2015 NFL free-agent rankings (offensive players)

Shutdown Corner

NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level.

Here are Shutdown Corner's free agency rankings for offensive players (for defensive players and specialists, click here), with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market:

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

QUARTERBACKS

1. Brian Hoyer: Like most years, there are no great free-agent options at quarterback. Hoyer has looked good in a few spurts. He also got benched for Johnny Manziel last season when the Browns were still in the playoff race. With Cleveland signing Josh McCown, it appears Hoyer will hit the open market.

2. Mark Sanchez: On the bright side, he had eight starts with the Philadelphia Eagles last season and posted an 88.4 rating, and he has good experience with 70 NFL starts. But he has also shown he is  mistake-prone, and that’s unlikely to change.

3. Jake Locker: Injuries and inaccuracy ruined his Tennessee Titans career. But he was the No. 8 pick of the 2011 draft, and someone will talk themselves into him having a successful second act if he stays healthy (enormous “if”) as he enters his age 27 season.

4. Ryan Mallett: Tom Brady’s backups get overrated; being a great player’s backup doesn’t make one great by osmosis. Mallett is a big-armed, unproven commodity with 79 career passes and an unimpressive 61 rating in four seasons.

5. Matt Moore: He had a good season starting for Miami in 2011. He has thrown 29 passes in three seasons since. His past success hasn’t been totally forgotten.

6. Tarvaris Jackson: He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since 2011, but has settled in nicely to his new career as a solid, dependable backup.

7. Michael Vick: Vick brings a big name and that’s about it at age 35. It has been a while since he was a legitimate option as a starter, but you could do worse as a backup option.

8. Colt McCoy: If you want to be optimistic, you chalk up his Cleveland struggles to it being the curse of the Browns, and focus on a decent four-start stint with the Washington Redskins last season.

9. Shaun Hill: At age 36, Hill is better suited as a backup, a role he was forced into with the St. Louis Rams last season. But he can still be an effective backup.

10. Christian Ponder: One would think that disastrous start at Green Bay eliminated all hope the former first-round pick could rebound in his second NFL stop. But he’ll get a shot somewhere.

Others worth noting: Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Lindley, Tyrod Taylor, Scott Tolzien and T.J. Yates

RUNNING BACKS

1. DeMarco Murray: No other free agent got MVP votes after last season (Murray got two of 50) or won a major award like Murray’s NFL offensive player of the year award (unless you count Justin Houston’s Deacon Jones award for leading the NFL in sacks). So Murray should be a hot commodity, right? Maybe not. The market for running backs is depressed with teams looking for cheaper options in the draft. Murray’s free agency will be interesting to watch.

2. Ryan Mathews: A fantastic back with two 1,000-yard seasons in San Diego, Mathews also is a constant injury concern. His ceiling is high -- if he can stay healthy.

3. Justin Forsett: Behind offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking attack with the Baltimore Ravens, Forsett had 1,266 yards and a great 5.4-yard average. He never had more than 619 yards in any of his first six NFL seasons. He’ll turn 30 in October, so will teams be willing to gamble on a repeat?

4. C.J. Spiller: The Bills didn’t get anything near what they paid for with Spiller, after they made him the ninth overall pick. He rarely got regular touches, and also dealt with plenty of injuries. He is still an intriguing talent who might benefit from a change in scenery.

5. Mark Ingram: After he looked like a first-round bust, Ingram emerged in his fourth season as a tough, productive runner. He has durability concerns but he should be a solid option for a running back-needy team, and it might be hard for the Saints to bring him back given their salary cap problems.

6. Frank Gore: One of the great San Francisco 49ers, Gore has 11,073 career yards on 2,442 carries. He is the epitome of toughness at the position, and last year had a good 4.3-yard average at age 31. Will the 49ers re-sign him? It seems like he still has something left.

7. Shane Vereen: Vereen is probably more valuable to the Patriots, who know how to use his talents as a receiver out of the backfield, than anyone else.

