any player goes into thinking if they’re taking a pay cut. I feel like I’ve been doing well and playing at a high level for what they ask me to do. I’ve just got to continue to play the way I’m playing.” Last year, Skrine ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 85 ranked corner. For what it’s worth, PFF’s metrics have never been high on him and his 65.7 overall score from ’17 was actually a career best.
Free agent center Travis Swanson has generated the most interest from the Jets and Dolphins, a source tells Howe (Twitter link). Swanson is eligible for free agency for the first time in his career after spending the last four seasons with the Lions. The 2014 third-round pick has 53 appearances with 42 starts to his credit. Jets starting center Wesley Johnson and reserve Jonotthan Harrison are both headed towards free agency in March. The Dolphins have Mike Pouncey as their starter, but they could be looking as Swanson as a reserve option.