2018 NFL free agency: Intel on more than 175 noteworthy players

The free-agency frenzy is here.

Teams are permitted to contact and enter into negotiations for players at noon Monday. A contract can be executed at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday when the new league year begins.

So buckle up and prepare for a whirlwind of signings over the next couple weeks as we begin the countdown to the 2018 season.

Here’s a close look at some of the notable free agents who will be available to sign on Wednesday.

Read through every position, or skip ahead to the group of your choice:

Quarterbacks | Offensive linemen| Running backs
Tight ends | Wide receivers
Defensive linemen | Linebackers | Defensive backs | Specialists


Derek Anderson, QB, Panthers

Anderson has been the Carolina Panthers' backup quarterback since the team selected Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 draft. The 34-year-old quarterback came to Carolina after spending the 2010 season with the Arizona Cardinals and the previous four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

His best season came with the Browns in 2007, when he went 10-5 as the starter and made the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career.

Anderson was 2-0 as the starter at Carolina in 2014 when Newton was injured, but he is 0-2 as a starter since. He played in only three games last season, completing 2 of 8 pass attempts for 17 yards.

Sam Bradford, QB, Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings acquired Bradford in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles after Teddy Bridgewater suffered his knee injury before the 2016 season. The veteran quarterback posted the league's highest completion percentage in his first season with the Vikings, and Bradford, 30, looked poised for a breakout year in 2017.

Things didn't go according to plan. While lighting up the New Orleans Saints in the season opener, Bradford sustained a non-contact left knee injury that would doom him for the rest of the season. It was to the same knee where the quarterback had twice torn his ACL, although tests this time revealed no structural damage.

Bradford made a brief return in Week 5 against the Chicago Bears, but he was pulled before halftime after aggravating the injury. He spent the better part of two months on injured reserve before being activated as Case Keenum's backup during the postseason.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2010 has made $114 million over his career, but injuries have haunted Bradford throughout. He missed half of the 2013 season and all of 2014 after tearing his ACL in back-to-back years.

He's played in all 16 games just twice in his career -- in 2010, when he was an NFL All-Rookie Team selection, and again in 2012.

According to the NFL Network, Bradford has said his knee injury subsided in recent months, allowing him to return to practice ahead of the postseason, and that he "absolutely" intends to keep playing in 2018.

"I think it's been really encouraging for me, mentally, to know that I can go back out there and do it," Bradford said after returning to practice in January. "I'm just happy to be on the field."

Bradford is one of three Vikings quarterbacks who will become unrestricted free agents on March 14.

For his career, Bradford has started 80 games with the Vikings, Rams and Eagles. He has thrown for 19,049 yards, 101 touchdowns and has completed 62.5 percent of his passes. He also has had 57 interceptions and 33 fumbles.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings

The 25-year-old Bridgewater was considered a rising star in the NFL before sustaining a gruesome dislocated knee injury during a Vikings non-contact drill just ahead of the 2016 season.

He was sidelined for 14 months during his recovery and placed on the PUP list, where he spent the first six weeks of the 2017 season. He was medically cleared to return to practice and, from Weeks 10-17, served as the backup to Case Keenum. The only game action he saw last season came in the fourth quarter of a blowout victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Vikings chose to not toll Bridgewater's rookie contract, thus allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Bridgewater said he “definitely” wants to be a starter in 2018.

Bridgewater was selected in the first round of the 2014 draft and set 10 franchise and two NFL records during his rookie season with the Vikings, including becoming the first-ever rookie QB to complete 70 percent of his passes in four straight games.

During the 2015 season, he led the Vikings to their first division title since 2009 and first playoff appearance under coach Mike Zimmer. He also was named to his first Pro Bowl.

Kellen Clemens, QB, Chargers

Clemens has served as the backup for Chargers starting quarterback Philip Rivers the past four seasons.

A capable reserve quarterback who knows the offense and is comfortable working with Rivers, Clemens has played sparingly for the Chargers during his time with the team because of Rivers' durability.

Clemens, 34 , completed 12 of 18 passes for 109 yards, a touchdown and one interception in four seasons for the Chargers. More importantly, the Chargers valued Clemens’ professional approach on the practice field and in the film room, serving as a sounding board for Rivers.

Clemens is 8-13 as a starter in 12 NFL seasons and shared a 90-minute daily commute with Rivers from San Diego to the team’s facility in Costa Mesa, California.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins

Cousins, 29, has been one of the NFL's most productive quarterbacks since becoming the Washington Redskins' full-time starter three years ago. During that time, he ranks fourth in passing yards, sixth in passer rating, seventh in total QBR and eighth in touchdown passes.

Last season, Cousins topped the 4,000-yard mark for the third straight season. He finished with 4,093 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions -- and a total QBR of 50.5, his lowest as the full-time starter.

The 2012 fourth-round pick went from being the backup to Robert Griffin III to a productive starter during his time in Washington. He started nine games in his first three seasons. In 2015, his first year as the starter, he helped lead the Redskins to the NFC East title by throwing 23 touchdowns to only three interceptions over the final 10 games -- starting with the “You like that?!” comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He finished that season with 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a franchise-record 4,166 yards.

After that season, the Redskins and Cousins couldn't agree on a long-term deal, so the team placed the franchise tag on him. Cousins responded by again breaking the franchise record 4,917 passing yards to go along with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. But the Redskins missed the playoffs by losing their regular-season finale at home to the New York Giants.

