NFL Free Agency 2014: Tracking All the Latest Signings
The 2014 NFL free agency period officially commenced on March 11, and several marquee players have already reached contract agreements with their previous teams or new suitors.
With a number of teams having plenty of money to spend and the league salary cap at $133 million, several more of high-profile moves should be made in the coming days and weeks.
That cap figure is approximately $10 million more per team than in 2013, which should give way to even more parity and allow franchises that may not be marketable free-agent destinations to become more attractive. Money talks, after all.
One factor that threatens to diminish the hype surrounding the open market is the depth of the upcoming draft class. With the value that even second- and third-round picks will have, front offices may be focused on acquiring three or more potential core players in May than patching up their rosters with a free-agent spending spree.
Nevertheless, there is enough star power out there and a lot of capable veterans who should make free agency compelling—whether they seek new NFL destinations or massive extensions from their current clubs.
Keep an eye on this tracker to see where all the big names are going.
Denver Broncos Sign Marvin Austin
Gray Caldwell of DenverBroncos.com confirms the team has signed former Giants defensive lineman Marvin Austin.
New York Giants Sign Rusty Smith
Rusty Smith and the New York Giants have agreed to a contract, Michael Eisen of Giants.com confirms.
Robert Meachem and New Orleans Saints Agree to Deal
The Saints announced they have agreed to terms with Robert Meachem.
New York Giants and Josh Freeman Agree to Terms on 1-Year Deal
The New York Giants have found a backup quarterback. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Josh Freeman and the G-Men have agreed on a 1-year deal.
Chris Johnson Signs with the New York Jets
Chris Johnson will be playing for the New York Jets in 2014 according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The contract is a two-year agreement according to the report.
Houston Texans Sign Andre Brown
Jason Avant Signs with Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers added some depth to their receiving core by signing free agent Jason Avant according to the team's Twitter account.
Nate Burleson Signs with Cleveland Browns
On Sunday night the Browns' Twitter account confirmed they had signed wide receiver Nate Burleson to a one-year contract.
Patrick Chung Signs with Patriots
The New England Patriots officially announced on Thursday that they've signed safety Patrick Chung. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Colt McCoy Signs with Redskins
DeSean Jackson Reportedly to Sign with Washington Redskins
Jacoby Ford Signs with Jets
Wide receiver Jacoby Ford has agreed to terms with the New York Jets according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Colt McCoy Signs with Redskins
The Redskins announced on Thursday that they've reached an agreement with quarterback Colt McCoy.
Carlos Rogers Officially Signs with Oakland Raiders
Carlos Rogers will be staying in the Bay Area as he has agreed to terms with the Oakland Raiders. The team's official Twitter account snapped a picture of the cornerback signing his new contract.
Kenny Britt Signs with the St. Louis Rams
Kenny Britt is heading to the St. Louis Rams to be reunited with his old coach Jeff Fisher according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The contract is for 1-year worth $1.4M, which could raise to $2.9M with incentives.
Ryan Clark Agrees to Terms with the Washington Redskins
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Tennessee Titans have signed Shaun Phillips to a two-year, $6 million deal.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Knowshon Moreno has signed a one-year deal worth about $3 million with the Miami Dolphins.
James Ihedigbo Signs with Detroit Lions
Vlad Ducasse Reportedly Agrees to Contract with Minnesota Vikings
Ryan Fitzpatrick to Sign with Texans
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports Ryan Fitzpatrick will be signing with the Houston Texans.
Devin Hester Signs with Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms on a three-year deal with return specialist Devin Hester. The team's Twitter account confirmed the news.
Antonio Cromartie Agrees to Terms with Arizona Cardinals
CB Antonio Cromartie is heading to the Arizona Cardinals on a one-year contract according to the team's official Twitter account.
Jerricho Cotchery Signs with Carolina Panthers
Charles Woodson Signs with Raiders
ESPN's Josina Anderson reported that Charles Woodson has signed a one-year deal with the Raiders. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Cincinnati Bengals Sign Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell has agreed to a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals as first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Peria Jerry Re-Signs with Falcons
Former 1st-round DT Peria Jerry has re-signed with the Atlanta Falcons, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan.
Henry Melton Signs with Dallas Cowboys
Henry Melton has agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys according to Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.
