Before Free Agency begins, there's always a period where players are being released. We will try and keep track of all the players being cut from their respective teams and see if there's a potential fit with the San Francisco 49ers.
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
Brandon Fusco, OG, Minnesota Vikings
Mike Harris, OT, Minnesota Vikings
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Rashad Jennings, RB, New York Giants
Kelvin Beachum, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cleveland Browns
Nick Mangold, C, New York Jets
Justin Gilbert, DB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Tramon Williams, DB, Cleveland Browns
Leodis McKelvin, DB, Philadelphia Eagles
D'Qwell Jackson, LB, Indianapolis Colts
Mario Williams, DL, Miami Dolphins
Earl Mitchell, DL, Miami Dolphins
Jared Odrick, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars
Alterraun Verner, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Erin Henderson, LB, New York Jets
McCown, 37, will head into his 15th NFL season. He's been a perennial backup QB, who's been productive in some seasons with some bad teams. He's traveled all around the NFL, playing for Arizona, Oakland, Carolina, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Cleveland. The Browns released him due to the number of quarterbacks on their roster, which features Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler. He could definitely be a good backup for a young quarterback and step in and win some games for your team.
James Starks was plagued by injuries this past season with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had so many injuries and issues at Running Back, they had to turn to Ty Montgomery, a WR, to play the RB position. Starks saw only 63 rushing attempts -- the lowest since his rookie year. I think he could be a serviceable backup running back if he did not have any injuries.
Fusco, a former sixth round pick, has spent his entire five year career with the Minnesota Vikings. Two years ago, the Vikings signed him to a 5 year/$25 million extension, but decided to part ways with him. The offensive line was a major weakness in Minnesota, and it looks like they have decided to rebuild it. They have gone ahead and released Fusco, who was counting $15 million against the cap over the next three years. After an injury in 2014, he switched sides on the OL and has never looked the same.
Mike Harris, Fusco's fellow Offensive Line teammate, also was released due to injury concerns. He was out throughout the 2016 season wasn't able to recover from his illness. Two seasons ago, Harris started all 16 games and was competing with Fusco for the starting job this past year. He hasn't been medically cleared to play and Harris is not sure when he is going to be cleared to play in the NFL again.
Fitzpatrick, after the breakout campaign in 2015, came back down to earth in 2016, when a lot of QB controversy surrounded the New York Jets. The Jets voided Fitzpatrick's contract, thus making him a Free Agent. He had particularly horrible performances in 2016, with the 6-interception game being the lowlight. Personally, I don't think he will be an NFL starter again, but I think he could be a decent backup quarterback for a younger player.
Cruz, the most surprising one on the list, was released by the New York Giants this past week. This was primarily caused by Cruz's age and decline in productivity. At the same time, younger players such as Sterling Shepherd and Tavarres King also stepped up in big moments, making it easier for the Giants to release Cruz. The former Giants WR had a productive season, catching 39 passes for 586 yards. I still think he could be a good slot receiver for a team looking for a championship run. He'll be 30 soon and the knee injuries are a concern, but he could definitely be worth a flyer for a fringe team.
Jennings, Cruz's fellow offensive teammate, was released this past week by the New York Giants. He had a rough season, only managing 593 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per carry. With younger players on the come-up, the New York Giants decided to part ways with Jennings. On the wrong side of 30, Jennings could still be a good backup running back for a team, but his days as the primary back may be behind him.
The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to not pick up the option on Kelvin Beachum's contract, thus making him a free agent. Beachum, the Left Tackle, was part of an offensive line that only gave up 34 sacks this past season. He also started 15 of 16 games, missing one due to a concussion. With not many LT's on the free agent market or the draft, Beachum, 27, could be a great option for a team looking to protect their QB's blindside.
Gilbert, a former first round pick, is now looking for an NFL home. He started his career with the Cleveland Browns where he started to play well towards the end of his tenure there. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 6th round pick this past season. He mainly made his contributions as a special teamer.
Williams, an ex-Brown, was released due to age and injury concerns. Although he started in 15 games for the Browns in 2015, he only played in seven this past season. The Browns decided that the $5 million he was due was not worth the on-field production and decided to part ways with Williams. Being 33 years old and playing CB in the NFL is a tough task, especially as those injuries rack up. But he might be able to play the "Charles Tillman" role for a Super Bowl contending team.
McKelvin, who joined the Eagles last season in order to be a cog in Jim Schwartz's defense, did not live up to the hype. He dealt with injuries and the secondary play of the Eagles was pretty pathetic during the season. The Eagles will save around $3 million by dumping McKelvin. I believe that when healthy he could be a third or fourth cornerback on a roster, but the injuries are a big concern.
Jackson, 33, was a veteran in the Indianapolis Colts' defense. Although he reached the Pro Bowl a few seasons ago, he was suspended for the last four games of the 2016 season due to abusing the League's policy on PEDs. An aging inside linebacker, who's best days are behind him, may not find an NFL home that easily.
Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell, both Defensive Lineman with the Miami Dolphins, were expected to be a part of a dominant defensive line that already featured Ndamukong Suh. Neither lived up to the pre-season hype and as a result, Miami decided to part ways with the both of them. At the same time, this is also a salary cap relief move for the Dolphins.
Williams, approaching 33, probably has his best pass rushing days behind him. He might have to wait and take the "Dwight Freeney" role on a Championship contending team, but could he live up to that role. Mitchell on the other hand, Mitchell was due $4 million this upcoming season, but only started five games, so it seemed obvious that his Dolphin days were over.
Jared Odrick is coming off of a fairly quiet season, with only 12 tackles and one sack. In 2015, Odrick had 29 tackles, and 5.5 sacks. He's been up and down throughout his career, but in Jacksonville under Bradley, I think that Odrick was incorrectly positioned. He was playing the "Big End" in the 4-3 defense and I think he's more suited to be in a 3-4 defense. At 29 years old, he still may have a few years to contribute as a pass rusher.
Verner, a defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is being released. With the emergence of CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Verner lost his starting job to Hargreaves III. After a huge 2013 season with the Tennessee Titans, Verner has been on a constant decline the past three seasons with the Buccaneers. This past season he only had 16 tackles, seven PBU's and one interception. I don't think the 49ers need to or will take a flyer on Verner. He's 5'10" and at 28 years old, probably not the right fit for San Francisco at this time.
Two running backs who have often faced injury, Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson are now set to be free agents, as they're being released by their respective teams. Both great running backs when healthy, might never be the same again. I don't think the 49ers are a fit, especially with a deep running back draft class.
Mangold, a veteran offensive lineman with the Jets, probably will go chasing for a championship. The 49ers should look to get younger in the OL, rather than pick up an aging veteran.
Henderson, an ILB, has bounced around in the league, I don't think he'll end up with the 49ers as well. He had a down year with only 21 tackles, after having 45 in 2015.
Do any of these Free Agents make sense for the San Francisco 49ers? Tweet us @49ersHub or @akashanav and let us know who the 49ers should sign from this list!