Although it lacked the flurry of deals from the first three days of free agency, Friday was still a busy and impactful day around the NFL.
Let's recap the day that was with the good, the bad and the ugly.
SB Nation NFL
SB Nation NFL
It wasn't long ago Nicks was one of the rising stars in the NFL. He was in the discussion for the best young receiver in the league, posting a pair of 1,000-yard seasons. Injuries derailed his path to stardom during the last two seasons, but even at less than 100 percent, he showed flashes. With injuries a major concern, Nicks settled for a one-year "prove it deal," which could wind up being a steal for the Colts. At $3.5 million, the deal is well worth the potential risk. If Nicks can regain even close to his previous form and remain healthy, he might prove to be the most valuable signing of all. That's a significant "if."
Indianapolis needed a boost in its wide receiver corps. T.Y. Hilton is an excellent young player, but the depth surrounding him has questions. Although Reggie Wayne will return from a knee injury, his production was already dropping off. A healthy Nicks would be a difference maker.
On paper, giving a three-year contract to a soon-to-be 35-year-old wide receiver is not a very good idea. When it comes to Steve Smith, however, it's hard to judge a deal on paper. Smith has appeared to be in decline before, only to rebound with another productive season. Even if he has indeed lost a step or two, he should settle in as a very solid No. 2 receiver behind Torrey Smith. His hands remain as solid as ever, giving Joe Flacco a much-needed reliable target.
There is a chance -- maybe even a good one -- Smith doesn't remain productive for the life of the deal. Even if that's the case, Baltimore committed just $11 million total, including a $3.5 million signing bonus. The deal won't have a long-term impact on Baltimore's salary cap and should make the Ravens better next season. The deal also gets good marks because it means Smith and the Ravens will host his old team next season. We'll see if blood and guts actually end up everywhere.
The Titans made another splash in free agency, although this one was more of a belly flop. Tennessee handed Michael Oher a four-year deal worth $20 million, including $9.5 million guaranteed. That is an above average-contract for a player who's proven to be a below average. Oher never developed like you'd expect a former first-round pick to develop. He can't play left tackle and struggled at right tackle last season. Pro Football Focus graded him 68th among 76 tackles.
Jimmy Morris of Music City Miracles summed up why this deal ended up in the bad:
Michael Oher wasn't good last year. Hopefully he will be in 2014. I don't really know what else to say about the signing. I like that they added a veteran to play right tackle....I just wish that they would have gotten one that was, you know, good at football.
The Ugly The bizarre circumstances of Brandon Browner
The deal itself isn't ugly by any means, but the circumstances which led to it were strange enough that it got its own section. Here is a timeline of how things went down.
Thursday, 10:07 p.m. ET - Ian Rapoport of NFL media tweets Browner and the Patriots "reached" a two-year deal. That deal was reportedly worth $10 million.
Thursday, 10:29 p.m. - Browner's agent, Peter Schaffer, told Pro Football Talk the report of a deal was "100 percent untrue." Schaffer, who was in the middle of a rec league hockey game, blamed irresponsible journalists. Browner was reportedly set to leave Boston and visit the Redskins Thursday night.
Friday, 9:31 a.m. - Rapoport tweets that Browner's visit with Washington Thursday night was cancelled.
Friday, 10:03 a.m. - Mike Florio reports Browner's visit wasn't cancelled, but instead rescheduled for Friday. In his report, Florio said negotiations were occurring with the Saints and Raiders in addition to the interest from New England and Washington.
Friday, 6:23 p.m. - Albert Breer reports Browner is still in New England and the visit with Washington never happened.
Friday, 7:09 p.m. - Josina Anderson reports Browner and the Patriots agreed to a three-year deal worth $17 million.
Friday, 7:30 p.m. - Rapoport reports Browner never intended to visit Washington and the reported interest from New Orleans and Oakland "wasn't real."
So to sum things up, Browner was signing with New England, then wasn't and was visiting Washington. Then the Washington visit was off, then on, then off again. The Saints and Raiders were in things, but they really weren't. And eventually Browner ended up signing with New England. The roughly 20-hour ordeal included a media back-and-forth and somehow Browner came away with another year and an extra $7 million. Well played, Peter Schaffer.