8. Stevan Ridley: Ridley tore his ACL in October, which complicates matters. He’s a powerful back who also has a fumbling problem and is a non-factor in the passing game. But he’s good between the tackles.

9. Reggie Bush: Even though he’ll be 30 before next season, Bush still has a lot of value. He’s great out of the backfield as a receiver and can still break a big run.

10. Roy Helu: He never established himself as a top option in Washington’ running game, but was great catching balls out of the backfield and doesn’t have many miles on his legs.

11. Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw can still be an effective back when he’s healthy. That’s the problem: He’s rarely healthy. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2010 and he will be 29 next season.

12. Knowshon Moreno: The Broncos moved on from Moreno after a 1,000-yard season in 2013, and the Dolphins got just three games and 31 carries out of him because of injuries. He’s a solid all-around back and some team should get him at a discount.

13. Ben Tate: Tate was the top back in last year’s free-agent class, but that seems like decades ago. He was on three different teams last year, and if he signs somewhere this year he’ll have to prove he’s worth a regular role.

DeAngelo Williams (Getty Images)
DeAngelo Williams (Getty Images)

14. DeAngelo Williams: Williams was one of the last backs to cash in before the market crashed at that position, getting five years and $43 million in 2011. Usually steady, injuries kept him to six games with the Panthers last year, and he’ll be 32 this season.

15. Darren McFadden: McFadden came into the NFL with a ton of promise and showed that here and there around his many injuries. But now he’s injury-prone and coming off three poor seasons in a row, which makes it tough to see a lot of interest in his services.

16. Steven Jackson: It looked like Jackson would get a chance to be with a winner in Atlanta, but it didn’t work out for him or the team. The Falcons struggled and Jackson did too, looking like all the miles with the Rams had caught up to him. He averaged less than 4 yards per carry in each of the last two seasons.

17. Chris Johnson: Johnson had one of the great seasons in NFL history … six years ago. He hasn’t been that back since. A mediocre 2014 season with the New York Jets won’t help his prospects going forward.

18. Ray Rice: It’s tough to know what to make of him. He had a bad season in 2013 and then an infamous domestic violence incident and has missed a full year. Any team could have signed him by now, but it hasn’t happened.

19. Jacquizz Rodgers: He was the Falcons’ change-of-pace back for four years, a role he’ll be reprising again in the 2015 season for Atlanta or someone else.

20. Peyton Hillis: The former “Madden” cover boy averaged 4.4 yards per carry with the Giants last year, on just 26 attempts. He has had trouble replicating his success from 2010, when he rushed for 1,177 yards.

21. Daniel Thomas: He was a disappointment in Miami, but he’s still a big back who might find a role on the right team.

22. Ronnie Brown: Brown has been hanging around for a while, and at 33 he might be out of chances.

23. Jonathan Dwyer: Dwyer had a domestic violence incident last year, and a trial scheduled for March. He had pleaded not guilty, but the off-field issues won’t help his already dim free-agency market.

Others worth noting: DuJuan Harris, Joe McKnight, Cedric Peerman, Bilal Powell, Antone Smith and Leon Washington.

FULLBACKS

1. John Kuhn: A fan favorite, Kuhn gets more touches than most fullbacks (24 carries and four catches this past season, 76 career catches in nine seasons) and has scored 21 career touchdowns. He’s not guaranteed to return to Green Bay, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if he did.

2. Jerome Felton: In his third Vikings season, Felton finally got some carries -- four of them. He’s a good blocker and will find a job.

3. Henry Hynoski: Hynoski is 266 pounds, just 26 years old and should return to the Giants.

4. Jed Collins: Collins came over from the New Orleans Saints to the Detroit Lions last offseason. Detroit finished just 28th in rushing yards.

Others worth noting: Tyler Clutts, John Conner and Will Tukuafu.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Randall Cobb: He reportedly wants $9 million a year, and he might get more. He’s an incredible slot receiver, coming off a 1,287-yard season at age 24, and the Packers have to feel pressure to re-sign him.

