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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Wideouts, patient teams biggest winners on first day of free agency

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Pierre Garcon is a solid wide receiver, but is he really worth $42.5 million? (Getty Images)  
Pierre Garcon is a solid wide receiver, but is he really worth $42.5 million? (Getty Images)  

Two general managers and a coach told me this Tuesday morning: There will be a lot of fast activity on the free-agent market and then teams would settle back and wait for deals.

"There are too many players out there and not a lot of money," the coach said. "The big guys will go early, and then it will dry up some."

The first part was spot on. As soon as the period opened at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the signings, the visits, the trips started to take place.

If you didn't know any better, you would swear these deals were done early. Of course, there is no tampering in the NFL. Yeah, and Gregg Williams isn't big on bounties.

You mean to tell me, a team calls an agent at 4 p.m., and they negotiate for five minutes and then agree on a deal an hour later without discussing other options with other teams? If you believe that, I have a nice piece of land in Antarctica you might want to buy.

Nobody ever gets called on it, because they all do it. What do they say about living in glass houses?

It did make for a fun opening day, just like always. The money was flying like some of these teams have a printer for it in the back room. Right, Dan Snyder?

The smart teams, as they usually do, sit back and watch the frenzy and wait to pick up the scraps, paying wisely to fill in some roster spots.

Those teams draft well, so they don't need free agency.

Teams that draft poorly and have holes, which means you're usually not good, dive into the frenzy with a passion.

Who can forget when the Eagles were crowned the champions of free agency last year? The Giants, by comparison, were ripped for their free-agency path, which brought no real marquee names.

The Eagles flopped and didn't make the playoffs. The Giants won the Super Bowl.

So let's hold off on anointing somebody a champion based on anything that happened Tuesday.

That doesn't mean there weren't winners and losers. So here's a scorecard for the first day.

Winners

Brandon Marshall

The Dolphins traded him to the Bears for two third-round picks, which means he gets to play with Jay Cutler again, a player he likes. The Dolphins had quarterback issues in his two seasons in Miami, so it has to feel good to get out of there. He also got $28 million for his two seasons there. Not bad.

Pierre Garcon

Garcon got a reported five-year, $42.5 million deal from the Redskins, which included nearly $21 million in guaranteed money. Garcon is a decent player, a receiver with speed, but that's funny money for an inconsistent player. He is now paid like a star, and he's not.

Jay Cutler

He finally has a legitimate receiver outside. Marshall drops a lot of passes, but it also means he's open a lot. Cutler has to be thrilled. Now if they can only improve that offensive line to help keep him upright to make the throws.

Buffalo Bills

To get Mario Williams to visit Buffalo moments after the period opened was impressive, even if it was a bit quick and makes you wonder how it got done so quickly. Williams is the top free agent on the market and to get him to Buffalo, not exactly a city known for its locale, is impressive on the Bills' part. Now comes the tough part: signing him. But it looks like the Bills are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Vincent Jackson

The Bucs signed him to a five-year, $55 million deal with $26 million in guaranteed money. That's a big deal for a player who has never caught more than 68 passes in a season and will turn 30 next January. Jackson is a big-play receiver, but he has never had 10 touchdown catches in a season in San Diego.

Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey

He had eight sacks last season, a career high, and with Mario Williams looking like he's on his way to Buffalo, Mincey is about to get a nice deal from somebody. Chicago is interested. Mincey plays hard, but he is about to get paid like an elite defensive end. Timing is good.

Seattle Seahawks

They made a great move in keeping defensive end Red Bryant. They signed him to a five-year deal worth $35 million. Bryant is a rising talent, and a big part of their defense. He isn't a great pass rusher, but he is tough against the run and he plays hard. He does a lot of the dirty work on the Seattle defense.

Teams that stayed on the sideline

Aside from Williams, there really wasn't anyone who deserved star money to change teams. The smart teams always wait to see the market shake out. The smart teams don't overspend. The smart teams don't need to do so. They draft well.

Losers

Miami Dolphins

They received two third-round picks for Marshall, but now they are left without a top receiving threat. Who fills that void? It certainly isn't a player on the roster right now. They better hope Clyde Gates can improve in a hurry.

San Francisco 49ers

Did they really sign Randy Moss? Just what they need to help mentor Michael Crabtree? Can they be serious? I know the 49ers need help at receiver, but weren't there better options?

Dan Snyder's checkbook

I like Garcon some. He can run. But he's inconsistent. And there is some feeling from inside the Colts building that Garcon is the type of player who could change once he gets the money. I like Josh Morgan, but he's coming off an injury-shortened season. But the Redskins paid the two of them a reported $30 million in guaranteed money? Yes, I get it. They need receivers for Robert Griffin III, but that's a bit much.

Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn

He talked a big game about spending money. But when will it happen? The Jaguars have a ton of cap room and they have glaring needs for a defensive end, corner and receivers. So far, they have nothing. They will visit with Cowboys receiver Laurent Robinson, but that won't appease a fan base expecting so much more. Why not a quick move on Williams like the Bills are making? The word is the front office wanted to do so, but Kahn was more reluctant. So much for that video he did a few weeks ago at a fan event where he was featured at a poker table shoving his chips all in. They're still in front of him and he seems like a guy waiting for the perfect hand. The Jaguars did re-sign safety Dwight Lowery, which is a move they felt they had to make. But is it enough with all that cap room?

Philip Rivers

The Chargers quarterback lost his best receiver in Jackson and his left tackle, Marcus McNeil, was let go. The Chargers want Jared Gaither back, but he is a free agent. Whom is Rivers throwing to next season on the outside? The Chargers did get him Robert Meachem out of New Orleans late Tuesday night for four years and $25.9 million.


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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