NFL Free Agents 2017: Best Players Available at Every Position Post Day 1

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystMarch 10, 2017

NFL Free Agents 2017: Best Players Available at Every Position Post Day 1

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    Everyone take a deep breath and let the market reset after Thursday's deluge of free-agent signings. 

    Breathe in. 

    Breathe out. 

    The initial wave of transactions seemed closer to the opening of the stock market than the NFL's new league year. 

    Backup quarterback Mike Glennon agreed to a contract with the Chicago Bears for $14.5 million per season, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Cornerback A.J. Bouye struck gold when he decided to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars for five years and $67.5 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Cleveland Browns made Kevin Zeitler the highest paid guard in NFL history, according to Schefter

    After the initial sticker shock wears off, a realization occurs many quality free agents are still available with copious amounts of money to be spent throughout the league. 

    With the first stage of free agency complete, the market starts to settle, while teams continue to search for quality additions at the right price. 

    A team or teams "winning" free agency on the first day rarely results in a positive impact. Instead, it's those franchises willing to wait, find bargains and supplement their rosters that often successfully navigate the process. 

    With the most-valuable targets off the board—financially, that isBleacher Report identified the top remaining unrestricted free agents at every position.


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    1. Colin Kaepernick: Politics aside, Kaepernick played relatively well last season. During a six-game stretch in October and November, the quarterback completed 55.3 percent of his passes for 1,440 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

    2. Ryan Fitzpatrick: The Harvard product lost the Fitz-magic. It's gone. But he can still serve as an experienced backup option.

    3. Mark SanchezIt has been seven years since the Sanchise led the New York Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship Games. He's only 30 years old and may get another chance at a new destination.

    4. Geno SmithSome team will take a flyer on this 26-year-old former second-round pick.

    5. Case KeenumLast season proved to be a disaster. Keenum finished 22nd overall in completion percentage and 23rd in yards per attempt. He also threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (nine).

    6. Josh McCown: The veteran signal-caller is a consummate professional and an ideal backup. 

    7. Shaun Hill: The 37-year-old quarterback dates back to NFL Europe, but he can still start in a pinch. 

    8. Matt McGloin: McGloin doesn't have the physical tools to succeed as a starting quarterback, yet his work ethic and intelligence make him a good presence in any locker room. 

    9. Ryan Nassib: A team will take a trip into the unknown in an attempt to get more out of Nassib than the New York Giants ever did. 

    Best of the Rest: E.J. Manuel, Blaine Gabbert, T.J. Yates, Kellen Moore, Josh Johnson, Kellen Clemens, Dan Orlovsky, Thad Lewis

Running Back

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    1. Latavius Murray: This year's running back market may not be favorable, but a 27-year-old runner with 1,854 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons is still tempting. 

    2. Adrian Peterson: The future Hall of Fame inductee is expected to take his time and choose a situation that can lead him toward a championship. 

    3. LeGarrette Blount: Blount is coming off the best season of his career with 1,161 rushing yards and a league-leading 18 rushing touchdowns. 

    4. Eddie Lacy: Questions about health and work ethic plague Lacky, yet he's only 26 years old and a two-time 1,000-yard rusher. 

    5. Jamaal Charles: A healthy Charles skyrockets to the top of this list, but he hasn't been healthy in two seasons. 

    6. Rex Burkhead: Burkhead finished the 2016 campaign on the right note with his first career 100-yard game. He's a versatile back, who will be signed to play far more than he did in Cincinnati. 

    7. Darren McFaddenMcFadden has yet to reach 30 years old and remains a talented option in a running back rotation. 

    8. Denard RobinsonThe quarterback-turned-running back dealt with injuries in recent years, but he's a versatile and explosive back when healthy. 

    9. Andre Ellington: In 2015, Ellington was supposed to be a breakout performer. Instead, he suffered an injury, and the Arizona Cardinals acquired David Johnson the following year. Ellington is still a versatile back with nowhere to run in the desert. 

    10. Brandon Bolden: At worst, Bolden is solid second or third option in a running back rotation.  

    Best of the Rest: Chris Johnson, Tim Hightower, Reggie Bush, Rashad Jennings, James Starks, Matt Asiata, DeAngelo Williams, Joique Bell, Brandon Bolden, Dexter McCluster, Ronnie Hillman, Travaris Cadet, Justin Forsett, Christine Michael, Khiry Robinson

Wide Receiver

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    1. Terrelle Pryor: The former quarterback's combination of age (27 years old), raw physical tools, last year's production and future potential make him the top wide receiver on the market. 

