It appears the NFL may have been preoccupied with March Madness on Thursday, as a relatively quiet day in free agency might lead one to believe teams were taking the day off. Nonetheless, it was a day of depth signings and addressing needs as teams improved their rosters with moves that lacked flash.
Some of the league's top talent remains unsigned, with Elvis Dumervil and Brent Grimes still without teams. The players who found homes Thursday were those who aren't necessarily of elite caliber, but who offer short-term options to teams in need of long-term cap relief.
Brad Jones re-signs with Green Bay
The former seventh-round pick was given his first real chance to start for the Packers in 2012, and made the most of the opportunity. Finishing with a career-high 77 tackles and two sacks, Jones was integral to Green Bay's defense, and management agreed as they signed him Thursday. The move keeps Jones and A.J. Hawk together, giving the Packers more flexibility in the draft to address other needs.
Carolina signs Ted Ginn to one-year deal
Boasting one of the league's worst special teams units, the Carolina Panthers took strides to improve their return game as the organization signed Ted Ginn, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers. He may have lost a step since returning from injury in 2011, but even a hobbled Ginn is infinitely better than the Panthers' other options at the position. New general manager Dave Gettleman is building the team on one-year deals, patching together a roster to get out from under cap constraints he inherited.
Adam Jones returns to the Bengals
Settling down considerably since his early troubles, Jones has found a home in the Bengals' defense and quietly become one of the league's better nickel cornerbacks. Now he's continuing that journey, as Jones Tweeted that he's signing a new deal. Starting five games in 2012, he posted nine passes defended, his highest since his rookie season in 2005. While Jones carried more importance to Cincinnati than he did around the NFL, it's still a relief for the organization to keep their potent defense together.
Cardinals get pass rush help in Frostee Rucker
There are bigger pass-rushing names in free agency than Rucker, but it's his ability to seal the edge and stop the run that will be invaluable in Arizona, as the Cardinals signed him Thursday. The Cleveland Browns let him go as they transition into a new 3-4 defense, allowing the Cardinals to try and improve their woeful run defense. Coming off a career-high 48 tackles and four sacks, the veteran defensive tackle is an immediate upgrade.
Cincinnati adds backup quarterback Josh Johnson
With the departure of Bruce Gradkowski, the Bengals were in the market for a new quarterback to back up Andy Dalton, and they found him Thursday as the team signed Johnson to a contract. Drafted by older brother Jon, he now joins Jay Gruden's offense to solidify the position and add some athleticism. With a career rating of 57.7, the Bengals will hope they'll never need to rely on him. However he's an upgrade over Gradkowski, who failed to complete 46 percent of his passes during his two years in Cincinnati.