That led to yet another franchise tag, as Cousins told the Redskins he wasn't ready to commit long term and wanted to gauge the direction of the franchise. It was clear by season's end that both sides wanted to avoid another one-year tag situation. Rather than negotiate a final time with Cousins, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on Jan. 30, agreeing to a four-year extension with the veteran.

Jay Cutler, QB, Dolphins

Cutler, 34, threw for 2,666 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 14 games last season after coming out of retirement to sign with the Miami Dolphins.

Cutler, who had agreed to join Fox Sports as a broadcaster, was coaxed out of retirement by Dolphins coach Adam Gase after starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury in August.

After the season, Cutler said he was interested in continuing his career -- but only if he was a team's starter, as he had no interest in serving as a backup quarterback.

Cutler is the Bears' franchise leader in passing yards (23,433) and touchdown passes (154) after playing nine seasons with the team (2009-16). He made his only career trip to the postseason in 2010 with Chicago, leading the Bears to the NFC Championship Game, in which he was forced to exit early because of a knee injury.

In 12 NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, Bears and Dolphins, Cutler has thrown for 35,133 yards, 227 touchdowns and 160 interceptions.

Chase Daniel, QB, Saints

Daniel, 31, has spent nine years as a backup with the Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and Eagles -- making two career starts in Kansas City from 2013-14. But the former undrafted rookie from Missouri is still hoping to prove he can be a late bloomer in the vein of Nick Foles and Case Keenum.

Daniel (6-foot, 225 pounds) originally joined the Saints in Week 1 of the 2009 season after being released by the Washington Redskins after the preseason. He spent four years backing up Drew Brees before signing more lucrative deals with the Chiefs and Eagles.

He thought he might get a chance to start in Philadelphia when he signed a three-year, $21 million deal in 2016, but the Eagles traded up in the draft to select Carson Wentz. Daniel returned to the Saints a year later after asking for his release.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Cardinals

In 2017, Gabbert, 28, played for his eighth head coach and seventh offensive coordinator in seven seasons. Next season will be No. 9 and No. 8, respectively.

Gabbert spent the first nine weeks of last season on the inactive list as the Arizona Cardinals' scout-team quarterback. After injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, Gabbert started five games for the Cardinals, going 2-3 and throwing for 1,086 yards and six touchdowns against six interceptions. He had a completion percentage of 55.6, but was benched after Week 15 in favor of a returning Stanton.

Before joining the Cardinals, Gabbert spent three seasons each with the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the latter of whom selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

For his career, Gabbert is 11-34 as a starter, throwing for 8,437 yards, 44 touchdowns and 43 interceptions. He also has been sacked 133 times, including 23 last season with the Cardinals, and has 32 fumbles (7 in 2017).

Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars

Henne has appeared in just six games with the Jacksonville Jaguars the past four seasons, including starting the first three games of the 2014 season before being benched for Blake Bortles at halftime of Week 3.

Henne, 32, appeared in the Jaguars' 44-7 blowout of Baltimore and 45-7 blowout of Houston this past season and played one snap in 2016. He did not play in any games in 2015.

Henne first joined the Jaguars in 2012 as a free agent and started 19 games in his first two seasons, including 13 in 2013. He has started 22 games (5-17 record) in four seasons with the Jaguars and has completed 58 percent of his passes for 5,877 yards and 27 touchdowns with 26 interceptions.

He spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins, who drafted him 57th overall in 2008, and has 58 touchdown passes and 63 interceptions in his nine-year career.

Case Keenum, QB, Vikings

Keenum, 30, proved to be the most important free-agent signing across the NFL last offseason as the journeyman backup quarterback took over for an injured Sam Bradford in Week 2 and led the Vikings on an improbable run to the NFC Championship Game.

He finished the 2017 season with a 11-3 record as starter. Under former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, Keenum experienced career highs across the board, including a 20-point bump in passer rating (98.3), a 67.6 completion percentage and a touchdown-to-interception ratio that went from 24-20 for his career to 22-7 in one season.

Keenum's situation was handled by coach Mike Zimmer on a week-to-week basis with the hope that Bradford would be able to return at some point or Teddy Bridgewater would be ready to take his job back after he was activated. However, Keenum's continued success, including leading the Vikings to an eight-game win streak, kept him in the driver's seat throughout the season.

Keenum entered the league with the Texans in 2012 as an undrafted free agent, starting 10 games over the 2013 and '14 seasons. He then played two seasons with the Rams, starting 14 games, before joining the Vikings.

Ryan Mallett, QB, Ravens

Mallett, 29, never distinguished himself in his two-plus seasons as the Ravens’ backup quarterback.

Strong-armed but wildly inaccurate, Mallett led an upset of the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 before being limited to 22 passes the past two seasons behind Joe Flacco.

He did turn around his career in terms of not being a distraction in Baltimore. It was three years ago when Mallett was cut by the Texans for being late for meetings and missing a team charter flight.

Mallett has a 3-5 career record as a starter, throwing nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 21 games. A third-round pick by the Patriots in 2011, he was traded to the Texans in 2014 before joining the Ravens in December 2015.

A.J. McCarron, QB, Bengals

McCarron, 27, became a free agent after winning a grievance filed against the Bengals last year to determine whether he had been incorrectly put on the non-football injury list as a rookie. He not only won his grievance for the incorrect designation, but he's also owed back pay for the time spent on the list in 2014.

More importantly, McCarron is free to sign anywhere he wants. He's wanted this since he filled in for an injured Andy Dalton in 2015.

