NFL Insider's Free Agency News
A Trade Kicks Off Free Agency
Within the first five minutes of free agency on Tuesday, the NFL had a huge transaction, and it wasn't a free agent signing. It was a trade between the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bears. The Fins sent WR Brandon Marshall to the Bears for two third round picks. The trade reunites Marshall with Jay Cutler, who was his quarterback with the Denver Broncos before Cutler was shipped off to Chicago.
This move by the Dolphins has many people scratching their head if they're trying to lure Peyton Manning to Miami. Some could argue that they are making room to bring in Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark to pair with Manning, but if this doesn't happen, the Dolphins are going to be in serious trouble offensively. With this trade, they are going to need to act quick in free agency and bring some skill players in, even if they don't get Manning. Sources have said Matt Flynn is not interested in going to Miami and that the Seahawks and Browns are the front runners to earn his services in 2012, so it's hard to say who is going to be the Dolphins QB next season. They can look in the draft at a Weeden or Tannenhill if they can jump up a bit, but it's going to take some work.
As for the Bears, this makes their offense much more dynamic with a number one receiver on the roster for the first time since Willie Gault or Tommy Waddle. This needed to happen now because the Bears aren't getting any younger on defense, so the window of opportunity is closing quickly for them to win a championship. The Bears stole this guy from the Dolphins with two third round picks. With Marshall's attitude history, this would be a legitimate deal to any other team, but he's familiar with Jay Cutler and Lovie Smith runs a very structured system in Chicago that I believe will allow Marshall to flourish in the offense. There are also talks that the Bears are looking to sign free agent Mario Williams to line up opposite of Julius Peppers, which would make this the most dynamic pass rushing ends perhaps in NFL history.
First Free Agent Claimed Is...
Pierre Garcon. The former Colt receiver agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins as the first free agent off the board as the 2012 NFL season began. This leaves the Colts without there two starting receivers, starting running back, starting quarterback, starting tight end, and possibly three starting lineman as we enter the new season. The Colts have to be considered an expansion team at best. I can't remember in my 32 years of seeing a team gutted like this from top to bottom. The plan is for new head coach Chuck Pagano to build this team like a Baltimore Ravens club, and that's going to take some time. It's also going to take a feature running back, which the Colts do not have.
Vincent Jackson to Tampa?
As I write this, it's not official yet but sources say that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are close to signing WR Vincent Jackson from the Chargers. This is a huge move for both teams. Tampa brings in a legitimate one for Josh Freeman, and Philip Rivers loses his best weapon in San Diego. AJ Smith should have gotten this deal done last year or traded him, that way the team could have gotten something out of this, but now they are left with empty hands and without their best weapon offensively for Rivers.
The Buccaneers will probably be even more active in free agency, as they have the deepest pockets as far as cap room this year. I look for them to try and bring in Cortland Finnegan or another corner if Brandon Carr ends up signing with the Cowboys.
It's been an exciting start to the free agency period, but there are a number of players out there yet that are looking for a new home, the biggest name being Peyton Manning. It looks as if he's narrowed it down to Denver, Arizona, or new running mate Tennessee. There are a number of running backs like Hillis, Jacobs, Tolbert, and Bush that are still looking for a new place to play in 2012. We'll keep you updated as signings happen.