1) Darrelle Revis (cornerback) - Tampa Bay Buccaneers to New England Patriots
The AFC arms race ratcheted up a notch after star cornerback Darrelle Revis - the man widely considered to be the best corner in the game - before Mr Sherman from Seattle so emphatically set us straight on that one - agreed terms with the New England Patriots on a one-year, $12 million contract, according to NFL Media's Albert Breer, via a Patriots source. ESPN were first to break the story.
Breer also intimated that that New England Patriots have designs on locking up Revis with a long-term deal. There is no provision in the contract that prevents the Patriots from applying the franchise tag on Revis in 2015.
Bill Belichick’s history strongly hints at a penchant for tough physical cornerbacks that can play man coverage, and there have been few better than Revis - until that unfortunate ACL tear that brought an abrupt end to his 2012 campaign.
2) Aqib Talib (cornerback) - New England Patriots to Denver Broncos
Next up is the very man Revis replaced in New England, and in another twist of fate, the man who joins another former Patriot in the form of Wes Welker, who many in Boston (Well, Bill Belichick and Patriot & Brady ‘super-fan’, ESPN lightening rod Skip Bayless) cite for causing the injury that effectively ended Super Bowl aspirations in New England. Training camp just got a whole lot more interesting…
As USA TODAY reporter Lindsay H Jones revealed in her March 11th column via www.usatoday.com, Talib, who put pen to paper on a six-year deal worth $57 million, including $26 million guaranteed on Tuesday night, will fill the void left by the recently released Champ Bailey.
In signing, Talib (arguably one the most schematically versatile at the position, a player who possesses an uncanny natural ability to neutralize the opposing team's top weapon in the passing game) becomes the second defensive back signed by the Broncos on the opening day of free agency, joining strong safety T.J. Ward from the Cleveland Browns - a sure sign if ever there was one that Denver are desperate to return to the promise land and extinguish any lingering scars left by that annihilation in New Jersey.
However, keeping Talib on the field to make the kind of impact required is another matter entirely…
3) Michael Johnson (defensive end) - Cincinnati Bengals to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, already awash with talent, have made a major statement of intent by adding one of the best free agents of this year - according to Yahoo Sports Frank Schwab, who revealed via ESPN’s Josina Anderson, that the Buccaneers have reached agreement with Micheal Johnson, who’s put pen to paper on a five-year, $43.75 million deal with $24 million guaranteed.
That could end up being the most guaranteed money any free agent gets this season. Johnson, with 26.5 career sacks in five Bengals seasons, was one of the few young pass rushers slated to hit the market that hadn't already been locked up before free agency started.
Behind Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn, the general quality of talent drops off when you factor in the likes of Steven Means and William Gholston into the equation. However, with the addition of such a disruptive presence, Tampa boasts one of the NFC's more formidable units on paper - with or without Darrelle Revis.
4) DeMarcus Ware (defensive end) - Dallas Cowboys to Denver Broncos
In signing premier pass rusher DeMarcus Ware from the perennial soap opera that is the Dallas Cowboys, Denver’s Super Bowl or bust march continued according to ESPN insider Adam Schefter who broke the story Wednesday.
‘Filed to ESPN: Pending a physical, former Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware reached agreement with Broncos on 3-year, $30M contract include $20M gtd’
The Dallas Cowboys, to the surprise of many released Ware, who in his nine years in the league has registered an impressive 117.0 sacks.
That being said, 31-year-old Ware’s productivity dipped dramatically in 2013, mainly due to an amalgamation of injuries, and as a result he could only muster a paltry six sacks. A considerable drop off when you consider he was averaging 15.5 sacks per season prior to last year. But, Ware only missed three games throughout the course of last season…
Elway will be hoping that last year represented little more than a mere aberration, not a definitive sign of decline.
5) Darren Sproles (running back) - New Orleans Saints to Philadelphia Eagles
The addition of Darren Sproles to the already potent Eagles offense provides coach Chip Kelly with yet another dynamic string to his already potent offensive bow.
Sproles told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Wednesday that Sproles would rather be released by the Saints than traded.
"I don't know where they would send me because I have no control over it, and I want to be able to pick [a team]," Sproles said.
The Saints opted to trade, instead of release Sproles due to overwhelming interest from at least 10 teams other teams, a source told fellow ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.
Sproles was one of the Saints' most dynamic offensive weapons the past three seasons after he signed as a free agent from the San Diego Chargers, with a total of 1,067 rushing yards, 1,981 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. He set an NFL single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,696 in 2011.
However, Sproles role diminished somewhat last season, as he took part in approximately 33 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps during the 15 games in which he was active last season, which resulted in a decidedly moderate 220 rushing yards, 71 receptions for 604 yards, and 4 total touchdowns.
The move may lessen the burden on last year’s leading rusher LeSean McCoy (1,607-yards, and 9 touchdowns), but whether Sproles will be the dynamic playmaking threat he was during his first three years in New Orleans is open to debate.
Regardless, if he can recapture that form, Philadelphia’s grip on the NFC East may only tighten.