If you had the pleasure of following the start of NFL free agency on Twitter, you pretty much felt like the world was exploding around you. Considering that I was tasked with catching up on the news when it broke, it felt like a scene from The Hunger Games meets Dark Knight Rising. My head was spinning and time seemed to stand still.
Yes, it was some rush.
Considering nearly every major expert is on Twitter and that outlet is the primary vehicle to break news in the social media era, there were a lot of opinions to be had.
Here are what these experts had to say as free-agent news broke in the first few days of the new league year.
It was long believed that Mike Wallace would take his talents to South Beach once free agency began on Tuesday. So, it didn't catch many of us by surprise when he signed a five-year, $60 million deal with the Miami Dolphins.
Of course, this didn't stop Twitterverse from doing its little dance.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com had the following to say about Miami's big acquisition.
Speaking of fast... Mike Wallace running a drag route in that West Coast Offense. Forget going deep, that's where he'll kill you.
That's fine and dandy, but I am pretty sure any defensive back would kill Wallace before he killed the defense. Wallace doesn't like contact and struggles going up the middle. As much as I respect Rapoport, he might actually want to take advantage of the paid subscription his company offers us.
Our very own Amber Lee had an intriguing take on the Wallace signing; coming from a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
@MiamiDolphins @wallace17_dakid go drop balls in Miami, jag. You won't be missed.
Of course fandom seems to get in the way of free agency, especially when a star leaves your favorite team, but Amber seemed to actually make a bit more sense than Ian. That's how Bleacher Report does it, by the way.
I think the best explanation of this questionable signing by Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland came from Faux John Madden, a parody account with 175,000 followers.
Judging by the Dolphins contract given to Mike Wallace, Darrius Heyward-Bey is worth $65M because he's fast and drops a lot of passes
I know you see a theme here, but that previous tweet was in response to Heyward-Bey's release from the Oakland Raiders hours after Wallace signed his lucrative deal with Miami. As any Steelers' fan with common sense would acknowledge, Wallace does drop a high number of passes.
Still, there is reason to be proud according to former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah:
My 9-year old son just ran into the house following school and yelled, "Dad, who signed Mike Wallace?" #ProudPappa
No matter where you stand on the Wallace signing, that's good stuff right there.
At the very least, we know Ryan Tannehill just received a nice Christmas present underneath his palm tree. While there are questions as to whether the $60 million deal was worth it for Miami, Wallace immediately becomes its most explosive weapon on the Dolphins' offense.
Where does a player go after he wins the Super Bowl his first season as a starter? Maybe Disney Land.
Where does he go when he signs a five-year, $40.8 million contract after six career starts? Maybe a trip to Disney World?
What does he do when he gets that $40 million for tallying as many sacks in 51 career games that Aldon Smith had in 2012 alone? Maybe he doubles down on his newfound money and throws a couple million at a Keno board in Vegas.
NFL Retweet, which has a solid 32,000 follower count, myself included, was pretty straightforward with its response to the signing.
#FreeAgency SPOILER ALERT: Mike Wallace is taking his talents to South Beach and Paul Kruger is getting overpaid by the Browns.
While Kruger might have been overpaid, it was a double whammy for Cleveland, who stole him from the division-rival Baltimore Ravens. In essence, you can discount a few million dollars per year by subtracting from Baltimore and adding a talented linebacker to your new 3-4 scheme.
Ian Rapoport, who I chastised in the previous slide, agrees with this assessment:
Paul Kruger and the Browns have reached an agreement on a five-year, $40 million deal to poach him from Baltimore
As it is, Kruger is going to be a dynamic pass-rushing force opposite Jabaal Sheard for new Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
Well, this one came completely out of left field. The Denver Broncos stole Wes Welker from New England on a meager two-year, $12 million contract on Wednesday. It appears Welker gave the patriots one final chance to match the offer, but they were unwilling to.
I was on a break from my radio show and left the computer for about five minutes. Upon my return, there were about 1,000 new tweets on my timeline. Here are some of the best with a little bit of my amazing input trickled in.
Adam Schefter over at ESPN pretty much summed up what we all believe:
Wes Welker lands a two-year, $12 million deal from the Broncos. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker. Have fun, Peyton.
