Nick Mensio

Free Agency Dose

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NFL Hot Stove, Day 2

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Free agency came hard, and it came fast on Tuesday. We here at Rotoworld were cranking out blurbs all day long as the smoke wafted out of our keyboards.

There were a couple of first-day winners, but I won’t go as far as to say there were losers. After all, we’re only one day into the madness. Let’s get to the action, and there sure was plenty of it.

The 49ers enjoyed a relatively quiet Tuesday after making noise on Monday. … San Francisco has lined up three free-agent visits for the coming days: safeties LaRon Landry and Charles Woodson and defensive end Glenn Dorsey. Landry and Woodson make sense as cheaper replacements for free agent safety Dashon Goldson. Dorsey would be a nice fallback plan to free agent Ricky Jean-Francois. … The Niners were interested in defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, but they never got a chance to talk to him. He inked a monster five-year, $34 million deal with the Browns on Tuesday. … San Fran is said to still be in the mix for free agent cornerback Sean Smith, but common assumption is that he’s out of their price range. … The Ed Reed speculation figures to be a smokescreen, but we wouldn’t rule it out just yet.

The Bears spent some coin on the opening day of free agency. Chicago locked up left tackle Jermon Bushrod to a five-year, $36 million pact and tight end Martellus Bennett to a four-year, $21 million deal. Bushrod will replace turnstile J’Marcus Webb on Jay Cutler’s blindside, while Webb and Gabe Carimi figure to duke it out for the right tackle gig. Bennett was arguably the top tight end on the market. He’s young, an excellent blocker, and creates mismatches over the middle of the field. Bennett has TE1 fantasy potential as Cutler’s No. 2 target in the passing game. … The Bears were interested in free agents left guard Andy Levitre and Phil Loadholt before they signed with the Titans and Vikings respectively. … Franchise player Henry Melton signed his tender and will earn $8.5 million in 2013. … Chicago has yet to respond to free agent Brian Urlacher’s contract proposal, and they don’t appear to be in a rush to do so. GM Phil Emery could look Urlacher and fellow free agent linebacker Nick Roach’s way on Wednesday.

The Bengals kept the wallet tightly closed on Tuesday, just as we’ve grown accustomed to with them. They did re-sign 29-year-old left end Robert Geathers to a new deal. He’s the Bengals’ longest-tenured player, and will be entering his tenth season with the club. … Free agent running backs Mike Goodson, Beanie Wells, and Reggie Bush are expected to make visits. Bush might not make it out of Detroit. Wells is essentially the same player as BenJarvus Green-Ellis, except worse. We do like Goodson’s fit as a change-of-pace back.

The Bills’ lone move on Tuesday was the release of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The transaction brings a $10-plus million cap hit for 2013, but GM Buddy Nix realized it was time to move on from that mistake. Nix was recorded in a phone conversation saying he believed Fitzpatrick was nothing more than a backup. Buffalo looks to be the early favorites for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith in the draft. The Bills pick No. 8 overall, but they may have to trade up to the No. 1 spot to get ahead of Jacksonville at No. 2.

The Broncos were one of the more active teams on Tuesday. Denver signed left guard Louis Vasquez away from the division rival Chargers on a four-year, $23.5 million deal. Vasquez, 26 next month, is a fine pass blocker and was arguably the top guard on the market. His arrival puts incumbent right guard Chris Kuper’s future in Denver in doubt. Kuper, 30, hasn’t been able to stay healthy anyway. … Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson was re-signed to a two-year deal. He started 14 games last season and proved to be a quality run defender. The Broncos are reportedly close to an agreement with free agent defensive tackle Terrance Knighton to play next to Vickerson. They’ve also kicked the tires on free agent Richard Seymour. … The Broncos are said to be the favorites for free agent running back Rashard Mendenhall, but he may not make it out of his visit with Arizona. His signing would likely spell the end for Willis McGahee. … Free agents cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, safety Louis Delmas, and linebacker Stewart Bradley are scheduled to visit Denver. … Right end Elvis Dumervil has changed his stance on the pay cut front, and he is now open to a slash. Peyton Manning wants his old buddy free agent Dwight Freeney to join him in Denver. Speaking of Manning, the Broncos guaranteed his $20 million base salaries for 2013 and 2014.

The Browns made two of the biggest signings of the day. Outside linebacker Paul Kruger agreed to a five-year, $41 million deal, and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant signed the dotted line of a five-year, $34 million contract. Cleveland’s front seven is looking pretty sharp. Kruger will bookend Jabaal Sheard, and Bryant will likely play end on the front line with Ahtyba Rubin and nose tackle Phil Taylor. … Free agent outside linebacker Quentin Groves will make a visit. He played under DC Ray Horton in Arizona last season.

The Bucs didn’t spend any money on Tuesday, but they’re linked to plenty of big names. Tampa Bay is rumored to be the destination for Darrelle Revis via trade, but there are still hurdles to be cleared. Other teams may be interested, as well. … The Bucs are in the midst of wooing free agent safety Dashon Goldson, and the two sides are said to be close on a deal. … Tampa Bay is one of a handful of teams in the mix for free agent cornerback Sean Smith. … As you can see, there’s a common theme here. The Bucs are intent on fixing a dreadful pass defense. … Other free agents linked to the Bucs: cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Derek Cox and defensive end Cliff Avril. … GM Mark Dominik is actively searching for a No. 2 quarterback and someone to push Josh Freeman. The Bucs came up as a potential destination for Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett. Dominik is also interested in free agent Drew Stanton. … Offensive lineman Jamon Meredith is reportedly up for trade. They’d be lucky to get a late-rounder for him.

The Cardinals have plenty of free-agent visits lined up, and they include quarterback Drew Stanton, running backs Reggie Bush and Rashard Mendenhall, safety LaRon Landry, linebacker Rey Maualuga, and cornerback Jerraud Powers. Bush is unlikely to make it to the desert. The Lions are putting the full-court press on him. Mendenhall is more realistic. Maualuga and Daryl Washington would make a nice inside linebacker duo. … Arizona is one of free agent returner Josh Cribbs’ two choices, and free agent linebacker Lorenzo Alexander is rumored to be signing with the Cardinals.

The Chargers signed a couple second- or third-tier free agents in offensive tackle King Dunlap and tight end John Phillips. Phillips was given a three-year deal. He’ll likely replace Randy McMichael as the blocking tight end in San Diego. McMichael was released on Tuesday, along with nose tackle Antonio Garay. … Free agent cornerbacks Derek Cox and Jerraud Powers are scheduled to visit. … Running back Fozzy Whittaker was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals.

The Chiefs snatched up a few depth players as free agency opened. Defensive lineman Mike DeVito signed a three-year, $12.6 million deal, tight end Anthony Fasano inked a four-year, $16 million pact, and quarterback Chase Daniel was signed for three years and $10 million. DeVito likely replaces free agent Glenn Dorsey at right end, and Fasano will be the No. 2 tight end and blocking specialist behind Tony Moeaki. Daniel got a nice payday for a backup, but we wouldn’t expect him to give Alex Smith a run for the starting job in 2013. … Kansas City is reportedly trying to trade Matt Cassel, but they’re not going to find any takers.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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