McCarron played in five regular-season games that season and started three, completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 854 yards and six touchdowns. He also started an AFC wild-card playoff game that season, completing 56.1 percent of his passes for one touchdown and one interception in an eventual a loss to the Steelers.

McCarron has contended several times that he wanted his chance to start somewhere, and it almost happened when the Browns attempted to send a second- and third-round pick to the Bengals in the fall. However, the paperwork didn't go through before the trade deadline and McCarron remained with Cincinnati for the 2017 season.

Josh McCown, QB, Jets

McCown, who signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Jets in 2017, easily won the starting job in the preseason and delivered the best statistical year of his long career.

He set career marks for completions (267), passing yards (2,926) and touchdown passes (18). He also tied for the team lead with five rushing touchdowns. He posted a 100 passer rating in eight games, the second-most by a Jets quarterback in a single season.

McCown's season ended prematurely after suffering a fractured left (non-throwing) hand, which required surgery, in a Week 14 loss to the Denver Broncos. After the game, he choked up at his news conference, knowing his season probably was over. He also hinted to teammates that he might retire, but he came out publicly in January to say he intends to play at least one more season.

Despite the abbreviated campaign, McCown was voted team MVP by his Jets teammates. They went 5-8 with him in the lineup, failing to win a game after his injury.

McCown, who turns 39 on July 4, is the ultimate journeyman, having played for eight different teams since entering the league in 2002. McCown, Julius Peppers and Dwight Freeney were the only players from the 2002 draft still playing in 2017.

He is 23-50 as a starter over his career, with 17,168 passing yards, 97 touchdown passes and 78 interceptions.

Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins

Moore, 33, started two games for the Dolphins last season when Cutler was out with a concussion. The Dolphins lost both those games, but Moore's most memorable moment came against the Jets in Week 7, when he engineered a second-half comeback in place of an injured Cutler, completing 13 of 21 passes for 188 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes in a 31-28 victory.

Overall in 2017, his seventh season in Miami, Moore threw for 861 yards, four touchdowns and had five interceptions.

He also was forced into starter's duty at the end of the 2016 season when Tannehill suffered a knee injury. Moore started Miami's last three games, going 2-1 while throwing for 721 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions to help the Dolphins qualify for the postseason. He also started in Miami's playoff loss to the Steelers.

His best season came in 2011, his first season with the Dolphins, when he started 12 games in place of injured starter Chad Henne. The Dolphins finished 6-6 in those games as he threw for 2,497 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The 11-year veteran began his career with the Panthers, with whom he played four seasons (2007-10). He didn't play during the 2008 season because of a broken leg.

Brock Osweiler, QB, Broncos

Osweiler made $16 million last season during his time on the Broncos' quarterback merry-go-round. Of that total, the Browns paid $15.225 million after acquiring him in a trade with the Texans and then releasing him just before the 2017 season.

He had been exceedingly happy to re-sign with the Broncos in September after he was released by the Browns, saying he and his wife "missed Colorado every day."

Osweiler had spent four seasons as Peyton Manning’s backup before he left in 2016, with some hard feelings, for a $72 million deal with the Texans. He spent one difficult season as the Texans’ starter before they traded him to the Browns.

The 27-year-old Osweiler was one of three quarterbacks to start games for the Broncos last season, joining Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Osweiler played in six games overall, starting four, finishing 96-of-172 passing (55.8 percent) for 1,088 yards to go with five touchdowns and five interceptions.

Osweiler was the Broncos’ second-round pick in the 2012 draft, the same year they signed Manning in free agency. He played sparingly in just 13 games over his first three seasons before starting seven games in 2015 after Manning suffered a foot injury. Manning then replaced Osweiler in the regular-season finale and started all three of the Broncos’ playoff games, including Super Bowl 50.

Mark Sanchez, QB, Bears

Serving as the No. 3 quarterback for all of 2017, Sanchez, 31, dutifully served as a mentor for Bears rookie Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick, while not throwing a pass during the regular season.

The fifth overall choice of the 2009 NFL draft, Sanchez started 72 total games for the Jets and Eagles from 2009 to 2015 before taking on a backup role for the Cowboys (2016) and Bears.

He has a 37-35 career record with 86 touchdown passes and 86 interceptions to go along with 15,219 passing yards.

Geno Smith, QB, Giants

Smith signed a one-year deal with the Giants before last season that netted him less than $2 million to serve as the backup to Eli Manning. He made one start and performed admirably in a Week 13 loss to the Raiders, throwing for 212 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions (but two lost fumbles) in the contest. He then went back to the bench when Manning was reinserted as the starter after coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were fired.

The Giants signed Smith as insurance, and he beat out veteran Josh Johnson for the backup position last summer.

Smith, 27, was originally a second-round pick for the Jets in the 2013 draft. His four rocky seasons with the Jets -- of which two were as the full-time starter -- were best remembered for his broken jaw, which he suffered after being punched by teammate IK Enemkpali in the locker room.

At the time, Smith said he had other offers, including the potential to compete for a starting job, but thought the opportunity to play for the Giants -- and behind Manning -- would be a valuable learning experience.

Smith has started 31 games and thrown 29 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions in five professional seasons. He has started just two games over the past three seasons.

Drew Stanton, QB, Cardinals

A career backup, Stanton, 33, started 13 games in five seasons with the Cardinals while filling in for an injured Carson Palmer.

Four of those starts came in 2017 after Palmer broke his arm in Week 7. Stanton went 3-1 as a starter last season and was 9-4 overall with Arizona. Last season, Stanton was injured in Week 10 and was replaced by Blaine Gabbert for five games, but he reclaimed the starting job for the final two games, including a 26-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Bruce Arians' last game as coach.