Just imagine how Peyton Manning will perform with Welker to rely on in the slot. This just isn't fair to opposing defenses in the AFC West. I can't, for the life of me, find a reasonable way to draw a conclusion that the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders will be able to step up and stop Denver's passing attack on a consistent basis.
On another note, New England wasn't willing to pay Welker $2 million more over two years in order to retain Tom Brady's favorite target.
Tom Curran of CSN New England gave us a take on this news from the Patriots' perspective.
Tom Brady should feel burned by Patriots passing on Wes Welker for Danny Amendola.
As you already know, Brady agreed to a contract extension that saved the Patriots $8 million under the cap this season (via ESPN). Pure conjecture, but you had to believe that this new deal seemed to indicate that Welker would return to New England.
He now joins another Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Denver with a chance to grab a Super Bowl ring.
The thought out there as free agency started on Tuesday was that Wes Welker would meekly test the free-agent market and return to the New England Patriots on a good contract for both the player and the club.
This conjecture, as I call it, discounted one thing: New England and Welker have had somewhat of an up-and-down relationship over the years. A relationship that came to a head since the 2012 season ended.
Instead of retaining Welker, the Patriots bring in an injury-riddled slot receiver that has played a total of 12 games over the last two seasons and is averaging just 10.5 yards per reception in his career.
It's nearly impossible to conclude that New England upgraded its dynamic offense in this switch from one slot receiver to another.
ESPN_Numbers had an interesting take on New England swapping one veteran for another. This following Tweet does have to give you a bit of a pause:
The next Wes Welker had 67 Rec, 687 Yds the year before joining Patriots; Amendola had 63 Rec, 666 Yds the year before joining Patriots.
Will New England strike it rich once again? While this remains to be seen, there are other comparisons between Welker and Amendola. Darren Rovell, among many others, pointed out interesting similarities between the two:
Danny Amendola 5-10, 188 lbs. Wes Welker 5-9, 185 lbs. Both went to Texas Tech.
It just so happens that Amendola took over for Welker at Texas Tech and both are among the top receivers in the history of the program.
There is a reason the San Francisco 49ers didn't even offer Dashon Goldson a contract. They already knew how the market was going to play out for the two-time Pro Bowler.
Of course, I am talking about the five-year, $41 million contract that Goldson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday. That's a lot of money for a free safety with limited coverage ability, so says Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus.
As 20th in our safety grades, I never thought Dashon Goldson was worthy of his All-Pro. Apparently the Bucs disagree.
As much as Goldson was a productive player for San Francisco over the last two seasons, he really doesn't seem to fit in well with Tampa Bay. The talented safety will be pairing up with Mark Barron to form a safety tandem that leaves a whole heck of a lot to be desired in terms of coverage. This has to remind fans in Northern California of the Goldson/Donte Whitner pairing from this previous season.
Our very own Matt Miller has spent countless hours scouting nearly every player in the NFL in preparation for our NFL 1,000 series. He doesn't seem to think the deal is too great from a Tampa Bay perspective either.
$8million per for Dashon Goldson? No thanks.
The model successful NFL teams use is to build through the draft and complement in free agency. With the signings of Carl Nicks, Vincent Jackson and Eric Wright last season, coupled with the enormous contract Goldson received, I wonder if Tampa Bay has a clue what it is doing.
Goldson is now the third-highest-paid safety in the NFL in terms of annual salary.
That is completely out of whack with his production in coverage and the position that he plays. Other teams would have been better suited attempting to set a market for him as a strong safety.
As it is, Tampa Bay now has two safeties that will scare the collective jockstraps off opposing wide receivers. Simply put, Goldson and Barron can lay the wood.
Dannell Ellerbe turned 14 career starts into a lucrative payday from the Miami Dolphins, who are attempting to rebuild a defense that had struggled through the last two seasons. In the end, Ellerbe received a five-year, $34.7 million contract with $14 million guaranteed to head to South Beach.
While general manager Jeff Ireland may have paid a bit too much for perceived upside, it's important to know that there was a market for Ellerbe.
