Skip to main content

What we learned: 14 takeaways on historic day

We thought that all the action over the weekend would make Tuesday's kickoff of free agency quieter than usual. We were wildly wrong. 

Three seismic trades completed within five minutes of each other ensured that Tuesday will go down in NFL junkie history. We may never see a flurry like that again. Darrelle Revis choosing to return to the Jets a few hours later was the icing on Tuesday, with Jason Worilds' retirement a fitting end to the madness.

These are moves that will reverberate for years: The highest-paid tight end in the league, Jimmy Graham, was dealt to the NFC champions in the middle of his prime. One potential Hall of Famer, Haloti Ngata, was dealt to replace another in Detroit. Another Canton-bound player, Darrelle Revis, left the Super Bowl champions to return to their biggest rivals. And the Rams and Eagles pulled off a rare challenge trade of flawed starting quarterbacks.

On a day of monster surprises, the most expected move of free agency didn't even happen. Ndamukong Suh and the Miami Dolphins still have not officially agreed to a new contract. We had to save something for Wednesday.

In the meantime, let's order the biggest moves of the day, ranked by impact:

  1. It only took a few hours for whispers about Jimmy Graham's toughness to emerge in New Orleans. That feels like spin. The Saints went through a lot of trouble to give Graham monster money just eight months ago, and now they deal him. This feels like a franchise without a plan.

With that said, a high-quality center (Max Unger) and a first-round pick is a reasonable return for Graham. It just feels like an emotional, desperate move by a franchise that hasn't managed the cap well and could be worried about their title window closing.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, are locked and loaded for years. Conor Orr wrote a great piece on it. In short: They won't be throwing to Ricardo Lockette with a title on the line anymore.

  1. Forget the complicated trade terms in the Nick Foles for Sam Bradford trade. Chris Wesseling put it well.

We're surprised that Eagles fans are so down on this move. It was time for St. Louis to move on from Bradford, as Dan Hanzus wrote, but it's not like giving up Foles is some big risk. And it wouldn't surprise us to hear Bradford's name mentioned in trade talks (again) leading up to the draft.

  1. The New York Jets are coming off a rough season, but they have plenty of top level talent: Darrelle Revis, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. Getting Revis back into the fold is sweet for Jets fans in so many ways.
  1. The Lions gave up a fourth- and fifth-round pick for Baltimore Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata, which makes us think the Lions believe they can get a long-term deal done with him. It says a lot that the Ravens didn't want to pay Ngata even though he had only one year left on his contract. They are taking $7.5 million in dead money just to get rid of him, which is strange. Look for the Lions to transition to a 3-4 defense under coordinator Teryl Austin.
  1. In a day full of stunning announcements, Worilds and Jake Locker's decisions to retire should not get lost in the shuffle. Worilds made nearly $10 million last year after getting Pittsburgh's transition tag, and was set to strike it rich on the open market. He was a top 20 free agent that consistently pressured the quarterback. Locker, unlike Worilds, had significant injury issues in his career. He wasn't going to find a starting job and its unclear if he'll try to pursue pro baseball. Worilds is 27. Locker is 26. They retired on the same day Patrick Willis, 30, had a press conference for his retirement. (He cited his toe and foot injuries.)
  1. My favorite move of the day: Frank Gore getting to spend his final years in the NFL playing with Andrew Luck. The Colts were wildly aggressive as expected and signed two solid veteran defensive pieces in Trent Cole and Kendall Langford. They also brought back safety Mike Adams.
  1. Torrey Smith's expected deal with San Francisco went down Tuesday. They also reportedly brought back Blaine Gabbert. That should pacify 49ers fans after a great offseason, right?
  1. Pernell McPhee completed his contract with Chicago. The Bears have spent big money on Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and McPhee in the last two offseasons. We'll see if it's enough to build a pass rush. A lot of teams have spent a lot of bad money on Baltimore's defensive leftovers.
  1. Revis wasn't the only big Patriots loss of the day. Shane Vereen was the new school Kevin Faulk, and he's headed to the Giants. The Patriots need to sign a veteran and draft a running back or two.
  1. Atlanta figured to be active fixing their defense, and got off to an underwhelming start Tuesday. They picked up Brooks Reed and Justin Durant. Brian Orakpo remains an intriguing name on the market.
  1. The Raiders made a smart bargain signing former Redskins running back Roy Helu. They also picked up former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. Somewhere, Al Davis is smiling.
  1. One of the biggest upsets Tuesday: The Seahawks paid Cary Williams $7 million guaranteed for 2015. That's a tough one to figure out.
  1. Brandon Browner and Vince Wilfork are officially free agents. The Patriots didn't seem too interested in bringing Browner back because he simply wasn't that good last season. With that said, their top three cornerbacks are now Kyle Arrington, Malcolm Butler, and Logan Ryan. They have some work to do.
  1. We'll wrap up our recap with a look ahead to Wednesday. DeMarco Murray's market should heat up, and Percy Harvin is visiting Buffalo.

Topping Tuesday's action will require roughly five Hall of Famers and 3 starting quarterbacks to change teams. At this point, we're not ruling anything out.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast analyzes early free agency news, including Ndamukong Suh to Miami, Devin McCourty's new deal and much more. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content