NFL Free Agency: Ranking, tracking the top players on offense


Mark Eckel


For the next three days subscribers will get a look at what the NFL free-agent market was when it opened to teams and how it looks now. Part 1 is a look at the players on offense, Part 2 is a look at the players on defense and Part 3 is a look at the players on special teams. In addition, Part 3 will include a look at restricted free agency.

The signing period began Wednesday, March 14 at 3 p.m. Players that signed or were known to have agreed to terms before that time were not considered in these rankings.

Among the players that were considered were the approximately 400 unrestricted free agents, the 78 players with fewer than four accrued seasons who received no qualifying offer or minimum tender from their teams and the approximately 70 respectable players that were released since Feb. 5 and remained unsigned.

Players were ranked in order of attractiveness based on ability, production, age, medical and off-field factors.

Approximately 150 players from these lists already have signed with new teams since the start of the signing period. About 45 others have re-signed with their own teams.

So-called “street” free agents and players without qualifying offers/minimum tenders were denoted by the (ex-) before their most recent teams.

The “PT” in the chart refers to percentage of playing time on offense or defense during the regular season of 2017.

The guaranteed portion of contracts is denoted by “g.” The “M” refers to millions of dollars.


Name-Age-PT-Team-(New team)

1. SAMMY WATKINS … 24 … 74.9% … LA Rams … (Kansas City).

2. ALLEN ROBINSON … 24 … 0.3% … Jacksonville … (Chicago).

3. MICHAEL CRABTREE … 30 … 59.4% … ex-Oakland … (Baltimore).

4. PAUL RICHARDSON … 26 … 76.6% … Seattle … (Washington).

5. DANNY AMENDOLA … 32 … 49.9% … New England … (Miami).

6. DONTE MONCRIEF … 24 … 59.5% … Indianapolis … (Jacksonville).

7. ALBERT WILSON … 25 … 52.2% … Kansas City … (Miami).

8. TAYLOR GABRIEL … 27 … 52.7% … Atlanta … (Chicago).

9. JOHN BROWN .. 27 … 43.8% … Arizona … (Baltimore).

10. JORDAN MATTHEWS … 25 … 48.3% …Buffalo … (none).

OTHERS: Allen Hurns, ex-Jacksonville; Mike Wallace, Baltimore (to Philadelphia); Jeremy Maclin, ex-Baltimore; Jaron Brown, Arizona (to Seattle); Terrelle Pryor, Washington; Jordy Nelson, ex-Green Bay (to Oakland); Eric Decker, Tennessee; Ryan Grant, Washington (to Indianapolis); Kendall Wright, Chicago; Brandon Coleman, ex-New Orleans; Brice Butler, Dallas; Dontrelle Inman, Chicago; Kamar Aiken, Indianapolis; Bruce Ellington, Houston (re-signed); Deonte Thompson, Buffalo (to Dallas).

OVERVIEW: By this time a year ago all 14 of the top-rated wide receivers were off the board. This spring, the first nine and 10 of the top 14 are gone. It wasn’t a great group to begin with; Watkins and Robinson struck it rich not long after the opening bell. Watkins’ contract was for three years and $48 million, with $30 million guaranteed; Robinson got $42M over four with $25.5M guaranteed. Watkins has home-run ability but hasn’t been a volume catcher. The Jaguars didn’t want Robinson because he clashed with Blake Bortles and was coming off a blown knee on the third play of the season. In a surprising move, the Raiders decided to waive Crabtree after agreeing with Nelson (2/$14.2M/$13M g). “You can’t tell me … Jordy Nelson is better than Michael Crabtree,” Rod Woodson, the Raiders’ cornerbacks coach from 2015-’17, said Wednesday on FS1’s “Undisputed.” “That’s a lie. Crabtree was the glue to that offense. He gave them a backbone. He gave them toughness. Jordy Nelson is not going to give them that.” One day later, the Ravens gobbled up Crabtree (3/$21M/$11M g). Not only did the Bears sign Robinson to start outside, they also lavished big money on Gabriel (4/$26M/$14M g) to play the slot. They also gave Cam Meredith the lowest restricted-right tender ($1.907M), hoping his ACL surgery in early September would ward off suitors. Meredith, however, has been attracting considerable interest. Deep threats Richardson (5/$40M/$20M g) and Moncrief (1/9.6M all guaranteed) got outsized deals for minimal production. Wilson’s deal (3/$24M/$14.5M g) was even more mind-boggling. He had been largely invisible until 2017, his fourth season. Amendola (2/$12M/$7.95M g) earned his payday with an exceptional season from the slot. The Ravens also took a flyer on John Brown (1/$5M/$4M g), who can run like the wind but has had a variety of injuries over the past three seasons. Matthews remains unsigned but reportedly has visited the Cardinals and Packers; he’s a big slot whose one mundane season in Buffalo wasn’t close to what he had done for three seasons in Philadelphia. Wallace, 31, still can run, which surely led to his signing by the Eagles. Another speedy receiver, Jaron Brown, went to Seattle (2/$5.5M/$2.75M g) as the replacement for Richardson. Maclin went through the motions in his lone season for the Ravens. Hurns missed 11 games the past two years due to injury and so his 2015 season (64 catches, 1,031 yards, 10 TDs) can be forgotten. Pryor and Decker were keen disappointments in ’17.


