McGinn: Position-by-position ranking of NFL free agents
The Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn ranks the best players to reach NFL free agency. Among those considered are about 400 unrestricted free agents, the approximately 55 players of significance cut since Jan. 6 and the 64 players that received no qualifying offer or minimum tender before March 9. The four players designated as franchise players were not ranked.
The signing period began March 9 at 3 p.m.; players that agreed to terms before that time were not considered.
Players were ranked in order of attractiveness based on ability, production, age, medical and off-field factors.
Approximately 120 players from these lists already have signed with new teams since the start of the signing period. About 40 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 listing refers to percentage of playing time on offense or defense during the regular season of 2016.
The details of players' new deals noted in the overview at each position refers to contract length in years, total value ("M" refers to millions of dollars) and guaranteed money (denoted by "g").
The following transactions are as of noon on Wednesday, March 15.
Name, Age, PT, Team (New team)
1. Alshon Jeffery, 27, 68.5%, Chicago (Philadelphia).
2. Pierre Garcon, 30, 76.1%, Washington (San Francisco).
3. DeSean Jackson, 30, 66.6%, Washington (Tampa Bay).
4. Kenny Britt, 28, 78.5%, LA Rams (Cleveland).
5. Robert Woods, 24, 59.6%, Buffalo (Carolina).
6. Terrelle Pryor, 27, 87.4%, Cleveland (Washington).
7. Terrance Williams, 27, 70.6%, Dallas (re-signed).
8. Markus Wheaton, 26, 9%, Pittsburgh (Chicago).
9. Ted Ginn, 31, 62.2%, Carolina (New Orleans).
10. Torrey Smith, 28, 62.2%, San Francisco (Philadelphia).
OTHERS: Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo (to San Francisco); Corey Brown, ex-Carolina (to Buffalo); Russell Shepard, Tampa Bay (to Carolina); Kendall Wright, Tennessee (to Chicago); Andrew Hawkins, ex-Cleveland; Victor Cruz, ex-NY Giants; Brian Quick, LA Rams; Kamar Aiken, Baltimore; Victor Jackson, Tampa Bay; Anquan Boldin, Detroit; Michael Floyd, New England.
OVERVIEW: The top 14 players all are signed, sealed and delivered. The Eagles hope that Jeffery’s one-year, $9.5 million deal ($8.75M g) provides them with a much-needed deep threat. The Redskins, with receivers galore, lost Garcon (5/$47.5M/$20M g) and Jackson (3/$33.5/$20M g) to NFC rivals but recovered by landing Pryor (1/$6M/$6M g), the converted quarterback. Britt parlayed his career year into a big deal (4/$32.5M/$17M g). Woods, the youngest of the leading players, departed Buffalo (5/$34M/$15M g), as did Goodwin (2/$6M/$4.45M g). The Cowboys brought back Williams, their No. 2 receiver, for what looked like a home-town discount (4/$17M/$9.5M g). Wheaton (2/$11M/$5M g) missed most of the season with a shoulder injury but the Bears needed his speed to replace Jeffery. The on-again, off-again Ginn (3/$11M/$3M g) joined the Saints as the replacement for Brandin Cooks, who was traded to the Patriots. New 49ers GM John Lynch cut Smith after his awful final season. He went to the Eagles for 3/$15M/$500,000. The rest of the group lacks size except for Quick, who has never been able to overcome his mental shortcomings; Jackson, whose last two seasons have been cut short by knee injuries, and Floyd, the ex-Cardinal who had a cup of coffee in New England. Boldin, 36, is weighing retirement.
1. Martellus Bennett, 30, 77.6%, New England (Green Bay).
2. Dion Sims, 26, 74%, Miami (Chicago).
3. Jermaine Gresham, 28, 72.6%, Arizona (re-signed).
4. Jared Cook, 29, 30.2%, Green Bay (unsigned).
5. Ryan Griffin, 27, 45.3%, Houston (re-signed).
6. Luke Willson, 27, 33.1%, Seattle (unsigned).
7. Lance Kendricks, 29, 82.6%, LA Rams (Green Bay).
8. Levine Toilolo, 25, 55%, Atlanta (re-signed).
9. Rhett Ellison, 28, 24.6%, Minnesota (NY Giants).
10. Anthony Fasano, 30, 50%, Tennessee (Miami).
OTHERS: Darren Fells, Arizona (to Detroit); Gavin Escobar, Dallas; Mychal Rivera, Oakland; Brandon Myers, Tampa Bay; Jacob Tamme, Atlanta.
