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Offseason Extra: Free agency fallout

Senior Fantasy Writer

They say money makes the world go 'round.

It also makes the talent go 'round in the NFL. Free agency sets into motion how teams plan out the rest of their offseason and sheds light as to how they'll operate for the coming season. Prominent players move to new teams (or settle for a bag of cash with their old teams) while unproven talents fall into opportunities created by player movement. And players who we might have had our sights set on become less meaningful because of new talent joining their team.

The 2013 season might not be here for a while, but any savvy Fantasy Football veteran knows paying attention to player movement around the league is a key to success. Leave it to us to track the free agent movement here.

Some additional free-agent notes:

UFA: Unrestricted Free Agent -- A player who can sign anywhere.*
RFA: Restricted Free Agent -- A player who can sign anywhere but original team can match offer or receive compensation from new team. (Compensation will be added upon announcement of team designations.)
ERFA: Exclusive Rights Free Agent -- A player who can only negotiate with current team.
FRAN: Franchised Player -- A player who is guaranteed a one-year deal from his original team relative to highest-paid players at his position. The new team must give two first-round picks as compensation to original team if signed away.
*- released players also have this designation

Running Backs

Other free agent RBs
Jackie Battle, Chargers
Joique Bell, Lions (ERFA)
Ronnie Brown, Chargers
Justin Forsett, Texans
Mike Goodson, Raiders
Ryan Grant, Packers
Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
Chris Ivory, Saints (RFA-2nd)
Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
Felix Jones, Cowboys
Isaac Redman, Steelers (RFA-ROFR)
Bernard Scott, Bengals
Kevin Smith, Lions
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals
Michael Turner, Falcons
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
Danny Woodhead, Patriots
Signed RBs
LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers

Steven Jackson, Rams
2012 Average Draft Position: 22.29
2012 stats: 1,042 rush yards, 4 rush touchdowns; 38 catches, 321 receiving yards
Jackson decided in late February to void his contract, allowing him to test free agency for the first time in his career. He'll do so after recording his fifth straight 1,350-total-yard campaign and rumbling for an average of at least 4.1 yards per carry for the eighth time in nine seasons. It all sounds great until you realize that he's played an awful long time and the track record for running backs that play an awful long time doesn't end well. Jackson will turn 30 just before the start of training camp this summer and has over 2,400 career carries and over 400 career receptions (including the postseason). Though he keeps his body in great shape we've done enough research to know that once a running back gets past the 2,400 carry mark (if not the 2,000 adjusted touches mark) there's serious risk of a breakdown.That's the reality for Jackson and all of his suitors to face.
Potential landing spots: Atlanta, Green Bay, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
Optimal landing spot: Atlanta. Jackson desperately wants to play for a Super Bowl contender and could fit right into the Michael Turner role with the Falcons seamlessly. He's spent his career running indoors and would continue to do the same with the Falcons. He'd split with Jacquizz Rodgers, likely limiting him to around 250 carries again, but assuming he can avoid injury he should be quite effective there. Turner scored at least 10 touchdowns every year with the Falcons and Jackson would get those opportunities -- something the Rams couldn't quite give him over the last three years. Jackson would be a medium-risk, high-reward No. 2 Fantasy running back that would get picked within the Top 30 spots on Draft Day if he went to Atlanta, though drafting Rodgers with a mid-round pick would be an absolute must.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
2012 Average Draft Position: 35.96
2012 stats: 1,015 rush yards, 6 rush touchdowns; 23 catches, 245 receiving yards
During the week of the Super Bowl, Bradshaw appeared in a number of places on a scooter, announcing he had had surgery on his foot. That would be the fourth procedure he's hadon his feet since 2009 -- and that doesn't include ankle and head injuries he's had along the way. Pair that track record with a sizable salary for 2013 and 2014 and the Giants saw fit to cut him loose, opening the door for David Wilson and Andre Brown to step into a tandem at tailback. There's a chance they could always re-sign Bradshaw but once he proves his foot is healthy there will likely be a line of suitors lining up to sign Bradshaw on a one-year deal as at the very least a change-of-pace back.
Potential landing spots: Arizona, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Miami, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Louis
Optimal landing spot: Arizona.If he can't finagle a job as the primary back with a contender, the least Bradshaw could do is land a similar role with another team. He'd have to compete in training camp for the work with Ryan Williams and maybe Beanie Wells but the versatility he offers should stand out to a team like the Cardinals. Throw in what should be an improved O-line and he could net his third 1,000-yard rushing season in four years. He'd shoot right back into the Top 60 picks in drafts if that scenario were to play out this spring. Until then, there's trepidation in drafting Bradshaw in Fantasy leagues.

