John Elway is on a rampage. Having already signed former Browns safety T.J. Ward on an absolute bargain and having yanked cornerback Aqib Talib away from the Patriots, the Denver Broncos executive was rumored to be on the verge of landing yet another Pro Bowl defender in Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Ware has signed a three-year contract with the Broncos on Wednesday worth $30 million, with $20 million of that being guaranteed.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
Dallas released its all-time sack leader on Tuesday afternoon following a disappointing 2013 season in which he failed to record double-digit sacks for the first time since his rookie season in 2005. Hampered by injuries, the 31-year-old played in 13 games and drew criticism from owner Jerry Jones for his lack of production. While injuries and age certainly factored into the decision, the club's choice to release Ware was based more on the cap-strapped Cowboys' finances than the defender's performance issues.
Denver ranked 13th in the league in sacks last season, but finished 27th against the pass. Adding Ware's pass-rushing ability to compliment the additions of Ward and Talib on the back end will go a long way in turning that around.
Bucs can't find trade partner for Darrelle Revis, release him
All of the Revis rumors that he'd be traded or released came to fruition on Wednesday, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially letting him go, per Mike Garafolo.
Revis played just one season for Tampa Bay, after the Bucs traded a first-round pick to the New York Jets to acquire him, and then signed him to a $16 million-a-year, no guarantees contract. Without having to pay him anything in the future if they simply release him, the team decided to cut their losses following a disappointing 4-12 finish last year.
The Jets used the pick acquired from Tampa to draft Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson.
The Buccaneers signed cornerback Alterraun Verner on Tuesday, and he'll assume the role of No. 1 corner on the defense.
Lions sign Golden Tate to complement Megatron
The Detroit Lions have been looking for someone to consistently play opposite of Calvin Johnson for quite some time, and now they are banking on that someone to be former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. The Lions have signed Tate to a five-year deal, per the teams official website.
Tate won a Super Bowl with Seattle in 2013 and is coming off of his finest professional season.
A former second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2010, Tate was the third pick of the John Schneider and Pete Carroll era for the Seahawks. His first two seasons were rather inconsistent, but Tate started to put things together in 2012 with quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm. He had 64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns last season, while also returning 51 punts for 11.5 yards per return.
Tate has also been one of the leaders in "missed or broken tackles" over each of the last two years.
Detroit had been looking to replace the released Nate Burleson, another former Seattle wide receiver, as the No. 2 opposite of Johnson. Tate should get a lot more targets in the Lions offense than he did with the Seahawks.
Steve Smith's agent: "(Smith) is not going to play for the Panthers next season"
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was "disappointed and surprised" when he learned that general manager Dave Gettleman wasn't sure about Smith's future with the team. Agent Derrick Fox told the Associated Press on Wednesday that his client would not be returning to the team next year and that a transaction "is going to take place" at some point.
Smith is set to make $7 million next season and Fox says that they have not attempted to restructure the extension he signed with the team in 2012. He is set to be a Panther until 2016, but it now appears that he's played his last game with Carolina.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
Smith has only played for the Panthers over his 13-year career that includes five Pro Bowl selections and seven seasons of at least 1,000 yards, but the 34-year-old receiver had just 745 yards last season as the offense failed to perform at the same level as the defense. Carolina went 12-4 and secured the No. 2 seed in the NFC, but lost in the divisional round to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Panthers are set to pay a ton of money to their defensive ends, as Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are currently slated to be the two highest-paid players on the roster next season. Hardy was given the franchise tag, which carries a 2014 cap figure of over $13 million unless he signs a new long-term deal.
It's possible that the team will have to replace their top three receivers from a year ago, with Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn both on the free-agent market. Tight end Greg Olsen led the team in receiving with 816 yards.
Browns cut their losses with other 2012 first-round pick
The Cleveland Browns released quarterback Brandon Weeden on Wednesday, per Mike Silver. Weeden was a first-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2012, going 22nd overall despite his advanced age for a college athlete.