Jeremy Maclin (Getty Images)
Jeremy Maclin (Getty Images)

2. Jeremy Maclin: Maclin had a career year at the right time. Coming off ACL surgery, he had 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Eagles. He’ll turn 27 in May and will be a popular man in free agency.

3. Michael Crabtree: Was Crabtree’s down season (698 yards) the result of Colin Kaepernick’s struggles or his own? Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles during the 2013 offseason, although he came back for five solid games and the playoffs that season. He’s very talented, but a tough read for free agency.

4. Torrey Smith: Smith had 30 touchdowns in four Ravens seasons. He’s durable and a great deep threat. It’s hard to believe the Ravens won’t pay him, but if he hits free agency he’ll find a new job quickly.

5. Cecil Shorts: Shorts had a decent run with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have a lot of young receivers from last year’s draft class. There should be plenty of interest in him.

6. Kenny Britt: His off-field past and his injury history means he won’t get a huge commitment from any team, but his immense talent means someone will be interested. He had 748 yards with the Rams and their terrible quarterback situation last season.

7. Brian Hartline: Hartline got lost in the Miami Dolphins' offense in 2014, catching 39 passes for 474 yards after grabbing 150 passes for 2,099 the previous two seasons combined. He’s just 28 so he could rebound with another team.

8. Eddie Royal: Royal looked like he was fading a couple years ago, but two straight productive seasons with the San Diego Chargers (109 catches, 15 touchdowns) should result in work with a team looking for a steady veteran third receiver.

9. Harry Douglas: Douglas has played well when the Falcons needed him to start because of injuries, and he had 1,067 yards in 2013. But undersized receivers don’t always age well, and he’ll turn 31 during the 2015 season.

10. Nate Washington: Washington has now played 10 seasons between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Titans, and he’s a solid, reliable threat who has averaged more than 16 yards per catch over the last three seasons. He’ll be a good value for some team.

11. Hakeem Nicks: It’s crazy to think Nicks was only 26 last season. His recent steep decline makes him seem much older. Even with Andrew Luck throwing him the ball last season, he was a non-factor with 405 yards and just a 10.7-yard average.

12. Wes Welker: He’ll be a borderline Hall of Famer when he’s eligible because he practically invented the slot receiver position. But he’ll be 34, coming off his worst season, with multiple concussions over the past two years. He doesn’t want to retire but the market for him won’t be strong.

13. Denarius Moore: Early in his career he seemed like a great late-round find and a potential star. After just 12 catches for 115 yards last season, some team would be taking a leap of blind faith by signing him.

14. Reggie Wayne: Wayne could retire after 14 seasons, and if he does it’ll be with 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns. He has had a fantastic run, but it was clear last year he didn’t have too much left. It seems obvious if he comes back it’ll be with the Indianapolis Colts.

15. Miles Austin: Austin’s amazing 2009 season gets more amazing over time because it’s clear he is never coming close to doing that again. The former Cowboy wasn’t terrible with the Browns last year (568 yards in 12 games), but he has plenty of durability questions.

16. Vincent Brown: There is no real reason to anticipate a resurgence at age 26, especially after just 12 catches and 118 yards with the Oakland Raiders last year.

17. Mike Williams: In 2012 Williams had 996 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s a distant memory. In the two seasons since he has 30 catches for 358 yards and has alienated the Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills, the latter of which cut him late last season.

18. Santana Moss: Moss will turn 36 before next season, and he had just 10 catches for the Washington Redskins last season. He has had a great career, but there are no guarantees he’ll get another shot.

19. Jason Avant: Avant couldn’t stick with the receiver-needy Carolina Panthers, and was cut after criticizing play-calling, but he could land somewhere else because he’s a safe veteran who can provide depth.

Others worth noting: Ted Ginn, Leonard Hankerson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Jones, Greg Little, Brandon Lloyd and Robert Meachem.

TIGHT ENDS

1. Julius Thomas: Before dropping a ton of money on Thomas, teams have to ask if he can produce the same numbers without Peyton Manning. Thomas has 24 touchdowns the past two years in 27 games and is a great athlete, so he’ll be a big free-agent target.

