2012 NFL Free Agency – Bucs Make the Biggest Splash

Peyton Manning keeps meeting with teams, and so is Mario Williams, but there’s no decision. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be the biggest players in the 2012 NFL free agency period, signing Carl Nicks, making him the highest paid Guard in the league, and that’s not the end of it.

A day after signing former Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (5 years, $55.55 million), they went for Saints guard Carl Nicks. The Saints franchised Drew Brees (dumb move in my opinion) and re-signed Marques Colston. The writing was on the wall, and the Saints had more front line issues to address. Nicks signed a four year deal for $47.5 million, 31 of it guaranteed. Nicks was the top free agent on the board according to experts, not including Peyton Manning.

The Bucs didn’t halt there, and re-tooled their secondary with former Lions’ cornerback, Eric Wright. Wright, a five year veteran, who had four interceptions last season for the Lions, got a $37.5 million deal. The Bucs signed contracts, in 24 hours, worth around $140 million. Entering the draft with $42 million in cap space, it seems their spending spree is over.

Another busy team were the Dallas Cowboys – They signed Kyle Orton to be their backup quarterback. Orton lost his starting job midway through the season to the Tim Tebow phenomenon, signing on for three years to be Tony Romo’s backup. The better signing was Brandon Carr, another Chiefs player, coming in after the Cowboys released Terrence Newman. He had four interceptions in 2011, signing a 5 year, $50.1 million deal.

The Cowboys did lose a valuable piece of their receiving core – Laurent Robinson, who filled in nicely for the injured last season finished with 858 yards in 14 games, starting only four, adding also an impressive 11 touchdowns. The Jags, who need everything but a running back, signed the 26 year old on a five year, $32.5 million contract.

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Megatron, aka Calvin Johnson, pledged his future to the Detroit Lions, who really sacrificed a lot of money to keep the All-Pro receiver. Johnson finished last season with career highs in receptions (96), yards (1681) and touchdowns (16) as the Lions had their best season in over a decade. The 26 year old, 5 year veteran got a 7 year, $132 million deal.

Peyton Hillis will try to recapture the magic that brought him to the national spotlight in 2010, also getting him on the Madden cover and later injured. He played in only 10 games through 2011, finishing with 587 yards and 3.6 yards per carry, scoring only 3 touchdowns. The Chiefs signed him for $3 million, giving him a one year contract.

Big names still on the board – Peyton Manning, currently looking rather chummy with the Titans, Mario Williams with the Bills, Vernon Carey and the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Lofton who announced he’d rather test free agency than re-sign with the Falcons and Kareem McKenzie of the New York Giants who might be spared to clear some cap space.