Weeden was a 29-year-old rookie for Cleveland in 2012, when he had a passer rating of just 72.6 with 14 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He lost his job several times in 2013, first to Brian Hoyer and then later to Jason Campbell, both of whom appeared to play much better than Weeden.
The Browns had acquired the pick used on Weeden from the Atlanta Falcons, who had traded up the year before to select Julio Jones out of Alabama. Cleveland had their own pick in 2012, the third overall selection, and used that on Alabama running back Trent Richardson, whom they traded to the Colts in 2013 for a first-round pick. The Browns were able to recoup some of their losses on Richardson, but will simply be parting ways with Weeden for nothing.
Other than perhaps a lesson on what not to do with their two first-round picks in 2014.
Josh McCown signs two-year deal with Tampa Bay
Many in Chicago felt that Josh McCown earned a chance to start long-term for the Bears last season, but that did not come to fruition when Jay Cutler was healthy again. But McCown could be getting a chance to start in 2014 with another team. The Buccaneers agreed to a two-year contract with McCown on Wednesday.
Rapaport says the deal is for $10 million, with McCown getting $4.75 million in 2014.
McCown was one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the NFL last season, as he threw 13 touchdowns and just one interception while replacing Cutler for five games. He averaged 8.2 yards per attempt and thrive in head coach Marc Trestman's offense. He will now be playing for Lovie Smith in Tampa, the coach who Trestman replaced in 2013.
Smith will have to decide between McCown, second-year player Mike Glennon, and possibly a third player as the starting quarterback for the Bucs next season as they try to rebound from a 4-12 season. The team has already been one of the busiest teams in free agency, shopping cornerback Darrelle Revis while signing Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner, and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald.
Jared Allen isn't taking any discounts, would reportedly be fine with retirement
It's clear that veteran defensive end Jared Allen's tenure in Minnesota is over after six years with the Vikings, but is his time in the NFL coming close to the end as well? Allen has averaged 13 sacks per season over his 10 years with the Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs, and Ian Rapaport reports that Allen wants to be paid "fair value" for his services.
If not, Rapaport says that he's told that Allen would be "at peace living his life without football."
Allen certainly shouldn't need to keep playing for the money, as he just wrapped up a six-year, $72 million contract with Minnesota, but it also appears he wants to feel respected by his next team. He is reportedly receiving interesting from the Bears and Seahawks, with Seattle reportedly releasing defensive end Chris Clemons on Wednesday in a cap saving move.
Allen was linked to the Broncos early in the free agency period, but reportedly think he'll be too expensive.
Randy Starks re-signs with Dolphins
The 30-year-old Starks has been to two Pro Bowls during his six seasons in Miami. A top run-stopper, he also adds a pass-rushing element, having recorded at least four sacks in each of the last three seasons.
Henry Melton set to visit with Vikings
Defensive tackle Henry Melton was a Pro Bowler in 2012 and given the franchise tag by the Chicago Bears so he wouldn't walk away, but following a knee injury that cost him all but three games in 2013, it appears he could be headed to a division rival. ESPN's Rick Goessling reported on Wednesday that Melton will visit with the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.
Melton record 13 sacks total over the 2011 and 2012 seasons from the interior of the defensive line and helped the Bears rank third in scoring defense in 2012. He was carted off of the field in the third week of 2013 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and placed on injured reserve following an MRI.
Minnesota is rebuilding their defensive line following the likely free agency departures of Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, and signing Linval Joseph away from the Giants to start in the interior. Melton would get a chance to compete for reps and likely try to rebuild his value on a one-year, "prove it" deal.
Patriots meet with Brandon LaFell, but Broncos are interested too
The New England Patriots are meeting with former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell on Wednesday, per Ian Rapaport. If LaFell does not sign with the Patriots, Rapaport says that the Denver Broncos are showing "huge interest" in him, likely as a replacement for free agent Eric Decker.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
LaFell has been a bit of a disappointment to Carolina fans that had been waiting for him to improve upon a promising second season in which he had 36 catches for 613 yards, but LaFell has averaged just 652 yards per years in the two seasons since. The 6'2, 208-pound receiver was a third-round pick out of LSU in 2010, but was unable to secure a position as the No. 2 option opposite of Steve Smith.