Reggie Bush, Dolphins
2012 Average Draft Position: 56.17
2012 stats: 986 rush yards, 6 rush touchdowns; 292 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
Bush proved doubters wrong again last season, totaling over 1,200 yards for the second year in a row as Miami's primary rusher. Though he had six games with 12 carries or less, he was still mostly productive over a career-high 262 touches, especially at the end of the year when the coaching staff utilized him more as a receiver out of the backfield, which is something he likes to do. Many view Bush as an older running back but he'll be 28 years old entering next season with 967 career carries, 372 career receptions and one game missed (Week 17 in 2011) in his last two seasons. He still has something left to give an NFL team and thus is capable of helping Fantasy owners in 2013.
Potential landing spots: Arizona, Cincinnati, Detroit, Green Bay, Miami, N.Y. Jets
Optimal landing spot: Miami. For Bush to be at his best for Fantasy, he needs a chance to get 15 touches per game. If he leaves the Dolphins there's a pretty good chance he'll have to split reps to some degree and that won't help his cause. In Miami, Bush has already proven to the coaching staff he can handle whatever they throw at him. Though the Dolphins are stocked with running backs who would potentially take playing time away from Bush, they could move a younger talent like Daniel Thomas toward the bottom of the depth chart (or onto another roster) and keep Bush as a prominent playmaker. Figure Bush to make the cut as a No. 2 rusher in your drafts.

Shonn Greene, Jets
2012 Average Draft Position: 60.04
2012 stats: 1,063 rush yards, 8 rush touchdowns; 151 receiving yards
Call it a career year for Greene, who posted career-bests in rushing attempts (276), yards (1,063) and touchdowns (eight). But no one is calling Greene an elite running back, especially when five of the eight touchdowns came over two games and the 100-total-yard mark was surpassed only three times. Greene has a role in this league but it's not as a primary, featured back. He's a powerful runner with pretty good hands, but speed just isn't his thing.
Potential landing spots: Arizona, Chicago, Indianapolis, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego
Optimal landing spot: N.Y. Jets. The reality is that no one will draft Greene with a high Fantasy pick unless he's in a situation like he was over the past year, and even then he'll be a guy an owner will settle for starting in Round 6. At least with the Jets he would resume his role as a primary rusher, however unappealing that might sound to you. There he'd have a chance at reaching 1,000 rush yards and a bushel of touchdowns again, whereas if he moves into a part-time role he might deliver a handful of touchdowns -- Mike Tolbert style -- but not pick up a ton of yardage. Either way, no one is going to be excited to have him as a No. 2 rusher.

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
2012 Average Draft Position: 130.76
2012 stats: 244 total yards, 1 TD
Just how bad was the Steelers' run game in 2012? According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, their combined 1,537 yards was the second-worst by any team since the NFL expanded to a 16-game season in 1978. Mendenhall wasn't to blame for all of that but as the former primary rusher-turned-enemy of the coaching staff, Mendenhall didn't play well. Coming back from a torn ACL had plenty to do with it and it remains to be seen if last season was a mirage for Mendenhall or if this is what he is going forward. It looks as if a new team will make that determination.
Potential landing spots: Arizona, Denver, Miami
Optimal landing spot: Arizona, where he would reunite with Bruce Arians and have a chance to work alongside another injury-prone running back in Ryan Williams. If Williams were to get hurt Mendenhall would then be in line for a lot of playing time. It's almost enough to spend a decent pick on Mendenhall until you realize he hasn't been the same since his injury and the Cardinals' offensive line is among the worst in the league. Mendenhall is still safest as a late-round pick.