    2. Kendall Wright: Wright is a former first-round pick, who never realized his full potential, yet he played well in stretches during the 2016 campaign. 

    3. Kamar Aiken: Two years ago, this 6'2", 215-pound target led the Baltimore Ravens with 75 receptions for 944 yards and five touchdowns.

    4. Anquan Boldin: Boldin may be 36 years old, but he's a still a viable target. He caught 67 passes and eight touchdowns last season. 

    5. Andrew Hawkins: Slot receivers are starters in today's pass-happy NFL, and Hawkins is lighting quick working underneath routes. 

    6. Terrance Williams: In four years opposite Dez Bryant, Williams never experienced a breakout campaign. Another situation may provide a better opportunity. 

    7. Brian Quick: Quick posted his best campaign in 2016 with 41 receptions for 564 yards and three touchdowns. 

    8. Cordarrelle Patterson: A team will pay for Patterson's dynamic return skills, while adding a third or fourth target to the offense. 

    9. Michael Floyd: Despite his off-the-field issues, Floyd is a still a talented receiver, who flashed during the 2016 campaign with both the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. 

    10. Vincent Jackson: Jackson isn't the receiver he once was. Instead, he's 34 years old and coming off a major knee injury. His size (6'5" and 230 pounds) and veteran leadership still provide some value. 

    Best of the Rest:  Andre Holmes, Aldrick Robinson, Stevie Johnson, Russell Shepard, Justin Hunter, Quinton Patton, Corey Brown, Deonte Thompson, Eric Weems, Devin Hester

Tight End/Fullback/H-Back

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    Tight End

    1. Martellus Bennett: After a revitalizing season with the New England Patriots, Bennett is now a Super Bowl champion and the top available tight end. 

    2. Mychal RiveraThree years ago, Rivera finished second on the Oakland Raiders with 101 targets and 58 receptions. The 26-year-old tight end can be a legitimate option in a passing attack. 

    3. Larry Donnell: Donnell's production declined in each of the last two seasons. However, he's a big-bodied target, who can still serve as a red-zone threat. 

    4. Gavin Escobar: While Escobar was never provided with an opportunity to play a large role behind Jason Witten, the former second-round pick still has plenty of potential to develop.  

    5. Jacob Tamme: Tamme is more of an H-back than a traditional tight end, but the soon-to-be 32-year-old target can be productive in the right system. 

    Best of the Rest:  MarQueis Gray, Jordan Cameron, Clay Harbor, Ryan Griffin, Luke Willson


    1. Zach Line: The SMU product didn't see the field a lot in 2016, but the 26-year-old lead blocker proved to be effective even in a subpar Minnesota Vikings rushing attack. 

    2Jerome Felton: This 248-pound lead blocker is a battering ram, who helped lead the way for the NFL's top ground game in 2016. 

    3. John Kuhn: Even at 34 years old, Kuhn is still an effective blocker and receiving outlet. 

    Best of the Rest Will Tukuafu, Marcel Reese

Offensive Tackle

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    1. Mike RemmersBeing forced to play left tackle last year didn't do Remmers any favors during a contract year. However, he can be a reliable right tackle. 

    2. Kelvin Beachum: After signing a lucrative contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year, Beachum didn't perform well. Some of his struggles can be attributed to it being his first year back from tearing an ACL.

    3. Ryan Clady: Clady played well in 2016 before he suffered yet another major injury. He's 30 years old coming off a rotator cuff surgery. 

    4. Andre SmithAt one point, Andre Smith was the game's best right tackle. He's no longer that player and coming off a season-ending triceps injury. 

    5. Marshall NewhouseOver the last two years, Newhouse started 20 games. He's primarily a right tackle with some flexibility to play guard. 

    6. Sebastian VollmerPrior to last season injury-played campaign, Vollmer was a stalwart along the New England Patriots offensive line. The giant German will turn 33 years old this summer, though.  

    7. Menelik Watson: Even Watson's disastrous performance against the Houston Texans in the playoffs won't stop teams from signing the United Kingdom native due to his raw potential as a developmental tackle. 

    8. Jordan Mills: Mills started 16 games at right tackle for the Buffalo Bills last season, but he surrendered the fourth-most quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus

    9. Bradley Sowell. The Seattle Seahawks tried to make Sowell into a left tackle. The experiment failed. Although, he holds value as a backup swing tackle.  