It now appears that both LaFell and Smith, who is in a possible cap casualty or trade candidate, could be on their way out of town. Smith's agent said on Wednesday that the veteran receiver will not be with Carolina next season.
The Patriots are likely interested in LaFell as a replacement to free agent Julian Edelman, who accounted for 105 catches and 1,056 yards last season, but also had six fumbles.
Owen Daniels emerges as possible replacement to Jermichael Finley in Green Bay
Former Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels is set to make a visit with the Packers, according to Tom Silverstein. Daniels, 31, was released on Tuesday after eight seasons with the Texans. He played his college football at the nearby University of Wisconsin before Houston drafted him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft.
Daniels best season as a receiver came back in 2008, when he had a career-high 70 catches and 862 yards, but he was named to the Pro Bowl as recently as 2012.
Green Bay is likely going to lose Jermichael Finley to free agency and will need a viable replacement. Daniels was placed on injured reserve with designation to return after five games when he suffered a broken fibula, but he was never activated later in the year as expected. He had 252 yards and three touchdowns on the season before the injury.
Ryan Clark will meet with Redskins
Veteran safety Ryan Clark said on Wednesday that he plans to meet with the Washington Redskins, after spending the last eight years with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Clark previously played for the Redskins in 2004-2005 after playing the first two years of his career with the New York Giants.
An undrafted free agent out of LSU, Clark was named to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and has started 137 career games.
The Redskins have had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL over the last two years and do not have a first-round pick this year due to the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012. The St. Louis Rams possess Washington's second overall pick in May. The Redskins already re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a new four-year contract.
Bengals plan to match Browns' offer sheet to Andrew Hawkins
Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins may not be heading to Cleveland after all. The Cincinnati Bengals plan to match the four-year, $12.2 million offer sheet the Browns extended to the restricted free agent on Tuesday, according to Schefter.
Because the Bengals tendered Hawkins at the right-of-first-refusal level in restricted free agency, they would not have received any compensatory picks had they allowed him to leave.
The diminutive and speedy 28-year-old has largely played out of the slot during his three seasons in Cincinnati, grabbing 86 receptions for 995 yards and four touchdowns.
Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, Terrell Thomas meeting with Raiders
Elsewhere in the AFC West, the Oakland Raiders are looking to strengthen their own defensive line after losing Lamarr Houston to the Bears on Tuesday. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and former Steelers linebacker Lamarr Woodley are both scheduled to visit the team on Wednesday, according to Schefter.
Schefter later added that Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas would also be meeting with Oakland.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
Tuck had a productive 11-sack campaign in his ninth year with the Giants, but was somewhat overlooked amidst the train wreck of a season in New York. At 30, he still figures to be a productive pass-rusher. Injuries hampered Woodley, who missed five games and finished the 2013 with five sacks. The Steelers released him on Tuesday, electing to re-sign the younger and more productive Jason Worilds instead. Woodley's lack of production last season is concerning, but he'll come much cheaper than when the Steelers made him the highest-paid player in franchise history in 2011.
Thomas missed all of 2011 and 2012 with an ACL injury, but played in all 16 games in 2013 with seven starts, eight passes defensed, and one interception. He has played at both cornerback and safety.
Seahawks finally release Chris Clemons
After weeks of speculation, the Seattle Seahawks finally made the cap-saving move of releasing veteran defensive end Chris Clemons on Wednesday, per Albert Breer. The move should save them $7.5 million against the 2014 cap and possibly could signal a significant free-agent signing on the horizon.