Melton took to Twitter to thank fans in Chicago: "Thank you chicago for the best 5 years of my life!.... I can't wait to begin the next chapter of my life... With a star on my helmet."
Donald Penn Signs with Oakland Raiders
Donald Penn has agreed to terms with the Oakland Raiders according to Albert Breer of NFL.com.
Andrew Hawkins Reportedly Signs with Cleveland Browns
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Hawkins has signed a four-year, $13.8 million deal with the Browns.
Mario Manningham Signs with Giants
According to Pro Football Talk, Mario Manningham has signed a one-year deal to return to the New York Giants.
Terms of the deal were not made available.
Tandon Doss Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
John Oesher of Jaguars.com confirms the team has reached an agreement with Tandon Doss. "Jaguars have signed former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Tandon Doss," Oehser stated.
James Jones Re-Signs with Packers
The Green Bay Packers have re-signed wide receiver James Jones to a new deal according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. He cancelled a visit to the Steelers after making up his mind according to the report.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Signs with Giants
Brandon Weeden Signs with Cowboys
Nate Allen Re-Signs with Philadelphia Eagles
Zach Strief Re-Signs with New Orleans Saints
The Saints announced they have agreed to a five-year contract with Zach Strief.
The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with tackle Zach Strief on a five-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis
“We are excited to announce that Zach will stay with us into the future,” Loomis said. “Not only has he done an excellent job at the right tackle position, but he has served us well as an offensive team captain for the past two seasons and has always been a great asset in the community since he first came here in 2006.”
Walter Thurmond Reportedly Signs with New York Giants
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Walter Thurmond has agreed to a contract with the New York Giants: "Giants and former Seahawks CB Walter Thurmond reached agreement on a one-year deal, per source."
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora later followed with financial details: "CB Walter Thurmond's 1-year deal with the Giants is worth $3.5M."
Quintin Demps Reportedly Signs with New York Giants
Brandon LaFell Signs with Patriots
Emmanuel Sanders Signs with Broncos
FOX Sports 1's Alex Marvez reports that the Broncos have reached an agreement with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Roman Harper Signs with Carolina Panthers
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that the veteran safety was Carolina-bound on a two-year, $4.5 million deal.
Usama Young Re-Signs with Oakland Raiders
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the Oakland Raiders have brought back safety Usama Young on a two-year deal.
Anthony Dixon Agrees to Terms with the Buffalo Bills
Antonio Smith Signs with the Oakland Raiders
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, former Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith has signed with the Oakland Raiders on a two-year deal worth $9 million.
Vance Walker Signs with the Kansas City Chiefs
According to Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, the Kansas City Chiefs and former Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Vance Walker have agreed to a three-year deal worth $13 million.
Julian Edelman Signs with Patriots
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Edelman was re-joining the Patriots.
Ben Tate Signs to Browns
Julius Peppers Signs with Green Bay Packers
Peppers signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Packers on Saturday, March 15, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.
Brandon Spikes Signs with Bills
Hakeem Nicks Signs with Colts
Tarell Brown Signs with Raiders
Brandon Browner Signs with Patriots
ESPN's Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson report that Brandon Browner has signed with the Patriots on a three-year, $17 million contract.
Chris Cook Signs with 49ers
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the 49ers have signed former Vikings cornerback Chris Cook to a one-year deal.
Michael Oher Signs with Titans
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Titans have signed Michael Oher to a four-year, $20 million deal.
Steve Smith Signs with Ravens
Charles Tillman Re-Signs with Bears
ESPN's Adam Caplan reports that Tillman has re-signed with Chicago on a one-year deal worth just under $3.5 million.
Cortland Finnegan Signs with Dolphins
B.J. Raji Reportedly Re-Signs with Green Bay Packers
Daryl Smith Re-Signs with Ravens
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that linebacker Daryl Smith will return to Baltimore on a four-year, $16.1 million deal.
Wesley Woodyard Signs with Titans
Richard Marshall Reportedly Signs with San Diego Chargers
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Marshall will be back in San Diego on a one-year deal.
Brandon Pettigrew Re-Signs with Detroit Lions
Tim Twentyman reports that Pettigrew will return to Detroit on a four-year, $16 million deal:
The Detroit Lions have said all along they value free agent tight end Brandon Pettigrew and want him to be part of their future plans.