After the season, receiver Larry Fitzgerald said Stanton had been playing with a torn ACL, which the quarterback denied. However, Stanton did say in February that he's dealing with a bone bruise.

Before his start in Week 2 of the 2014 season, Stanton had gone 1,365 days between regular-season appearances. He played for the Lions from 2008 to 2010, appearing in 12 games.

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Offensive linemen

Joe Berger, G, Vikings

Berger, 35, spent the past seven seasons with the Vikings, and he did well in his move from center to right guard as the offensive line debuted a set of new starters at all five positions during the 2017 season.

The move paid dividends for Minnesota's run game, which had most of its success rushing through Berger and the right side of the line. According to Football Outsiders, the Vikings were ranked ninth when they ran to the right.

Berger, a 13-year veteran, led the offense with 1,116 snaps.

He became one of only three players to ever be drafted from Michigan Tech when he was taken 207th overall by Carolina in the 2005 NFL draft. In addition to the Vikings, Berger has also played for the Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys during his career, which spans 145 games (84 starts).

The Vikings now need to decide whether they will draft a guard at No. 30 or look to bolster depth elsewhere on the offensive line. Mike Remmers' shift from right tackle to guard during his last three starts of the season raises the question of whether Minnesota will want to keep him there during the 2018 season.

Jermon Bushrod, G, Dolphins

Bushrod, 33, has started all 26 games in which he's appeared for the Dolphins over the past two seasons.

The veteran guard's 2017 season ended after 10 games when he was placed on injured reserve with a foot injury.

He has been selected to two Pro Bowls in his 11-season career, which includes time with the Saints, Bears and Dolphins.

He has started 122 of the 134 games in which he has played.

Jonathan Cooper, OL, Cowboys

It took time for Cooper, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Cardinals, to find an NFL home.

Cooper started a career-high 13 games for the Cowboys in 2017, playing between Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith and center Travis Frederick. He helped solidify the line after the Cowboys lost Ronald Leary to free agency last year to the Broncos.

The 28-year-old Cooper suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee during the season finale against the Eagles and had postseason surgery. The belief is he will be able to return to the field for organized team activities and the June minicamp.

Injuries and subpar play led to his demise with the Cardinals. In 2016, Cooper was part of a trade to the Patriots that sent pass-rusher Chandler Jones to the Cardinals. He made the Patriots’ 53-man roster but was inactive for four games before he was released. The Browns claimed Cooper, and he started three of the five games he played before he was cut by Cleveland.

He signed with the Cowboys during the bye week of the 2016 playoffs and was inactive for one game. He returned to the Cowboys on a one-year deal and took over a starting role one month into the season for Chaz Green.

Jahri Evans, G, Packers

Evans was perhaps the surprise of last year's free-agent class for the Packers. After signing a one-year, $2.25 million contract, the 12-year veteran played the first 912 snaps of the season before a knee injury kept him out of the final two games.

He said late in the season that he wasn’t sure if he would play a 13th season. Evans will turn 35 in August.

He played his first 11 seasons for the Saints, who at one point in his career made him the NFL’s highest-paid guard. The former fourth-round pick has started 183 games over his career.

Cameron Fleming, OT, Patriots

The 6-foot-6, 320-pound Fleming, who entered the NFL as a 2014 fourth-round draft pick of the Patriots, rotated between third and fourth on the depth chart at the start of the regular season. He ultimately became the top replacement for injured right tackle Marcus Cannon by the end of the season.

Fleming played in 12 regular-season games (six starts) and started two of the team’s three playoff games. His presence as a powerful blocker on the edge, which he had shown in Stanford’s pro-style offense during his college career, is one of his primary assets.

Bill Belichick complimented Fleming several times over the past four years. In 2016, Belichick called him one of the most respected players on the team, and most recently said in December, “Cam’s been a solid player for us for four years, and he’s always been ready to step in whenever we’ve called on him at both tackle spots and sometimes at guard and jumbo tight end and things like that.”

Fleming, who turns 26 on Sept. 3, majored in aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford. At 6-foot-6, he said he is one inch too tall to be an astronaut, so he put all of his effort into professional football.

D.J. Fluker, G, Giants

The Giants signed Fluker on the cheap last offseason to a one-year, $3 million deal. He began the 2017 season on the bench before working his way into the Week 4 starting lineup at right guard, where he was a difference-maker in the run game when healthy.

New York averaged 110.5 rushing yards per game when Fluker, 26, was in the lineup. Without him, the Giants averaged just 86.1 rushing yards. He tried to play through foot and knee injuries, but he was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 27, ending his season.

Fluker was the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Chargers. He became a free agent last offseason after the Chargers declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. After beginning his career at tackle, Fluker shifted inside to guard in 2015. He appeared in 59 games -- all starts -- in his four seasons with the Chargers.

Zach Fulton, OL, Chiefs

Fulton, 26, joined the Chiefs as a sixth-round draft pick in 2014. He immediately moved into the starting lineup as a rookie and started 46 of the 63 games in which he played.

One of Fulton’s strengths is his versatility, as he started at least one game at both guard positions and center last season.

Fulton began last season as a reserve but moved into the starting lineup in Week 3 after an injury to center Mitch Morse.

Brandon Fusco, G, 49ers

Fusco was a late addition to the 49ers' roster in 2017, but he quickly earned a starting job and was one of the team's most dependable linemen -- starting all 16 games at right guard despite playing through a variety of injury issues.