Clemons was one of the very first acquisitions by Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider four years ago, as they converted him to the "LEO" position and took a five-year veteran with 20 career sacks and helped him reach 33.5 sacks over the next three years. Clemons tore his ACL against the Washington Redskins in the 2012 playoffs, but managed to return to play in 14 games last season, admittedly with mixed results.
He was considerably active in the Seahawks Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos, notching a sack and three tackles as Seattle coasted to their first championship.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will likely be one of the first rumored teams to inquire on Clemons, as head coach Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator in Seattle from 2009-12.
Giants deal with O'Brien Schofield is on hold
It was reported on Tuesday that the Giants signed OLB/DE O'Brien Schofield to a two-year, $8 million deal, but Rapaport says that the deal is on hold due to concerns about his knee following his physical. Schofield spent 2013 with the Seattle Seahawks and mostly provided depth and insurance on the defense.
New York is looking for some presence on the edge following the likely departure of Justin Tuck.
The future of Revis?
Darrelle Revis will be playing somewhere in the NFL next year, but it won't be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by all indications. A few of the teams who might be in play for the corner's services are the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, according to Ian Rapaport:
As Rapoport says, the real question is would any of those teams actually trade for him and take the $16 million cap hit? All of the aforementioned teams could afford it, but might want to wait Tampa Bay out. If the Buccaneers don't release Revis by Wednesday, they are on the hook to pay him a bonus.
It will be intriguing to see how this plays out in the coming hours and (potentially) days.
Jon Beason re-signs with Giants
Linebacker Jon Beason, acquired by the New York Giants from the Carolina Panthers in a trade last season, has re-signed with the Giants, according to Ian Rapaport. Beason lost his starting job with the Panthers to Chase Blackburn and was subsequently dealt to New York for a seventh-round pick. He started 10 games for the Giants, recording 83 total tackles and an interception.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
Beason was a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker with Carolina after being selected 25th overall in the 2007 draft out of the University of Miami. He signed a five-year, $50 million contract in 2011, but missed all but one game of the next season due to an injured left Achilles tendon. He played in just four games in 2012 and lost his job as the starting middle linebacker to Luke Kuechly.
Injuries and the improvement of young players quickly set the stage for Beason's exit in Carolina after signing such a large contract, but he looks to rejuvenate his career now with New York. Beason just turned 29 in January.
Ben Tate pays Cleveland a visit
Houston Texans running back Ben Tate might be taking his talents to ... Cleveland, per Adam Schefter. The Browns desperately need to fill their backfield out after trading Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick.
Tate has been playing second-fiddle to Arian Foster since being drafted by Houston back in the second round of 2011. His best season came as a rookie when he averaged 5.4 yards per carry and gained 942 rushing yards. Last season, Willis McGahee led the team with an astounding total of 377 yards on the ground, including 2.7 yards per attempt.
Alex Mack touring Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been busy thus far this offseason, signing Zane Beadles and Red Bryant among other moves. However, their biggest signing could still be in the wings, according to Ian Rapoport:
Mack is one of the top centers in football and widely regarded as the best interior lineman on the market. The Browns slapped the transition tag on Mack, forcing a team to pay him the guaranteed salary of $10.039 million in 2014. Cleveland has the right to match any offer, but Mack's agent, Marvin Demoff, believes they can structure a deal the Browns won't sign, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Jacksonville is trying to replace longtime center Brad Meester, who retired after the season.
Giants re-sign kicker Josh Brown
Veteran kicker Josh Brown seems to have officially resurrected his career, signing a two-year, $2.5 million contract with another $500,000 in incentives with the New York Giants, according to Mike Garafolo. Brown, 34, made the most of his opportunity with the Giants last year, connecting on 23-of-26 field goal attempts.
He had previously spent five years with the Seattle Seahawks before signing a big free-agent deal with the St. Louis Rams in 2008, but he struggled in 2011 and became a free agent again. Brown played in four games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012 and was 11-of-12 on field goals. He has not proven, however, to be reliable from long range.
Brown is just 2-of-6 from beyond 50 yards over the last three seasons combined.