Wide Receivers

Other free agent WRs
Danario Alexander, Chargers (RFA-ROFR)
Danny Amendola, Rams
Donnie Avery, Colts
Austin Collie, Colts
Brandon Gibson, Rams
Domenik Hixon, Giants
Donald Jones, Bills
Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns
Randy Moss, 49ers
David Nelson, Bills
Kevin Ogletree, Cowboys
Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers (RFA-3rd)
Signed WRs
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Andrew Hawkins, Bengals
Brian Hartline, Dolphins
Jerome Simpson, Vikings

Victor Cruz, Giants (RFA-1st)
2012 Average Draft Position: 36.70
2012 stats: 86 catches for 1,092 yards and 10 TDs
A lot of Cruz's Fantasy owners might be quick to call him a bust after disappointing down the stretch in 2012, but he actually scored one more touchdown and caught four more passes than he did in his breakout 2011 season. A second-half swoon (under 70 yards receiving in seven of his last nine games) pushed his yardage total well south of what he had last season. But what's fact is fact -- Cruz had 100 yards and/or a touchdown in nine games this year and 17 times in his last 31 regular-season games. That keeps him in the spotlight as a great Fantasy contributor and obviously as an asset to the Giants offense.
Potential landing spots: New York. He's not leaving. Grab some lunch and get ready to see Cruz and the Giants settle in for an interesting offseason battle. Cruz pretty much deserves a top-end salary given his role in the offense and how valuable he's been for the team over the last two seasons. But the Giants don't have to give him that salary just yet -- they've already slapped him with a first-round tender in restricted free agency and next year they can franchise him. That gives them two years to table any kind of long-term contract. That stinks for Cruz but great for Fantasy owners who might shy away from drafting him if he were to get paid from another team.

Greg Jennings, Packers
2012 Average Draft Position: 26.85
2012 stats: 36 catches for 366 yards and 4 TDs in eight games
After missing the last three games of 2011 and the middle of the 2012 with leg injuries, Jennings can safely be put in the injury-prone category. That's not so good, especially with his receiving average sliding in consecutive years. What's more, the Packers are loaded at receiver thanks to James Jones leading the league in touchdowns, Randall Cobb exploding on the scene and Jordy Nelson providing some highlight-reel plays despite being hurt himself. None of those guys are going anywhere, so if Jennings was to stick in Green Bay he'd have to settle for fewer looks from Aaron Rodgers than he might have had, say, a year earlier.
Potential landing spots: Buffalo, Green Bay, Kansas City, Miami, Minnesota
Optimal landing spot: Minnesota. At first we liked Miami but after some further evaluation the idea of Jennings staying in the NFC North and continuing to work in a West Coast system is for the best. Jennings won't have to be the big-play receiver for the Vikes, though he could still put up some big games there. Percy Harvin is expected to stick with Minnesota and he'll keep the coverage on Jennings to a minimum. Christian Ponder is a downgrade at quarterback from Aaron Rodgers of course but he's still capable enough to get Jennings the ball 12-plus yards off the line of scrimmage. The Vikings need a seasoned receiver badly and Jennings' knowledge of the NFC North will help him out a lot. He'll be an interesting player to consider on Draft Day, but chances are he'll settle into the No. 2 receiver range.

Mike Wallace, Steelers
2012 Average Draft Position: 53.99
2012 stats: 64 catches for 836 yards and 8 TDs
If there's one thing Wallace proved this season, it's that he continues to be a boom-or-bust receiver. Of his eight touchdowns, five came from outside the red zone. He also scored in seven of his 15 games but failed to get even 70 yards receiving in seven of his other eight contests. And while he had four games with seven-plus receptions he had over 100 yards (his only 100-yard games of 2012) in two of them. Speed continues to be Wallace's best asset, and with free agency looming you can be sure a team that desperately needs that quality in its offense will pay handsomely for his services.
Potential landing spots: Buffalo, Kansas City, Miami, N.Y. Jets
Optimal landing spot: Miami. It sounds like the Dolphins want Wallace and think he can work as their primary receiving threat. You might not think Wallace can handle such a role but any opportunity for him is good news for his Fantasy prospects. The Dolphins tried hard to use Brian Hartline's deep speed last season and while he had a couple of great games and finished with over 1,000 yards, he really wasn't impressive. Wallace would at least do as well as Hartline with some decent touchdown potential. Think Flex on Wallace.