OVERVIEW: Re-signing Cook was a Packers’ priority. When his request exceeded the team’s allocation, they moved on and signed Bennett (3/$21M/$6.3M g) and Kendricks (2/$4M/$1.2M g). With Rob Gronkowski returning from injury, the Patriots weren’t about to pay Bennett market value no matter how well he played. The Rams waived three capable veterans, including Kendricks, due in part to salary-cap constraints. Cook moved on for visits with Seattle and Minnesota, and reportedly might stop next in Oakland. Gresham, a player the Packers had in for a visit in July 2015, played well in ’16 and turned it into an eye-opening deal (4/$28M/$16.5M g). Griffin also went back to his team for 3/$9M/$3.225M g. Willson, a fairly complete player, is moving on because the Seahawks also have Jimmy Graham and Nick Vannett. Toilolo, a stringbean who did improve as a blocker, returned to the Falcons (3/$12M/$4.5M g). Seeking someone to block, the Giants paid handsomely for Ellison ($4/$18M/$8M g). Fasano (1/$2.75M/$1.25M g) and Fells (1/$1M/$100,000 g) also block well. Escobar is a towering, underutilized receiving talent.
1. Matt Kalil, 27, 11.5%, Minnesota (Carolina).
2. Ricky Wagner, 27, 81.5%, Baltimore (Detroit).
3. Riley Reiff, 28, 85.7%, Detroit (Minnesota).
4. Andrew Whitworth, 35, 97.9%, Cincinnati (LA Rams).
5. Menelik Watson, 28, 22.9%, Oakland (Denver).
6. Mike Remmers, 27, 99.8%, Carolina (Minnesota).
7. Kelvin Beachum, 27, 92%. Jacksonville (NY Jets).
8. Russell Okung, 28, 98.8%, Denver (LA Chargers).
9. Jordan Mills, 26, 97.1%, Buffalo (re-signed).
10. Marshall Newhouse, 28, 43.4%, NY Giants (Oakland).
OTHERS: Ryan Clady, NY Jets; Andre Smith, Minnesota (to Cincinnati); Austin Pasztor, Cleveland; Byron Bell, Tennessee; Gosder Cherilus, Tampa Bay; King Dunlap, ex-LA Chargers; Bradley Sowell, Seattle; Tom Compton, Atlanta (to Chicago); Breno Giacomini, ex-NY Jets; Eric Winston, Cincinnati (re-signed); Mike Adams, Chicago.
OVERVIEW: The Vikings hoped to retain Kalil at LT despite his inconsistencies. When the Panthers drove the price up (5/$55.5M/$25M g), Minnesota did what it could to alleviate its holes at both tackles. LT Riley Reiff, whose best position might be guard, signed for even more than Kalil (5/$58.75M/$26.3M g). RT Mike Remmers, who struggles with speed, got 5/30M/10.5M g. Meanwhile, the venerable Whitworth, a tremendous leader and salty pass protector, went to the Rams (3/$33.75M/15M g). Unhappy with Okung at LT, the Broncos took a shot on Watson (3/$18.375M/$11M g), the oft-injured Raider. Okung, a terrible pass blocker in ’16, still managed to snare a blockbuster deal from the Chargers (4/$53M/$25M g). His performance didn’t warrant anything close to that number, but the upcoming draft is so thin in offensive linemen that many teams took what they could get. Disappointed with Clady, the Jets gave big money to the undersized Beachum (3/$24M/$12M g) to play LT. Mills (2/$3.8M/$400,000 g) and Newhouse (2/$3.5M/$500,000 g), the former Packer, signed far more modest deals. Smith returned to the Bengals after a nonproductive year in Minnesota. Giacomini, another ex-Packer, played just 25.5% of the snaps before back problems ended his season. At 31, he might be finished.
1. Kevin Zeitler, 27, 100%, Cincinnati (Cleveland).
2. Ronald Leary, 27, 75.9%, Dallas (Denver).
3. Larry Warford, 25, 93.5%, Detroit (New Orleans).
4. T.J. Lang, 29, 72.8%, Green Bay (Detroit).
5. D.J. Fluker, 26, 93.2%, LA Chargers (NY Giants).
6. John Jerry, 30, 99.8%, NY Giants (re-signed).
7. Earl Watford, 26, 68.4%, Arizona (Jacksonville).
8. Luke Joeckel, 25, 19.9%, Jacksonville (Seattle).
9. Chance Warmack, 25, 12.6%, Tennessee (Philadelphia).
10. Chris Chester, 34, 100%, Atlanta (unsigned).
OTHERS: Jahri Evans, New Orleans; Jermon Bushrod, Miami; Andrew Tiller, San Francisco; Ted Larsen, Chicago (to Miami); Chris Scott, Carolina (re-signed); Vladimir Ducasse, Baltimore (to Buffalo); Tim Lelito, New Orleans; Patrick Omameh, Jacksonville (re-signed); Oday Aboushi, Houston; Don Barclay, Green Bay (re-signed).