The 29-year-old has no shortage of NFL experience, having started 80 games since entering the league as a sixth-round draft choice of the Vikings in 2011.

Fusco signed a five-year extension with the Vikings before the 2014 season, but he was released during the 2017 offseason after struggling to return to form in the two seasons after tearing his pectoral muscle.

Chris Hubbard, OT, Steelers

Hubbard, 26, played well enough in 2017 to price himself out of Pittsburgh and position himself for a quality contract elsewhere.

The Steelers have one of the league’s highest offensive line payrolls and have understood keeping Hubbard -- their third tackle in the rotation behind Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert -- wasn’t likely.

Hubbard started 10 games in place of Gilbert, who was injured and served a four-game suspension. Though the Steelers consider Gilbert one of the game’s best right tackles, the offense did not experience a major drop-off with Hubbard, who earned praise from coach Mike Tomlin for his fill-in role.

Hubbard, who went undrafted out of UAB in 2013, adds value with his versatility. He plays all five spots on the offensive line. The Steelers can transition Jerald Hawkins, a fourth-round pick in 2016, into Hubbard’s swing tackle role.

Ryan Jensen, C, Ravens

Jensen, 26, enjoyed a breakthrough season heading into free agency and is considered one of the top rising centers in the NFL.

A backup guard for three years, Jensen started 16 games at center in 2017, finishing as the league’s ninth-best player at that position, according to Pro Football Focus.

A sixth-round pick in 2013, Jensen brought a nasty disposition to the Baltimore offensive line and would often get into fights during games.

Jensen’s strength is run-blocking, and he’s adequate as a pass protector. He gave up three sacks and eight hurries last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

Luke Joeckel, G/T, Seahawks

In his lone season with the Seahawks, Joeckel played 11 games and was praised by since-fired offensive line coach Tom Cable as the team's most consistent offensive lineman.

Joeckel, who turns 27 in November, started the first five games at left guard before having an arthroscopic cleanup procedure during Seattle's bye week to address lingering issues from a previous knee injury. He returned after missing five games and started the final six.

The Seahawks signed Joeckel to a one-year deal last offseason that included $7 million guaranteed. He was coming off a severe knee injury that cut short his final season with the Jaguars, who selected Joeckel with the second overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Senio Kelemete, G, Saints

Kelemete, 27, has been one of the most valuable “sixth men” in the NFL over the past three years with the Saints, starting a total of 23 games while spending time at all five offensive line positions.

The Saints rarely missed a beat when Kelemete entered the starting lineup at any position. The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder actually began his college career at Washington as a defensive tackle but now plays primarily at guard. The Saints trusted him to play both offensive tackle spots, and he has spent ample time playing center in training camps and preseason games.

Kelemete started a total of nine games in 2017, including New Orleans' playoff finale, helping to patch together an offensive line that was one of the best in the NFL. The Saints led the league in both yards per rush (4.7) and yards per pass attempt (7.5).

He began his NFL career as a fifth-round draft pick with the Cardinals in 2012 but played in only one game as a rookie before being cut in 2013 and eventually landing on the Saints' practice squad.

Josh Kline, G, Titans

Kline, 28, performed well as a pass-blocking right guard protecting Marcus Mariota after being picked up off waivers in 2016.

Kline has made the most of his career since signing as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots in 2013. He has spent most of his career as a starter, bouncing between the left and right guard positions. He was a two-year starter for the Titans at right guard.

Kline started 43 of the 44 games he played for the Titans and Patriots over the past three seasons and 48 of the 63 games in his career.

Like most of the Titans' offensive line, Kline took a step back in 2017 after performing well in 2016. Run-blocking has never been his strength, but it was certainly a weakness in 2017.

Jack Mewhort, G, Colts

Mewhort, 26, played every position along the offensive line except for center and left tackle while starting every game that he played during his first four years with the Colts.

But Mewhort spent the majority of his past two seasons injured. He missed six games in 2016 and 11 games in 2017 because of a knee injury.

He has played in 45 games since being selected in the second round (59th overall) of the 2014 draft.

Andrew Norwell, G, Panthers

The 26-year-old Norwell has been a mainstay at left guard since being inserted into the Panthers' starting lineup as an undrafted rookie in 2014.

According to Pro Football Focus, he was the only lineman not to allow a sack or quarterback hit in 2017.

He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2017, the first such honor of his career and was considered the highest-rated offensive linemen heading into free agency.

The Panthers placed a second-round tender on the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Norwell before last season, guaranteeing him $2.75 million.

Justin Pugh, G, Giants

Pugh, 27, was the Giants' top lineman when on the field the past few seasons, playing well despite a relative lack of talent elsewhere on the line. He also impressed while bouncing back and forth between right tackle and left guard.

The 2013 first-round pick out of Syracuse started his career at right tackle, before shifting to right guard and landing back at right tackle this past season when the Giants were desperate on the outside. His versatility is a plus.

But Pugh does come with risks. He has an injury history after missing 17 games over the past four seasons, including the final eight of last season because of a back injury.

Pugh did not need surgery and has been training without restrictions this offseason.

The Giants picked up the fifth-year option on Pugh for the 2017 season, but they never really did have serious negotiations about a long-term deal during the final years on his rookie contract. Pugh earned $8.8 million in 2017, but he had been eyeing a significant payday that comes with free agency for several seasons -- and it didn't hurt that this year's free-agent class was especially weak at the position.