Wes Welker, Patriots
2012 Average Draft Position: 29.00
2012 stats: 118 catches for 1,354 yards and 6 TDs
Many people subscribe to the theory that players in a contract year do everything they can to put up big numbers in an attempt to cash in the following offseason. This is something Welker has done in consecutive years, posting his best yardage stats in 2011 and 2012 while catching over 115 passes each season. It's amazing -- everyone knows what Welker's role is with the Patriots and he still finds a way to play effectively, albeit without as many visits to the end zone as you might like.
Potential landing spots: Buffalo, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, New England, San Diego
Optimal landing spot: New England. Would we even want to have Welker on our Fantasy teams if he were in another team's jersey? Just wouldn't feel right if he wasn't catching passes from Tom Brady, but that's the stark reality. The Patriots tried their darndest to put Julian Edelman into the offense this season and reportedly had/have interest in Danny Amendola, who like Welker is a quick slot receiver (and a Texas Tech pedigree as well). To franchise Welker again this offseason would mean committing upwards of $11 million in guaranteed money after giving him over $9 million guaranteed just for 2012. This is after the Patriots put out some good dough for Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It's possible the Patriots keep Welker tagged instead of extending him for a few years, and it's what we'd like to see since Welker's arrival in a new town with a new quarterback and a new offense could mean some new, not-so-good expectations for him. Fantasy owners already know what to do with him if he stays with the Patriots.

Tight Ends

Other free agent TEs
Dallas Clark, Bucs
Fred Davis, Redskins
Ed Dickson, Ravens (RFA-3rd)
Anthony Fasano, Dolphins
Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
Dustin Keller, Jets
Brandon Myers, Raiders
Benjamin Watson, Browns
Delanie Walker, 49ers

Martellus Bennett, Giants
2012 Average Draft Position: 162.26
2012 stats: 55 catches for 626 yards and 5 TDs
Bennett had a career season seeing an uptick in playing time, but it feels like he left a lot on the field. Bennett had six drops according to Stats, Inc., and didn't make the most of his 90 targets in the Giants offense. After beginning the year with a score in three straight, Bennett caught two touchdowns over his remaining 13 games and had under 50 yards in 12 games total. That doesn't help a player who has worn the "underachiever" label through the first four years of his career.
Potential landing spots: Buffalo, Chicago, Kansas City, Miami, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay
Optimal landing spot: Giants, if only for the sake of familiarity and role in a good offense. Tampa Bay would be a close second. The truth is, if he had a career year with the Giants and managed only 626 yards, there just isn't a lot of upside here. He might go undrafted this summer.

Jared Cook, Titans
2012 Average Draft Position:
2012 stats: 44 catches for 523 yards and 4 TDs
Cook's been a player it seems like we've waited a long time for. When he had a 'breakout' 2011 campaign (759 yards, three touchdowns) many felt he'd be the next great tight end for Fantasy. But the 6-foot-5, 248 pounder took a big step back last year for the Titans as his receiving average dropped over 3.5 yards per grab. Maybe it's an issue with the scheme he played in, maybe it had to do with his quarterback, or maybe it had to do with his 61 percent target-to-catch percentage (72 targets). However you want to slice it, Cook looks like he's on his way out of Tennessee after the team chose not to tag him in March.
Potential landing spots: Chicago, Miami, N.Y. Jets, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
Optimal landing spot: Tampa Bay. This could be a real coup for the Bucs as Cook is a good enough run blocker and potential seam threat for the offense. Rolling out Cook with Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson every week should really improve Josh Freeman's numbers. In turn, Cook could see plenty of targets (Dallas Clark had 76 last year with the Bucs) and be an ideal red-zone threat for defenses to sweat. He should land a minimum of six scores in Tampa Bay and would be worth a late-round pick in every league.