The team proved that wasn’t just lip service Friday morning by agreeing to terms with Pettigrew to a new 4-year contract worth a reported $16 million.
The deal will keep one of the more versatile tight ends in the league a Lions through the 2017 season.
"I think it's important to have a guy that can block the point of attack," offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said of the tight end position at his introductory press conference last month. "Then you want a guy that can be a pass receiver, so you're always looking for those well-rounded guys.
Jameel McClain Signs with Giants
USA Today's Tom Pelissero reports that the Giants have agreed to sign Jameel McClain.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Lamarr Woodley Signs with Raiders
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Raiders have signed former Steelers outside linebacker Lamarr Woodley to a two-year, $12 million deal.
Jason Hatcher Signs with Redskins
Captain Munnerlyn Signs with Minnesota Vikings
Scott Chandler Heading Back to Buffalo
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Buffalo Bills and tight end Scott Chandler have agreed to terms on a two-year deal.
Arizona Cardinals Sign Ted Ginn and Matt Shaughnessy
Andrew Quarless and Mike Neal Re-Sign with Green Bay Packers
Tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end/linebacker Mike Neal have both agreed to terms that will keep them in Green Bay the team announced on Thursday via Twitter.
Justin Tuck Signs with Oakland Raiders
Garrett Graham Re-Signs with Houston Texans
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle confirms Garrett Graham has re-signed with the Texans:
Tight end Garrett Graham said today he has agreed on a three-year contract with the Texans.
Graham and Griffin move up a spot with the release of two-time Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels.
New coach Bill O’Brien likes to use multiple tight ends. The Texans are expected to add another tight end, one who’s larger and an effective on-line blocker.
Willie Young Signs with Chicago Bears
Ziggy Hood Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
ESPN's NFL Twitter feed reported that Hood was heading to Florida.
Ziggy Hood, a defensive tackle who previously played with the Pittsburgh Steelers, agreed to terms to sign as an unrestricted free agent with the Jaguars on Thursday, continuing a week of major roster moves for the franchise.
Hood (6-feet-3, 300 pounds), a first-round selection from the University of Missouri in the 2009 NFL Draft by Pittsburgh, started 46 of a possible 80 games in five seasons with the Steelers. He has never missed an NFL game.
Anthony Collins Signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Clemons Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
Albert Breer of NFL.com reports Chris Clemons will sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. "DE Chris Clemons has agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Will sign the deal today," Breer states.
Later, John Oehser of the Jaguars official website announced that Clemons did sign with the team.
Rodger Saffold Fails Oakland Raiders Physical, Re-Signs with St. Louis Rams
Rodger Saffold left the St. Louis Rams behind to sign a deal with the Oakland Raiders, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The deal, agreed upon Tuesday, was reportedly for five years and $42.5 million.
On Wednesday, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune reported that Saffold failed his physical and will remain a free agent.
Schefter then reported that Saffold would be returning on a five-year deal in a string of two tweets: "After a disagreement in OAK on OT Rodger Saffold's physical condition, he is returning to STL to sign a 5-yr contract with the Rams. Wow."
And: "Raiders had concerns about Saffold's shoulder; Rams had "no concerns whatsoever" about his shoulder, per agent Alan Herman and Jared Fox."
Schefter later followed with contract details: "OT Rodger Saffold and Rams reached agreement on 5-yr, $31.7M deal that includes $19.5M gtd. Saffold has option to void deal after 3 years."
Detroit Lions Sign DT Vaughn Martin
Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reports Vaughn Martin has signed with the Detroit Lions: "Lions have signed Vaughn Martin according to his agent."
Nolan Carroll Reportedly Agrees to Terms with Philadelphia Eagles
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Eagles have signed former Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll. "And now the Eagles have reached agreement with former Dolphins CB Nolan Carroll. Philly moving and shaking," tweets Schefter.
Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo quickly followed with contract details. "Nolan Carroll's deal with the Eagles: two years, $5.2m with more in incentives, per source," Garafolo tweeted.
Eric Decker Heading to New York Jets
Arizona Cardinals Announce Trio of Signings
The NFL Around the League Twitter feed confirms the Cardinals have signed the following free agents: RB Jonathan Dwyer, LB Marcus Benard and OL Ted Larsen.
