As expected, the 2013 NFL season has commenced with some big deals and huge storylines.
Trades involving Alex Smith, Percy Harvin (per ESPN) and Anquan Boldin (per Yahoo! Sports) set the tone, but some major signings in the initial hours of free agency have highlighted the whirlwind of movement we will continue to see as the signing period continues.
The Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans were beneficiaries of some early action Tuesday afternoon. Let’s take a look at the players those teams have reportedly locked up to new deals for the 2013 season.
Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins
According to multiple reports, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.
ESPN's Adam Schefter communicated the news reported by John Clayton on Twitter, which included the terms of the deal:
Wallace was expected to get a big contract from Miami, despite the apparent lack of suitors for the star wideout. With the hazards of Pittsburgh’s salary cap situation, the Steelers were in no position to attempt to retain their No. 1 receiver.
The Dolphins re-signed Brian Hartline to a five-year deal prior to free agency and adding Wallace now gives Miami and formidable one-two punch. It may still look to add a top-tier receiver in the draft, but Hartline and Wallace will go a long way toward strengthening Miami’s passing attack in 2013.
Paul Kruger, OLB, Cleveland Browns
With the Browns switching to a 3-4 defense in 2013, finding a pass-rushing outside linebacker in free agency was a necessity.
Like Pittsburgh, Baltimore was unable to retain some of its best free agents this offseason and Cleveland took advantage of Paul Kruger’s availability to the tune of a five-year, $40 million contract, as reported by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
Kruger notched nine sacks with the Ravens in 2012, representing a huge portion of Baltimore’s pass rush with Terrell Suggs on the shelf. He’s not a star, but Kruger is now being paid like one.
Defensive end Jabaal Sheard will transition to outside linebacker in the Browns’ 3-4 front, but they needed another quality edge-rusher to play opposite their best rusher. With Kruger in the fold, the Browns now have the luxury of addressing other needs in April’s draft, though it won’t be a surprise if they add another situational pass-rusher in the early going.
Andy Levitre, OG, Tennessee Titans
All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson announced his retirement on Tuesday (per ESPN) and the Titans were forced to find his replacement through free agency. According to Adam Schefter, they found a good one in former Buffalo Bills guard Andy Levitre:
The 26-year-old Oregon State product has gotten progressively better in his three-year career, leaving Buffalo as arguably its best offensive lineman.
Tennessee needed to address its interior offensive line this offseason. Chris Johnson’s play has suffered from inconsistent blocking, and in order to maximize his talents, Tennessee had to make a big move in free agency.
The Titans may continue to bolster their offensive line through the draft, but that probably won’t happen in the early rounds with Levitre now in the fold. He’ll be a huge boost to the Titans’ O-line in 2013.