Dennis Pitta, Ravens (RFA-2nd)
2012 Average Draft Position: 171.83
2012 stats: 61 catches for 669 yards and 7 TDs
Entering a contract year, Pitta came through as Joe Flacco's security blanket for a good chunk of games including much of the postseason. Though he was red hot to start the season (50-plus-yards and a score in three straight games), Pitta showed a lot of inconsistency once there was film on him for defenses to start chewing on. He had two games without a catch, three others with two catches or less and nine games total with under 50 yards receiving. But he still finished as the seventh-best tight end in Fantasy Football and should be motivated to do it again assuming he plays on the one-year tender the team offered him this offseason.
Potential landing spots: Baltimore is it. The Ravens have already given him a second-round tender, all but locking him into the team in 2013. But it puts him in another contract year and if he and Joe Flacco can keep their hot connection going (they connected for touchdowns in three of four postseason games) they'll be an effective duo in 2013. Pitta will be drafted as a Fantasy starter for sure.


Other free agent QBs
Jason Campbell, Bears
Rex Grossman, Redskins
Byron Leftwich, Steelers
Signed QBs
Joe Flacco, Ravens
Matt Moore, Dolphins

Chase Daniel, Saints
2012 Average Draft Position: Undrafted
Career stats: 55 passing yards
With Flacco re-signing with the Ravens and Matt Moore hanging with Miami, Daniel stands as the best free agent quarterback available. Yep, it's pretty sad. Daniel has experience in working with a potent, high-powered offense in New Orleans and also ran a good system at Missouri.
Potential landing spots: Arizona, Chicago, N.Y. Jets. It's not going to matter because Daniel just isn't appealing to Fantasy owners. He'd have to fall into a situation where he's throwing to an awesome receiving corps for considerable time in order to get even a sniff in Fantasy Football. If you think that's bad then imagine how a team that needs a quarterback feels!

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Pats C Bryan Stork showing 'no noticeable signs of injury'
by Larry Hartstein |
(1:53 pm ET) Patriots starting center Bryan Stork, who missed the AFC title game with a knee injury, practiced Sunday and "continues to show no noticeable signs of injury," reports The rookie is on track to play in the Super Bowl.

New England is a 1-point favorite over Seattle after opening as a 2.5-point underdog.

Seahawks to make CB Byron Maxwell a free-agency priority
by Larry Hartstein |
(1:29 pm ET) Seahawks general manager John Schneider told the Seattle Times that one of his first priorities will be re-signing corner Byron Maxwell, who is headed for unrestricted free agency. "Now I think he, like a lot of our other unrestricted guys, I think he is going to be highly sought after and he should be," Schneider said.

"But we would at least like to have the opportunity to retain him."

Maxwell, 26, who starts opposite Richard Sherman, had 39 tackles and two interceptions in 13 regular-season games.

Packers' Sam Shields thinks Dez Bryant caught the ball
by Sean d'Oliveira |
(10:11 am ET) Along with the Cowboys, Packers cornerback Sam Shields said he also believes wide receiver Dez Bryant made the catch during the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional game, reports ESPN.

While Shields initially said 'The refs made a good call on that,' he now admits Bryant secured the ball properly.

"It was a catch," Shields said. "But the new rule and at the last minute what happened, that's what the refs came up with. I never said he didn't catch it. He made a helluva catch I was in great coverage. Like I said, it was good on good and he came up with the catch."

Brian Hoyer wants to compete for starting QB role in Cleveland
by Sean d'Oliveira |
(9:36 am ET) Quarterback Brian Hoyer is open to returning to the Browns in 2015, if he is given a chance to compete for the starting role, Hoyer's agent Joe Linta told NBC Sports.

Hoyer started the first 13 games of the season and went 7-6. However, he was replaced by Johnny Manziel.

"I think the only thing that would make him not [want to] come back is if they said Manziel or whoever we take in the draft or whoever we sign in free agency is going to be the starter and you will only be the backup," Linta said.

Hoyer is set to become a free agent in the offseason and Linta added he expects to meet with the Browns soon to discuss their options.

Colts' Andrew Luck considered skipping Pro Bowl
by Sean d'Oliveira |
(1/24/2015) After losing 45-7 to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck admitted he thought about not playing in the Pro Bowl, reports The Indianapolis Star.

Luck felt embarrassed after the championship game and had to think about turning around and playing a week later.

"I mean, it is a privilege, but I am hurting in a sense," Luck said. "But I realize it's an honor to be voted in and the fans really enjoy it. So, I did it."

