As expected, a very busy first day of NFL free agency, that included the San Francisco 49ers trading for Jonathan Martin and Blaine Gabbert hoping to save their careers, while other big signings happened to be the Denver Broncos adding Aqib Talib on a huge deal and the New Orleans Saints making a similar commitment to Jairus Byrd.
The Cleveland Browns added two defensive players in Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, while tackles like Austin Howard and Branden Albert were also taken off the board quite quickly.
Denver Broncos Sign Aqib Talib
The Broncos released Champ Bailey and keep going for players the Patriots don’t like to pay a lot to. Talib was a Pro Bowler last season and made AP’s second-team All-Pro as well, becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He signed a huge six-year, $57 million deal with the Broncos, including 26 million guaranteed.
New Orleans Saints Sign Jairus Byrd
One of the bigger names was Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills, who wanted more money and probably a winning team. The free safety is a 3-time Pro Bowler and four time mentioned as a second team All-Pro. He signed a six-year, $54 million deal that includes $28 million guaranteed.
San Francisco 49ers Doing Trades
The 49ers made a coule of trades on the first day of free agency, adding Jonathan Martin from the Miami Dolphins, hoping he’ll bounce back under his college coach Jim Harbaugh. The offensive tackle was traded for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015 if Martin is on San Francisco’s opening 53-man roster. They also traded for Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags receive a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft and a possible conditional pick in 2015. Gabbert was the 10th overall pick in 2011, and will serve as a backup to Kaepernick.
Cleveland Browns Sign Karlos Dansby & Donte Whitner
A busy day for the Browns, who’ll probably remain busy this week. They added defensive players in Karlos Dansby, a linebacker who had an excellent return year with the Cardinals last season, making a second team All-Pro, and also Donte Whitner, the strong safety for the 49ers over the last three seasons, making the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2013. Dansby cost $24 million over four years with $14 million guaranteed, and Whitner was signed on a four-year, $28 million deal.
Miami Dolphins Add Branden Albert & Earl Mitchell
As expected, Branden Albert lands in Miami while Earl Mitchell, coming from the Houston Texans, came along with him. Albert is probably the top tackle in this free agency market and after making the Pro Bowl last season, it was going to be very hard for the Chiefs to keep him. He signed a five-year, $46 million deal, including $25 million in guaranteed money. Mitchell only became a starter for the first time last season (four years in the league) and was one of the more productive nose tackles in the NFL. He cost a four-year, $16 million contract with $9 million guaranteed.
Austin Howard to Oakland Raiders
The Raiders needed a lot of help in their offensive line, and added the 26-year old Howard, who has done an excellent job asw the right tackle for the Jets over the last two years. He signed a five-year, $30 million deal, including $15 million in guaranteed money. He allowed only two sacks to come through him last season, and the Jets ran the ball through the right side of their O-line more than anyone but one team in the league.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Add Alterraun Verner
Verner was the lone Pro Bowl selection for the Titans last season and was a second-team All-Pro, but the Titans didn’t give him what he wanted, so the Bucs’ offer of four years and $25.5 million was enough to sway him to sign with them.