OVERVIEW: The guard market blew up early when Zeitler stayed in-state and joined the Browns with the richest deal ever at the position (5/$60M/$31.5M g). The Bengals never pay guards. Just ask Max Montoya, Mike Goff and Eric Steinbach. At the same time, the Cowboys lost Leary (4/$36M/24M g) and the Lions lost Warford (4/$34M/$17M g). When the Packers declined to become a serious bidder to retain him, Lang chose an offer to replace Warford at RG in Detroit (a reported 3/$28.5M/$19.5M g) over an offer from Seattle. Fluker, an erratic RT and RG in San Diego, could play either spot in New York after signing a one-year, $3M prove-it deal. Jerry, the Giants’ incumbent RG, went back for 3/10M/$4.25M g. After that, the Jaguars took a flier on Watford (2/$5M/$1M g), the Seahawks gave surprisingly big money to Joeckel (1/$8M/$7M g) and the Eagles rolled the dice on Warmack (1/$1.51M/$500,000 g), who had been a keen disappointment in Tennessee. Chester might retire. Evans, 33, actually had a solid season in his second go-round in New Orleans. Tiller, a former Packer, might be the 49ers’ best guard.
1. JC Tretter, 26, 44.9%, Green Bay (Cleveland).
2. Nick Mangold, 33, 41.6%, ex-NY Jets (unsigned).
3. Tim Barnes, 28, 100%, LA Rams (unsigned).
4. Joe Hawley, 28, 86.4%, Tampa Bay (unsigned).
5. Brian Schwenke, 25, 23.2%, Tennessee (Indianapolis).
OTHERS: Stefen Wisniewski, Philadelphia (re-signed); Cody Wallace, Pittsburgh; John Sullivan, Washington.
OVERVIEW: The Browns wasted little time securing Tretter, blowing away the competition with 3/$16.75M/10M g. Schwenke, a center-guard, is the only other center to change teams. Mangold, a great player for years, missed eight games with a foot injury but probably still has another season or two left. Barnes graded well in two years as a starter but the Rams decided to get bigger and stronger. Hawley beat out former Packer Evan Smith but now the Buccaneers don’t want to pay him.
1. Mike Glennon, 27, 1.3%, Tampa Bay (Chicago).
2. Jay Cutler, 33, 27%, ex-Chicago (unsigned).
3. Colin Kaepernick, 29, 66.7%, San Francisco (unsigned).
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick, 34, 73.3%, NY Jets (unsigned).
5. Nick Foles, 28, 10.4%, Kansas City (Philadelphia).
6. Brian Hoyer, 31, 31.2%, Chicago (San Francisco).
7. Case Keenum, 29, 59.4%, LA Rams (unsigned).
8. Chase Daniel, 30, 0.5%, ex-Philadelphia (unsigned).
9. Kellen Moore, 27, 0.0%, Dallas (unsigned).
10. Josh McCown, 37, 25.4%, ex-Cleveland (unsigned).
OTHERS: Matt Barkley, Chicago (to San Francisco); Geno Smith, NY Jets; Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco; Mark Sanchez, Dallas; Matt McGloin, Oakland; Shaun Hill, Minnesota; E.J. Manuel, Buffalo; Dan Orlovsky, Detroit.
OVERVIEW: After cutting Cutler, the Bears hitched their wagon to Glennon (3/$45M/$18.5M g). As Cutler watched, two of his teammates found jobs in San Francisco. Hoyer received 2/$12M/$9.85M g, suggesting he could be the stopgap starter, and Barkley was given 2/$4M/$500,000 g to serve as backup. Kaepernick, a more talented and accomplished player, remains a pariah despite putting up solid numbers for a 2-14 team last year: 90.7 passer rating, 468 rushing yards. Fitzpatrick still has the arm and the heart to help a contending team off the bench. Foles went back to the Eagles, who promptly cut the highly paid, diminutive Daniel. Keenum went 4-5 as a starter before the Rams turned to rookie Jared Goff.
1. Latavius Murray, 27, 47%, Oakland (unsigned).
2. Danny Woodhead, 32, 5.2%, LA Chargers (Baltimore).
3. Adrian Peterson, 31, 8%, Minnesota (unsigned).
4. LeGarrette Blount, 30, 47.2%, New England (unsigned).
5. Eddie Lacy, 26, 15.3%, Green Bay (Seattle).
6. Rex Burkhead, 26, 21.9%, Cincinnati (New England).
7. Tim Hightower, 30, 24.7%, New Orleans (unsigned).
8. Robert Turbin, 27, 27.3%, Indianapolis (re-signed).
9. Darren McFadden, 29, 4.5%, Dallas (unsigned).
10. Jamaal Charles, 30, 2.6%, ex-Kansas City (unsigned).
OTHERS: Andre Ellington, Arizona (re-signed); Benny Cunningham, LA Rams; Chris Johnson, Arizona; DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh; Kenjon Barner, ex-Philadelphia; Rashad Jennings, ex-NY Giants; Lance Dunbar, Dallas; Travaris Cadet, New Orleans; Christine Michael, Green Bay; Denard Robinson, Jacksonville.
