I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the players who are making the most or least of their free agent season. For this week we will look at the offense with each position, except tight end, getting a stock up or stock down nomination. Why no tight end for both? I simply couldn’t come up with a good stock up candidate as it’s a weak free agent class thus far.
Stock Up: Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins
Cousins did not need to do much to improve his contract hopes for next year, but through four weeks his Redskins look like one of the two best teams in the East and he is on pace for another 4,000 yard season. He has a lot of new faces on the offense yet is still producing and has a 7:1 TD to interception ratio. He is well on his way to earning a $27 million+ a year contract next season.
Stock Down: Jay Cutler, QB, Dolphins
Cutler was out of the NFL and heading into broadcasting when an injury to Ryan Tannehill gave him a chance to revitalize his NFL career. Through three games he has been awful and the Dolphins offense is the worst in the NFL. He looks disinterested and that he is there to collect a paycheck. Unless things change he’ll be out of the NFL next season.
Stock Up: Carlos Hyde, RB, 49ers
Hyde has had a solid, injury riddled and somewhat hidden career in San Francisco, but has basically become their offense this year. Hyde is on pace for over 1,200 yards at a 4.9 YPA clip. More importantly he is showing that he can be a factor in the passing game with 17 receptions for 88 yards, which is on pace to shatter his career high of 27 receptions for 163 yards he set in 13 games last year. Age is not on his side, since he is already 27, but he can crack the $6-$6.5 million a year club if he keeps this up.
Stock Down: Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Bell reportedly turned down a massive contract offer this summer for reasons that nobody but himself could explain. Bell wanted to earn around $15 million a year, an absurd number for a running back, and gambles on the franchise tag. Thus far it hasn’t been a good decision. Though he arguably could set a career high in yards, he is on pace for well over 300 carries to do so and his yards per carry is down a full yard from his career norms. His receiving efficiency is down too. He’s still going to get a big offer from someone, but its doubtful it will be as good as the one he turned down.
Stock Up: Davante Adams, WR, Packers
While few free agent receivers have stood out this year, Adams leads the Packers in yards and targets this season. I don’t know what Adams worth is on the open market but with Jordy Nelson in his 30s the Packers probably need Adams. Green Bay has already pretty much set their own market for receivers around $10 million a year and Adams stands to make at least that from Green Bay if he finishes the year as their top target.
Stock Down: Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins
Pryor saw little interest as a free agent last year so he took a lower cost contract to get away from Cleveland and try to make a name for himself elsewhere. Thus far it hasn’t worked out that well. He is on pace for under 800 yards as the Redskins passing game is being spread all over the field. He did have his best game of the year last Monday so maybe things are looking up, but he needed a great year to solidify himself as a potential 1 and right now hes going to settle for mid level 2 money.
Stock Down: Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals
You don’t like to put an injured player on these types of lists, but I don’t think there was much choice here. A big year and Eifert was looking at $8 million or more a year, but the former first rounder absolutely needed to stay healthy to get a chance at that. In his two active games Eifert continued to look like a mid level player and there is no way around the fact that he is always injured.
Stock Up: Zack Martin, OL, Cowboys
Martin didn’t have to do much to be the top available free agent this year, but I don’t think too many available players have stood out so far which is only going to make his market more lucrative this year. No sacks or penalties so far and Martin is well on his way to the Pro Bowl and to setting a new high for guards, which will be over $12 million a season.
Stock Down: Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, Texans
The guard market is so lucrative right now that it doesn’t take much to get paid and Su’a-Filo has a chance as a high second round pick to really make it big, but his current pace is going to see him land on the bench rather than vying for a big contract. In 4 games he’s been credited with 3 sacks allowed and 2 penalties, which isn’t going to cut it.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.