1. JIMMY GRAHAM … 31 … 68.3% … Seattle … (Green Bay).

2. ERIC EBRON … 24 … 52.7% … ex-Detroit … (Indianapolis).

3. ED DICKSON … 30 … 81.6% … Carolina … (Seattle).

4. LUKE WILLSON … 28 … 35.4% … Seattle … (Detroit).

5. TREY BURTON … 26 … 26.5% … Philadelphia … (Chicago).

6. DARREN FELLS … 32 … 52.7% … Detroit … (Cleveland).

7. MARCEDES LEWIS … 33 … 79.4% … ex-Jacksonville … (none).

8. AUSTIN SEFERIAN-JENKINS … 25 … 63% … NY Jets … (Jacksonville).

9. TYLER EIFERT … 27 … 10.8% … Cincinnati … (re-signed).

10. VIRGIL GREEN … 29 … 47.4% … Denver … (LA Chargers).

OTHERS: Antonio Gates, LA Chargers; Benjamin Watson, Baltimore; Derek Carrier, LA Rams (to Oakland); Levine Toilolo, ex-Atlanta; Brent Celek, ex-Philadelphia; Niles Paul, Washington (to Jacksonville); Anthony Fasano, Miami; Richard Rodgers, Green Bay; Julius Thomas, ex-Miami; Daniel Brown, ex-Chicago (re-signed); Martellus Bennett, ex-New England.

OVERVIEW: At times, Russell Wilson (5-10 ½) couldn’t see the towering Graham (3/$30M/$11M g), one reason the tight end’s production waned from his New Orleans salad days. On paper, at least, the Packers got the pick of the litter. Unable to trade Ebron, the 10th pick in the 2014 draft, the Lions cut him. The Colts signed Ebron five days later to a two-year deal worth a reported $15M with incentives. Detroit also let Fells walk, and on day one he landed with the Browns (3/$12M/$6.2M g). Dickson held the fort when Greg Olsen was injured in ’17 and parlayed it into a possible No. 1 job in Seattle (3/$10.7M/$3.6M g). Willson, the talented backup to Graham for three years, then went to Detroit on Wednesday. Burton, the backup to Zach Ertz in Philadelphia, broke the bank in Chicago (4/$32M/$22M g). Those were staggering numbers for a player with 63 receptions and five starts in four seasons. Eifert, who has had multiple back operations, went back to the Bengals (1/$5.5M/$3M g). The Jaguars replaced Lewis, who was cut Tuesday, by signing Seferian-Jnekins ($2/$10M/$4M g) and Paul (2/$4.75M/$1.5M g). Green, another old pro much like Lewis, went to the Chargers (3/$8.6M/$5.9M g). It remains to be seen if the venerable Gates, 37, will be back with Philip Rivers. He wants to play. Carrier, the huge success story from Edgerton High School and Beloit College, moved north to Oakland (3/$5.5M/$1.9M g). Bennett, the bust in Green Bay, says he isn’t sure if he still wants to play. Would any team still want him?


