But there were still plenty of fireworks. Julius Thomas -- one of the biggest fish on the free-agent market -- intends to sign with Jacksonville, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Darrelle Revis is living out his free agency dream: A bidding war between the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Andre Johnson is on the open market, as is former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long.
The 49ers were at the center of two stunning decisions: Patrick Willis is expected to retire, and Frank Gore is backing out of an apparent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. That's the thing about any "agreements" before free agency starts. We don't know a lot of things for sure until Tuesday. Here's what we did learn Monday:
They are making bold moves and are not afraid to project larger roles. Thomas will have to grow from an excellent supporting player to a star. They also "agreed" to surprisingly big deals with former Cowboys swing tackleJermey Parnell and former Dolphins defensive linemanJared Odrick. They are willing to give quality starter money to guys that haven't always had quality starter roles. (For the record: We like Odrick plenty.)
- Darrelle Revis is sitting pretty. The Patriotswill not pick up the option in his contract, which gives Revis a lot of leverage. The big names at cornerback are not going to make it to free agency, and he has two rivals fighting over his services. Ownership is likely involved on the Jets' side, and Bill Belichick would hate to lose any war with the Jets, whether it's on the field or not. (It sounds like the Patriotswill say so long to Brandon Browner to open up cap space.)
This is a recipe for a monster contract. The Patriots have stayed at the top for so long by remaining relatively conservative with big contracts, and they have already broken the bank for Devin McCourty. Would it be that crazy for Belichick and Robert Kraft to stop worrying about long-term implications, and go all out to get as many rings as possible with Tom Brady? They can't have many more years left.
- It's been a rough few days for emotional Eagles fans. LeSean McCoy is gone. Jeremy Maclin is going. The one interesting offensive piece that they were adding to the mix, Frank Gore, apparently got cold feet. Rapoport reported first on Monday night that Gore is backing out of an expected deal with the Eagles. Look for Indianapolis to be his landing spot ... unless he changes his mind again. That's great news for Andrew Luck and a Colts running game that could use some stability.
Chip Kelly continues to spend on his defense, though. Brandon Graham is returning to the team on a relatively reasonable contract with $14 million guaranteed. The Eagles are building up a lot of fun defensive pieces with Fletcher Cox, Connor Barwin, Graham, Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks. That is a fast defense.
- It's a grim time in San Francisco. The 49ers can survive Patrick Willis' departure on the field because they still have great players at inside linebacker: NaVorro Bowman and Chris Borland. Justin Smith's retirement is now up in the air, and guard Mike Iupati is expected to join the rival Arizona Cardinals. Our own Chris Wesseling believes Jim Tomsula will have a lot of work to do to avoid the NFC West cellar in 2015.
- Here's the problem with saving up too much cap space: Sometimes you can't find any players to spend it on. Former Chiefs center Rodney Hudson is expected to join Oakland on a huge contract, upgrading what was already a decent position for the Raiders. A lot of Oakland's supposed targets have already agreed to go elsewhere.
- Rex Ryan bounced back after watching his old friend David Harris re-sign with the Jets. Perhaps the Bills would not have had enough money to re-sign Jerry Hughes, who is ultimately a more valuable player. Buffalo's pass rush is scary. Hughes, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams form the best defensive line in the league until someone knocks them off their perch.