Day 1 Free Agency Notes
Big Names Cut – DeMarcus Ware, Julius Peppers, Miles Austin, Santonio Holmes
Big Names Not Cut – Chris Johnson, Steve Smith, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez
Putting the “D” in Denver
John Elway is at it again as he began the day signing T.J. Ward then made a significant move to replace Champ Bailey with Aqib Talib by signing him to a monster six-year/ $57 million deal by evening. DeMarcus Ware is also en route and the greatest offense in the history of the NFL is adding some big names on defense. The pressure is on defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
Same Old Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders general manager Mike McKenize low-balled stud left tackle Jason Veldheer, failed to franchise him, then signed Roger Saffold, a guard, to play out of position for more money. Even former owner, the late Al Davis, would have thought that was crazy. McKenzie failed to retain Rashad Jennings as he bolted for the New York Giants, which is not that huge of a deal but the decisions regarding the offensive lineare beyond bewildering. The Raiders did save face a little with former Miami head coach and current offensive line coach Tony Sparano convincing Austin Howard to join but overall it’s been an underwhelming start for Oakland.
The Safety Dance
Everybody is taking a chance on the safety dance. The dominos fell as Jairus Byrd broke the bank in New Orleans with $28 million guaranteed. Malcolm Jenkins moved on to Philadelphia. Ward left Cleveland for Denver, and the Browns filled his spot with Donte Whitner returning to his hometown. Whitner’s spot in San Francisco was then filled by Antoine Bethea. That’s a lot of movement at safety on Day 1.
Farmer is a Fast Learner
With former CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi out of the mix, current general manager Ray Farmer was given the keys to his first free agency and successfully avoided the shiny object that is Darrelle Revis and navigated the Browns toward upgrades at middle linebacker (Karlos Dansby) and a slightly expensive hard-hitting safety (Whitner) while letting Ward and D’Qwell Jackson leave. Add in an offer sheet to Cincinnati wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. Overall they were modest upgrades but they were upgrades nonetheless.
Everything is Lining Up in Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons looked to bolster both sides of the line on the first day of free agency and did so by adding hotly sought after former Kansas City guard Jon Asamoah to the offense and doubled down on the defensive line by adding tackle Paul Soliai and end Tyson Jackson. There’s still work to do, but this was a very solid start to the Falcons’ offseason.
Vick Not So Quick
Michael Vick is a free agent for the first time since he was set free and was closely linked to the New York Jets throughout the day. Reports indicate that talks have cooled after Vick expressed a desire to only sign if he was deemed the starter. As bad as Geno Smith was last year, that doesn’t appear to be something coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik are willing to commit to, at least for now.
What’s Left at Tackle?
The Baltimore Ravens let Eugene Monroe test the free agent waters and watched as Brandon Albert (Miami – $46 million) and Jared Veldheer (Arizona – $35 million) gobbled up all of the money. Monroe swam back to the Ravens and they agreed to a $37.5 million pact.
Where Have You Gone, Stud Running Backs?
The biggest moves made at running back were Rashad Jennings joining the New York Giants, Donald Brown heading to San Diego and Toby Gerhart signing with Jacksonville. That is not going to get anyone excited for fantasy football. Maurice Jones-Drew is said to be talking with the New York Jets but as far as big names go, that’s about all of the movement today. Chris Johnson is still status quo in Tennessee as is Darren Sproles in New Orleans. All has been quiet when it comes to Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno and Johnson.
No Upper Decker and the rest of the Wide Receivers
Wide receivers are sitting out the first wave of free agency as well with the biggest acquisitions coming from the likes of Andre Roberts to Washington and Hawkins signing an offer sheet with Cleveland. That’s been pretty much it. Eric Decker, Julian Edelman, Hakeem Nicks, Emmanuel Sanders and Golden Tate are all still floating around trying to land big deals on Day 2.