2. Jordan Cameron: Concussions set Cameron back last year, but before that he was a rising star in Cleveland. Cameron will be a great TE option in free agency.

3. Charles Clay (TRANSITION TAG): Clay improved the past two years in Miami, catching 127 passes. The Dolphins gave him the transition tag worth a little more than $7 million, meaning they can match any offer he gets.

4. Jermaine Gresham: A former first-round pick, Gresham was solid but unexciting for the Cincinnati Bengals. It appears Cincinnati isn’t too interested in bringing him back, although it hasn’t closed the door either.

5. Niles Paul: Paul is intriguing. The Redskins prefer Jordan Reed, who is often hurt. When he got his chances, Paul had 39 catches for 507 yards. He’ll turn 26 in August and could be a nice get for someone.

6. James Casey: Casey is versatile and while he won’t fill up a stat sheet, he’s a nice asset on a roster.

7. Owen Daniels: Daniels seemed to be declining, but the long-time Houston Texan had a nice resurgent season in Baltimore last year, with 527 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll turn 33 during the 2015 season but he showed he still has something left.

8. Virgil Green: Green was an important blocker for the Broncos as they transitioned to feature the running game late last season.

9. Ed Dickson: Dickson seemed to be a rising star when he had a nice 2011 season for the Ravens, but he hasn’t replicated that. He had just 10 catches for Carolina last year.

10. Jacob Tamme: Seems like a long time ago that Tamme looked like the next Dallas Clark, but he was just 29 last season. He didn’t crack 200 yards either of the last two years in Denver.

Others worth noting: David Ausberry, Anthony Fasano, Rob Housler, Lance Kendricks, Tony Moeaki, Dante Rosario and Matt Spaeth.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Mike Iupati (USA Today Sports Images)
Mike Iupati (USA Today Sports Images)

1. Mike Iupati: A three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro, Iupati hits free agency just before he hits 28 years old. He’s one of the best guards in football and will be a big name on the market.

2. Bryan Bulaga: Bulaga will turn 26 in March and has started 48 games. A former first-round pick, he played very well at right tackle after missing 2013 (torn ACL).

3. Orlando Franklin: Franklin started 63 of 64 possible games for the Broncos. He is huge, young and can play tackle or guard. The Broncos will have a tough time re-signing him.

4. Doug Free: Free developed into a very good right tackle for the Cowboys. He’s 31, and he should have some good years left.

5. Rodney Hudson: Hudson is a very good center and just 25 years old. The Chiefs want to bring him back but he’d be a popular attraction on the open market.

6. Stefen Wisniewski: The Raiders haven’t made a big move to re-sign their starting center Wisniewski, although he has started 61 games over the past four years for them. If he hits the open market he’ll get signed fairly quickly.

7. Joe Barksdale: The Rams’ starting right tackle is likely to hit the open market at age 26, where the 326-pounder should find a nice payday.

8. Derek Newton: Newton quietly had a nice season at right tackle for the Texans last year. He won’t turn 28 until November, and should have a few suitors in free agency.

9. Jermey Parnell: Parnell started five games at tackle for the Cowboys when Doug Free was hurt, and did pretty well. The Cowboys would probably like to have him back, but he’ll get some interest on the open market and maybe a chance to start.

10. Clint Boling: Boling has been a solid starter at guard for the Bengals the past three seasons. The Bengals would like to re-sign him.

11. Todd Herremans: Herremans played nine seasons for the Eagles, but the team cut him. He’s 32 and still should be of value to a team needing a guard.

12. James Carpenter: Carpenter started a couple Super Bowls for the Seattle Seahawks. He’ll turn 26 in March so he’s a decent option for a team with a hole at guard.

13. Justin Blalock: After eight seasons starting for the Falcons, Atlanta cut him. He should land another job without waiting long.

14. Byron Bell: The massive Bell started at left tackle out of necessity for the Panthers last season, after being at right tackle the two seasons prior to that. He didn’t fare too well at left tackle and it appears the Panthers won’t re-sign him.