Our old friend John Clayton over at ESPN had the following to say about the signing:
The stunner of the day is seeing Dannell Ellerbe going to Miami. The Ravens have lost Ellerbe and Paul Kruger
Clayton is correct; this came way out of left field. No one expected Miami to go out there and upgrade a linebacker unit that seemed to be pretty decent last season. Immediately following the Ellerbe signing, Miami sent Karlos Dansby packing.
At which point, the always controversial Omar Kelly Tweeted the following:
Dannell Ellerbe has the 6th worst pass coverage metric according to @PFF. He's ranked 48th in that category. Dansby was 16th.
Of course, this Tweet doesn't take into account the upside that Ellerbe brings with him and the fact that Dansby has pretty much already hit his ceiling. Nonetheless, it is still worth noting.
No matter your thoughts on how much Miami spent on Ellerbe, you have to feel good for the young linebacker. I know Chris Mortensen does.
Dannell Ellerbe came into NFL for $2,000 as undrafted free agent. He's earned the right to cash in.
It's always nice to see stories like this.
Needless to say, St. Louis needed to go out there and get weapons for Sam Bradford in the passing game. Though, I am not sure this is what experts had in mind.
Our very own Alessandro Miglio pretty much mirrored my initial thoughts upon hearing about this contract.
$16 million guaranteed for Jared Cook, most ever at TE... that's a 'miss' #Dolphins fans should actually be happy about.
Considering that Cook has never caught more than 50 passes in a single season and brought down just 61 percent of the passes thrown in his direction this past season, it makes sense to question what it cost for St. Louis to haul him in (via ESPN).
Either way you look at it, Cook will have to perform up to the level of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham over the next three seasons in order to be worth the money St. Louis threw his way.
It is important to note that Jeff Fisher drafted Cook back in 2009 with Tennessee and absolutely loves what he brings to the table. On that note, Mike Silver of Yahoo thinks big things could be in store for Cook this upcoming season.
I remember how fired up Jeff Fisher was when the Titans drafted Jared Cook. Could be a breakout player in 2013...
At the very least, St. Louis did give Bradford a weapon to work with in the passing game—someone that has actually had success in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus graded Jermon Bushrod as the 44th-ranked offensive tackle in the NFL last season (subscription required).
Then it makes perfect sense that the Chicago Bears gave him $17.7 million guaranteed. I fully understand that general manager Phil Emery needed to upgrade a lackluster offensive line, but there is something to be said about value.
Needless to say, Twitter's reaction wasn't exactly too kind to this deal. Our very own Matt Miller had this to say:
Jermon Bushrod's two Pro Bowls are because he played with Drew Brees. And because Pro Bowl voting is a joke. Nothing else.
Not to be outdone, Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com was a little less cryptic than his Bleacher Report counterpart:
Jermon Bushrod billed as a savior is free agency lunacy.
In reality, Bushrod represents a minor upgrade for Chicago and will cost it nearly $18 million in guaranteed money.
Do you see him actually performing like a top-tier left tackle for the next three seasons? If not, this deal represented absolutely no value for Emery and Co.
Desmond Bryant was one of the best under-the-radar defensive lineman in the NFL this past season. He didn't get a lot of play outside of Northern California, but this was a great addition for Cleveland's new 3-4 defensive scheme.
Taking a look at what experts are saying around the world of Twitter, this sentiment seems to be a common theme.
Albert Breer over at The NFL Network expressed an opinion that was widespread around the NFL prior to the start of free agency.
Desmond Bryant, afflicted by the worst mugshot of all-time, was seen by a few clubs as a sleeper stud DL. Good pickup for Browns
Yes, Bryant's recent arrest was embarrassing for a number of reasons, but his ability to make an impact along Cleveland's defensive line is huge. He will fit extremely well with Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger in the Browns' front seven.
In addition, new defensive coordinator Ray Horton promises to utilize Bryant in a wide array of defensive sets, much like what we saw with Darnell Dockett in Arizona.
One of the best free-agent signings of the first week, Reggie Bush fills a major hole as a change-of-pace back with the Detroit Lions. The fact that Martin Mayhew and Co. were able to get him on a four-year, $16 million contract makes it that much sweeter.
Bush will now come in and be able to give Matthew Stafford a solid safety valve out of the backfield in the passing game. In addition, he provides a solid threat in the running game on the outside.
