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Pass Catchers, Peppers Stand Out on 31-40 of NFL.com's 101 Top Potential Free Agents

Posted Mar 11, 2018

The Vikings.com 2018 Free Agency Primer series uses NFL.com’s Top 101 Free Agents list to break down this year’s class. We will count down the groups of players until March 14 when free agency is scheduled to open. 

The list was composed by Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. Career stats are taken from NFL.com and/or pro-football-reference.com and apply to regular seasons, unless noted.

Note: The list may end up changing prior to free agency opening, but this breakdown is updated as of March 5.

Schedule

91-101: Monday, March 5
81-90: Tuesday, March 6
71-80: Wednesday, March 7
61-70: Thursday, March 8
51-60: Friday, March 9
41-50: Saturday, March 10

31-40: Sunday, March 11
21-30: Monday, March 12
11-20: Tuesday, March 13
1-10: Wednesday, March 14

There is plenty of talent on this list, but there also are some question marks caused by injuries in recent years.

AJ McCarron, the only quarterback in this group, is an intriguing name. He has started a playoff game but has seen limited action over the past four seasons.

The most notable name is Julius Peppers, who is one of the best defensive players in NFL history.

31. Weston Richburg, C, Giants

51 career games; 50 starts

Richburg was a second-round draft pick by the Giants in 2014 and started 15 games as a rookie. He missed just one game during his first three seasons before a concussion limited him to just four games in 2017. He played left guard as a rookie before shifting to center.

32. Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins

43 career games; 29 starts (10 starts at quarterback, 19 at wide receiver); completed 175 of 311 career pass attempts (56.3 percent) for 1,994 yards with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions; career passer rating of 69.3; 99 career catches for 1,311 yards (13.2 yards per catch) and five touchdowns; 102 career carries for 647 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns

Pryor is a talented athlete who made the switch from quarterback to wide receiver following the 2015 season. He had a breakout 2016 season with 77 receptions for 1,007 yards and four scores, but injuries limited him to just nine games this past season. Pryor has shown he can be a playmaker when put in an ideal situation.

33. E.J. Gaines, CB, Bills

37 career games; 36 starts; 185 total tackles; 31 passes defensed; three interceptions, four forced fumbles

Gaines was a sixth-round pick by the Rams in 2014 and immediately nabbed a starting spot, but he missed the 2015 season with a foot injury. The Missouri native was with the Rams in 2016 but was traded to Buffalo during the 2017 preseason. He made 11 starts with the Bills in 2017. He has three career interceptions.

34. AJ McCarron, QB, Bengals

11 career games; three starts; completed 86 of 133 career pass attempts (64.7 percent) for 920 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions; career passer rating of 93.6

A fifth-round pick out of Alabama in 2014, McCarron played sparingly during his first four seasons in Cincinnati. He served as Andy Dalton’s backup and made three starts in the regular season and also opened a 2015 playoff game. He has attempted just 14 passes over the past two seasons.

35. Trey Burton, TE, Eagles

61 career games; five starts; 63 career catches for 629 yards (10.0 yards per catch) and six touchdowns

After making three catches for 54 yards in his first two seasons, Burton’s role rapidly expanded in 2016 when he caught 37 passes for 327 yards and his first score. In 2017, Burton caught 23 passes on 31 targets and found the end zone five times. An athletic tight end who can be shifted all over the field, Burton is perhaps most known for throwing a touchdown pass to Nick Foles in Philadelphia’s win over New England in Super Bowl LII.

36. Jack Mewhort, G, Colts

45 career games; 45 starts

Mewhort earned a starting job as a rookie in 2014 after being a second-round pick out of Ohio State. He has missed 17 total games in the past two seasons due to knee injuries but is viewed as a solid option at guard when healthy. 

37. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals

39 career games; 30 starts; 127 career catches for 1,537 yards (12.1 yards per catch) and 20 touchdowns

Eifert was on the verge of becoming a breakout star at tight end as he recorded 18 touchdown catches over a 21-game span between 2015 and 2016. But he has played in just two games over the past season-and-a-half due to injuries. When healthy, Eifert is a reliable option in the passing game.

 

38. Jordan Matthews, WR, Bills

56 career games; 43 starts; 250 career catches for 2,955 yards (11.8 yards per catch) and 20 touchdowns

Matthews was a productive wideout in his first three seasons in Philadelphia, catching 19 touchdowns and totaling nearly 2,700 receiving yards. He was traded to the Bills in the 2017 preseason and scored just once in 10 games.

39. DaQuan Jones, DL, Titans

51 career games; 45 starts; 110 total tackles; 6.0 sacks; one forced fumble; two fumble recoveries; one defensive touchdown

Jones has been a steady presence on a stout Titans defense over the past three seasons, making 44 starts. He could add a veteran presence as a defensive tackle for a team if he does not return to Tennessee.

40. Julius Peppers, DE/OLB, Panthers

250 career games; 232 starts; 693 total tackles; 154.5 sacks; 49 forced fumbles; 20 fumble recoveries; 11 interceptions; six defensive touchdowns; 73 passes defensed

The second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Peppers has put together a Hall of Fame career. He is fourth all-time with 154.5 sacks, and is the NFL’s active leader. While Peppers is getting up there at age 38, he proved he still has it with 11 sacks in 2017. It was the 10th time Peppers had reached double-digit sacks in his career.