OVERVIEW: Among a sea of heavy-duty backs, the first to be signed was the quick, versatile Woodhead (3/$8.8M/$4.25M g). He’s coming off a torn ACL in Game 2. After passing on Peterson, the Seahawks signed Lacy (1/$4.25M/$2.865M g) to team with Thomas Rawls. There’s no doubt GM John Schneider hopes Lacy turns into another Marshawn Lynch. Lacy weighed 267 over the weekend, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll attributed some of it to his ongoing rehabilitation from ankle surgery. In truth, that’s just an excuse. Lacy’s deal included a weight clause tied to a $385,000 workout bonus. The Vikings appear to have minimal interest in bringing back Peterson. Ditto for the Patriots and Blount, whose attempts at getting paid legitimate money after an 18-touchdown season have fallen on Bill Belichick’s deaf ears. Instead, the Patriots took Burkhead, an energetic jack-of-all-trades who should fit their scheme perfectly. It should be buyer beware with Charles, whose last meaningful snaps were in October 2015. Injuries might have ended his exceptional career at 30.
1. Patrick DiMarco, 27, 31%, Atlanta (Buffalo).
2. Kyle Juszczyk, 25, 40.8%, Baltimore (San Francisco).
3. Zach Line, 26, 20%, Minnesota (unsigned).
4. Jerome Felton, 30, 30.3%, Buffalo (unsigned).
5. Marcel Reece, 31, 4.6%, Seattle (unsigned).
OTHERS: Will Tukuafu, Seattle; Brandon Cottom, ex-Seattle.
OVERVIEW: For reasons unknown, the 49ers made a massive investment (4/$21M/9.75M g) in a fullback. It’s the biggest deal ever at the position. Juszczyk did play more snaps (463) last season than any other fullback. By no means, however, is he an overpowering blocker. DiMarco (4/$8.4M/$4.8M g) signed a lucrative deal, too.
DEFENSIVE ENDS (4-3)
1. Julius Peppers, 37, 56.8%, Green Bay (Carolina).
2. Dwight Freeney, 37, 37.4%, Atlanta (unsigned).
3. Chris Long, 31, 65%, New England (unsigned).
4. Jared Odrick, 29, 24.2%, ex-Jacksonville (unsigned).
5. Jack Crawford, 28, 49.9%, Dallas (Atlanta).
OTHERS: Devin Taylor, Detroit; Cornelius Washington, Chicago (to Detroit); Damontre Moore, Seattle (to Dallas); Eugene Sims, ex-LA Rams; Mario Williams, ex-Miami.
OVERVIEW: Fortunately for teams, this will be a good draft for defensive linemen. The ages of the leading 4-3 ends tell you everything about this threadbare crop. Peppers went back to Carolina (1/$3.5M/$1.65M g), and don’t be surprised if the Falcons don’t double back on Freeney in August to augment their pass rush. Long was up front with the Patriots, telling them he relished the Super Bowl-winning season but that it was time for him to seek a more prominent role elsewhere. Odrick’s career crashed to a halt amid injuries in ’16 but he’s still vibrant enough to start for another club. Crawford, a rotational player for the Cowboys, now becomes a rotational player for the Falcons (3/$8.8M/$3M g). Lions GM Bob Quinn, a non-stop bargain shopper, plucked the talented Washington (2/$5.825M/$1.5M g) from the Bears. The door in Detroit isn’t closed for Taylor, who treaded water as a pass rusher. At 32, Williams’ career might be finished. He was neither effective nor energetic in 39% playing time.
DEFENSIVE ENDS (3-4)
1. Calais Campbell, 30, 77.2%, Arizona (Jacksonville).
2. Chris Baker, 29, 71.2%, Washington (Tampa Bay).
3. Lawrence Guy, 26, 46.5%, Baltimore (New England).
4. Tyson Jackson, 30, 29.5%, ex-Atlanta (unsigned).
5. Kendall Reyes, 27, 19.7%, Kansas City (unsigned).
OTHERS: Frostee Rucker, Arizona; Ziggy Hood, Washington; Jarvis Jenkins, Kansas City; Margus Hunt, Cincinnati (to Indianapolis); Leger Douzable, Buffalo.
