Thursday wasn’t as hot and heavy as the previous two days of free agency were, but there was still a steady pace from the morning on up through the afternoon. Once daylight disappeared, so did the buzz.
We still had a few big-ticket signings. The Falcons reappeared to snag Steven Jackson out of the Packers’ grasps when we thought Atlanta might have bowed out of the pursuit. Kansas City locked up arguably the top corner on the market in Sean Smith, and the Chiefs now have a trio of corners that they hope can contain the Broncos’ high-powered passing attack. The Seahawks said “oh, what the hell,” and they grabbed another talented pass rusher in Michael Bennett on the cheap a day after pulling the same move with Cliff Avril. Let’s dive in even further and see what the rest of the league did.
Arizona Cardinals: Arizona will reportedly release quarterback Kevin Kolb in the coming days. He’s due a $2 million roster bonus on Saturday, so they’ll likely cut the cord by then. A few teams that make some sense as landing spots after he’s released could be the Bills, Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders, and Bucs. … After a bunch of back and forth with free agent Josh Cribbs and the Cardinals on Wednesday, nothing was worked out on Thursday. He might see what other teams have to offer. … Free agent defensive end Matt Shaughnessy was visiting the team on Thursday night. He could play outside linebacker in the 3-4, or Shaughnessy could pack on five-to-ten pounds and be a rotational end. … The Cardinals had inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley in for a visit on Thursday, and they ended up inking him to a two-year deal. He’s expected to compete with fellow free-agent signee Lorenzo Alexander for the inside spot next to stud linebacker Daryl Washington. The smart money is on Brinkley, who is strong versus the run. He can’t cover at all. Brinkley’s signing likely rules out free agent linebacker Rey Maualuga in the desert.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have been quiet all offseason, and they have stuck to mostly locking up their own guys. But that changed on Thursday when they landed top free-agent running back Steven Jackson on a three-year, $12 million deal. Jackson gets $4 million guaranteed. We love the signing for Atlanta. Last year, running back Michael Turner had bundles of goal-line and short-yardage opportunities in OC Dirk Koetter’s offense. Turner left a lot of scoring chances out on the field. Expect Jackson to cash in on those, as he’s a relentless runner. Although Jackson is creeping up on 30 years old, the guy stays in peak physical condition. He hasn’t lost much despite being the active leader among running backs in touches. To read more on Jackson and his signing’s effect on the rest of the offense, check out Adam Levitan’s fantasy fallout here.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens took it easy on Thursday. They re-signed cornerback Chris Johnson to a one-year deal, and GM Ozzie Newsome got in touch with free agent outside linebacker James Harrison’s representatives. Johnson started one game for the Ravens last season, but he’s nothing more than depth. With Harrison, the Ravens need to find someone to replace Paul Kruger’s production opposite Terrell Suggs. The soon-to-be 35-year-old Harrison shouldn’t cost much.
Buffalo Bills: Same story, different day in Buffalo. There was no action in West New York. Just for conversation’s sake, there are still holes to be addressed on the Bills’ roster. They could use a receiver or two, potentially a guard (Chris Hairston or Cordy Glenn could conceivably shift inside if need be), a tight end, and a quarterback. A couple of free agents that have a history with members of the coaching staff are receiver Devery Henderson and guard Brandon Moore. … New linebacker Manny Lawson will reportedly play the strong side for the Bills. They’ll hope he can match up with tight ends in coverage and rush the passer a little bit. … Free agent tight end Dustin Keller’s agent may reach out to the Bills after talks broke off with the Dolphins. Buffalo needs a replacement for Scott Chandler. He may not be ready for the season opener after tearing his ACL in Week 16.
Carolina Panthers: After signing a couple of players on Wednesday, the Panthers went back to their bunker on Thursday. Carolina has offered free agent defensive tackle Dwan Edwards a one-year deal. But after he notched 6.5 sacks for the team in 2012, a one-year deal isn’t what Edwards is looking for. He’s also said to be searching for a contender. … The Panthers reportedly have some level of interest in free agent cornerback Antoine Cason. His price will likely have to drop for Carolina to be able to afford him. The Panthers need cornerback help badly.
Chicago Bears: The Bears dried up much of their funds in left tackle Jermon Bushrod and tight end Martellus Bennett on Tuesday, so they’ve been hanging back the last couple of days. Chicago did re-sign defensive tackle Nate Collins to a one-year, $630,000 deal, though. He wasn’t offered a tender by the Bears as a restricted free agent earlier in the week. Collins will back up franchise player Henry Melton.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals continued to show interest in lower-level free agents on Thursday. Free agent quarterback Josh Johnson worked out for the team, and free agent receiver and return man Ted Ginn visited the complex. Johnson has a history with OC Jay Gruden. Johnson entered the league with the Bucs while Gruden was on the coaching staff there. He spent one week on the Browns’ roster last season. Ginn would be a fine replacement for fellow free agent Brandon Tate as Cincinnati’s situational deep threat and return man. Ginn also has ties to the area. He went to Ohio State.
Cleveland Browns: Just like much of the rest of the league, the Browns were another team that stayed relatively quiet on Thursday. They blew through some cash in the opening days of free agency, but they’re still rumored to have varying levels of interest in a couple more free agents. Cleveland is reportedly seriously in on tight end Fred Davis, and it has some interest in quarterback Jason Campbell. Davis was discussed in yesterday’s dose, too. Campbell is interesting. The Browns are looking for some competition for Brandon Weeden, but Campbell wouldn’t be that guy. He’d likely just be taking Colt McCoy’s gig as the primary backup. … The Ryan Mallett rumors continue to swirl. Those have been exhausted in recent weeks.
Dallas Cowboys: It was just another day without being connected to any free agents for the Cowboys. Luckily for them, they don’t seem to have an abundance of holes on the roster. The offensive line is going to be the big project. Dallas could use a backup running back and a safety or two, as well.
Denver Broncos: Thursday was spent introducing receiver Wes Welker to the media. Aside from that nothing really happened in Broncos land. … Executive VP John Elway confirmed that the team is not backing down from their request that right end Elvis Dumervil takes a pay cut. If Dumervil’s agent is smart, then he’d convince his client that it’s the right thing to do. Money isn’t out there for pass rushers. Dumervil just needs to look at Cliff Avril’s and Michael Bennett’s deals to see that.