Summing Up Free-Agency’s 2nd Day

Another day has come and gone since free-agency opened, and while not as wild as Tuesday’s carnival of crazy, there was still a good bit of movement–and a lot by certain teams.

It’s a bit more fitting to order tonight’s summary as more of a team-by-team affair, since there were many small signings grouped in with the big names.

A small addition to yesterday’s list: Chicago signed former Giants TE Martellus Bennett for four years, $21 million. He’s a solid addition as a young (26) pass-catcher and gives Jay Cutler a very capable second target behind Brandon Marshall.

A few quick rumors first:

Now, before you go saying “he put his favorite team first!” I have to say the Broncos are listed here first because I truly believe they pulled in the biggest haul today. As for the rest of the teams? Each team is roughly listed according to the value of the players they signed.

On to the signings!

Denver Broncos

  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – one year $5 million

A year after signing ex-Saints corner Tracy Porter to a one year prove-it deal (which turned out to be a flop), Denver is going the same direction with extremely talented underachiever DRC. A 16-game starter in 2012, DRC was a big reason the Philly pass defense fell apart, but with some coaching from future Hall of Fame corner Champ Bailey, there may yet be hope for the 27-year-old.

  • WR Wes Welker – two years $12 million (fully guaranteed)

Denver is showing their trust in Welker by offering a fully guaranteed contract (which likely drew him away from New England). Welker’s addition makes Denver’s receiver corps one of the deadliest in the league, and is a tremendous upgrade over Brandon Stokley in the slot–who is unlikely to sign with the Broncos at this point.

  • DT Terrance Knighton – two years $4.5 million

One of the top tackles on the market, Knighton is still young at 26 and has shown flashes of talent over his career thus far. Knighton fills a need at tackle for the Broncos and is in for an uptick in playing time due to his ability to stop the run and rush the quarterback (4 sacks in 2012),  as well as his relationship with Denver’s defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville head coach from 2003-2011).

  • MLB Stewart Bradley – one year $1.1 million

Denver handed out another prove-it contract here, to a solid run-defending veteran. Bradley will compete for the starting job with Nate Irving and Steven Johnson, but will likely have the upper hand. Former starter Joe Mays is likely to be cut soon after a down year.

New England Patriots

  • WR Danny Amendola – five years $31 million ($10 million guaranteed)

Amendola is similar to Welker while also being much more–while he’s a deadly slot threat like Welker, Amendola also showed he can play outside as well. Injuries are a factor here (hence only a third of the contract is guaranteed), but Amendola has the ability to make Patriots fans forget about Welker–if he can play more than the 12 games in 2011-2012.

Arizona Cardinals

  • S Yeremiah Bell – one year

Bell will step into the starting role left vacant by the release of veteran Kerry Rhodes. Bell played under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles in Miami from 2008 to 2011 prior to signing with the Jets in 2012.

  • CB Jerraud Powers – three years

An ex-Colts corner under new Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians last season, Powers will likely start opposite Patrick Peterson for Arizona. Powers did not grade out well last season in Indy’s Swiss cheese defense.

  • QB Drew Stanton – three years

Another ex-Colt, Stanton immediately steps into the spotlight in Arizona as the possible starter. Of course, that’s dependent on what Arizona does in the draft quarterback-wise. He’s got arm-strength and can scramble, but has little experience and is already 29.

  • HB Rashard Mendenhall – one year

New head coach Bruce Arians is a true believer in committee backfields on offense, and the signing of Mendenhall indicates that Arizona will be no different from other Arians’ offenses. Paired with youngster Ryan Williams (22), Mendenhall (26) forms a young duo that will more-than replace recently departed first-round bust Beanie Wells.

  • ILB Lorenzo Alexander – three years

Although primarily a special teams stud in his seven-year tenure with Washington, Alexander will get a chance to start in the interior of Arizona’s 3-4 defense opposite fellow ‘backer Daryl Washington.

  • WR/KR Josh Cribbs – tentative agreement

This one’s not set in stone as of yet. Cribbs is unlikely to contribute much at receiver, but he’s one of the best returners around.

Seattle Seahawks

  • DE Cliff Avril – two years $15 million

Avril is not an elite pass-rusher, but he may get there in the next several seasons. The past three seasons have seen Avril hit a combined 29 sacks (11.0 in 2011). Although he’s only put up double-digit sacks once, Avril is a very capable end and provides an instant upgrade for Seattle, while also providing insurance for veteran Chris Clemons (recovering from torn ACL).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • FS Dashon Goldson – five years $41.25 million

Tampa Bay hit a home run here. Goldson was a big part of the ’9ers defense in 2012, as he’s an excellent center fielder and is a hard-hitting run-stuffer as well. Goldson is in his prime (28-years-old) and he’s an imposing force on the field. He’ll form an impressive safety duo with second-year safety Mark Barron.

  • LB Jonathan Casillas – one year $3 million

Casillas is a capable every down ‘backer, and should immediately make an impact for TB. Also, he was stolen away from division rival New Orleans, so that’s always a plus.

Detroit Lions

  • SS Glover Quin – five years $25 million

Still only 27, Quin is a stout run-defender at safety with decent coverage skills. He’s a hard-hitter with a knack for knocking the ball loose (two forced fumbles in 2012), and should provide a boost to the Lions’ secondary.

  • HB Reggie Bush – four years $16 million

With one move, the Lions may have solved the revolving door at running back in free-agency. Bush will immediately step into the starting role in front of injury-prone Jahvid Best and plodder Mikel LeShoure, and is in for a monster fantasy season in 2013.

