The Denver Broncos are not playing around this free agency period. On Tuesday, the team added both safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib, signing both to sizable contracts. On Wednesday, they upped the ante even more, bringing in former Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
SB Nation NFL
SB Nation NFL
Maybe John Elway was originally brought in to be more of an ambassador than an executive as many thought at the time, but the results over the past two seasons are impossible to argue with: the man brings in talent. Ware, Talib and Ward come with their own concerns, but the upside far outweighs the downside in these situations.
Ware is one of the top pass rushers in the league and was released less for his injury concerns and diminished play in 2013 and more for the fact that the Cowboys are hurting big time for salary cap space. Dallas only recently became cap compliant, and by releasing Ware, the team saves over $7 million.
Denver fielded the most productive offense in NFL history last season, but the defense frequently came up short, including in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. If you've been living under a rock: Denver lost that game big time, and it's clear that all of these moves have been made in an attempt to create parity with the offense. Ward, Talib and now Ware will all look to take the unit to new heights next season.
The Broncos still have plenty of money to burn. There's still just about $10 million remaining on the books for the 2014 season, with most of the top starters accounted for.
Here's what else you might have missed from Wednesday in the NFL:
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could not find a trade partner and had to release star cornerback Darrelle Revis. The release was due to his high cap number and the fact that he didn't quite fit in with Lovie Smith's defense. Revis hit the open market and was immediately pursued by the New England Patriots, who were able to secure his services. It was slightly surprising to see Revis only being signed for one year, but it's a good deal for both sides, as they can see whether a long-term deal is the right fit.
Well, this was about as Oakland Raiders as it's going to get. Oakland let Jared Veldheer walk in free agency, gave Rodger Saffold one of the highest cap hits in the NFL to fill his spot ... and then announced that Saffold had failed his physical. Now, he'll return to the St. Louis Rams on a five-year contract. The rams reportedly have no concerns whatsoever when it comes to Saffold's health. Now the Raiders have no left tackle, a big pile of money, and a diminished market for offensive tackles that was among the best we'd ever seen just a couple days ago.
Eric Decker, the top wide receiver on the open market, drew little attention at the start of free agency. More accurately, there were very few reports regarding teams being interested in his services. That changed Wednesday night when the Jets agreed to terms with Decker. Decker had 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns with the Denver Broncos last season. He was a big part of Denver's record-setting offense and will be the No. 1 with the Jets.
The Detroit Lions agreed to terms with free agent wide receiver Golden Tate on Wednesday. Detroit has long been looking for a receiver to pair with Calvin Johnson, the top receiver in the NFL, and Tate is a solid fit. A four-year veteran with the Seattle Seahawks, Tate has never eclipsed 900 yards receiving in a single season, but he's improved each year and should flourish with Matthew Stafford throwing him the football in Detroit's pass-first offense. Tate's deal will pay him $31 million over five years.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith will move on from the team next season. After general manager Dave Gettleman spoke of Smith's career in Carolina in the past tense, it was clear something was going to happen. But Smith's agent confirmed the sentiment on Wednesday, saying that some kind of transaction will take place that will force Smith out before next season gets underway. He could be released or traded, though the former seems more likely given his relatively high cap hit for 2014-15.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to terms with quarterback Josh McCown on a two-year contract Wednesday. McCown was expected to come and compete with second-year quarterback Mike Glennon and possibly a rookie, but Lovie Smith named him his starting quarterback on Wednesday. Smith said that the team needs a starting point from which they can go, and he said that McCown is that guy. Obviously, Glennon and maybe someone else will get a chance to unseat him, but it's McCown's job to lose going forward thanks to his strong play with the Chicago Bears a season ago.
The Cleveland Browns elected to release quarterback Brandon Weeden on Wednesday. Weeden was set to count for just over $2 million against the cap next season, but will now have a cap hit of over $4 million. This move will save money in 2015, not this season. Weeden was considered a desperation pick by many, including the ownership in Cleveland, and how his time with the team is up. The released fellow quarterback Jason Campbell earlier in the day. Campbell played well for stretches last season, but the Browns are clearly going in a different direction.
The Baltimore Ravens got in on the action Wednesday, re-signing wide receiver Jacoby Jones. The team managed to get him signed to a four-year contract after reports of Jones visiting with the New York Giants. Baltimore is a solid deep threat receiver, and a player the Ravens were targeting for re-sign once the regular season came to an end. He should be a big part of Baltimore's offense and will be a primary return man with the team next season.