Even in a league where nothing should be considered shocking anymore, the opening to the NFL’s free-agent signing period was wackier than anyone could have expected. FOX Sports Senior NFL writer Alex Marvez ranks the 10 biggest surprises since the floodgates opened Tuesday.
Getty ImagesDustin Bradford
1: The Sam Bradford-for-Nick Foles trade
Of all the offseason roster moves Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has made, none was more stunning than this blockbuster. Kelly says he is relying on Bradford – who has played in only seven games the past two seasons in St. Louis because of knee injuries – to run his high-octane offense. Good luck.
2: Jimmy Graham traded to Seattle
Nine months after making him the richest tight end in NFL history, New Orleans soured on Graham and shipped him to Seattle for center Max Unger and a first-round draft pick. Graham fills a big need for the Seahawks; the Saints will use the newfound cap space on defense and Kleenex for Drew Brees.
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY SporCrystal LoGiudice
Few big-name players in their prime leave the NFL on their own terms. But that’s exactly what San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, Pittsburgh linebacker Jason Worilds and Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker did this week when walking away for personal and health reasons.
4: Miami wins the Ndamukong Suh derby
Of all the potential suitors for Suh in free agency, the Dolphins weren’t even on the radar when the 2014 season ended. But while interested teams had more salary cap space available, Miami landed the star defensive tackle with a six-year contract that includes $60 million guaranteed.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
5: The soft free-agent market for DeMarco Murray ... at least at first
Winning the NFL’s rushing crown in 2014 didn’t make Murray the red-hot commodity he had hoped. Murray still landed a nice contract Thursday as NFC East rival Philadelphia upped the ante too high for Dallas, but the lack of overall interest in the NFL's rushing leader was unexpected.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
6. Jay Cutler stays in Chicago
Although a fresh start would have been best, an inherited contract mess prompted the new Bears regime to stick with Cutler. Head coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace opted to try and kick-start the embattled quarterback’s career rather than take a $16.5 million cap hit with his release.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY SportsMatt Marton
7: New York Jets get something right
A franchise that deteriorated the past two seasons under then-general manager John Idzik has become rejuvenated under replacement Mike Maccagnan. The highlights were cornerback Darrelle Revis’ return after leaving New England and acquiring wide receiver Brandon Marshall in a trade with Chicago.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsJake Roth
8: The Indianapolis Hurricanes
No, the horseshoe on the side of the Colts’ helmet doesn’t stand for 'The U.' But the signing of two former University of Miami teammates – running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson – highlight a flurry of Colts free-agent acquisitions.
9: Green Bay keeps Randall Cobb
Cobb’s departure was considered inevitable with interested suitors offering massive contracts to Green Bay’s No. 2 wide receiver. The Packers, though, kept Cobb with a four-year, $40 million deal that actually averages more than what No. 1 wideout Jordy Nelson is earning.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY SportsJeff Hanisch
10: Haloti Ngata lands in Detroit
Ngata’s release was a strong possibility if Baltimore couldn’t restructure his contract. What wasn’t foreseen is Ngata being traded for two mid-round picks to Detroit, which needed a quality defensive lineman to help soften the blow of Ndamukong Suh’s departure to Miami.