OVERVIEW: The spend-happy Jaguars might have gotten the prize of free agency when Campbell accepted their gigantic offer (4/$60M/30M g). He’s coming off what might have been his finest season. Baker, a big man who can move, replaced Akeem Spence in Tampa Bay (3/$15.75M/$9M g). Guy entered the NFL as the Packers’ seventh-round draft choice in 2011. After washing out with Green Bay, Indianapolis and San Diego, Guy started part-time for the Ravens in 2015-’16 before Belichick gave him solid money (4/$13.4M/4.9M g) to replace Long. Jackson, the third pick in the 2009 draft, is hard to move but seldom makes plays.
1. Johnathan Hankins, 24, 69%, NY Giants (unsigned).
2. Stacy McGee, 27, 21.1%, Oakland (Washington).
3. Sen’Derrick Marks, 30, 50.5%, ex-Jacksonville (unsigned).
4. Stephen Paea, 29, 28.7%, Cleveland (Dallas).
5. Damion Square, 28, 33.8%, LA Chargers (re-signed).
OTHERS: Tyson Alualu, Jacksonville; Tyrunn Walker, Detroit; Sealver Siliga, Tampa Bay (re-signed); Jonathan Babineaux, Atlanta; Chris Jones, San Francisco.
OVERVIEW: One of the best players still unsigned is Hankins, a deluxe run stuffer with the agility to gain an edge and pressure the passer. The Giants probably can’t afford him. The question becomes, will Hankins follow in the footsteps of fellow Giants DT Linval Joseph (Vikings) and elevate his career elsewhere? McGee (5/$25M/$9M g) was the Raiders’ top interior rusher. Marks isn’t what he once was due to ACL and triceps tears but still is capable of a few pressures each week. Babineaux, a hard-charging Falcon since ’05, probably will call it quits.
1. Brandon Williams, 28, 60.7%, Baltimore (re-signed)
2. Alan Branch, 32, 60%, New England (re-signed)
3. Bennie Logan, 27, 45.8%, Philadelphia (Kansas City)
4. Dontari Poe, 26, 73.5%, Kansas City (unsigned)
5. Terrell McClain, 28, 44.4%, Dallas (Washington)
OTHERS: Domata Peko, Cincinnati (to Denver); Sylvester Williams, Denver (to Tennessee); Akeem Spence, Tampa Bay (to Detroit); Zach Kerr, ex-Indianapolis (to Denver); Vince Wilfork, Houston; Al Woods, ex-Tennessee; Kyle Love, Carolina (re-signed).
OVERVIEW: When the Titans and 49ers became involved, the Ravens wasted no time signing Brandon Williams for huge money (5/$52.5M/27.5M g). A third-round pick from Missouri Southern in 2013, he’s the fulcrum of their run defense. Under the Patriots’ administration Branch finally realized his vast potential. Usually, Belichick discards players at 32. Not Branch (2/$8.45M/3M g), who not only two-gapped effectively but also trashed blockers and found the ball. The Chiefs moved on from Poe, who slipped after a fast start to his career, by signing the strong, hard-working Logan (1/$8M/$7.68M g) to replace him. McClain might have played as well as he ever has in the first half of last season, leading to a deal with division rival Washington (4/$21M/$10.5M g). Peko, an inside force for years in Cincinnati, is 32 and the Bengals drafted his replacement last year in Andrew Billings. The Broncos replaced Sylvester Williams with Peko (2/$7.5M/$3.8M g), and then Williams went to Tennessee as the replacement for Woods. Spence (3/$9M/$3.5M g) should help the Lions’ thin interior. Wilfork, 35, is pondering retirement.
1. Dont’a Hightower, 27, 67.9%, New England (re-signed).
2. Lawrence Timmons, 30, 90.8%, Pittsburgh (Miami).
3. Keenan Robinson, 27, 70.3%, NY Giants (unsigned).
4. Paul Worrilow, 26, 14.6%, Atlanta (Detroit).
5. Kevin Minter, 26, 93.2%, Arizona (unsigned).
OTHERS: A.J. Klein, Carolina (to New Orleans); Manti Te’o, LA Chargers; Perry Riley, Oakland; Karlos Dansby, Cincinnati (to Arizona); Kelvin Sheppard, NY Giants; D’Qwell Jackson, ex-Indianapolis; Gerald Hodges, San Francisco; Sean Spence, Tennessee.
OVERVIEW: One personnel director said it was his understanding Hightower was seeking $11M per year. Instead, Hightower went back to the Patriots for less, a reported 4/$19M g. He’s a smart, physical player in a scheme set up to feature the inside linebackers. However, he’s so-so in coverage and hasn’t made a ton of game-changing plays. Timmons showed no slippage whatsoever but the Steelers have younger, cheaper replacements so he left for Miami (2/$12M/$11M g). When the Redskins moved on from Robinson and Riley, they found new life elsewhere as every-down players. Worrilow made 390 tackles as a three-year starter before losing his job to speedier rookies Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell last year. Bereft at the position, the Lions gave Worrilow 1/$M/$2.75M g to start and perhaps play every down. The Cardinals decided to move on from Minter, an average starter with below-average speed. Klein, the Kimberly native, got starter’s money (4/$24M/$9.4M g) in New Orleans. The Bengals bid farewell to Dansby, who went back to the Cardinals for a third go-round (1/$2M/$700,000 g).
