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CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist

Bucs, Cowboys big winners in second day of free agency


Remember when people used to say that as soon as the kid is born somebody should stick a golf club in his hands?

Forget that.

Buy him a pair of Nike gloves and throw him the damn football.

Receivers get paid.

If the first two days of the NFL free agency period had taught us anything, it's that, aside from quarterbacks and pass rushers, receivers are the "it" position.

The game used to be about running backs and middle linebackers. Now it's about the passing game, which means edge players -- receivers, corners and edge rushers.

There have been five receivers who have changed teams and several others who got paid big deals to stay put. Plus, the Lions gave Calvin Johnson an eight-year contract extension worth a reported $132 million and the Eagles signed DeSean Jackson to a five-year deal worth a reported $47 million. Before the open of the period Tuesday, the Saints signed Marques Colston to a five-year deal worth up to $40 million and Reggie Wayne re-signed with the Colts.

Meanwhile, only one back of note (Peyton Hillis to the Chiefs) has changed teams. And he is being signed to be a backup to Jamaal Charles.

As the NFL game has moved to more of a wide-open style, the value of the receivers has risen dramatically.

They used to say receivers were a dime a dozen. Can't say that anymore.

"You need the one star guy but you need more than that," one NFC general manager said. "How many downs are teams in three- and four-receiver sets now. There are a limited number of good receiving tight ends, so you have to try and make up for that with receivers."

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The Washington Redskins signed two and are close with a third, getting a group to grow with Robert Griffin III, the player they will take with the second overall pick. After signing Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, they are nearing a deal with Eddie Royal, although the deal isn't done.

So far, the receivers are the big winners in this year's free agency class.

Here are some other winners and, of course, some losers from the second day.



They had major issues in their secondary last year. They did something to fix that by signing Chiefs corner Brandon Carr. I like Carr much more than some do because I think he's a young, ascending player. He is big and can play man coverage. The Cowboys will love having him pair with Mike Jenkins at corner. Now if they could only get better play at safety.

Bucs fans

They screamed all of last year that the Bucs didn't spend any money. Tampa Bay did this year. They landed three free agents the first two days, receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and corner Eric Wright. Those contracts add up to $140 million and it cost the Bucs $30 million in cap room. All three fill needs. Jackson provides the deep threat for an offense that needed it, Wright fills a problem area at corner and Nicks will brings nastiness to the offensive line. Next step: Drafting Trent Richardson to add a top back to the offense.

Philip Rivers

One day after it looked like his offense was being depleted, the Chargers signed receiver Robert Meachem and re-signed tackle Jared Gaither. Meachem is younger and faster than Jackson. Gaither played well in the second half of last season, even if some wonder if he will keep it up after being paid.

Teams that didn't overpay

Any team that sat back and let the market play out is one of two things: Good or smart. Most are both. There will be bargains in this market since it is filled with a lot of players. So if you are a fan ripping your team right now for a lack activity, stop. They are the wise ones in this market if you ask me.

Guys picked up off the scrap heap

A year ago, receiver Laurent Robinson and Gaither were just hoping to find a place to play. Now they're being paid millions. The Jaguars will be Robinson's fifth team in six years. Injuries have slowed him, but $32 million for five years is a lot of money for a guy with one good season, that coming in Dallas in 2011. What do they think? He's the next Jimmy Smith, a castoff who blossoms in Jacksonville? Keep dreaming.


Drew Brees

Not only is he angry that he doesn't have a new deal and has been given the franchise tag, but now he loses Nicks to the Bucs. Guards are important to Brees because he is a short quarterback. That's why Nicks and Jahri Evans were key to helping create throwing lanes for Brees. I actually think guards might be more valuable to Brees than tackles. He can feel the outside rush. But he has problems with big people in his face.

Santana Moss

With three new receivers on board, Moss and his big cap number could be on their way out. I wouldn't get too comfortable, Santana.

Chicago Bears

They say they knew about Brandon Marshall's latest incident at a New York nightclub, but did they really? And, if they did, doesn't that make it even worse that they traded two third-round picks to get him? Marshall isn't a bad guy. I mean that. I like him. But trouble somehow always seems to follow him around. Even if it's not big things, it matters. There's a pattern there.

Raheem Morris

Why didn't the Bucs spend when he was coach? He has to be asking that question, right?

Matt Flynn

Word has leaked out that the Cleveland Browns, thought to be a suitor for Flynn, aren't interested. That has to hurt, especially since they run the Green Bay offense. So where does Flynn go? He's waiting to see what Miami does and will also visit Seattle. It appears Peyton Manning's decision is holding up Flynn's pursuit to become a starter.


Not only are they waiting for word from Manning, but they also signed a guard in San Francisco's Adam Snyder who, quite frankly, isn't very good. I thought he was the weak link on the 49ers line last season, and Arizona signed him to a five-year deal? Really?

Buffalo Bills

Losers is what they are until Mario Williams signs a contract. They put everything into getting Williams, and he left Wednesday without a deal. That has to sting for the Bills. If they don't get him, after the dog-and-pony show they made of his visit, they will look foolish.

Arian Foster

The Texans had one of the better lines in the NFL last season. Now Eric Winston has been cut, guard Mike Brisiel is making visits and center Chris Myers met with the Titans. Foster can't be happy.

Tracy Porter

Aside from Manning and Williams, the Saints corner is the last of my top-10 free agents left on the market. He's a good player, so why not activity? It's just weird.

Curtis Lofton and Stephen Tulloch

Hate to say I told you guys so, but middle linebackers just aren't worth the money anymore. The weak-side backer, the guy who can run and cover, has more value now. Plug linebackers? They're value has diminished.

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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