Free agency after one month
April, 11, 2014
By Evan Kaplan | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesDeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers will all be in new cities come the fall.
Some of the game’s top defensive players have packed their bags, while the Denver Broncos have looked to bolster a defense that was exposed in the Super Bowl.
Here is a look at some of the major free agency headlines so far:
Broncos back at it
The Broncos were among the most active teams in the first few days of free agency.
DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, Emmanuel Sanders, T.J. Ward and Will Montgomery will all wear orange and blue in the fall. Denver is trying to become the third team in NFL history to lose the Super Bowl and then win the game in the following season (Cowboys in Super Bowl VI and Dolphins in Super Bowl VII).
But that effort has not been cheap.
The Broncos have spent more than $65 million in guaranteed money this offseason – second only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Denver seems to be following a similar script to its 2013 offseason, when the team signed five players in the first month of free agency, including Wes Welker and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
While the Broncos have added some notable players, they have also lost some big names. On the offensive side of the ball, Denver will have to replace Zane Beadles, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno. On defense, the Broncos will look to make up for the loss of Champ Bailey and Rodgers-Cromartie, among others.
Bucs spend big
The Buccaneers have added 15 free agents – the most of any team – so it is no surprise that the effort has been costly.
They’ve spent more than $70 million in guaranteed money in the first month of free agency, including re-signings.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, spending money early in free agency does not necessarily mean the future is bright. Four teams spent at least $50 million in the first month of free agency last season (Lions, Dolphins, Colts, Cowboys) and the Colts were the only one of those teams to make the playoffs in 2013.
Show them the money
In terms of contracts that have been reported, five of the six players to get at least $20 million in guaranteed money were defensive players.
The Saints gave safety Jarius Byrd $26.3 million – the most guaranteed money during the first month of free agency among reported contracts. The next highest was Branden Albert, Aqib Talib, Michael Johnson, DeMarcus Ware and then Vontae Davis (re-signed with team).
Pass rushers swap teams
Since the start of the 2010 season, Jared Allen and Julius Peppers have the first and third-most sacks among NFL North players.
Those two defensive ends changed teams within the division in the first month of free agency. Allen went from the Vikings to the Bears, while Peppers signed with the Packers after being released by Chicago.
Allen and Peppers rank in the top three in sacks among active players and Allen has 10 more sacks in his career, despite playing two fewer seasons.