As we move into NFL Combine week, the focus is not only the NFL Draft, but also the upcoming free agency period. To help us keep track of all of the top players set to hit the open market (or be franchise tagged) NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling put together their top 101 free agents list of 2019. Two current (and two former) Jaguars were named.
Running back T.J. Yeldon (No. 90) and wide receiver Donte Moncrief (No. 93) just barely made the cut. Yeldon is the seventh running back on the list, while Moncrief is the 12th-ranked wide receiver.
Here is what the NFL.com staff had to say about each player:
“Yeldon quietly has gained nearly 3,200 yards from scrimmage in his four seasons, barely less than fellow free agent Tevin Coleman. He’s a solid third-down back in a league that values that skill set more than ever.”
As noted, Yeldon has been a lot more productive than many may realize. This past year he did an admirable job filling in for Leonard Fournette — who missed several games due to injury or suspension. Despite playing with a depleted offensive line, Yeldon gained 901 total yards (414 rushing yards and 487 receiving yards) this season and scored five touchdowns. He averaged four yards per carry and caught 55 passes at a 70.5 percent catch rate.
While teams aren’t likely to look at him as a featured back (a role he struggled with early in his career), his value on third down as both a pass catcher and pass blocker will draw interest on the open market. Some team with more cap space is likely to give him a better contract offer than the Jaguars, so I would not expect to see him back in Jacksonville.
“Although physically gifted, Moncrief simply hasn’t caught the ball with any degree of consistency while seeing too many snaps on cratering offenses in Indianapolis and Jacksonville.”
As mentioned above, Moncrief has the tools and potential to be a reliable wide receiver in this league, but it just hasn’t come together for him. In his defense, he’s had to play with a combination of Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler and Jacoby Brissett throwing him the ball the past two seasons. This season, the Jacksonville offense fell apart after the first quarter of the season and never really found its way after that. Moncrief caught 48 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns this season. But outside of the first Indianapolis Colts matchup (Moncrief’s former team), he didn’t have many standout games or plays. He had a catch rate of just 59.3 percent (89 targets).
Jacksonville gave Moncrief a rather hefty $9.6 million one-year contract last offseason. It would be really surprising to see Moncrief back in a Jaguars uniform during the 2019 season, however, another team should be willing to give him a shot in the open market.
Other notes from the top 101 free agents:
- Dante Fowler Jr. checks into the list at No. 36. Rosenthal and Wesseling note that although Fowler’s combined sack numbers with the Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams were low, he was “a terror behind the line of scrimmage” late in the season.
- Former Jaguar Jason Myers is one of only three placekickers to make the list. Myers, who is coming off of a Pro Bowl season with the New York Jets, is No. 100 on the list.
- The Nick Foles to Jacksonville talk has been constant all offseason. He comes in at No. 9, and is the first quarterback listed.
- The top five free agents (in order), according to NFL.com’s list are DeMarcus Lawrence (edge), Jadeveon Clowney (edge), Grady Jarrett (defensive tackle), Le’Veon Bell (running back) and Dee Ford (edge). Lawrence, Clowney and Jarrett are likely franchise tag candidates, so it would be surprising to see them hit the open market.
- Eight of the top-10 players are from the defensive side of the ball, with Foles and Bell as the only offensive players listed.
Other Jaguars whose contracts are set to expire at the start of the new year, but did not make the top 101 list, include A.J. Cann (offensive guard), Corey Grant (running back), Tyler Shatley (offensive guard), Tyler Patmon (cornerback), Tommy Bohanon (fullback), James O’Shaughnessy (tight end), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (tight end — Jaguars did not pick up 2019 option) and others.
What do you think, are Yeldon and Moncrief likely to find new teams? Will the Rams retain Fowler? Are these players among the best available at their positions? Let’s talk about it in the comments section.