Free Agency Debrief, Day 1: Departures that will hurt the most

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Gregg Rosenthal wraps up the NFL's biggest news daily throughout the free agency frenzy.

The first day of the NFL free-agency period is a time for unrealistic expectations to be set and life-changing money to be exchanged. But it's also a day for pain.

Some of Thursday's player departures will leave lasting roster damage, and I'm not talking about the sudden 6-foot-7-sized hole on Houston's quarterback depth chart. After a dizzying day of moves that ended with 20 of our top 30 free agents accounted for, here were the five most painful losses:

» DeSean Jackson leaving Washington for Tampa: It's rare that a player this famous becomes this underrated. Jackson turned Kirk Cousins into a great vertical passer, just like how he helped Nick Foles and Michael Vick in Philadelphia. Jackson has to be accounted for on every snap.

With Pierre Garcon on the way to San Francisco, the Redskins are the first team in NFL history to lose two 1,000-yard receivers in the same offseason. Jackson will be the tougher one to replace. While he may not be a true "No. 1" wideout, he doesn't need to be one in Tampa opposite Mike Evans. Even if the Redskins hold on to Cousins this season, he won't be the same Cousins.

» Stephon Gilmore leaving Buffalo for New England: Gilmore was expected to leave, but Bills fans didn't anticipate seeing him twice a year playing for an AFC East rival. One year after Bill Belichick turned Buffalo afterthought Chris Hogan into a playoff hero for the Patriots, Gilmore could be shutting down receivers in January while his old Bills teammates watch from home. No one expected the Patriots to give out a contract as rich as this one is supposed to be (including a reported $40 million guaranteed), but Belichick is all about upending expectations.

» Calais Campbell leaving Arizona for Jacksonville: The Cardinals are losing the heart and soul of their defensive line. Campbell's versatility and strength allowed Arizona defensive coordinators to get creative week after week over the last nine seasons. With safeties Tony Jefferson and D.J. Swearinger also bolting town, the Cardinals' defense won't be as talented next season.

» Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler leaving Cincinnati for Los Angeles and Cleveland, respectively: Whitworth's departure to the Rams, even at age 35, stings more here because it was so unexpected. He was known as a team leader and started more regular-season games (164) than any offensive lineman in Bengals history besides Anthony Munoz and Willie Anderson. The Bengals will ask 2015 first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi -- who was benched during his first season as a starter -- to take over. With Zeitler also heading for the Browns to become the highest-paid guard in football, the left side of the Bengals' line is due for a big letdown.

» Alshon Jeffery leaving Chicago for Philadelphia: Bears general manager Ryan Pace is already making life hard on new quarterback Mike Glennon. Jeffery joined the Eagles on a one-year, $14 million contract, indicating that Chicago was never that serious about offering Jeffery a competitive long-term deal. Most of the top free-agent receivers have already signed elsewhere, while the Bears have picked up ... former Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton and former Dolphins tight end Dion Sims. Glennon's starting wideouts at this stage look like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith. Jeffery's ability to come down with 50-50 balls makes him a great security blanket, as Carson Wentz will learn in 2017.

Narratives that were busted Thursday

1) The Texans have salary-cap space for Tony Romo after all. Houston's groundbreaking win-win salary dump of Brock Osweiler opened up $10 million in space for the Texans to get their man. It almost has to happen now. The Texans can't give a second-round pick to the Browns just to go into the season with Tom Savage piloting a title-contending roster, can they? Perhaps the Cowboys know it has to happen, too, so Jerry Jones is willing to stare down Houston to get some compensation in return.

2) The mediocre market of available offensive tackles didn't depress prices at all. If anything, the supply and demand at the position with a weak draft class coming created the craziest contracts of the day. The Panthers are reportedly giving Matt Kalil five years and $55 million, including $25 million guaranteed, despite Kalil coming off some brutal seasons and hip surgery. Russell Okung received a similar deal from the Chargers coming off a so-so year with Denver, and the Vikings quickly snapped up former Lions tackle Riley Reiff. These were mostly mid-level starters or worse getting paid like superstars out of desperation. These contracts could look ugly a year from now.

3) Teams apparently weren't buying Terrelle Pryor as a true No. 1 receiver yet. The Browns let him walk, choosing instead to give Kenny Britt $32.5 million over four seasons. Pryor is visiting the Redskins, but the former quarterback may have to take a one-year "prove-it" deal to show he's not a flash in the pan after racking up 1,007 yards on 77 catches in Cleveland in 2016.

4) Browns fans won't have to suffer through another season of Robert Griffin III. While Brock Osweiler may not remain on the Browns for long, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Cleveland will release Griffin. (UPDATE: Griffin was officially released on Friday.) The Browns now have more than enough ammo to make a run at Jimmy Garoppolo. Expect this to be the dominant storyline leading up to the draft.

Storylines that deserve more attention

1) No one wants to sign free-agent running backs. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk's $21 million contract with the 49ers has a good chance to top any deal signed by a tailback this offseason. Danny Woodhead, 32 years old and coming off a torn ACL, and Fozzy Whittaker, who has four career starts, are the only running backs with deals so far. The market for Adrian Peterson is notably quiet, unless you talk to his dad. Jamaal Charles and Latavius Murray are visiting teams, but visits are mostly reserved for second-tier free agents in this new world order.

2) Stephon Gilmore's contract in New England will have aftershocks. Incumbent Patriots Pro Bowl corner Malcolm Butler, a restricted free agent who reportedly had been seeking a new contract, could be on his way out of town like Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, who were jettisoned before their rookie deals ran out. It would be a shame to see the undrafted Super Bowl hero shipped away, but Bill Belichick has no use for my sentimental notions.

3) Not every big name earned big bucks on Thursday. The Eagles signed former Titans guard Chance Warmack (the 10th overall pick in 2013) and wide receiver Torrey Smith to team-friendly deals that reportedly included just $1 million guaranteed combined. Smith's three-year, $15 million deal is essentially a series of $5 million options for the team that gives Philly minimal risk with plenty of upside. These value deals should start to become the norm in the coming days.

4) The Browns were in the spotlight Thursday for their decision to buy a second-round pick for $16 million, but the money they spent on the offensive line should have a more lasting impact. Cleveland picked up the top guard available in former Bengal Kevin Zeitler and agreed to terms with a solid starting center in former Packer JC Tretter. The Browns also handed their own guard, Joel Bitonio, a massive deal. With Joe Thomas still playing at a high level, the Browns have the makings of one of the best offensive lines in football, just like they did before Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz left town.

5) Packers GM Ted Thompson doesn't go wild in free agency, but he deserves some credit for holding on to Nick Perry, the market's best pass rusher entering Thursday. Perry landed a five-year, $60 million contract with $18 million in guarantees. Perry signed a "prove-it" deal last year and he went out and proved it.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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