  • DT/DE Jason Jones – three years $9.5 million

Jones’ versatility is what makes him so valuable to Detroit. With the departure of Cliff Avril, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Sammie Lee Hill, Jones will be expected to step in at end on early downs and move inside for passing downs as an interior pass-rusher. Jones is young at 26 and will have a big role with Detroit going forward.

  • CB Chris Houston – five years $25 million

One of the Lions’ big signings is the retaining of Houston–who was the Lions’ best corner in 2012. Houston is an excellent cover corner and should return to his role as the number one in Detroit, barring the addition of a corner in the draft.

Indianapolis Colts

  • S LaRon Landry – four years $24 million ($14 million)

This is a solid, if risky, signing for Indy. While Landry can definitely perform up to this contract, it’s his durability that comes into question (8 games played in 2011 and 9 games played in 2012). Landry posted career highs in tackles (100), interceptions (tied-2) and forced fumbles (4) in 2012, and should be in for a big year as part of a revamping Colts defense.

Tennessee Titans

  • DT Sammie Hill – three years $11.4 million ($4 million guaranteed)

Hill is an odd signing, as he’s not a great fit for Tennessee. He’s a good pass-rusher and has shown flashes of potential, but has graded poorly against the run year-in and year-out. He’s got time to develop at 26-years-old, and the Titans seem to be devoted to him with the size of this contract.

  • HB Shonn Greene – three years $10 million

Greene is an another odd signing, as the Titans were reportedly in the hunt for a power back to complement speedy Chris Johnson, and Greene really doesn’t offer much in the way of power these days. Greene’s past couple seasons with the Jets have displayed little ability for success in short-yardage situations.

  • LB Moise Fokou – two years

Following an average season as a starter in Indy, Fokou will likely play special teams and serve as depth in Tennessee.

San Diego Chargers

  • CB Derek Cox – three years $20 million

Cox is one of those corners that people have always expected big things from, and he’s delivered solid, but unspectacular play. Cox was the 71st ranked corner in coverage for the 2012 campaign according to Pro Football Focus, but the overall passing rating was a low 69.0. Cox offers a solid cover corner with the physicality to succeed in a press system.

  • OG Chad Rhinehart – one year

Rhinehart offers quality depth at guard with some starting experience (17 games in three years with Buffalo) to boot. He also has ties to new Chargers’ offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris from his days in Buffalo.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • WR Donnie Avery – three years $8.55 million

Avery revived his career in Indy following many injury-shortened seasons in St. Louis that tarnished the promise of a speedy big-play youngster. Avery will start opposite Dwayne Bowe and offer a speedy veteran with deep threat ability due to his sub-4.40 speed. Dexter McCluster and Jonathan Baldwin will fight for the slot receiver role, with the loser likely on his way out of KC.

New York Giants

  • K Josh Brown

A journeyman thus far in his career, Brown will replace two-time Super Bowl hero Lawrence Tynes following a poor ending to the 2012 season.

San Francisco 49ers

  • DE Glenn Dorsey

The ’9ers pull off a depth signing in Dorsey, who is a capable veteran 3-4 end. He’ll be a situational player, but is assured a roster spot.

Oakland Raiders

  • OLB Kaluka Maiava – three years $6 million

Maiava will be a starter for the Raiders as they try to put back together a decimated defense following cuts. In 14 starts for Cleveland, Maiava performed very well and could be a big impact, cheap signing.

  • DE Jason Hunter

Hunter is at best a situational pass-rusher, and is coming off a lost 2012 with the Broncos due to torn triceps. Chalk this up to head coach Dennis Allen bringing in players from his days as Denver’s defensive coordinator.

  • DT Pat Sims

Sims is a one-dimensional run-stopper, but he’ll be useful to Oakland and is still young at 27.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • OLB Geno Hayes – two years $2 million

Jacksonville may have overstepped here, with the expectation that Hayes will replace departed starter Daryl Smith at the strong side. However, Hayes was only a backup in Chicago last season and is a true Tampa 2 linebacker–fast and good in coverage, but very poor at defending against the run. He can start in the right system, but that sure isn’t Jacksonville.

Carolina Panthers

  • CB Drayton Florence – one year

The signing of Florence indicates just how cash-strapped the Panthers are. Florence (32) was cut by the Bills and Broncos last season on his way to signing with Detroit as an injury replacement. Florence could start in Carolina, which is scary due to his inability to keep a roster spot in past seasons.

  • QB Derek Anderson – one year

Cam Newton’s backup for the past two seasons, Anderson will return to hold the clipboard in 2013.

Cleveland Browns

  • TE Gary Barnidge – three years $3.75 million

A former Panther, Barnidge is a true blocking end, with only 18 catches on his five-year career.

  • HB Chris Ogbonnaya – two years

Ogbonnaya is a backup passing-down specialist. He’ll fight for a spot behind starter Trent Richardson.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • WR Plaxico Burress – one year

The days of Burress being a prime redzone target have come and gone. He’ll be lucky to make the active roster as more than depth.

  • QB Bruce Gradkowski – three years

Not exactly a ticker-tape signing, Gradkowski offers a bonifide improvement over Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch as the backup to Big Ben. Gradkowski (30) has started 20 games in his seven-season career.

Buffalo Bills

  • OLB Manny Lawson – four years

A career backup, Lawson has the pass-rushing abilities and versatility to push for snaps as a situational rusher in Buffalo’s new hybrid defense.

New York Jets

  • HB/FB Lex Hilliard – one year

On a day in which several Jets free-agents signed away from New York, the Jets made a gigantic splash by re-signing a special teamer in Hilliard. The Jets are in for a rough season.

New Orleans Saints

  • LS Justin Drescher –  four years

What’s a free-agency summary without the obligatory long snapper signing?


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