15. Willie Colon: Colon was a tackle early in his career, but has settled in at guard. After two years with the Jets, he might be a viable option for a team looking for a veteran, although he is not coming off a great season and will turn 32 in April.

16. Dan Connolly: Connolly has been a starter for the New England Patriots for five seasons, and can play guard or center if needed. He’ll turn 33 in September, and he probably has more value to the Patriots than any other team.

17. Rob Sims: Sims has started every game for the Detroit Lions at guard over the past five seasons, and he has said he would like to return.

18. Will Montgomery: After starting a few years for Washington, Montgomery became the Broncos' starting center last season. He could return to at least provide depth.

19. Jason Fox: Fox started a pair of games for Miami after coming over from the Lions, and the Dolphins will try to retain him as a backup.

20. Ryan Harris: Harris looked like he had settled into the backup phase of his career, but he started 15 games for the Kansas City Chiefs at tackle last year. He’ll always get a look from zone-blocking teams.

21. Michael Oher: After signing a surprising contract with the Titans last offseason, Tennessee cut the player best known for inspiring a book and a movie called “The Blind Side.” He dealt with injuries last year.

22. John Jerry: Jerry started all 16 games at guard for the Giants after leaving Miami, and had a non-descript season. He’s still a big run blocker and could return to New York.

23. Mike Pollak: The Bengals cut the seven-year veteran, but he should get a shot from a team who wants a player who can play either guard spot.

24. Tyler Polumbus: Polumbus was benched last season with the Redskins. Still, he has played well in the past and will get some interest from zone-blocking teams.

25. Erik Pears: Pears started all 16 games at right guard for the Bills last season, but didn’t have a great year and the Bills seem ready to move on.

26. Jonathan Goodwin: Goodwin will turn 37 during the 2015 season, but he was the Saints’ starting center last year and will be an option for teams in need.

27. Charlie Johnson: Johnson has 115 starts between the Colts and Vikings. The Vikings cut him after he struggled in 2014, but he could catch on elsewhere.

28. Dominic Raiola: The Lions are moving on from Raiola after he spent 14 seasons with the team, starting 203 games. He didn’t have a great 2014 season and is 36.

29. Davin Joseph: A two-time Pro Bowler, Joseph is coming off a down season with the Rams. He’ll turn 32 during the 2015 season and is on the decline.

30. Daryn Colledge: The longtime starting guard for the Packers and then the Arizona Cardinals, Colledge signed a one-year deal with Miami last year and dealt with injuries. He just turned 33, so teams might wonder how much he has left.

31. Samson Satele: Satele is always an option if a team needs a starting center – he has started 114 games since 2007 but changed teams three times. His second stint with the Dolphins last season didn’t go too well, and he might need to move on to start again.

32. Marshall Newhouse: The Packers moved on from Newhouse after 2013, and Cincinnati signed him and started him in five games last season.

33. Mike McGlynn: Over the past five seasons McGlynn has started for four teams. That means he’s good enough to start but not be a permanent solution. He was Pro Football Focus’ lowest-ranked guard in its  grades last year, and he might not find another starting job.

34. Vladimir Ducasse: Once a second-round pick with the Jets, he has been just a part-time starter in the NFL. He started six games for the Vikings last year.

35. Eben Britton: A former second-round pick, Britton can provide depth at guard or tackle but is probably best suited as a backup.

36. Eric Winston: Probably better known for being the NFLPA president than what he has left on the field, Winston signed with the Bengals last December after being cut at the end of the preseason. He’s another option for zone-blocking teams.

37. Gabe Carimi: The former first-round pick flamed out with the Chicago Bears, and has been with three teams the past three seasons. He can play either tackle spot, so maybe he catches on as a backup swing tackle.

Others worth noting: Joe Berger, Doug Legursky, Jeff Linkenbach, Jah Reid, Joe Reitz and Garrett Reynolds.

 

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

What to Read Next