The free agent signings came fast and pricey as soon as the 2014 NFL season officially began on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The New England Patriots were completely silent, but anyone who was expecting them to throw their money around was destined to be disappointed. The Patriots chose not to pay up for Aqib Talib, who left for the rival Denver Broncos.
The Patriots stayed neutral — while Darrelle Revis is still out there, at least — on Tuesday. Check out the big winners and losers from Day 1 of free agency.
WINNERS: Denver Broncos
The Broncos managed to sign 2013 second-team All-Pro T.J. Ward to a four-year, $23 million contract with $14 million guaranteed. That’s a bargain for one of the best safeties in the NFL. Ward can play free or strong safety, though he’s generally better against the run than the pass.
The Broncos also signed Talib away from the Patriots for big bucks. It’s a risky deal, but it takes a great player off the Broncos’ best competition.
LOSERS: Cleveland Browns
The Browns chose to sign Donte Whitner for $28 million over four years rather than keeping Ward — the better player. The Browns had plenty of money to spend under the cap, but perhaps Ward was willing to take less money to play for a winner. The Browns still see a drop off at the position for more money.
The Browns also signed 32-year-old linebacker Karlos Dansby to a four-year $24 million contract after they released D’Qwell Jackson for being too old and slow. The Browns gave Cincinnati Bengals restricted free agent slot recevier Andrew Hawkins a four-year, $14.9 million offer sheet with $4 million guaranteed. That’s a lot of money for a player that caught 12 passes for 199 yards in 2013.
WINNERS: Offensive Tackles
The offensive linemen came off the market fast on Tuesday. Eugene Monroe (Baltimore Ravens), Jared Veldheer (Arizona Cardinals), Branden Albert (Miami Dolphins) and Rodger Saffold (Oakland Raiders) all agreed to deals worth more than $35 million over five years.
The Ravens got the best deal in Monroe, who signed for $35 million. Albert got the most money from the Dolphins, signing for $46 million.
LOSERS: Running Backs
There was little market for the top running backs during Day 1 of the 2014 NFL season. Darren McFadden (Raiders) and Ahmad Bradshaw (Indianapolis Colts) both signed one-year deals and Rashad Jennings signed an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants.
Former Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart got the best deal signing a three-year deal worth $10.5 million with the Jaguars.
Running backs are unreliable and break down after just a few years in the league. The Patriots should have no problem bringing LeGarrette Blount back at a reasonable price.
WINNERS: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars were able to unload quarterback Blaine Gabbert on the San Francisco 49ers for a 2014 sixth-round pick and 2015 conditional pick. That’s pretty amazing value considering Gabbert’s poor play over the past three years.
LOSERS: Jacksonville Jaguars
Unfortunately, Gabbert originally cost the Jaguars the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, so let’s face it: Jacksonville still comes out of this trade as losers.
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