Our very own Chris Kouffman had a somewhat hilarious take on this contract from the Miami Dolphins' perspective.
If Dolphins give Brandon Gibson the amount of money it would've taken to get Reggie Bush back, I'm joining @Rizzmiggizz in his next tirade.
Yes, $4 million a year for an electric running back like Bush seems to be a steal for Detroit. While we already know that the former No. 2-overall pick isn't an every-down running back, he will provide what the Lions were missing with Jahvid Best out of the lineup this past season.
As a former scout, Daniel Jeremiah's opinion really does matter. He pretty much mirrored my sentiment as it relates to the Bush/Best connection.
In 2011, the Lions started off the season 5-0 with Jahvid Best in the lineup. Reggie Bush will fill that role. Love this move!
If Detroit is able to find more balance in the passing game, Stafford will not make the same dumb mistakes we saw this past season. He will not have to force the ball into tight windows, especially in the direction of Calvin Johnson.
In short, this deal makes sense for a multitude of reasons.
ESPN Stats & Info pretty much summed up what most experts around the world of football already knew.
Reggie Bush rushed for 986 yards in 2012. Lions haven't had a RB top 986 yards rushing in a season since Kevin Jones had 1,133 yards in 2004
While I am not going as far to say that Bush will rush for 1,000 yards in 2013, his addition will make everyone on the Lions' offense better just from his mere presence on the field.
Cliff Avril's market obviously didn't play out like he figured it would. The talented pass-rusher had figured to get over $10 million annually when the new league year began on Tuesday. Instead, it seems the defensive end market took a backseat to other positions early on.
Then came news that Avril signed a ridiculously low two-year, $15 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks.
the twitterverse absolutely blew up.
First, let's focus on value for a second. Will Brinson of CBS Sports made a great point.
Seriously: LaRon Landry got a 4-year, $24M deal. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett got 3 years and $20M COMBINED.
Obviously, those numbers include the one-year, $5 million contract that defensive end Michael Bennett signed with Seattle on Thursday.
As it relates to Avril, he has been one of the most consistent rush 4-3 ends in the entire NFL over the last few seasons—racking up 29 sacks since the start of 2010.
Mike Sando, of ESPN fame, pointed out the enormous amount of pass-rush talent Seattle has on its defensive line.
Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin had 38 sacks last season.
While Clemons may miss the early part of the season after tearing his ACL in January, the rest of Seattle's defensive line can more than make up for it until he returns.
This wasn't, however, the best-case scenario for Avril. He was looking for a long-term deal with a larger sum of guaranteed money. According to Pro Football Talk, it didn't happen.
Two-year, $15 million deal shows Cliff Avril bet on himself and lost
I guess we could say Avril's loss is Seattle's win.
To say that Steven Jackson is an upgrade over the 2012 version of Michael Turner would be a major understatement. Despite having over 2,800 career touches under his belt and being at the age (29) where running backs tend to slow down, Jackson didn't show any signs of that in 2012.
The future Hall-of-Fame running back continues to make defenders look utterly foolish on the football field. His performances against a stout San Francisco 49ers defensive line this past season made me a real fan of Jackson, as if I wasn't one in the first place.
Again, Daniel Jeremiah is the voice of reason. The former NFL scout made a great point as it relates to Jackson's transition from St. Louis to Atlanta.
Steven Jackson will finally get to play against a defense forced to play 2 high safeties. He's been staring at a crowded box for a LONG time
There are not going to be any defenses playing seven or eight in the box with the weapons Atlanta has in its passing game. Therefore, you can easily expect to see Jackson with a lot more green that he has in the past with St. Louis.
While the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks have received a lot of play for solid offseason additions, Atlanta is one other team in the NFC that significantly improved itself in the first few days of the new league year.
Jackson is a primary reason for that.
Vincent Frank is a NFL featured columnist here at Bleacher Report. He was hired prior to the 2011 season and couldn't be happier working with a great group of individuals here. In addition, Vincent is the head sports editor over at eDraft and co-host of eDraft Sports Radio, which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. EST.
Go ahead and give him a follow on Twitter @VincentFrankNFL.