I've tried to start writing about what we learned on Day 1 of free agency three different times. And I kept getting interrupted by more breaking news.
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We never have seen a first day of free agency this insane. More than 20 deals were "agreed to" within 30 minutes, with at least 10 signings dropping within five minutes. The top-10 unrestricted free agents on our big board heading into Tuesday agreed to deals by midnight. In all, 32 of our top-99 players entering the day have agreed to deals. That's up dramatically from a year ago.
Now I better write the rest of this fast before we learn anything else:
Broncos mean business
Denver lacked toughness and struggled to defend the pass at times last season. Enter safety T.J. Ward from Cleveland at a surprisingly affordable rate and Aqib Talib at a shockingly high price. Ware has a visit scheduled with Denver, and it would be an upset if John Elway didn't get his man. The Broncos know their championship window is short. Give Elway credit for going for it.
Safeties got paid
Our top six safeties all agreed to terms within six hours. Cleveland swapped out Ward for Donte Whitner. (Presumably because they don't like Ward in coverage.) The 49ersswapped out Whitner for Antoine Bethea. (Presumably because they don't like Whitner in coverage.) Ward somehow got less money from Denver than Whitner got in Cleveland. Malcolm Jenkinssigned one of our favorite cost-effective deals in Philadelphia. Mike Mitchell signed for the cursed number of $25 million over five years in Pittsburgh. (Yes, that's the same Mike Mitchell everyone laughed at Al Davis about back in the day.) Even safeties like Stevie Brown and Ryan Mundy got deals Tuesday.
Meanwhile, most running backs like Ben Tate were ignored. Other runners like Toby Gerhartin Jacksonville and Donald Brownin San Diego settled for the new McContract for the position: three years, and roughly $10 million. Parents shouldn't let their kids grow up to be running backs. They take brutal hits, have short careers and everyone gets the same contract as Shonn Greene.
Offensive tackles went fast
Branden Albert, Eugene Monroe, Jared Veldheer and Rodger Saffold all signed big contracts shortly after free agency started. (And if you don't know where they went, just go here. I'm tired.) Zane Beadles was the first guard to go, landing in Jacksonville. Our friend Evan Silva noted that Saffold got a better contract from the Raiders than Jake Longgot from the Rams a year ago. Yikes.
Veldheer was my favorite value of the bunch, upgrading an awful left tackle situation in Arizona. Saffold looked like the most overpaid player in all of free agency by Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie. That was until the Raiders gave New York Jets right tackle Austin Howard $15 million guaranteed on a $30 million contract after midnight.
The Browns had the strangest day, getting older at inside linebacker with Karlos Dansby and choosing Whitner over Ward. Dansby signed for one-year, $2.25 million in Arizona last year after getting released by Miami. Now he'll make $10 million in the first year and $14 million guaranteed from the Browns.
Big name Wednesday
Tuesday was crazy. Wednesday actually should include more big news from big names. It's still stunning that DeMarcus Ware is a free agent. The Cowboys held on to guys like Miles Austin, Ken Hamlin, Terence Newman, Jay Ratliff, Roy Williams and the other Roy Williams past their expiration dates. Ware, one of the greatest players in franchise history, didn't get the same consideration.
Perhaps Jerry Jones has learned to stop being so emotional when self scouting. Or perhaps Jones just had to pay up for all his past mistakes.
Hopefully you read this before it's wildly out of date.