"If I could build you the perfect equation and kind of factor in how much those mean to me -- it all goes into it," Pugh said after the season. "I want to win. I want to win now. I've been here five years. I only made the playoffs one time."

Weston Richburg, C, Giants

Richburg played in only four games with the Giants last season because of a concussion, and he wasn't happy when he was put on injured reserve in early November with nine games left. The starting center thought he was on the verge of returning, and he was eventually cleared several weeks later.

The second-round pick out of Colorado State in 2014 had missed only one game in his first three professional seasons.

Richburg became expendable after former Canadian Football League star Brett Jones played well in his place.

Richburg, 26, was the Giants' starting center each of the past three seasons. He played guard most of his rookie year.

Greg Robinson, OT, Lions

In his only season with the Lions, Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft, struggled along with the rest of the offensive line as the team gave up 23 sacks in 2017.

Robinson, 25, was traded from the Rams to Detroit last June as the Lions searched for a replacement for then-injured left tackle Taylor Decker. Robinson ended up beating out Cyrus Kouandjio in training camp for the left tackle job and started six games for Detroit before suffering an ankle injury. The Lions then waived/injured Robinson, who reverted back to injured reserve after clearing waivers.

Before his time in Detroit, Robinson played 46 games for the Rams, starting 42 at tackle and guard.

Josh Sitton, G, Bears

The Bears declined to pick up an $8 million option to retain Sitton, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, for the 2018 season.

The 31-year-old missed the final two games of the 2017 season because of an ankle injury and also battled through a rib injury. He said when his option was declined by the Bears that he still has "prime years left" and intended to keep playing.

He started 25 of the 26 games in which he played for the Bears after joining the team in 2016, playing both the right and left guard spots.

Sitton, who entered the league with the Packers in 2008, lined up at right guard the first five years of his career. In 2013, the Packers moved him to the left side, where he stayed until the 2017 season, when the Bears shifted him back to the right side.

He has started 137 of the 147 career games in which he has appeared.

Matt Slauson, OG, Chargers

Slauson, 32, suffered a torn biceps in a Week 7 game against the Broncos last year, forcing him to the injured reserve list and ending his season.

In his first season with the Chargers in 2016, Slauson solidified the center spot by starting all 16 games and playing 964 snaps there.

The Chargers moved the 32-year-old veteran to his more natural position of left guard last year, where he made seven starts and played 402 snaps on offense.

The University of Nebraska product also served as a co-captain for the Chargers. Slauson has started 108 games in 10 NFL seasons, including stints with the Jets, Bears and Chargers.

Andre Smith, OL, Bengals

Smith, 31, re-signed with the Bengals last summer after one season with the Vikings with the intention of playing guard for the first time in his career.

That experiment was short lived at training camp, and he quickly returned to tackle, a position he has played since the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Smith started the season as a backup but quickly returned to a starting role because of injuries. His season was cut short in December because of a knee injury, but he said via Twitter on Feb. 2 that he was fully healthy and cleared to play.

He played in 13 games for Cincinnati in 2017 and started eight. He has started 85 of the 99 games he has played in his career.

Nate Solder, OT, Patriots

The 6-foot-8, 325-pound Solder has spent his entire career with the Patriots, who drafted him in the 2011 first round out of the University of Colorado. He is arguably the top free-agent offensive tackle on the market, coming off a season in which he played in every game, protecting quarterback Tom Brady's blindside.

Solder was an AFC Pro Bowl alternate in 2017. It marked the first time he has received a Pro Bowl invitation, although he didn’t play in the game because the Patriots were in Super Bowl LII.

Solder has played in 98 career regular-season games, with 95 starts. He has also played in 16 playoff games, starting all of those. In 2015, he signed a two-year, $20.62 million extension with New England.

Solder was the Patriots’ 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. He previously overcame testicular cancer, and his son, Hudson, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2016 and is once again undergoing treatments.

“Nate is someone of the highest character. We all respect Nate for what he has done with Hudson and how he is always there for him,” coach Bill Belichick previously said.

Donald Stephenson, OT, Broncos

The Broncos signed Stephenson in free agency in 2016, hoping he would be a solution at right tackle. It didn’t work out the way the Broncos had hoped, however, as he often struggled in pass protection during the '16 season before he lost the starting job to Menelik Watson last season.

Stephenson, 29, got a brief look at left tackle in offseason work before the Broncos elected to start rookie Garett Bolles there. Ultimately, Stephenson's season was derailed by a calf injury and he played in only seven games, including four starts in place of an injured Watson.

Stephenson’s contract with the Broncos had originally been for three years and $14 million, but after the disappointing 2016 season, he agreed to a restructured deal that probably saved his roster spot. His contract then voided in early February, on the fifth day of the waiver period, and he has been poised for free agency since.

John Sullivan, C, Rams

Sullivan was an effective blocker and, more important, a pivotal offensive mind for Jared Goff in 2017, helping the second-year quarterback with pre-snap reads. After signing a one-year deal with the Rams, he played 830 snaps through the first 15 regular-season games (sixth most on the team).

The 32-year-old Sullivan graded out 10th among 37 qualified centers last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

The 10-year veteran missed the entire 2015 season because of back issues and served as a backup for the Redskins in 2016. Before that, he was a staple for the Vikings and one of the game's better centers from 2009 to 2014, while starting 93 of a potential 96 games.

Travis Swanson, C, Lions

Selected by the Lions in the third round of the 2014 draft, Swanson started every game for which he was available over the past three seasons after taking over the center spot from Dominic Raiola, who had started at the position for a decade with the Lions.

