Trades steal free-agency thunder
The Saints trade star Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks on the first day of free-agent signings.
AS FREE AGENCY began yesterday, the NFL looked more like fantasy football. And not just in Philadelphia.
Along with the Nick Foles-Sam Bradford trade, the monster deal that sent Jimmy Graham to Seattle helped steal the spotlight from free-agent signings.
The biggest free agency move was made by the New York Jets, digging into their past and bringing back cornerback Darrelle Revis, according to his agents. The 5-year contract is worth $70 million, with $39 million guaranteed. He spent the last two seasons with Tampa Bay and New England.
In the Graham trade, New Orleans agreed to send its star tight end to the Seahawks for center Max Unger, with draft picks changing hands. The Saints are to get a first-round pick, while Seattle receives a fourth-rounder.
Baltimore dealt five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit, which is about to lose All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency, reportedly to Miami.
The Jets also confirmed a previously agreed-upon trade, getting receiver Brandon Marshall from Chicago for a fifth-round draft pick, and signed former Cleveland cornerback Buster Skrine. The Jets released Percy Harvin, whom they acquired last season from Seattle.
Carolina released DeAngelo Williams, its career rushing leader.
Two retirements also drew attention away from the chase for free agents. Five-time All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, the heart of San Francisco's defense for eight seasons, called it quits, citing recurrent toe and feet injuries.
"In my head, I'm already a Hall of Famer," Willis said.
Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker, his 4-year pro career ravaged by injuries, also retired, saying he has no "burning desire" to keep playing.
The 49ers lost another mainstay when running back Frank Gore joined the Colts after first agreeing to join the Eagles.
The New York Giants reportedly landed former Patriots running back Shane Vereen and linebacker Jonathan Casillas, along with tackle Marshall Newhouse and return specialist/receiver Dwayne Harris.
Former Green Bay linebacker A.J. Hawk agreed to terms with Cincinnati on a 2-year deal.
Jacksonville grabbed tight end Julius Thomas away from Denver among a slew of moves. The Jaguars agreed to deals with defensive end Jared Odrick, right tackle Jermey Parnell, cornerback Davon House, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown. Thomas agreed on a 5-year deal worth $46 million, with $24 million guaranteed.
Arizona got probably the best run blocker in this year's group, three-time Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, who agreed on a 5-year, $40 million contract after five seasons with San Francisco.
Among other moves early in the free-agency process were linebacker Malcolm Smith, the 2014 Super Bowl MVP with Seattle, who agreed to terms with Oakland; linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant to Atlanta; defensive end Kendall Langford to Indianapolis; receiver Brian Hartline to Cleveland; safety Tyvon Branch to Kansas City; tight end Owen Daniels to Denver; guard Orlando Franklin to San Diego; fullback Jerome Felton to Buffalo; and quarterback Shaun Hill to Minnesota.