Breno Giacomini Signs with New York Jets
Darrelle Revis Signs with New England Patriots
Darrelle Revis is heading to the New England Patriots according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The deal is reportedly for 1-year and $12M.
This comes just a few hours after being cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Joe Mays Agrees to Terms with Kanas City Chiefs
Former Broncos and Texans linebacker Joe Mays has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
The contract is for two-years and $6M.
Buffalo Bills and Keith Rivers Reach an Agreement
The Buffalo Bills have beefed up their linebacking core by signing veteran Keith Rivers to a two-year, $5M deal according to ESPN's James Walker.
JD Walton to New York Giants
Tony McDaniel Reportedly Re-Signs with Seattle Seahawks
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel is sticking with the Seahawks.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that McDaniel has inked a two-year deal with a maximum value of $6.3M.
Corey Graham Heading to Buffalo Bills
ESPN's Adam Caplan reports that a source confirms the Buffalo Bills and free agent corner Corey Graham have agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth $16M.
Baltimore Ravens Re-Sign Jacoby Jones
Golden Tate Inks 5-Year Deal with Detroit Lions
Josh Katzenstein of detroitnews.com reports that free agent wide receiver Golden Tate will be heading to the NFC North, as he has agreed to a 5-year contract with the Detroit Lions.
ESPN's Josina Anderson passes on the financial details: "Golden Tate to me just now: "Yes I am taking the deal (with the Lions). It is a 5-year deal for $31M and $13.25M guaranteed.""
Tate will now be lining up along side Calvin Johnson and will be catching passes from the gunslinger Matthew Stafford. Take note fantasy football players.
Randy Starks Reaches Deal with Maimi Dolphins
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Miami Dolphins have struck a deal with Randy Starks to keep him with the franchise.
La Canfora reports the deal is for two years and worth $12 million.
Josh McCown Reaches Agreement with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pierre Thomas Re-Signs with New Orleans Saints
Finally the Saints have retained one of their own players. The team's official website confirmed that running back Pierre Thomas has re-signed with the club on a two-year deal.
Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune reported that the two-year deal is worth $10 million with incentives to push it upwards of $15 million.
DeMarcus Ware Agrees on 3-Year Deal with Denver Broncos
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Denver Broncos have inked DeMarcus Ware to a three-year, $30 million deal.
Schefter is reporting that Ware will get $20 million in guaranteed money.
Jon Beason Signs with New York Giants
Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com first reported that the New York Giants and linebacker Jon Beason have agreed on a deal.
ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported contrail details. "Giants gave LB Jon Beason a three-year, $19M deal that includes $7M gtd and $12M in first two years. Agent did a great job with deal," Schefter stated.
Austin Howard Reaches Agreement with Oakland Raiders
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Austin Howard will head to Oakland on a five-year, $30 million deal.
Donald Brown Signs with San Diego Chargers
Jairus Byrd Signs with New Orleans Saints
Toby Gerhart Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
Alterraun Verner Signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFL on ESPN reports that Alterraun Verner has signed a four-year, $26.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mike Mitchell Signs with Pittsburgh Steelers
Ahmad Bradshaw Re-Signs with Indianapolis Colts
Darren McFadden Re-Signs with Oakland Raiders
Linval Joseph Signs with Minnesota Vikings
Rashad Jennings Signs with New York Giants
T.J. Ward Signs with Denver Broncos
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Browns safety T.J. Ward is moving on from Cleveland to play for the Denver Broncos.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer is reporting that the deal is worth $5.5 million a season. Denver Post reporter Mike Klis disclosed that the deal is for 4 years, $23 million with $14 million guaranteed.
Donte Whitner Signs with Cleveland Browns
To compensate for the departure of T.J. Ward, the Browns landed former San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner on Tuesday. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Whitner's four-year deal is worth $28 million in his homecoming to Cleveland, where he starred at Glenville High School before shining at Ohio State.
Vontae Davis Signs with Indianapolis Colts
Malcolm Jenkins Signs with Philadelphia Eagles
Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that Malcolm Jenkins has left the New Orleans Saints for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The deal is for a reported three years and $16.25 million.
