One of the busiest free-agency signing periods in recent memory is still only two days old, and fans have already seen a long list of NFL stars finding new homes, headed by Darrelle Revis and DeMarcus Ware. Revis, a cornerback, has signed with the New England Patriots after being waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ware, a defensive end, was cut by the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday and signed by the Denver Broncos on Wednesday.
The Revis signing by the Patriots was necessitated by the departure on Tuesday of cornerback Aqib Talib, who took a deal with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were in need of someone at the cornerback position after releasing Champ Bailey. Revis, who spent one year with the Bucs after playing for the Jets for six years, agreed to join the Patriots just hours after his release from Tampa Bay. The value of the contract is a reported $12 million for one year.
Ware was lured to Denver by a three-year $30 million contract and a chance to get to the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The 31-year old out of Troy University was drafted by the Cowboys in 2005 and had played all nine years in Dallas. He has 117 sacks in his career.
Revis and Ware are not the only NFL stars finding new homes in the first days of free agency. The Chicago Bears went into the off-season wanting to return their defense to the elite status that has defined the team over the years. They found help in Lamarr Houston, a leader at defensive end for the Raiders last year, and safety Ryan Mundy, who anchored the Giants secondary last season.
The Bears lost an important part of their offense, however, as backup quarterback Josh McCown signed a new contract and headed south for Tampa Bay. McCown played in eight games for the Bears last season, most of those while Jay Cutler nursed himself back to health from injuries, completing over 66 percent of his passes and amassing a quarterback rating of 109. New Buccaneers’ coach Lovie Smith, who was the Bears coach until a year ago, has already gone so far as to name McCown his starting quarterback over Mike Glennon. The Bucs have been one of the most active teams in free agency so far this year, signing defensive linemen Michael Johnson from Cincinnati and Clinton McDonald from Seattle, tight end Brandon Myers from the Giants and cornerback Alterraun Verner from the Tennessee Titans.
With Revis, Ware and others heading the list of NFL players finding new homes Tuesday and Wednesday, the litany will only grow in the days ahead. Still on the roster of players looking to sign with new teams are names like wide receiver Eric Decker of the Broncos, Bears defensive linemen Henry Melton, defensive tackle B.J. Raji and tight end Jermichael Finley from the Packers, Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, Minnesota Vikings Pro-Bowl defensive lineman Jared Allen and many others. Becoming a free-agent does not necessarily mean that these players will be with new teams next year, but in this hectic 2014 free agency period, change has been the rule rather than the exception.
By Chuck Podhaisky