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (4-3)
1. Malcolm Smith, 27, 89%, Oakland (San Francisco).
2. Zach Brown, 27, 91.2%, Buffalo (unsigned).
3. Sio Moore, 26, 37.1%, Arizona (unsigned).
4. Jelani Jenkins, 25, 32.2%, Miami (unsigned).
5. Philip Wheeler, 32, 30.3%, Atlanta (unsigned).
OTHERS: Mike Morgan, Seattle; Justin Durant, Dallas; Josh Bynes, Detroit; Daryl Smith, Tampa Bay; Bruce Carter, NY Jets.
OVERVIEW: The pickings here are slim. For some reason, the 49ers felt compelled to pay undersized Malcolm Smith $26.5M ($13M g) over five years. Brown played better in Buffalo than he had in Tennessee. Carter, another finesse player, had just 11.7% playing time. Moore has bounced around a lot but remains a physical player. Jenkins started 34 games the past three seasons for Miami but didn’t play with instinct and had injury issues.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (3-4)
1. Nick Perry, 26, 58.6%, Green Bay (re-signed).
2. Jabaal Sheard, 27, 55.5%, New England (Indianapolis).
3. Connor Barwin, 30, 69.2%, ex-Philadelphia (unsigned).
4. DeMarcus Ware, 34, 27.5%, Denver (unsigned).
5. Alex Okafor, 26, 21.4%, Arizona (New Orleans).
OTHERS: John Simon, Houston (to Indianapolis); Datone Jones, Green Bay (to Minnesota); Erik Walden, Indianapolis; Lorenzo Alexander, Buffalo (re-signed); Elvis Dumervil, ex-Baltimore.
OVERVIEW: Perry broke the bank (5/$60M/$18.5M g) after an 11-sack season that was by far his best. Sheard fell out of favor down the stretch and went to the Colts (3/$25.5M/$12.75M g). He might have been the Patriots’ best pure rusher but attitude and lack of discipline sealed his fate. Barwin played better in the past standing up in a 3-4 rather than playing down this year in a 4-3. He went on the radio in Philly volunteering to take a pay cut but the Eagles cut him, anyway. Earlier in the week Ware issued a statement saying he planned to retire. Although he has a bad back, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him join a contender in August. Okafor lost his job in Arizona but his eight-sack season in ’15 led to a new deal in New Orleans. Simon, a tough guy with moderate talent, was one of several edge rushers to join the Colts (3/$14M/$6M g). Walden, the former Packer, outperformed his four-year, $16M deal in Indianapolis. Despite leading the Colts with a career-high 11 sacks last year, he’s 31 and won’t be back. Concerned about DT Sharrif Floyd’s knee injury, the Vikings added Jones to augment their rush at 3-technique. At 280, he needs to regain about 15 pounds. Alexander, a 10-year veteran coming off a career-high 12 ½ sacks, re-signed with the Bills.
1. Stephon Gilmore, 26, 91.6%, Buffalo (New England).
2. A.J. Bouye, 25, 71.3%, Houston (Jacksonville).
3. Logan Ryan, 26, 86%, New England (Tennessee).
4. Morris Claiborne, 27, 38.5%, Dallas (unsigned).
5. Dre Kirkpatrick, 27, 89.7%, Cincinnati (re-signed).
6. Prince Amukamara, 27, 81%, Jacksonville (Chicago).
7. Brandon Carr, 30, 96.1%, Dallas (unsigned).
8. Marcus Cooper, 27, 76.9%, Arizona (Chicago).
9. Nolan Carroll, 30, 89.3%, Philadelphia (Dallas).
10. Micah Hyde, 26, 79.4%, Green Bay (Buffalo).
OTHERS: Kayvon Webster, Denver (to LA Rams); Davon House, ex-Jacksonville (to Green Bay); Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota (to Carolina); Sterling Moore, New Orleans; D.J. Hayden, Oakland (to Detroit); Darrelle Revis, ex-NY Jets; Alterraun Verner, ex-Tampa Bay; DeShawn Shead, ex-Seattle; Terence Newman, Minnesota (re-signed); Nickell Robey, ex-Buffalo; Josh Robinson, Tampa Bay (re-signed); Shareece Wright, ex-Baltimore.