    10. Don Barclay: Barclay is another solid utility lineman off the bench. 

    Best of the Rest: Jake Long, Breno Giacomini, Gosder Cherilus, Byron Bell


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    1. T.J. Lang: The top guards quickly signed. The only reason Lang is still available is due to the fact he's slightly older than Kevin Zeitler, Larry Warford and Chance Warmack. Although, Lang is the best pass protector of the bunch. 

    2. Austin PasztorThe Canadian import started all 16 games at right tackle last season. Some teams may value him as an offensive tackle, but he's a better suited at guard. 

    3. Tim LelitoPosition flexibility is necessary for teams that generally carry seven linemen on game day. Lelito has starting experience at guard and center. 

    4. Jermon BushrodThe veteran made the transition from tackle to guard last season and helped solidify the Miami Dolphins offensive line. At 32 years old, he isn't moving back to tackle. 

    5.  John Jerry: Teams looking for a massive interior blocker can turn to Jerry, who started 72 games over the past five seasons. 

    6. Stefen Wisniewski: Wisniewski signed one-year contracts in each of the last two offseasons despite being a solid option at both guard and center.

    7. Chris Chester: At 34 years old, Chester can still play. Although, he'll need to play in a zone-heavy scheme to be effective. 

    8. D.J. Fluker: Former first-round picks get plenty of chances even if they struggled earlier in their careers. Fluker is a massive man (6'5" and 339 pounds) and former 11th overall pick. 

    9. Brandon Fusco: After a strong start to his career, Fusco struggled during the past two seasons. Still, he's 28 years old with 64 games of starting experience. 

    10. Ted Larsen: Like Lelito, Larsen can be an option for a team in need of a interior blocker, who can play both guard or center. 

    Best of the Rest: Patrick Omameh, Andrew Garner, Mike Harris


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    1.Nick Mangold: If a team is only looking for a one- or two-year starter, the 33-year-old Mangold still has enough in the tank to set the tone in the middle of an offensive line. 

    2. Joe HawleyA center doesn't need to be the biggest or most physical blocker. He does need to be smart, technically sound and bring some attitude. This description fits Hawley to a tee. 

    3. Brian SchwenkeThe former fourth-round pick is only 25 years old with starting experience at both center and guard. 

    4. John Sullivan: A veteran of the trench wars, Sullivan started 94 career games in eight seasons. He'll turn 32 years old later this year, but he can still provide depth along the offensive interior. 

    5. Cody Wallace: Two seasons ago, Wallace started all 16 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a Maurkice Pouncey injury.

    Best of the Rest Ryan Wendell, Michael Person

Defensive End

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    1. Jabaal Sheard: During Sheard's time with the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots, he was never truly appreciated. Sheard is a disruptive edge defender, who can play both defensive end and linebacker. 

    2. Connor Barwin: In a salary-cap move, the Philadelphia Eagles released the veteran. Their loss will be another team's gain. Barwin is still a relentless edge-rusher. 

    3. Damion SquareSometimes it takes a little longer for individuals to develop. Square is a 28-year-old  5-technique/defensive tackle, who turned into a solid run defender last season. 

    4. Chris LongThe former second-overall pick chased a championship and achieved his goal. He'll now be looking for a final payday since he turns 32 years old later this month. 

    5. Devin Taylor: Edge rushers generally demand a premium. Taylor is long, lean and registered 11.5 sacks over the last two seasons. 

    6. Lawrence Guy: Statistically, nothing jumps out regarding Guy. However, he's another young 5-technique who is solid at the point of attack and can plan in multiple fronts as a defensive end or tackle.

    7. Ziggy HoodThe former first-round pick fell off the map for a couple seasons before starting 14 games last season for the Washington Redskins. 

    8. Vance Walker: Interested teams must go back to the 2015 film to see how well Walker played since he missed all of the 2016 campaign due to a torn ACL. 

    9. Darryl Tapp: Tapp turns 33 years old, but his motor still runs hot. In a limited role, he can still be an effective pass-rusher. 

    10. Kendall Reyes: Reyes is a former second-round pick now looking for fourth team in five years. His potential is enough to draw some interest. 

    Best of the Rest: Antonio Smith, Cullen Jenkins, Mario Williams, C.J. Wilson, Jarvis Jenkins, Jason Jones, Margus Hunt, Kendall Reyes, Wallace Gilberry, Damontre Moore

Defensive Tackle

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    1. Dontari Poe: The Kansas City Chiefs were forced into a decision: Sign Eric Berry or Poe. The organization preferred the star safety. Poe is still one of the league's most athletically gifted big men. 

