NFL: Blockbuster trades highlight first day of league year
The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — As free agency began Tuesday, the NFL looked more like fantasy football.
Monster deals sending Jimmy Graham to Seattle and Sam Bradford to Philadelphia stole the spotlight from free agent signings.
The biggest free agency move was made by the Jets, digging into their past and bringing back cornerback Darrelle Revis, according to his agents.
New Orleans agreed to send its star tight end to the Seahawks for center Max Unger, with draft picks changing hands. The Saints are to get a first-round pick, while Seattle receives a fourth-rounder.
That stunner was followed by Bradford, the injury-prone quarterback who barely has played the past two years (knee), going to Philadelphia for Nick Foles, who also comes off an injury-shortened season (collarbone) and is headed to St. Louis. Bradford was the top overall draft pick in 2010.
Foles is the latest starter to depart Philadelphia. He joins two-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy, now in Buffalo, and Pro Bowl wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, headed for Kansas City, in going elsewhere.
Philadelphia also added Seahawks starting cornerback Byron Maxwell as a free agent with a six-year deal. And Seattle brought in cornerback Cary Williams, formerly of the Eagles and a 2012 Super Bowl winner with the Ravens.
Baltimore dealt nose tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit, which is about to lose All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency. Ngata, 31 and a five-time Pro Bowler, is due $8.5 million next season and has a $16 million salary cap figure.
The Bills confirmed acquiring McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso; McCoy also signed a contract extension for $40 million over five years.
The Jets also confirmed a previously agreed upon trade, getting receiver Brandon Marshall from Chicago for a fifth-round draft pick. The Jets released WR-KR Percy Harvin, whom they acquired last season from Seattle.
Carolina released DeAngelo Williams, its career rushing leader.
Two retirements also drew attention away from the chase for free agents. Five-time All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, the heart of San Francisco’s defense for eight seasons, called it quits. The 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year is leaving because of recurrent toe and feet injuries.
“In my head, I’m already a Hall of Famer,” Willis said. “I am leaving this with closure, saying that I am happy today, more happy today than I was the day I was drafted. That says something to me.”
Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker, his four-year pro career ravaged by injuries, also retired, saying he has no “burning desire” to keep playing.
The 49ers lost another mainstay when running back Frank Gore, their career rushing leader, joined the Colts.
Linebacker A.J. Hawk, who grew up in Ohio and attended Ohio State, agreed to terms with Cincinnati on a two-year deal. Hawk spent his first nine seasons in Green Bay.
Jacksonville, with lots of salary cap room, grabbed tight end Julius Thomas away from Denver among a slew of moves. The Jaguars agreed to deals with defensive end Jared Odrick, right tackle Jermey Parnell, cornerback Davon House, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown.
Thomas agreed on a five-year deal worth $46 million, with $24 million guaranteed.
Arizona got probably the best run blocker in this year’s group, guard Mike Iupati, who agreed on a five-year, $40 million contract with $22.5 million guaranteed. The 6-foot-5, 331-pound lineman played five seasons with San Francisco, is a three-time Pro Bowl player and made the All-Pro team in 2012.
Arizona also re-signed linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
The Falcons fortified the middle of new coach Dan Quinn’s defense by signing free-agent linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant.
Among other official free agency moves early in the process were LB Malcolm Smith, the 2014 Super Bowl MVP with Seattle, who agreed to terms with Oakland; DE Kendall Langford to Indianapolis; WR Brian Hartline to Cleveland; S Tyvon Branch to Kansas City; TE Owen Daniels to Denver; G Orlando Franklin to San Diego; CB Buster Skrine to the Jets; FB Jerome Felton to Buffalo; and QB Shaun Hill to Minnesota, which also re-signed RB Matt Asiata.
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