Nick Mensio

Free Agency Dose

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NFL Hot Stove, Day 3

Thursday, March 14, 2013


The signings kept on coming on Wednesday, and day two of free agency was just as active as day one.

Quite a few big names traded in their old duds for new gear and fat pay checks. The Broncos may have shifted the power of the AFC with the signing of Wes Welker, but we liked the Patriots’ countermove of Danny Amendola. Dashon Goldson’s signing in Tampa Bay shores up a woeful pass defense and gives the Bucs one of the more frightening safety duos in the league. Reggie Bush’s arrival in Detroit gives their offense a weapon in the backfield that it has been severely lacking. Anyways, let’s check out all the action and see what happened with all 32 teams.

Arizona Cardinals: Arizona was one of the most active teams on the second day of free agency after they spent the opening day lining up free-agent visits. … Running back Rashard Mendenhall was signed to a one-year, $2.5 million deal. Coach Bruce Arians has a history with Mendenhall from their days together in Pittsburgh. Upon his signing, Arians called Mendenhall a three-down back, and he could have an early leg up on Ryan Williams for No. 1 duties. … Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander signed a three-year, $9.5 million contract. The special teams ace says the Cardinals view him as a starter on defense. He’ll slot in next to stud Daryl Washington on the inside. It might explain why free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga left his Wednesday visit without a deal. … Quarterback Drew Stanton signed a three-year, $8.2 million deal. Another $11.8 million is available in incentives. Stanton says he was promised the opportunity to be able to compete for the starting job. If the quarterback competition is who is currently on the roster, then we’d consider Stanton the favorite. He spent the 2012 season with Arians in Indianapolis as Andrew Luck’s backup. … The Cardinals added some help to the defensive backfield. Cornerback Jerraud Powers inked a three-year contract, and safety Yeremiah Bell signed on for one year. Powers will start on the outside opposite Patrick Peterson. Free safety Kerry Rhodes, 31, was released on Wednesday, and Bell, 35, will fill his spot. … Arizona is said to be hammering out a deal with return man Josh Cribbs, but there has been a lot of flip-flopping on him. Some reports have it getting finished on Thursday morning, while others say a deal isn’t close. … Free agents cornerback Antoine Cason and linebacker Jasper Brinkley are set to visit. … The Cardinals were loosely linked to free agent linebacker Brian Urlacher, but we don’t see it and neither do the local beat writers.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons weren’t linked to a single player on Wednesday. Figures for left tackle Sam Baker’s deal were released, though. It’s a six-year, $41.1 million pact that includes $18.25 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus. The $6.85 million annual average falls right in line with what we expected Baker to get as a serviceable blindside protector. … Atlanta doesn’t appear to be as in the picture on free agent running back Steven Jackson as we would have expected.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens pulled another shocker on us by releasing strong safety Bernard Pollard. He was due a $500,000 roster bonus this offseason, and carried a $3.25 million cap hit for 2013. Pollard’s release just floods the free-agent defensive back market even more. He should have no problems finding a job as a knock-your-head-off bone-crunching safety. … The conflicting reports on free agent safety Ed Reed continued on into Wednesday. Some believe he’s still in Baltimore’s picture, while others think the Ravens don’t even want him back. Reed will visit the Texans on Thursday. Baltimore now needs two starting safeties. … Exclusive rights free agent outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton was re-signed for one year and $480,000. In 2011 while at Prairie View A&M, Hamilton set a single-season SWAC conference record with 20.5 sacks. He could be a sleeper to replace Paul Kruger.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills stayed relatively quiet again. Outside linebacker Manny Lawson inked a four-year, $12 million contract. He’ll likely replace Nick Barnett on the weak side in Buffalo. Lawson also could be asked to rush the passer on third downs, filling the old Shawne Merriman role. … Updating a previous item from Tuesday, Ryan Fitzpatrick was designated as a post-June 1 cut. The Bills can spread the $10 million cap hit out over 2013 and 2014.