    2. Bennie LoganWith Dontari Poe drawing plenty of interest, Logan seems to be overlooked even though he's one of the league's better young nose tackles. 

    3. Johnathan HankinsAt 24 years old, Hankins has yet to reach his full potential. He's not much of an interior pass-rusher, though. 

    4. Karl KlugThe ability to rush passers from the interior is a rare trait. Klug may not be an every-down defender, but he can collapse the pocket. 

    5. Sylvester WilliamsThe former first-round pick isn't a true nose tackle. Instead, he should be used as a penetrating 1-technique to fit his skill set. 

    6. Al Woods: Unlike Williams, Woods is a traditional nose tackle best suited to play on early downs against the run. 

    7. Tyson AlualuAlualu is another former high pick, who didn't live up to expectations. Although, he's been a solid run defender throughout his career.

    8. Jared Odrick: Odrick is in a similar position as his former temmate, Alualu. Odrick is a versatile defensive end/tackle with experience in multiple systems. 

    9. Stephen Paea: Like Klug, Paea is at his best when used in a rotational role and allowed to pressure the quarterback from the interior. 

    10. Corbin Bryant: With suspension and multiple injuries, Bryant played quite a bit for the Buffalo Bills. He should be a good addition to some team's depth. 

    Best of the Rest: Leger Douzable, Stefan Charles, Tyrunn Walker, Glenn Dorsey, Domata Peko, Paul Soliai, Devon Still, Jordan Hill, Stacy McGee, John Jenkins

Inside Linebacker

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    1. Dont'a Hightower: In a surprise move, the New England Patriots didn't lock up Hightower to a long-term deal before free agency started. He's been the heartbeat in the middles of their championship defense. 

    2. Lawrence Timmons: Timmons may turn 31 years old after he signs his free-agent contract, but he's still one of the league's most athletic linebackers. 

    3. Zach Brown: Brown provided a breakout campaign at the right time. In a contract year, he started 16 games for the first time in his career and finished second in the league with 149 total tackles. 

    4. Kevin Minter: Minter started 33 straight games for the Arizona Cardinals. He can be inconsistent, but he's coming off his best season. 

    5. D'Qwell Jackson: The 11-year veteran can still produce. Due to a late-season suspension, he didn't eclipse 100 tackles for the first time since the 2010 campaign. 

    6. Manti Te'o: Injuries wrecked Te'o's career so far. He's yet to play a full 16-game season, but he still flashes the potential that once made him college football's best linebacker. 

    7. Keenan Robinson: Robinson hasn't been very good during the last few seasons, yet he's started 27 games and his age (27 years old) make him a semi-attractive free-agent option. 

    8. Daryl Smith: If Smith were three or four years younger, he'd be much higher on this list. He'll turn 35 years old in a matter of days, though. 

    9. Kelvin Sheppard: Sheppard is a multi-year starter, yet he's already been on four different teams. This means he's a solid, albeit unspectacular, performer. 

    10. Michael Wilhoite: The linebacker crop starts to thin near the end of the list with a couple spot starters as the best options. Wilhoite started 34 games over the last three seasons. 

    Best of the Rest: Justin Durant, Akeem Dent, Sean Spence 

Outside Linebacker

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    1. DeMarcus WareThe amount of career sacks available in free agency is insane. Ware has 138.5 sacks through 12 seasons. Injuries piled up in recent years, but he can still get after quarterbacks. 

    2. Julius PeppersPeppers is the active career leader with 143.5 sacks. He decided not to retire this offseason and still has at least one more season in him. 

    3. Lorenzo AlexanderA late bloomer, Alexander burst onto the scene with career-high 12.5 sacks in 2016. He turns 34 years old before the 2017 campaign, though. 

    4. John SimonIf a team is searching for a young and versatile linebacker, Simon is a likely target. He doesn't create a lot of pressure, but 26-year-old defender is a consistent presence on the edge. 

    5. DeAndre Levy: When healthy, Levy is one of the NFL's best linebacker. Although, he hasn't been healthy since the 2014 campaign. 

    6. Datone Jones: With the Green Bay Packers coming to terms with Nick Perry, Jones is the odd man out. The former first-round pick has nine sacks in four seasons. He may be better suited at defensive end.