Jared Veldheer Signs with Arizona Cardinals
Branden Albert Signs with Miami Dolphins
Branden Albert signed a five-year, $46 million deal with the Miami Dolphins, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The contract reportedly contains $25 million in guaranteed money.
Arthur Jones Leaves Baltimore Ravens for Indianapolis Colts
Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that Arthur Jones has left the Baltimore Ravens to sign with the Indianapolis Colts.
Schefter's report states that the deal is for $6 million per season.
Eugene Monroe Signs with Baltimore Ravens
Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com is reporting that the Ravens and left tackle Eugene Monroe have agreed on a new deal.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is reporting the deal is for five years and $37.5 million with $19 million guaranteed.
Monroe has since confirmed the deal, via his Twitter account.
Tennessee Titans Sign Dexter McCluster
Zane Beadles Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
Cecil Lammey of ESPN Denver is reporting that offensive lineman Zane Beadles has left the defending AFC champion Denver Broncos for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Lammey is reporting the deal is worth $30 million over five years.
LaMarr Houston Signs with Chicago Bears
LaMarr Houston has reportedly signed a big-money deal to head to the Chicago Bears, according to Michael C. Wright of ESPN.
Houston's deal is for a reported five years and $35 million.
Karlos Dansby Is Heading to Cleveland Browns
Kent Somers of AZCentral.com is reporting that Karlos Dansby is leaving Arizona to head to Cleveland. Somers reports that it is a four-year deal worth $24 million.
Dansby had previously stated that he expected to remain with the Cardinals in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio (via Marc Sessler of NFL.com):
"I definitely expect to be an Arizona Cardinal next year," Dansby said Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, per the team's official website. "We don't have long here (before free agency), so we'll get to talking and try and hammer something out."
Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jeff Dickerson and Josina Anderson of ESPN are reporting that Tampa Bay has signed defensive end Michael Johnson to a five-year deal worth $43.75 million, with $24 million guaranteed.
Adam Vinatieri Re-Signs with Indianapolis Colts
ESPN reported on Tuesday that they had re-signed Vinatieri to a 2-year deal:
Vinatieri, 41, agreed to a two-year deal with the Colts, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The Colts announced the deal Tuesday morning on their Twitter page.
Spotrac.com lists Vinatieri's contract at two years, $5 million.
Andre Roberts and Washington Redskins Agree to Contract
Later, Adam Schefter reported that Roberts' contract is for four years and worth $16 million.
Peyton Hillis Re-Signs with New York Giants
Ike Taylor Accepts Pay Cut, Will Re-Sign with Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have one of the worst cap situations in the NFL, and shredding salary in any way, shape or form is a must at the moment.
On Tuesday the team did just that.
Long-time veteran corner Ike Taylor tweeted the following on Tuesday:
The INK is about to dry on this paper...im a LIFER...#6BURGHfoalldemhatas...will retire as a ROONEY and a LEBEAU...
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports later reported that the one-year deal is worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.75M for 2014.
This was a big deal for the Steelers as Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details:
Ike Taylor will enter his 12th and perhaps final NFL season by agreeing Monday to a $4.25 million cut in his salary for 2014. Scheduled to earn $7 million in the final year of his contract, Taylor accepted a cut to $2.75 million. No years were added to his contract, which expires in one year.
The move leaves the Steelers about $7 million below their salary cap as free agency and the NFL's new calendar year begin today at 4 p.m. All teams are required to be in cap compliance by then.
New England Patriots Re-Sign Michael Hoomanawanui
Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports reports that the New England Patriots have signed Michael Hoomanawanui to a new contract—the financial details of which remain unavailable. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted that it is a two-year deal.
Hoomanawanui helps shore up a tight end position that is suddenly precarious for New England. The void left by Rob Gronkowski when he tore his ACL and MCL toward the end of last season may have cost the Patriots a shot at the Super Bowl, and Hoomanawanui at least aids depth at a position of need.
But quarterback Tom Brady has to be hoping for something more substantial as far as offensive weapons are concerned in the bid to win his fourth Lombardi Trophy.
Chad Rinehart Re-Signs with San Diego Chargers
After serving as a starter for the majority of last season, the San Diego Chargers are bringing back offensive guard Chad Rinehart for a two-year contract to keep him from hitting free agency.