Swanson, who turned 27 in January, played 53 games for the Lions in his career, starting 42. After a 2016 season in which he became one of the focal points of Detroit’s line, he struggled in 2017 on a line that had issues protecting quarterback Matthew Stafford and gave up 23 sacks.

Brain injuries have been a major issue for Swanson during his time with the Lions. Symptoms of a concussion showed up late in the 2016 season, causing him to be placed in the league's protocol. He missed the Lions' last five games of the season, including the playoff loss to Seattle.

He suffered another delayed concussion last season against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10 and missed the final three games of the season.

Kenny Wiggins, OG, Chargers

Wiggins, 29, has been with the Chargers since 2013, sticking around because he could play all five spots along the offensive line.

However, Wiggins was named the starting right guard out of training camp last season and started all 16 games, playing 999 snaps. Only center Spencer Pulley (1,012) played more snaps on offense.

Wiggins was part of a line that anchored one of the best offenses in the NFL.

The Chargers allowed a league-low 18 sacks and paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in Melvin Gordon (1,105 rushing yards) last season. The Chargers also led the NFL in passing, averaging 277 passing yards a contest.

Eric Winston, OT, Bengals

Winston, 34, did not make the Bengals' 53-man roster coming out of training camp in 2017. The NFL Players Association president re-signed with Cincinnati in November after tackle Jake Fisher was placed on the non-football illness list.

Winston has been mostly a backup since initially signing with the Bengals in 2014, but he did start the final two games of the season because of various injuries on the offensive line.

He has played with four teams since the Texans selected him in the third round of the 2006 draft. He has played in 165 games and started 127, mostly at right tackle.

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Running backs

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers

Bell, 26, entered his second consecutive offseason as the NFL’s most accomplished offensive player without a long-term contract.

Bell’s numbers are undeniable. His average of 128.9 yards from scrimmage per game is the highest ever for a player’s first five NFL seasons. His versatility as a rusher, pass-catcher and blocker might go unmatched across the league.

But instead of signing Bell in 2016 coming off injuries and suspensions, the Steelers franchise tagged the running back at $12.1 million for 2017. Both sides failed to reach an extension, prompting Bell to skip training camp.

This offseason, though, both sides publicly expressed optimism about a deal. Bell said from the Pro Bowl that he’s much closer to a contract than the previous year. Team president Art Rooney II and general manager Kevin Colbert said they want to complete a deal that lets Bell retire a Steeler.

A second-round pick out of Michigan State in 2013, Bell quickly became the team’s featured back and partnered with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown to form the league’s fiercest offensive trio, known as the "Killer B's."

Bell made clear he wanted to show the Steelers he could play a full season without injuries, so in 2017 he played 15 games, sitting for only the season finale against Cleveland because of the coach’s decision. Bell finished the year with 1,291 rushing yards on 321 attempts (a 4.0 average per carry), 655 receiving yards on 85 catches and 11 total touchdowns (two receiving).

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Eagles

Blount, 31, led the Eagles with 766 rushing yards on 173 carries (4.4 average) and two touchdowns during the regular season. He saved one of his best performances for Super Bowl LII, running for 90 yards and a touchdown in a 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots, his former team with whom he won a ring in Super Bowl LI.

He is tied with Marcus Allen for sixth on the career postseason touchdowns list with 11.

Despite posting career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (18) with the Patriots in 2016, Blount remained on the market until the Eagles signed him to a one-year, $1.25 million deal last May. He not only proved to be an effective runner but also was key in creating a loose locker-room atmosphere and remained invested after losing snaps to Jay Ajayi, whom the Eagles acquired from the Dolphins at the trade deadline.

In 116 regular-season games, Blount has rushed for 5,888 yards and 51 touchdowns.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots

Burkhead, who entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice of the Bengals in 2013 out of Nebraska, signed a one-year contract with the Patriots on March 14, 2017. The one-year deal had a maximum value of $3.15 million.

Burkhead played in 10 regular-season games (three starts) for New England, as injuries to his ribs and knee limited him. He finished with 264 yards on 64 carries with five touchdowns, while adding 30 catches for 254 yards and three touchdowns.

The Patriots were deep at running back, and Burkhead ultimately settled into the No. 3 spot on the depth chart when healthy. He played 17.2 percent of the offensive snaps in the regular season, as Dion Lewis and James White were ahead of him.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Burkhead also played on the punt return and kickoff return units, which added to his value on the 46-man roster over fellow running back Mike Gillislee.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Broncos

The 2017 season didn’t work out for Charles like he or the Broncos had hoped. In May, the Broncos signed Charles to a one-year deal after he was released by the Chiefs because they believed his knees would hold up in a situational role in long-yardage situations.

By season’s end, Charles was an afterthought in the Broncos' offense with just four carries over the final four games. He was a healthy game-day inactive in the final two games of the season. Charles, 31, finished the season with 69 carries for 296 yards.

Charles publicly expressed his frustration late in the season when he said the Broncos should release him if he wasn't going to play more. At the time, Broncos coach Vance Joseph said simply "that had not been a thought for us."

In nine seasons with the Chiefs, in which he was selected for four Pro Bowls, Charles scored 64 total touchdowns in 109 games. He had four 1,100-yard rushing seasons with the Chiefs as well as four seasons with at least 40 receptions.

He tore his right ACL in October 2015 -- the second such tear of his career after tearing the left one in 2011 -- and had multiple knee surgeries in 2016. Charles was adamant throughout last season that he could still be a regular contributor despite his past knee troubles.

