There are many exciting dates on the NFL calendar. Some of those days disappoint. The first day of free agency however, rarely fails to live up to the hype.
The rumors and intrigue have officially turned over to the “signing on the dotted line phase.” So far, some of the offseason rumors that have swirled around since the final whistle of the Ravens Super Bowl victory have come to fruition. Other rumors were proven to be merely subterfuge.
Lets take a look at the significant signings thus far.
Desmond Bryant-DT: Bryant has signed with the Cleveland Browns after four years in Oakland. Why do we lead with Bryant? Well, if you’re not familiar with the Raiders, (we don’t blame you for averting your eyes when they play) Bryant was a bright spot on an underachieving defense. The 27 year old veteran is a high-motor machine in the trenches. He will play the nose in the Browns 3-4 defense. The Harvard grad instantly improves the Browns defensive line. TERMS: 5 yrs. $34 million.
Paul Kruger-LB: The mass exodus from the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens has highlighted free agency thus far. Paul Kruger inked a deal Tuesday with the active Cleveland Browns. Kruger is a spark plug who racked up 9.0 sacks for the Ravens in 2012. Along with Desmond Bryant, the Browns defensive makeover is well underway. TERMS: 5 yrs. $40 million.
Isaac Sopoaga- DT: The gargantuan 330 lb. nose tackle inked a 3 year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The former 49’ers space-eater will play nose tackle in the Eagles 3-4 scheme. In an active day, Philadelphia also inked former Panthers LB Jason Phillips, former Rams CB Bradley Fletcher and S Patrick Chung, formerly of the Patriots.
Philip Wheeler-LB: Wheeler was the Miami Dolphins second addition to their linebacking corps in day one of free agency. Wheeler inked a four year deal to replace veteran Kevin Burnett. Wheeler spent 2012 with the Oakland Raiders and impressed with 109 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. With the earlier signing of Dannell Ellerbe and release of Karlos Dansby, Miami’s linebacker makeover should bring DC Kevin Coyle more youth and versatility. What Coyle and the Dolphins desire is more pressure on the quarterback, it’s to be determined if the youth movement will pay off in sacks. One thing is clear, both Wheeler & Ellerbe save Miami money compared to the released veterans- they should also bring more speed. Speaking of speed, did anyone hear? Miami also signed a WR by the name of Mike Wallace:
Other First Day Notes:
The Dolphins free spending didn’t mean they got everything they wanted in day one. Namely at tight end, where they saw former TE Anthony Fasano ink a 4 yr $16 million deal with Kansas City. Miami was thought to be the early leader in the services for stand-out TE Jared Cook, formerly of Tennessee. Instead, former Titans Boss Jeff Fisher swooped in and brought the reliable pass catcher to the St. Louis Rams. Other TE’s were quickly snatched up when Martellus Bennett signed with the Chicago Bears, James Casey signed with Philadelphia and Delanie Walker left San Francisco to replace Cook with the Tennessee Titans. Miami will have to find another avenue to upgrade the TE position.
The Chicago Bears feel confident that they’ve finally solved a long-standing hole: the Left Tackle position. Jermon Bushrod inked a 5 year deal worth $35.9 million to join the Monsters Of The Midway.
ODDS & ENDS
Wes “The Slot Machine” Welker and the New England Patriots have stopped talking for the time being. This increases the odds that Tom Brady will have to rely on someone else in the slot in 2013.
Talks between the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers concerning CB Darell Revis seem to be gathering steam.
Fellow former “Top Ranked Cornerback” Nnamdi Asomugha was sent packing after the Philadelphia Eagles terminated his contract Tuesday.
More to come tomorrow.