1. NATE SOLDER … 29 … 97.8% … New England … (NY Giants).

2. CHRIS HUBBARD … 26 … 70.5% … Pittsburgh … (Cleveland).

3. ANDRE SMITH … 31 … 55.7% … Cincinnati … (Arizona).

4. AUSTIN HOWARD … 31 … 99.6% … Baltimore … (none).

5. CAMERON FLEMING … 25 … 32.4% … New England … (none).

6. BRENO GIACOMINI … 32 … 100% … Houston … (Oakland).

7. CHRIS CLARK … 32 … 50.1% … Houston … (none).

8. SEANTREL HENDERSON … 26 … 4.2% … Buffalo … (Houston).

9. MARSHALL NEWHOUSE … 29 … 83.5% … Oakland … (Buffalo).

10. GREG ROBINSON … 25 … 37.9% … Detroit … (none).

OTHERS: Donald Stephenson, Denver (to Cleveland); LaAdrian Waddle, New England (re-signed); Sam Young, Miami; Matt Tobin, Seattle (to New England); Byron Bell, Dallas; Ben Ijalana, NY Jets; Will Beatty, Philadelphia; Cornelius Lucas, LA Rams; Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore; Eric Winston, Cincinnati.

OVERVIEW: Talk about a thin group. Solder was the only sure bet but he allowed far more pressures than anyone on the Patriots’ line. New Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn’t care, needing a building block for his woeful unit. Solder’s deal was massive (4/$62M/$34.8M g). Needing someone to play the LT position manned by recently retired Joe Thomas, the Browns went all in on Hubbard (5/$36.5M/$15.2M g), who had been the Steelers’ swing tackle. The only other starting berth went to Smith (2/$8M/$2.59M g), a two-time Bengal who went to Arizona. Really, it is buyer beware after Solder and the athletic Hubbard. Giacomini, the one-time Packer, started all season at RT in Houston because of injury but surely didn’t distinguish himself. Still, the Raiders, in a signing frenzy that apparently knows no bounds, signed him Thursday. Newhouse, another ex-Packer, keeps hanging around despite marginal play. His new deal with the Bills is one year, $1.5M ($500,000 g). New coach Jon Gruden made cutting him an early priority. Since departing the Packers in March 2014, Newhouse has started 39 of 53 games for the Bengals, Giants and Raiders. Henderson, a former starter, went to Houston (1/$4M/$1M g). Browns GM John Dorsey, who had Stephenson in Kansas City, brought him back to Cleveland (1/$2.5M/$1M g) after a lousy season in Denver. In a tepid market, Bill Belichick plucked Tobin from the scrap heap (1/$815,000/no guarantee).


1. ANDREW NORWELL … 26 … 100% … Carolina … (Jacksonville).

2. JOSH SITTON … 31 … 72.1% … Chicago … (Miami).

3. JUSTIN PUGH … 27 … 40.3% … NY Giants … (Arizona).

4. BRANDON FUSCO … 29 … 98.6% … San Francisco … (Atlanta).

5. ZACH FULTON … 26 … 76.9% … Kansas City … (Houston).

6. XAVIER SU’A-FILO … 27 … 98.2% … Houston … (none).

7. JOE BERGER … 35 … 99.8% … Minnesota … (none).

8. SENIO KELEMETE … 27 … 61% … New Orleans … (Houston).

9. D.J. FLUKER … 27 … 41.2% … NY Giants … (none).

10. KENNY WIGGINS … 29 … 97.9% … LA Chargers … (Detroit).

OTHERS: Jack Mewhort, Indianapolis (re-signed); Patrick Omameh, Jacksonville (to NY Giants); Jermon Bushrod, Miami (to New Orleans); Jonathan Cooper, Dallas (to San Francisco); Matt Slauson, LA Chargers (to Indianapolis); Kevin Pamphile, Tampa Bay (to Tennessee); Alex Boone, Arizona; Shawn Lauvao, Washington; Oday Aboushi, Seattle; Luke Joeckel, Seattle.

OVERVIEW: This is a much better group than the tackles. Every one of the top 20 guards has made multiple starts in his career. Norwell, an undrafted rookie in 2014, parlayed his second season as a starter into a fantastic contract (5/$66.5M/$30M g). Sitton went back to his native Florida, extending his career with the Dolphins (2/$13.5M/$8.5M g). The Giants lost Pugh to Arizona (5/$45M/15.75M g) and appear uncertain if they’ll re-sign Fluker. To replace one of them, they added Omameh (3/$15M/$5.5M g). New Texans GM Brian Gaine also was active, adding Fulton ($4/$28M/$13M g) and Kelemete (3/$12M/$5M g). Those decisions probably mean that Su’a-Filo, a two-year starter, will be departing. Displeased with RG Wes Schweitzer, their weak link up front, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff went for the well-traveled Fusco (3/$12.75M/$5.5M g). The Vikings want the 35-year-old Berger back but at their price, and he has attracted interest. Wiggins (2/$5M/$750,000 g) will get a chance to start at LG in Detroit.