"I’m excited to be back," said Rinehart of the deal, per the Chargers' official Twitter account. "This past season was the most enjoyable of my six-year career."
According to ESPN.com's Eric D. Williams, Rinehart started eight games at left guard and three games at right guard in 2013. The Chargers struggled protecting quarterback Philip Rivers in 2011 and 2012, but he experienced a revitalization in guiding San Diego to the playoffs this past year.
That makes Rinehart well worth the modest, short-term investment, even though he missed five games last season with a toe injury.
Everson Griffen Re-Signs with Minnesota Vikings
On Sunday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport broke the news that the Minnesota Vikings reached a five-year, $42.5 million deal with defensive end Everson Griffin, $20 million of which is guaranteed.
All-Pro Jared Allen is testing the free-agent waters and reportedly won't return to Minnesota at all, per CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora. With Allen's imminent departure in mind, it had to be a priority for general manager Rick Spielman to hang onto the other bookend of his defensive line.
Despite making just one start in four NFL seasons, Griffen is being trusted to help carry the defense back to prominence after it ranked last in points allowed and 31st in yards conceded per contest in 2013.
Griffen probably needs another impact player or two around him to live up to the lucrative investment the Vikings just made in him.
Red Bryant Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars, flush with over $50 million in cap space, made a quick foray into free agency by signing Red Bryant to a four-year, $17 million contract on Saturday, per NFL.com's Kevin Patra. This came after the Seattle Seahawks released him, unwilling to pay Bryant's $3 million roster bonus.
Two days after the signing, Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reported that the guaranteed money in Bryant's deal was only $5.255 million, making it a low-risk investment for Jacksonville.
Plus, the fit is logical in that Bryant is familiar with head coach Gus Bradley, who used to be Seattle's defensive coordinator. Bryant should be keen on a lot of the defensive concepts the Jaguars deploy.
For the second season in a row, the Jags were at the bottom of the league in team sacks. Even though Bryant weighs well over 300 pounds and has just 3.5 career sacks, he is a disruptive force who can line up inside or outside on the defensive line. Bryant's ability to engage blockers and his understanding of Bradley's schematics should open up opportunities for the other members of Jacksonville's front seven.
This signing is a relative bargain considering Bryant should have at least three good years left and further fortifies the notion that the Jaguars will take a quarterback at the top of the 2014 draft.
Sam Shields Re-Signs with Green Bay Packers
On Saturday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Green Bay Packers re-signed cornerback Sam Shields to a four-year, $39 million deal with a $12.5 million signing bonus.
Shields brings excellent speed to the field and has great quickness to mirror defenders, but the premium placed on cornerbacks inflated his value—and thus may make his superior free-agent peers see bigger paydays.
Although the 26-year-old former undrafted free agent has no doubt exceeded any expectations placed on him when he entered the NFL in 2010, it's dubious that Shields is worth such a lucrative contract. MMQB.com's Peter King noted Shields' Pro Football Focus rankings among cornerbacks over the past three seasons: 92nd, 15th and 52nd.
That doesn't scream elite by any means, yet general manager Ted Thompson may have had his hand forced a bit. Green Bay's defense has held the team back from accomplishing more in recent years, and Shields at least still has some upside to explore given his natural athleticism and flashes of strong play.
The deal Shields inked sets the market for cornerbacks such as Alterraun Verner and Aqib Talib. Verner especially should expect a massive contract.
D'Qwell Jackson Signs with Indianapolis Colts
On Thursday, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and the Indianapolis Colts agreed to a four-year, $22 million deal with a $1 million signing bonus and $11 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Cleveland Browns refused to pay the heart and soul of their defense $4.1 million in bonuses for 2014, which led to Jackson's release and allowed him to explore his options before agreeing to go to Indianapolis.
Jackson has been a consummate professional during his time in Cleveland. After so much turbulence with arguably the NFL's worst-run organization, the dynamic linebacker now gets to anchor the Colts' front seven and should help the defense in a big way.
Indianapolis was awful against the run last season, ranking 26th in the league. Having a rangy, smart playmaker like Jackson who can also make pre-snap adjustments will be invaluable in shoring that up. It also helps that Jackson played in so many different schemes with the Browns, so he should have no trouble picking up the Colts' defensive concepts.