He has a career average of 5.4 yards per carry.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns

Crowell, 25, gained 3,118 yards in four seasons with the Browns, but he didn’t become the team’s primary back until the past two seasons. He rushed for 853 yards with an average of 4.1 yards per carry last season. His numbers were slightly better in 2016, rushing for 952 yards while averaging 4.8 yards per attempt.

Crowell is one of only six NFL backs with at least 150 carries in each of the past two seasons to average 4.0 yards or more per carry, joining Devonta Freeman, Jordan Howard, Ezekiel Elliott, Mark Ingram and Le'Veon Bell.

His overall production was limited by the number of carries he received as he shared time with Duke Johnson in the Browns' backfield. Crowell, who did not have a game with 20 rushing attempts over the past two seasons, ranked 12th in the NFL in yards per carry (4.47) during that span, but ranked 17th in overall carries (404).

He and coach Hue Jackson got into a public spat after getting just five rushing attempts in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, including just one carry after ripping off a 59-yard run in the second quarter.

At that point, it seemed clear that Crowell would test the free-agent market and find a new team in 2018.

Orleans Darkwa, RB, Giants

Darkwa, 25, enjoyed a career season with the Giants in 2017 after getting substantial carries for the first time. He finished with 751 yards and five touchdowns on 171 carries, and his average of 4.4 yards per carry ranked 10th in the NFL.

He hit most of the incentives in his contract. He earned a $200,000 bonus that he reached by 1 yard after rushing for a career-high 154 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, in the season finale against the Redskins.

The Tulane product, who originally was claimed off the Dolphins' practice squad by New York during the 2014 season, was hampered by a leg injury early in his Giants career, but he was finally able to stay healthy and earned the trust of the coaching staff this past season.

Frank Gore, RB, Colts

Gore will be 35 years old at the start of the 2018 season, which will be his 14th in the NFL. If the 2017 season is any indication, age is just a number with Gore.

He rushed for 961 yards for the Colts in 2017, just 39 yards shy of a 10th career 1,000-yard season.

Gore moved ahead of four Hall of Fame running backs into fifth on the NFL's career rushing list last season. He enters the 2018 season with 14,026 career rushing yards and needs just 76 yards to pass Curtis Martin for fourth on the list.

Gore signed with the Colts in 2015 with the goal of pairing with quarterback Andrew Luck. Injuries to Luck, however, limited the two to only 22 games together in Gore’s three seasons in Indianapolis.

Jeremy Hill, RB, Bengals

The writing was on the wall for Hill, 25, as soon as it became known that the Bengals coveted a running back in the 2017 NFL draft and eventually took Joe Mixon in the second round.

Hill sealed his fate when he elected to end his season early because of an ankle injury and sent his goodbyes to the team on his social media account.

He had a successful rookie season in 2014, rushing 222 times for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns. But he has never been the same since fumbling late in the 2015 AFC wild-card game against the Steelers, ultimately contributing to a loss. Since that game, Hill has combined for 955 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two seasons and lost playing time to Mixon last year.

Hill finished with 37 carries for 116 yards in seven games played in 2017.

Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers

Hyde was again the most productive running back for the 49ers in 2017, leading the team in rushing yards (940) while setting a career high with eight rushing touchdowns. He also had 59 receptions for 350 yards as his role expanded in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense, as he played a full 16-game schedule for the first time.

While productive, the 27-year-old Hyde still showed his inconsistency in the passing game, catching 59 of 87 targets for 350 yards.

A second-round draft choice in 2014, Hyde said repeatedly during the season that he hoped to remain with the only NFL team he’d ever played for. In four seasons with San Francisco, Hyde rushed for 2,731 yards while averaging 4.2 yards per carry with 21 rushing scores. He also had 109 receptions for 634 yards and three touchdowns.

Eddie Lacy, RB, Seahawks

Lacy will go down as one of the bigger free-agent busts in recent memory for the Seahawks.

Signed to a one-year deal that included $2.865 million guaranteed, Lacy was expected to play a significant role -- if not a leading one -- in Seattle's backfield. However, he and Thomas Rawls were beaten out for the starting job by rookie seventh-round pick Chris Carson.

Neither Lacy nor Rawls did much with their opportunities after Carson suffered a season-ending injury in early October. Lacy finished with 179 yards -- and no touchdowns -- on 69 attempts, and his average of 2.9 yards per carry was well below his career average of 4.4 yards from his first four seasons with the Packers.

The lack of a running game forced quarterback Russell Wilson to shoulder more of the offensive load than he ever has, as he became just the fifth quarterback since 1970 to lead his team in rushing.

Lacy, who turned 27 on New Year's Day, was a healthy scratch for four games and finished the 2017 season behind Mike Davis on the depth chart.

His weight wasn't as much of an issue with the Seahawks as it was with the Packers. Seattle, in fact, said it was fine with Lacy playing at a slightly higher weight than his listed weight of 235 with Green Bay. The Seahawks set up financial incentives based on a series of weigh-ins to get him down from 255 pounds during the offseason to a target weight of 245 or less during the season.

A second-round draft pick by the Packers in 2013, Lacy posted back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons to start his pro career and was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots

The 5-foot-8, 195-pound Lewis led the Patriots with 896 rushing yards on 180 carries (5.0 average) and six touchdowns in the 2017 regular season. He added 32 catches for 214 yards and three receiving touchdowns while also serving as the team’s primary kickoff returner (23 returns, 570 yards, one touchdown).

He had opened the year as the No. 4 option on the depth