1. RYAN JENSEN … 26 … 100% … Baltimore … (Tampa Bay).

2. MIKE POUNCEY … 28 … 93.6% … ex-Miami … (LA Chargers)

3. WESTON RICHBURG … 26 … 22.3% … NY Giants … (San Francisco).

4. SPENCER LONG … 27 … 39.2% … Washington … (NY Jets).

5. RUSSELL BODINE … 25 … 100% … Cincinnati … (Buffalo).

OTHERS: John Sullivan, LA Rams (re-signed); Marcus Martin, Cleveland; Wesley Johnson, NY Jets; Travis Swanson, Detroit; Evan Smith, Tampa Bay.

OVERVIEW: Much like Norwell, Jensen came from nowhere to the head of the class with a four-year deal reportedly worth $42M ($22M g) with the Buccaneers. A sixth-round draft choice from Colorado State-Pueblo in 2013, the combative (some would say cheap) Jensen made nine starts at guard in 2015-’16 before making the move to center in ’17. Stunned by a pink-slip March 15 by the Dolphins, Pouncey rebounded nicely four days later with the Chargers (two years, reportedly $10M g). Richburg, who was getting rag-dolled in the first month of ’17 before a concussion sent him to injured reserve, signed an astonishing deal (5/$47.5M/$28.5M g) with the 49ers. Long, a tough guy, went to the Jets (4/$27.4M/$9M g) as the replacement for the disappointing Johnson. The Vikings gave up on Sullivan after the ’15 season because of his many injuries. Sullivan emerged as the Rams’ starter in ’17 and then was re-signed (two years, reportedly $10M). The Lions maintain that Swanson, their starter, suffered a concussion. His agents disagree, but in any event he won’t return to Detroit.


1. KIRK COUSINS … 29 … 99.6% … Washington … (Minnesota).

2. CASE KEENUM .. 30 … 91% … Minnesota … (Denver).

3. SAM BRADFORD … 30 … 8.2% … Minnesota … (Arizona).

4. JOSH McCOWN … 38 … 79.1% … NY Jets … (re-signed).

5. A.J. McCARRON … 27 … 2.7% … Cincinnati … (Buffalo).

6. TEDDY BRIDGEWATER … 25 … 0.8% … Minnesota … (NY Jets).

7. MIKE GLENNON … 28 … 26.7% … ex-Chicago … (Arizona).

8. MATT MOORE … 33 … 19.6% … Miami … (none).

9. DREW STANTON … 33 … 28.6% … Arizona … (none).

10. JAY CUTLER … 34 … 73.5% … Miami … (none).

OTHERS: Brock Osweiler, Denver; Chase Daniel, New Orleans (to Chicago); Chad Henne, Jacksonville (to Kansas City); Tom Savage, Houston (to New Orleans); Derek Anderson, Carolina; E.J. Manuel, Oakland (re-signed); Geno Smith, NY Giants; Blaine Gabbert, Arizona; Matt Barkley, Arizona (to Cincinnati); Ryan Mallett, Baltimore.

OVERVIEW: When the music stopped, the top five all appeared to have starting jobs and several others seem secure in No. 2 positions. The key was Cousins’ decision of the Vikings over strong overtures from the Jets, Cardinals and Broncos. His three-year, $84M deal was fully guaranteed and, for the time being, made him the highest-paid quarterback. When that was settled, Keenum moved on to Denver (2/$36M fully guaranteed), Bradford set off for Arizona (2/$40M/$15M g) and the third ex-Viking, Bridgewater, signed with the Jets (1/$6M/$500,000 g). Bradford says his knee isn’t an issue. Despite an unimpressive guarantee Bridgewater should have a chance to compete with McCown, who returned to the Jets (1/$10M/$5M g) after his underappreciated campaign. The Bills, having traded Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland, took a shot on McCarron (2/$10M/$6M g). The ex-Bengal is a confident leader but has average arm strength, accuracy and mobility. In Chicago, the Bears signed Daniel ($2/$10M/$7M g) to assist in the development of Mitchell Trubisky. Drew Brees swore by Daniel in New Orleans. Glennon, who 12 months ago joined the Bears for three years at $45M ($18.5M g), rebounded from a pink slip and found a job backing up Bradford in Arizona (4/$16M/$4M g). As a result, neither Stanton nor Gabbert will be back in the desert. Cutler probably will call it quits. Henne, a terrific mentor to Bortles, rebuffed the Jaguars’ offer to stay and decided to tutor youthful Patrick Mahomes (2/$6.7M/$5.1M g) in Kansas City. Savage accepted a low-rate deal (1/$1.5M/$100,000 g) in New Orleans. The Bengals thought highly of the much-traveled Barkley (2/$3.35M/$500,000 g), who becomes No. 2 behind Andy Dalton.