This has largely been a no-name defense. Now that Jackson is entering the fold, he can emerge as a leader and take some pressure off franchise quarterback Andrew Luck as he enters his third pro season.
Matt Cassel Re-Signs with Minnesota Vikings
On Friday, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported that quarterback Matt Cassel reached an agreement with the Minnesota Vikings on a two-year, $10 million deal.
With the way Cassel played in the second half of the 2013 season, it makes sense for the Vikings to have brought him back. Josh Freeman was woeful in his only start for Minnesota last year, and 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder hasn't panned out.
Even if the Vikings do decide to select a quarterback at No. 8 overall in the impending draft, they will have a solid insurance or stopgap starting option in Cassel.
The veteran signal-caller expressed how enthused he was to return to Minnesota to play for new coach Mike Zimmer and the staff.
"I'm ecstatic,'' said Cassel, per Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com. "I'm super excited about being a Viking...I'm excited about the new coaching staff as well."
That's a good sign, because even if the Vikings bring in a younger QB, it's conceivable that Cassel will still have a shot to start. With weapons such as Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jarius Wright and Kyle Rudolph—not to mention running back Adrian Peterson—Cassel could flourish in 2014.
Chad Henne Re-Signs with Jacksonville Jaguars
On Friday, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that they reached a two-year, $8 million deal with quarterback Chad Henne, per ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco, with $4.5 million guaranteed in the first year.
The Jaguars likely brought Henne back to mentor the young quarterback they draft with the third overall pick. Nevertheless, Henne still has an outside chance at landing the starting job in 2014—better than he can say for just about all 31 of the other teams in the league.
In fact, head coach Gus Bradley actually asserted that Henne would be the starter even if the team does take a QB high in the draft, per Jaguars.com's John Oehser:
I would say going into it he (Henne) would be (the starter). That’s our plan, (Jaguars General Manager) Dave (Caldwell) and I … If we did go that route, where we did bring in a quarterback at No. 3, we’d like to create an environment where that quarterback could come in and put all of his focus on preparation and learning without the distractions that come with it.
That's about the best news Henne could have hoped for, but if his career passer rating of 75.3 is any indication, he'll probably find it to be tough sledding with an upstart rookie sitting behind him as the future of the franchise.
John Carlson Signs with Arizona Cardinals
The situation in Minnesota didn't work out for tight end John Carlson, and now he moves on in the hopes of revitalizing his career with the Arizona Cardinals on a two-year, $4.65 million deal, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
It only took two seasons for the Vikings to realize that Carlson wasn't worth his five-year, $25 million contract. Given the emergence of Pro Bowler Kyle Rudolph, Carlson's availability came as no surprise.
He could wind up being one of the more underrated free-agent signings out there, however. Arizona has exceptional talent at receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, which should open things up for Carlson down the seam and underneath.
Rob Housler has not performed up to expectations despite his great physical gifts, scoring just one touchdown in three years as a pass-catching tight end. That leaves room for Carlson to start in 2014.
Pat McAfee Re-Signs with Indianapolis Colts
In an interview with NFL Network, punter Pat McAfee revealed that he had reached an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts on a new five-year contract, via a report by NFL.com's Marc Sessler.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the deal includes a $14.5 million in total salary and $5 million in guaranteed money.
Field position is critical in the NFL, and McAfee is one of the league's premier punters. However, he is coming off a bit of a tough season in 2013 in which he was 26th in net punting average and yielded 13.7 yards per return—second-worst in all of football.
A good portion of those statistics can be pinned on a Colts roster that lacks depth and thus sports a crop of impassioned but mediocre special-teams coverage players. McAfee has the leg to make it in this league, and since he serves as the team's kickoff specialist, he is a difficult man to replace.
Ropati Pitoitua Re-Signs with Tennessee Titans
On Thursday, the Tennessee Titans reached a three-year, $9.6 million agreement with defensive end Ropati Pitoitua, according to Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo, which includes a $2.175 million signing bonus.
The towering 6'8" defensive end certainly has the measurable traits to make an impact on the Tennessee defense for the foreseeable future. He batted down four passes last season, registered four sacks and is dynamic and nimble at 298 pounds.
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton likes big men who can run—and defend the run—so the 28-year-old should fit right into the hybrid-front, complex schematics Horton tends to throw at opponents.