Carolina Panthers: Carolina got in on the action Wednesday. The cap-strapped Panthers signed veteran cornerback Drayton Florence to a one-year contract, and re-signed quarterback Derek Anderson to a one-year deal of his own. Florence, 32, started three games for the Lions last season, and he’s no more than depth. Anderson’s signing just reinforces how little the Panthers think of former second-round pick Jimmy Clausen. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was released sometime before the season.

Chicago Bears: After signing big-ticket items tight end Martellus Bennett and left tackle Jermon Bushrod on Tuesday, the Bears kicked back and watched other teams work. Oh, and they shed some dead weight in the process. Defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and tight end Kellen Davis were handed their pink slips. Davis was a complete bust after signing a two-year, $8 million deal last offseason. Toeaina, 28, was limited to just three games in 2012 due to a knee injury. … Free agent guard Lance Louis is scheduled to visit an “unknown” team.

Cincinnati Bengals: As owner Mike Brown sits on top of a pile of cash, the Bengals are sniffing around a couple of mid-level free agents. Cincinnati may have some interest in recently released ex-Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He played for the Bengals for two seasons from 2007-08, starting 12 games. Free agent running back Mike Goodson visited the Bengals on Wednesday, but he left town without a deal and is headed to New York to meet with the Jets. … Coach Marvin Lewis is still hopeful the team can lock up free agent right tackle Andre Smith, but talks have been stuck in the mud for weeks now. Smith’s agent reps free agent left tackle Jake Long, so that may have something to do with it.

Cleveland Browns: After spending big on free agents Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant on Tuesday, the Browns kept adding to their collection on Wednesday. Tight end Gary Barnidge inked a three-year, $3.75 million deal. Outside linebacker Quentin Groves signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract, and running back Chris Ogbonnaya was re-signed to a two-year deal. Barnidge comes over from Carolina to reunite with coach Rob Chudzinski. He’ll likely assume the blocking tight end role vacated by free agent Alex Smith. Groves was with DC Ray Horton in Arizona last season. He can play special teams, as well as provide a bit of a pass rush. Ogbonnaya played some third downs under the old regime in 2012. … Cleveland is reportedly interest in free agent tight end Fred Davis. He and Jordan Cameron would be an intriguing pass-catching duo in Chudzinski’s tight end-friendly offense. … Exclusive rights free agents receiver Jordan Norwood and long snapper Christian Yount were re-signed to one-year deals. Norwood will earn $555,000 in 2013, and Yount will get $480,000.

Dallas Cowboys: The money situation in the Big D remains tight. Left end Marcus Spears was released and designated as a post-June 1 cut. He signed a five-year deal prior to the start of the 2011 campaign, but he doesn’t fit the new 4-3 scheme. Plus, Spears’ play has been rather average in recent years. He brings nothing to the table as a pass rusher, although he can play the run a bit. … Dallas might be able to get involved in free agency next week once the prices come down.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos pulled off the biggest shocker of free agency thus far by signing slot receiver Wes Welker away from the Patriots. By adding Welker to an already potent receiving corps that includes Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Broncos are considered the super-early favorites in the AFC. Welker got a fully-guaranteed two-year, $12 million deal. You can read more about Welker’s acquisition in Adam Levitan’s fantasy fallout here. … Denver didn’t just stop with Welker. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton was signed to a two-year, $4.5 million pact, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal. Knighton and Kevin Vickerson will pair up in the middle to try and shut down opponents’ running attacks. Rodgers-Cromartie will start opposite Champ Bailey with Chris Harris in the slot, forming a solid coverage trio. Hell, maybe DRC will learn a thing or two from the grizzled vet Bailey. … Linebacker Stewart Bradley signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract. He’s expected to compete for the starting middle linebacker job. Joe Mays, with his $4 million salary, is likely out of a job. … A decision on right end Elvis Dumervil is expected to come down on Friday. His $12 million salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster Saturday. … Denver was named as a possible landing spot for free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, but after Rodgers-Cromartie’s signing, we can rule that out.


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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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