1. CARLOS HYDE … 27 … 71.2% … San Francisco … (Cleveland).

2. DOUG MARTIN … 29 … 26.4% … ex-Tampa Bay … (Oakland).

3. DION LEWIS … 27 … 35.6% … New England … (Tennessee).

4. JERICK McKINNON … 25 … 47.3% … Minnesota … (San Francisco).

5. LeGARRETTE BLOUNT … 31 … 31.3% … Philadelphia … (Detroit).

6. ISAIAH CROWELL … 25 … 50.2% … Cleveland … (NY Jets).

7. DeMARCO MURRAY … 30 … 63.3% … ex-Tennessee … (none).

8. JEREMY HILL … 25 … 8% … Cincinnati … (New England).

9. ORLEANS DARKWA …. 26 … 29% … NY Giants … (none).

10. FRANK GORE … 34 … 53.9% … Indianapolis … (Miami).

OTHERS: Alfred Morris, Dallas; Alfred Blue, Houston; Adrian Peterson, ex-Arizona; Shane Vereen, NY Giants; Terrance West, Baltimore; Thomas Rawls, ex-Seattle; Kerwynn Williams, Arizona; Charles Sims, Tampa Bay; Travaris Cadet, Buffalo (re-signed); Eddie Lacy, Seattle.

OVERVIEW: Whether the Browns drafted Penn State’s Saquon Barkley or not, they did add the best back in free agency to take the slot previously held by Crowell. Choosing their power back, the Browns went with Hyde (3/$15.25M/$7M g) and let Crowell walk to the Jets (3/$12/$6M g). Darting third-down backs Lewis (4/$19.8M/$8.25M g) and McKinnon (4/$30/$14.3M g) went to the Titans and 49ers, respectively. Lewis could be a devastating change-of-pace threat behind brawny Derrick Henry. Likewise, McKinnon might excel in coach Kyle Shanahan’s diverse offense. Blount, who was No. 4 on this list a year ago and wasn’t signed until May 18 by the Eagles, collected another Super Bowl ring before leaving to give the Lions possibly their first legitimate big back since James Stewart 15 years ago. Blount’s one-year, $2M contract was fully guaranteed. Once again, Belichick rolled the dice on Hill (1/$1.5M/$150,000 g), a player who hasn’t done much of anything since his 1,124-yard season in 2014. Gore, who is fifth on the all-time rushing list (14,026 yards), will be 35 in May and went to Miami Thursday. Peterson, 33, might not find a fourth team because he still wants the ball a lot and offers next to nothing as a receiver or blocker. Seattle wasted ample funds (1/$4.25M/$2.865M g) on Lacy, who averaged 2.6 (69-179), caught six passes and didn’t even get on the field in the last four games. He looks finished at 27.


1. KEITH SMITH … 25 …12% … ex-Dallas … (Oakland).

2. MIKE TOLBERT … 32 … 19.3% … Buffalo … (none).

3. ZACH LINE … 27 … 16.2% … New Orleans … (none).

4. JOHN KUHN … 35 … 1.2% . New Orleans … (none).

5. DERRICK COLEMAN … 27 … 21.9 … Atlanta … (none).


OVERVIEW: The Cowboys really wanted Smith back but didn’t choose to give him the minimum $1.907 restricted tender. Thus, they lost their hard-nosed lead blocker to Oakland (2/$3M/$1.4M g). Tolbert, a good player for a decade, lagged behind Patrick DiMarco down the stretch and finally seems to have lost his stinger. Kuhn, the ex-Packer, suffered a torn biceps in the fourth game and was replaced by Line. Kuhn wants to play but also might be entertaining a career in coaching. Line is a better blocker whereas Kuhn is the better rusher-receiver. Maybe the Saints will bring them both back.

The post NFL Free Agency: Ranking, tracking the top players on offense appeared first on Bob McGinn Football.

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The Bengals thought highly of the much-traveled Barkley (2/$3.35M/$500,000 g), who becomes No. 2 behind Andy Dalton.
Raise your hand if you knew Matt Barkley was still in the league.