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What we learned on Day 3 of free agency

On Day 3, free agency slowed down. After a Wednesday rocked by Darrelle Revis, DeMarcus Ware, Eric Decker and the Oakland Raiders' latest fiasco, Day 3's charms were more subtle.

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The Philadelphia Eagles offense kept loading up with Darren Sproles. Vince Wilfork asked for his release after ten seasons in New England. A whole bunch of veteran defenders accepted middle-tier contracts, and the Raiders even gave their fans something to smile about.

Our top 101 players available was chopped to our best 50 available. Our top 15 players originally available are all gone. The first few days of free agency were so frantic that we arrived in phase two of free agency early. Teams will be bargain hunting Friday and into the weekend. Here's what we learned as phase one wrapped up Thursday:

Loaded for Bear


Chip Kelly doesn't need Darren Sproles. But when the Eagles could acquire him for a fifth-round pick they picked up in a trade for Isaac freaking Sopoaga, well, why not? Sproles is a matchup nightmare and Kelly loves players that can win one-on-one. Defenses won't get a break when LeSean McCoy steps out of the game. With an offensive line signed through 2016 and a division full of defenses going backwards, the Eagles should put up huge numbers again.

End of an era


The ugly end to Steve Smith's career in Carolina finally reached its conclusion Thursday with his release. Now the fun part starts where he unleashes his unholy vengeance on all that cross his path.

"I want to make sure that whatever team I go to, they're going to get the best, in-shape 35-year-old guy they can get," Smith told WFNZ-AM. "If that happens to run through Bank of America Stadium, put your goggles on cause there's going to be blood and guts everywhere."

My comrade Dan Hanzus projected some potential landing spots for Smith, who is visiting the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. At this point, it would be a surprise if he didn't sign with Baltimore. Joe Flacco needs a chain-mover on third down, and Smith would qualify from the slot. The Ravens don't go to Carolina, but they do host the Panthers next season. Get your goggles ready.

Hanging situations


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1. Most of the big names in free agency are accounted for, but one big man will be added to the pool soon enough. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport broke the news that Wilfork asked for his release from the Patriots.

The Patriots asked Wilfork to redo his contract, and he balked. Now he wants out while free-agent money is still flowing. Give Wilfork credit for trying to take control of the process. After all his years with the team, the Patriots shouldn't drag out this process.

2. It sure sounds like Jermichael Finley is joining the Seahawks once he can get medical clearance. Finley is not taking any other free-agent visits and plans to sign in Seattle once he's right. This has been a relatively under the radar story that could make a huge difference next January.

3. All is quiet on the Julius Peppers and Jared Allen front. The veteran Hall of Famers aren't getting much interest on the open market. It's amazing that Allen nearly got DeMarcus Ware's three-year, $30 million contract from Denver.

4. Chris Johnson is willing to take a pay cut in order to facilitate a trade. That shows the financial reality of his situation is starting to dawn on him, but we'd still expect a release soon.

Veteran defense day


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1. This was the day that veteran defenders realized they weren't going to get the huge money they hoped for, so they better take what they can get. And yes, it's ridiculous to consider a world where $5 million-per-year is middle-tier money. Everything is amazing, and nobody's happy.

LaMarr Woodley and Justin Tuck will both make less money with the Oakland Raiders than they made with their respective teams a season ago. But they'll make far more money with the Raiders than they could have elsewhere.

They should break Rodger Saffold off a piece of the money. The Raiders had to present something positive after their disastrous Saffold experience, so Tuck and Woodley's agents probably squeezed general manager Reggie McKenzie for a few extra dollars. Both signings are high-risk, high-reward deals.

2. Long underrated in Dallas, Jason Hatcher now has a big new contract to live up to in Washington. We like the move better than the Redskins' other signings.

4. Jason Babin returned to the Jacksonville Jaguars after deciding free agency wasn't so great.

Odds and ends


1. Ted Ginn probably won't catch more than 35 passes in Arizona, but we bet he hits on plenty of big plays in Bruce Arians' vertical offense. He's a perfect role player that can also improve the Cardinals on returns.

2. The Buccaneers signed former Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Collins, then dumped Donald Penn. Look for Penn to land in Oakland.

3. James Harrison was released by the Bengals. Perhaps he will return to the Steelers, but this could be the end for one of the league's better defenders from the last decade.

4. The backup quarterback market kept shuffling. Charlie Whitehurst went to Tennessee, where Ryan Fitzpatrick figures to get released. Kellen Clemens replaced Whitehurst in San Diego. Derek Anderson re-signed with Carolina. No one replaces Derek Anderson.

The day in Revis


The Patriots still haven't officially announced the Revis signing. We also learned that Revis' one-year deal is really a two-year deal that is really a one-year deal when you look at it closely. (Got that?)

We also learned from the New York Daily News that Rex Ryan wanted to bring Revis back to New York badly and a return to the Jets was Revis' preference in free agency. But owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik had no interest.

None of the above is particurly surprising, but stories like these don't bode well for Ryan. There's still too much drama in the media, and Ryan remains year-to-year. He likely needs a playoff appearance to keep his job in 2015.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" recaps the wild start of free agency.

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