Free agency, Day 2: Which domino will fall next in open market?
Several transactions have already taken place in the first two days, but who will build the best team?
Darrelle Revis signed a one-year, $12 million deal with Patriots.
By Ross Jones
The domino effect was in full swing during the second day of the league year.
A day after former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib joined the Broncos, New England replaced him by signing former All-Pro Darrelle Revis on Wednesday.
Revis, whose previous team signed former Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner, was released just four and a half hours before he agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal.
The Broncos, after making a splash by signing Talib and safety T.J. Ward on Tuesday, bolstered their team's pass rush by adding the Cowboys’ all-time sack leader DeMarcus Ware. Dallas then, in a corresponding move, signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey to a two-year deal.
Got all that?
While a flurry of transactions continue to crawl through the bottom-line ticker, expect the following days to ramp up with even more steam. The first tier of players have been picked over, but the coming weeks are when a good team builds a contender with depth by shopping smart.
If anyone was concerned that former general manager Mark Dominik’s tenure would bleed into Tampa Bay’s new regime, they didn’t know new GM Jason Licht and head coach Lovie Smith.
The duo have been on the job for a little over two months and have done things their way. New uniforms next season aren’t the only reason why this team will have a new identity. The Bucs signed journeyman quarterback Josh McCown to a two-year deal. Hours after the signing, Smith tabbed the 33-year-old quarterback his starter despite the franchise spending a high pick on Mike Glennon less than a year ago.
"There has to be a starting spot, a starting point," Smith said, via the Tampa Bay Times, "a starting person to go out there first. And that would be Josh."
When Smith was asked straight up if McCown was his quarterback he responded: "Yes. He is."
The Bucs don’t appear to be done adding players, either. With offensive lineman Anthony Collins and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Ted Ginn scheduled to visit, this team could look a whole lot different in 2014. Oh yeah, they also own the No. 7 overall pick.
"We’re not simply talent collectors," Licht said. "We’re finding the right fits; it’s about building the right team."
Steve Smith a locker-room distraction?
The Panthers’ all-time leading receiver has reportedly been on the trading block this week.
Smith’s agent Derrick Fox let the world know that the 5-foot-9, 185-pound receiver’s days in Carolina are numbered.
Then, a report from The Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person surfaced, saying that general manager Dave Gettleman views Smith as a distraction.
The report also notes that Gettleman hopes to turn over the locker room to emerging stars such as quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly.
If/when Smith finds himself looking for a new job, he won’t have to search too long. While he witnessed a dip in production in 2013, he still is a big-time playmaker, who unites a team with his leadership and passion.
Browns mean business
General manager Ray Farmer has taken a calculated approach thus far in free agency, acquiring linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Donte Whitner. His most important decision will come when he chooses who the franchise quarterback will be.
Farmer, along with other Cleveland personnel decision makers, parted ways with quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell within an hour.
Should the Browns hope to find their future gunslinger in May’s NFL Draft, there are a few options who would fit in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system seamlessly.
The champs get poached
It seems like every season a team wins the Super Bowl and then has their roster full of talent dismantled.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, their 53-man roster is comprised of overachieving talent with a lot of continuity. That, however, won’t prevent other teams from signing some of their prized free agents.
Thirteen players from Seattle’s roster were scheduled to test the open market and a few have already latched on to new teams, while others are inching towards new deals.
Defensive end O’Brien Schofield inked a two-year deal worth $8 million with the Giants after playing a season in Seattle.
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald cashed in by agreeing to a deal with the Bucs, while cornerback Chris Maragos signed a three-year, $4 million deal with the Eagles.
Nickel corner Walter Thurmond is visiting the Jaguars, whose head coach Gus Bradley was the Seahawks defensive coordinator from 2009-12. Bradley and general manager Dave Caldwell are also reportedly close to a deal with defensive end Chris Clemons, who was released by Seattle because of his $7.5 million salary-cap number.
The most notable departure of them all is wide receiver Golden Tate, who signed a five-year, $31 million deal with the Lions. Since being selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Tate’s production ascended each season and is coming off a career year in 2013 (64 receptions, 898 yards, 5 touchdowns). The Lions hope they get what they bargained for as Tate’s average annual salary bests receivers like Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne and Michael Crabtree.
Over the course of the next few days, expect some notable players to find themselves searching for a new place to play.
Teams must round out their rosters with players, who will compete for the 45th to 53rd roster spots, which has us wondering what pieces will fall next.