Aaron Williams Re-Signs with Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills made an interesting move by re-signing Aaron Williams rather than Jairus Byrd, but at least they locked up one of their two best safeties for the foreseeable future.
As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported, the deal runs for four years and is worth $26 million, with the opportunity for Williams to earn an additional $1.25 million in incentives.
General manager Doug Whaley outlined why Williams deserved the extension in a statement, per Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com:
Aaron Williams is a versatile player who has grown into a key playmaker for our defense in recent years. He had an extremely productive season for our defense in 2013. Aaron is the type of young, core player we targeted early in the process to retain for years to come and this will be our philosophy moving forward. By building on his improved play in 2013, we expect Aaron to continue to grow into a key contributor for the Bills organization.
Williams was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft and has panned out nicely in Buffalo after converting from cornerback to safety, so Whaley is wise to reward him with a strong contract this early on. Bear in mind that Williams is just 23 years old and made 82 combined tackles this past season in addition to four interceptions.
With how formidable the Bills' defensive line is, locking up a key piece of the secondary for the foreseeable future is a savvy move. If Buffalo seeks to challenge the dominant New England Patriots in the AFC East, an elite defense will go a long way in that effort in tandem with the innovative offensive mind of coach Doug Marrone.
Anquan Boldin Re-Signs with San Francisco 49ers
On March 3, Anquan Boldin confirmed that he was returning to the San Francisco 49ers through the official website for his foundation. Boldin posted a statement urging San Francisco to get excited in a chase for its sixth Super Bowl:
49er fans, I wanted to be the first to tell you that I’m returning to San Francisco.
Looking forward to joining my teammates, coaching staff and fans to bring back another championship to the Bay Area.
Let’s go after our Quest For Six.
That's a nice gesture by Boldin, whose contract runs for two years and is worth $12 million, with $9 million guaranteed, per ESPN's Ed Werder.
The 33-year-old Boldin fortifies a thin receiving corps that would have had trouble producing for quarterback Colin Kaepernick, barring an alternative addition through the draft or free agency.
It is scary to think what two physical receivers such as Boldin and Michael Crabtree will be able to do in 2014 if both are able to stay healthy for the entire season. Kaepernick is in a contract year, so he'll be looking to shine as bright as ever.
Despite three consecutive trips to the NFC Championship Game, the Niners have fallen short of seizing the Lombardi Trophy each time. Getting over that hump in the next year or two will be critical to keeping their foundation together, especially since coach Jim Harbaugh's "act has worn thin" despite positive results on the field, per Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Brent Grimes Re-Signs with Miami Dolphins
In one of the first big splashes of NFL free agency, the Miami Dolphins confirmed that they had signed Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes to keep him in Miami. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the contract details—four years and $32 million, with $16 million guaranteed.
The Dolphins negotiated Grimes' new deal before he could even hit the open market, which shows the confidence the front office has in the 30-year-old veteran. Even with a new general manager in Dennis Hickey calling the shots, Grimes did enough in 2013 to justify retaining him at such a price.
A torn Achilles that held him out of all but one game in 2012 made Grimes a risk last offseason, when the Dolphins signed him to a one-year deal. But after a sensational 2013, he is deserving of the money.
As Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus highlighted, the only cornerbacks with a better coverage grade than Grimes since 2010 are Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman.
Talk about keeping elite company. Now it's up to Grimes to prove he can get it done even with a big contract in hand. If he can, and Hickey does an adequate job building the rest of the roster, Miami has enough core pieces in place to challenge for the playoffs this coming season.
Donald Butler Re-Signs with San Diego Chargers
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the deal Donald Butler signed to stay in San Diego is rather complex. The first three years is worth a shade under $20 million, with an option for four additional years worth $8 million to $9.5 million per season.
There is an out for the Chargers in the event that Butler doesn't live up to his billing in a contract that could extend for seven years and pay him up to $51.8 million. That figure was reported by Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, along with the $11.15 million signing bonus Butler will get for inking the deal.
Butler tore his Achilles as a rookie and didn't play a down, but he's developed into a key component of the Chargers' defense.
The unit as a whole is not great, as it ranked 29th versus the pass last season. Keeping Butler was a big move for San Diego to keep up in a difficult AFC West division and maintain an above-average rush defense.