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What we learned on Day 6 of NFL free agency

The Carolina Panthers paid Steve Smith to go away, then let Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell walk out the door. Hakeem Nicks seemed like a logical fit, but general manager Dave Gettleman reportedly told the hometown kid he was better off catching passes from Andrew Luck, not Cam Newton.

Yes, Gettleman's strategy at wide receiver remains unclear. What we do know is that Gettleman has to sign somebody. As Chris Wesseling astutely noted, current wideouts on the Panthers roster have combined for two catches in the NFL.

That is not a typo.

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We learned Sunday that Jerricho Cotchery will visit with the Panthers on Monday. That's certainly a start: Cotchery is a nice player coming off a 10-touchdown season in Pittsburgh. But Cotchery's best fit is as a supporting act, not the main attraction.

How about James Jones, then? The former Green Bay Packers receiver told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Sunday he "would love the opportunity to play for the Carolina Panthers."

Jones makes sense for the Panthers and he certainly comes closer to matching the No. 1 receiver mold than Cotchery. The question is whether Gettleman values surrounding his franchise quarterback with proven talent or is intent on rebuilding the unit through a deep draft.

Gettleman has to have a plan. Perhaps it will come into clearer focus in the next few days.

Here's what else we learned on Day 6 of free agency Sunday:

1. Emmanuel Sanders was introduced as the newest wide receiver of the Denver Broncos. Sanders brushed off the notion that his agent shopped him to other teams after an agreement was in place with the Kansas City Chiefs. "There was no handshake," Sanders said. There are definitely some Frank Cushman undertones going on here.

2. Jared Allen met with the Seattle Seahawks, his first visit in free agency. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports the Cowboys are up next as Allen gauges his value on the open market. Retirement remains a possibility if he does not get what he believes to be a fair offer. Allen, 31, has averaged 13 sacks per season over the past decade.

3. It could come down to the Jets vs. the Giants for the right to employ cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The free-agent cornerback met with both teams this weekend and continues to be in contact with both, according to Rapoport. The Browns lurk in the background, plenty of money still in their pocket.

A Jets source told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News that Rex Ryan will not be happy if GM John Idzik doesn't lock down DRC. "We better get him," the source said. Ryan already was thwarted on his wish for a Darrelle Revis reunion.

4. The two New York teams were busy on other fronts as well. The Jets brought back outside linebacker Calvin Pace on a two-year, $5 million deal. Pace, 33, led the Jets with 10 sacks last season and has started every game over the past three seasons. The Giants agreed to a one-year deal with former Seattle Seahawks nickelback Walter Thurmond.

5. Brandon Weeden reportedly will visit the Dallas Cowboys on Monday. The Cowboys were interested in Weeden before the Cleveland Browns reached for the quarterback in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Kyle Orton has not officially said he will be returning in 2014, but he's expected to be back. The Cowboys haven't carried three quarterbacks on their roster since 2011. Defensive tackle Henry Melton will also visit Valley Ranch on Monday.

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6. Mario Manningham will forever be a Super Bowl hero for the Giants. Could a reunion be on tap? The free-agent wide receiver is visiting with the team on Monday. The Giants are down a wideout after Hakeem Nicks skipped town. Health is the big question for Manningham -- he hasn't been the same guy since hurting his knee in December 2012.

7. Arian Foster is back on Twitter. We can all agree this is a great thing. He used the social media platform to announce he's been medically cleared by his doctor following back surgery. Foster didn't elaborate what level of clearance he's achieved. He did get behind Lauryn Hill's oft-maligned unplugged album, however.

8. Former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer continues his free agency tour of the NFC East. Spencer visited with the Giants on Sunday. He previously met with the Washington Redskins. A return to the Cowboys is not out of the question. Spencer could become an offseason bargain if he can get healthy.

The "Around The League Podcast" breaks down all the free agency moves and hands out a fleet of high-octane sandwiches.

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