OVERVIEW: Gilmore, a press-man specialist with excellent size (6-0 ½, 190), will be remembered by the Packers for getting after Jordy Nelson in a December 2014 game. His deal with the Patriots was enormous (5/$65M/$40M g). Bouye, who started just 19 games in four seasons, also is better in bump-and-run. His five-year, $67.5M deal included $26M guaranteed. Minus even one capable cornerback not unlike Green Bay, the Titans added Ryan (3/$30M/$16M g). The Cowboys signed Carroll (3/$10M/$3M g) at a position where Claiborne and Carr remain unsigned. Both are coming off strong seasons, although injuries have been Claiborne’s constant companion. The Bears tried to rebuild their position by signing Amukamara (1/$7M fully guaranteed) and Cooper (3/$16M/$8M g). Amukamara beat out House, who was released and went back to Green Bay. Cooper didn’t cut it in Kansas City but improved in his one season for Arizona. Another improved player was Kirkpatrick, who returned to the Bengals (5/$52.5M/$12M g). After losing Gilmore and cutting Robey, their feisty little nickel back, the Bills overpaid for Hyde (5/$30.5M/$14M g). Unable to crack the triumvirate of Aqib Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby, Webster took his spectacular athleticism to the Rams. The Vikings have Mackensie Alexander to play nickel so Munnerlyn rejoined the Panthers (4/$17M/$8M g). Moore usually does a workmanlike job wherever he goes. The Lions will try to get something from Hayden (1/$3.75M/$2.25M g), a first-round bust in Oakland. Revis, 31, was cleared of four felony counts Wednesday but his play has diminished dramatically. Verner, a big-money signing three years ago, lost his job and was cut. Shead suffered a torn ACL in a divisional playoff game and won’t be ready until midseason at the earliest. Newman, 38, thought about retirement but was welcomed back by the Vikings for another season.
1. Tony Jefferson, 25, 86.4%, Arizona (Baltimore).
2. Barry Church, 29, 64%. Dallas (Jacksonville).
3. D.J. Swearinger, 28, 77.9%, Arizona (Washington).
4. T.J. McDonald, 26, 98.6%, LA Rams (unsigned).
5. Johnathan Cyprien, 26, 99.4%, Jacksonville (Tennessee).
6. J.J. Wilcox, 26, 52.8%, Dallas (Tampa Bay).
7. Duron Harmon, 26, 48.5%, New England (re-signed).
8. Bradley McDougald, 26, 95.3%, Tampa Bay (unsigned).
9. Lardarius Webb, 31, 95.3%, ex-Baltimore (unsigned).
10. Antoine Bethea, 32, 97.9%, ex-San Francisco (Arizona).
OTHERS: Nate Allen, Oakland (to Miami); Quintin Demps, Houston (to Chicago); Corey Graham, ex-Buffalo; Jairus Byrd, ex-New Orleans; Jordan Poyer, Cleveland (to Buffalo); Leon Hall, NY Giants; Steven Terrell, ex-Seattle; Rafael Bush, Detroit; Daimion Stafford, Tennessee.
OVERVIEW: Jefferson, who might have been one of Arizona’s top three players on defense, struck it rich in Baltimore (4/$34M/$19M g). A part-time player until 2016, he entered the NFL as a rookie free agent from Oklahoma with the Cardinals in ’13. Swearinger resurrected his flagging career in the desert before signing with the safety-weak Redskins (3/$13.5M/$9M g). The Cardinals replied by adding Bethea (3/$12.75M/$2M g), a smart but slow veteran. Cyprien can’t really cover, either, but the Titans have a Kam Chancellor-type role waiting for him (4/$25M/$9M g). When the Bucs informed McDougald to test the market, they signed Wilcox (2/$6.25M/$3.125M g). Harmon went back to New England as a valued No. 3 safety (4/$17M/$6.5M g). Webb, who has overcome an ACL tear in each knee, moved from CB to safety in ’16 and was OK. Others deals were signed by Allen (1/$3.4M/$3.4M g), Demps (3/$13.5M/$5M g) and Poyer (4/$13M/$6M g). Byrd, a $9M per year free-agent signing three years ago, was a huge bust.
1. Greg Zuerlein, 29, LA Rams (re-signed).
2. Phil Dawson, 42, San Francisco (Arizona).
3. Connor Barth, 30, Chicago (re-signed).
4. Steven Hauschka, 31, Seattle (Buffalo).
5. Chandler Catanzaro, 26, ex-Arizona (NY Jets).
OTHERS: Nick Folk, ex-NY Jets; Robbie Gould, NY Giants (to San Francisco); Dan Carpenter, ex-Buffalo.