While Luck was proud of his team for advancing to the championship game, he said this season’s playoff loss was worse than the previous two.

"I think every loss in the playoffs leaves a really, really terrible taste in your mouth," Luck said. "But this one has been worse than the other two because we did get so close. And the way we lost, it was just embarrassing."

NFL warns Marshawn Lynch with 15-yard penalty for obscene gesture
by Brandon Wise |
(1/24/2015) The NFL has issued a warning to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch if he decides to make his obscene gesture in the Super Bowl, vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told ESPN Saturday. If Lynch performs his gesture, Seattle will be assessed a 15-yard penalty.

Meaning if Lynch makes his gesture after scoring a touchdown, the kickoff will be from the 20 yard line. Lynch was fined $20,000 for making his gesture after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game last week.

Matthew Slater: NFLPA 'instructed' Pats not to address Deflategate
by Igor Mello |
(1/24/2015) Patriots special teamer Matthew Slater told reporters that the NFL Players Association has "instructed" New England players to not publicly address Deflategate, according to the team's official website. The 29-year-old Slater is a team representative for the union.

"I'd love to get into that with you, but we have been instructed by our union as players to reserve comment on this situation," Slater said. "It's an ongoing investigation, so in order to protect our players, we’re going to go ahead and not talk about that."

The NFL found 11 of 12 game balls the Patriots used in the first half in Sunday's AFC Championship against the Colts were significantly underinflated after being deemed legal before the game. The investigation is being led by NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash and Ted Wells. The league has yet to release its findings.

Coach Bill Belichick also addressed the media in an impromptu press conference to reveal that his team conducted an "internal study," which revealed that the Patriots "followed every rule to the letter."

Like Slater, Belichick vowed not to speak on Deflategate again. New England will square off against Seattle in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.

Report: Colts LB Andrew Jackson arrested for DUI, careless driving
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(1/24/2015) Colts linebacker Andrew Jackson was arrested in Kentucky early Friday morning for careless driving and DUI, per the Indianapolis Star. He was booked just before 5 a.m. and released from jail at 12:30 p.m. the same day.

Jackson, a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft out of Western Kentucky, was a marginal contributor for Indianapolis last season, contributing only on special teams and short-yardage scenarios. He registered 10 tackles and one sack in 13 games his rookie season.

Justin Forsett: The Ravens 'expressed that they want me back'
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(1/24/2015) Justin Forsett told reporters following Friday's Pro Bowl practice that the Ravens have expressed interest in bringing him back next season, according to Forsett, who replaced Arian Foster's spot in the exhibition game, noted that he has not engaged in any contract discussions with the team, but remains optimistic of a possible deal in the offseason.

"That is the plan, they gave me my shot, they trusted me and believed in me enough to give me that shot so I'd like to stay," Forsett said. "They expressed that they want me back. I want to be back, so we'll see what happens."

Forsett, 29 is seeking his first multiyear contract of his career after playing for five teams in seven seasons. He broke out for 1,266 rushing yards this season, fifth-most in the NFL, and led all running backs with 5.4 yards per carry.

WR Emmanuel Sanders says Peyton Manning will return to Broncos
by Igor Mello |
(1/24/2015) Although Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' only communication with Peyton Manning was through a postseason text message, he believes that the veteran quarterback will return for another season, he told on Friday.

Sanders and the Broncos were eliminated by the Colts in the AFC divisional round. Since that loss, the Broncos' coaching staff has been overhauled, with coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase heading to Chicago.

"Well, Gase is definitely in Chicago right now," Sanders said. "And Peyton says he's going to come back, but I'm not really worried about it, I really just want to win a Super Bowl. So that is all that is on my mind."

Gary Kubiak was hired to take Fox's place in Denver, and Sanders said that if Manning doesn't return, backup Brock Osweiler would fit "really well" in the team's new offensive scheme.

"Yeah, I think Brock is a quarterback that is on the rise, he's going to continuously get better and I feel like Kubiak's offense fits him really well," Sanders said.

Sanders signed a three-year, $15 million contract with the Broncos last March. He earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after totaling 101 catches for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns -- all career highs.