    7. Alex Okafor: Okafor experienced a breakout campaign in 2014 with 12 starts and eight sacks. But his impact and amount of playing time decreased in each of the last two seasons. 

    8. Akeem Ayers: After being a second-round pick, Ayers bounced around the league between four teams. Here's the funny thing: He's been a solid contributor everywhere he's gone. 

    9. Jarvis Jones: Jones will never be the pass-rusher many expected after being a first-round selection. He's developed into a reliable all-around linebacker, though. 

    10. Jelani Jenkins: The Florida product is coming off his rookie contract. He played better in 2014 and '15 compared to the 2016 campaign. 

    Best of the Rest: Trent Cole, Paul Kruger, Erik Walden, Sam Acho, Armonty Bryant, Spencer Paysinger, 


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    1. Morris Claiborne:  After years of disappointment, Claiborne finally put it all together only to have his 2016 season cut short by a sports hernia. 

    2. Brandon Carr: How reliable is Carr? He played over 1,000 snaps in every season since he came into the league, per Pro Football Focus

    3. Alterraun Verner: Three years ago, Verner was one of the league's most sought-after free agents. His time in Tampa Bay didn't go as well as expected, but he's still a solid starting cornerback. 

    4. Captain MunnerlynNickel corners are starters in today's NFL. Munnerlyn has been one of the league's best for multiple years. 

    5. Nickell Robey-ColemanLike Munnerlyn, Robey-Coleman is a stellar nickel corner, but he's on the younger end of the spectrum at 25 years old. 

    6. Prince Amukamara: When the Jacksonville Jaguars spent freely in 2016, Amukamara quietly signed a one-year deal and provided a solid campaign. According to Pro Football Focus, he received a positive grade in each of the past four seasons. 

    7. Darius Butler: Nearly five years ago, the Indianapolis Colts signed Butler off the street, and he's been a reliable starter ever since. 

    8. Nolan Carroll: Carroll started 27 games over the last two seasons, but he just turned 30 years old and the Philadelphia Eagles weren't eager to re-sign him after his 2016 performance. 

    9. Marcus Cooper: Cooper performed well as a rookie four years ago. It remains his best season. For teams that prefer cornerbacks with length, the 6'2" Cooper is an option. 

    Best of the Rest: Darrelle Revis, Terence Newman, Leon Hall, Valentino Blake, Leodis McKelvin, Leonard Johnson, Kayvon Webster, Jerraud Powers, Sam Shields, Coty Sensabaugh, Greg Toler


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    1. Bradley McDougaldOver the last two seasons, McDougald developed into one of the league's best young safeties. He amassed 178 total tackles, 14 deflected passes and four interceptions during that time.

    2. T.J. McDonaldYoung, physical tone-setters at safety are back in style. McDonald started 53 games since he entered the league, but there are concerns about a potential suspension stemming from a 2016 DUI arrest

    3. J.J. Wilcox: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Rod Marinelli didn't play Wilcox as much last season, yet the young safety responded with his best season.

    4. Jairus Byrd: Two years ago, Byrd was considered an elite safety. Two lackluster seasons in New Orleans dulled his reputation, but he's still a solid option. 

    5. Mike Adams: The veteran turns 35 years old in two weeks, yet he's still a productive safety.

    6. Duke Ihenacho: Each time Ihenacho became a starter at his previous two stops, those teams let him go the following offseason. He's still young (27 years old) and a good depth signing. 

    7. Chris Prosinski: The special teams standout played some of his best football in 2016, albeit in a limited role for the Chicago Bears at strong safety. 

    8. Nate Allen: If a team is searching for a veteran free safety, Allen has 76 career starts.

    9. Robert Blanton: In his one season as a starter, Blanton accumulated 104 tackles. He's now two years removed from his most productive campaign

    10. Donte Whitner: The artist formerly known as Hitner is still a box safety without the intimidating presence over the middle.  

    Best of the Rest: Dashon Goldson, Michael Thomas, Daimion Stafford, Roman Harper


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    1. Greg Zuerlein: Legatron owns one of the league's biggest legs, and he's coming off arguably his best season. 

    2. Connor BarthA season in the Windy City can play havoc on a kicker. Barth finished 26th overall in field goal conversion percentage.

    3. Nick Folk: While Barth struggled a little, Folk converted 87.1 percent of his kicks, which tied for sixth best overall.

    Best of the Rest: Dan Carpenter, Zach Hocker, Randy Bullock


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