OVERVIEW: The Rams brought back Zuerlein even though he has been unable to match his performance as a rookie in 2012. The Cardinals dumped Catanzaro, who missed nine extra points and several clutch kicks in the past two years. In his place they added the steely Dawson (2/$6M/$1.5M g), who remains automatic from 50 in. Having cut Gould last year, the Bears liked Barth and brought him back (1/$980,000/$155,000 g). Gould went to San Francisco (2/$4M/$1M g). The Jets took a chance on Catanzaro (1/$900,000/$250,000 g) after releasing Folk, who had one of his better seasons but fell victim to a $3.6M cap charge in ’17. The tempestuous Carpenter was replaced in Buffalo by Hauschka, who had his worst season in Seattle and was dumped in favor of ex-Viking Blair Walsh.
1. Jeff Locke, 27, Minnesota (Indianapolis).
2. Colton Schmidt, 26, ex-Buffalo (re-signed).
OVERVIEW: In 25 years of free agency there has never been this shortage of punters. Locke, a fifth-round pick in 2013, seldom showed the leg strength or consistency of his predecessor, Chris Kluwe. When Pat McAfee retired, the Colts bit on Locke (2/$3.45M/$1.25M g). Meanwhile, Tim Masthay, who began his career as a free agent with Indianapolis in ‘09, remains unemployed. One scout said his team planned to work out Masthay soon. Schmidt went back to Buffalo (2/$2.6M/$400,000 g).
1. Tanner Purdum, 32, NY Jets (re-signed).
2. John Denney, 38, Miami (re-signed).
3. Garrison Sanborn, 31, ex-Buffalo (Tampa Bay).
4. Brett Goode, 32, Green Bay (unsigned).
5. Justin Drescher, 29, New Orleans (unsigned).
OTHERS: Jon Condo, Oakland; Thomas Gafford, Denver; Andrew DePaola, ex-Tampa Bay.
OVERVIEW: The salary cap has more than doubled in 14 years ($80.6M in 2004, $167M in ’17). Still, teams try their best to save a few dollars at long snapper. The trend is to go young and cheap, which is fine until something goes haywire. Purdum (1/$980,000/$400,000 g) and Denney (1/$980,000/$40,000 g) went back to their teams. When DePaola blew out his last knee in the final game, Tampa Bay signed Sanborn. Gafford, an ex-Packer, won’t return to Denver after being somewhat wild on punts.
1. Brynden Trawick (S), 27, Oakland (Tennessee).
2. Daren Bates (LB), 26, Oakland (Tennessee).
3. Dekoda Watson (LB), Denver (unsigned).
4. Christian Jones (LB), ex-Chicago (re-signed).
5. Don Jones (S), 26, Houston (San Francisco).
OTHERS: LB Jayrone Elliott, Green Bay (re-signed); DE Bryan Braman, Philadelphia; RB Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati; RB Chase Reynolds, LA Rams.
OVERVIEW: The Titans ranked 21st, 28th, 28th and 22nd from 2013-’16 in the Dallas Morning News’ special-teams rankings. In response, they went out and bought special-teams standouts in Trawick (2/$4.75M/$3M g) and Bates (3/$6M/$1M g) from Oakland, which ranked ninth. Christian Jones, a former starter at linebacker, returned to Chicago (1/$1.5M/$500,000 g). Don Jones’ deal was 2/$2.2/$750,000 g.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson (WR), 25, Minnesota (Oakland).
2. Eric Weems (WR), 31, Atlanta (Tennessee).
3. Andre Roberts (WR), 29, Detroit (Atlanta).
4. Jordan Todman (RB), 27, Indianapolis (unsigned).
5. Brandon Tate (WR), 29, Buffalo (unsigned).
OTHERS: WR Deonte Thompson, Chicago; WR Marc Mariani, Tennessee.
OVERVIEW: Last year, Patterson became the first player to lead the league in kickoff-return average three times. The Vikings wanted him back in the worst way but decided his improved play from scrimmage didn’t warrant a higher offer. His two-year deal reportedly contained $5M in guarantees. Weems not only returns well but also covers well. Roberts replaced Weems in Atlanta (1/$1.8M/$750,000 g).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Keeping in mind that all a team must do to retain any of the 38 unsigned players in this category is match an offer, here are some players viewed as potential bargains and the round from which a compensating draft choice would come. Offer sheets must be submitted by April 21.
T: James Hurst, Balt, no compensation; Christopher Hubbard, Pitt, none; Garry Gilliam, Sea, none.
C: Ryan Groy, Buff, none (Bills mulling two-year, $5M offer from LA Rams); T.J. Johnson, Cinn, seventh-round compensation.
RB: Mike Gillislee, Buff, fifth round; Damien Williams, Mia, none.
DE: Denico Autry, Oak, none; Ethan Westbrooks, LAR, none.
ILB: Korey Toomer, LAC, fifth round; Will Compton, Wash, none.
CB: Marcus Williams, NYJ, none; Ross Cockrell, Pitt, fourth round; Malcolm Butler, NE, first round.
S: Michael Thomas, Mia, none.
K: Cairo Santos, KC, none.