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NFL free agency: Dolphins gain, Ravens lose

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NFL free agency started Tuesday with two teams well under the salary cap making a splash and the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens losing two linebackers in the wake of Ray Lewis' retirement.

The Miami Dolphins made a big noise on defense to complement an earlier deal with wide receiver Mike Wallace, reaching agreement on a five-year, $35 million contract with former Ravens linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, the Baltimore Sun reported.

With Ellerbe coming on board, linebacker Karlos Dansby was expendable and the Dolphins released the 31-year-old veteran to save $8.575 million against the cap, according to NFL.com. His cap number in 2014 is even higher -- $11.575 million.

The Dolphins also agreed to re-sign unrestricted free-agent safety Chris Clemons to a one-year contract.

Ellerbe's reported deal would make him one of the NFL's highest-paid players at his position.

The Dolphins allowed left tackle Jake Long, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, to test free agency.

The Cleveland Browns also got attention by agreeing to terms with linebacker Paul Kruger on a five-year, $40 million deal.

Kruger, who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens last season, will join the Browns' 3-4 defense scheme under first-year coordinator Ray Horton.

Kruger, who had 4 1/2 sacks during the playoffs, was coveted by at least three teams, including the Ravens and Colts, was the Browns' top priority in free agency. He has just 15.5 career sacks but wasn't always used in a pass-rushing role.

Meanwhile some big-name veterans decided to stick with their teams.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez said he is close to a new contract that will put him on the field another run at a Super Bowl ring with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 13-time Pro Bowler is the all-time leading receiver among tight ends and second to Jerry Rice in all time receptions with 1,242.

To keep playing, Gonzalez turned down several offers from television networks, and had made certain commitments to his son Nikko for what he thought would've been his first season home in California.

Through restructured contracts, the New Orleans Saints found a way to retain defensive end Will Smith and inside linebacker Jonathan Vilma. The Saints reduced the salary cap figures of both players, which combined to total $23.1 million. Terms of the deals weren't immediately available.

The Steelers and wide receiver Plaxico Burress have agreed to a non-guaranteed, one-year contract according to multiple reports.

As for other big names, the Detroit Lions will host free-agent visits by safety Glover Quin and running back Reggie Bush, who also reportedly received interest from the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. And Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is visiting with the Cardinals.

--Three major trades became official: The San Francisco 49ers dealt Alex Smith to the Kansas City and confirmed an agreement with Baltimore to acquire wide receiver Anquan Boldin in a trade.

The 49ers will receive an undisclosed pick in the 2013 draft and an undisclosed draft pick in 2014 from the Chiefs for Smith. San Francisco will give up a pick in this year's draft for Boldin.

Also, the Seattle Seahawks acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings and gave him a reported six-year, $67 million contract with $25.5 million in guarantees.

--The Seahawks released return specialist Leon Washington to make room for Havin. Washington posted the news on Twitter, thanking fans for their support during his time in Seattle. His release saves the Seahawks $1.5 million against the salary cap.

--Santonio Holmes agreed to a restructure his contract with the New York Jets. Releasing Holmes would've come with a salary cap charge of $11.25 million.

Also, the Jets released defensive tackle Siona Pouha, who signed a three-year deal last summer, saving approximately $3.75 million in cap space.

--Longtime starting wide receiver Kevin Walter was released by the Houston Texans, ending his seven-year stint with the franchise.

--The Buffalo Bills released quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. He was due to receive a $3 million roster bonus and a base salary of $4.25 million in 2013.

--The Denver Broncos agreed to terms with free agent offensive guard Louis Vasquez on a four-year deal worth between $23 million and $25 million.

--The Philadelphia Eagles parted with veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha as expected. Asomugha will count $4 million against the Eagles' salary cap next season, but the team wanted to avoid paying his base salary of $15 million in 2013.

--The Steelers re-signed linebacker Larry Foote, a target of multiple teams running a 3-4 defense, including the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns.

The Steelers hosted inside linebacker Dan Connor, released by the Cowboys, and could still add Connor as a backup on the inside.

Also, they have tendered offers to restricted free agents Jonathan Dwyer, Steve McLendon, Isaac Redman and Emmanuel Sanders.

--After clearing salary-cap room with the release of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, the Minnesota Vkings reached an agreement to re-sign offensive tackle Phil Loadholt to a long-term contract. Cutting Winfield cleared $7.25 million off the books.

Also, Adrian Peterson's Pro Bowl lead blocker, fullback Jerome Felton, re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Felton signed a three-year deal worth $7.5 million according to NFL.com.

Also, Jerome Simpson agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal to return to the Vikings.

--The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent safety Rashad Johnson to a three-year deal. A third-round pick in 2009, Johnson appeared in 15 games last season.

--The Tennessee Titans reached agreements with guard Andy Levitre and tight end Delanie Walker, according to multiple reports.

Levitre will become one of the league's highest-paid guards after agreeing to a five-year, $39 million deal, ESPN reported. Walker agreed to a four-year contract.

Also, Titans offensive guard Steve Hutchinson announced his retirement via Twitter. The five-time All-Pro was a first-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks and also played for the Minnesota Vikings. He started all 169 games he played in his career.

--Tight end Randy McMichael and defensive tackle Antonio Garay were released by the Chargers. McMichael was owed a roster bonus of $250,000 Saturday. Cutting him saved San Diego $1.5 million in cap space. Garay was due a $1.5 million roster bonus Saturday but releasing him saved the Chargers $5.13 million.

Meanwhile, tight end John Phillips and the San Diego Chargers reached agreement on a three-year contract, according to ESPN.

--The Detroit Lions signed defensive end Willie Young to a second-round tender offer worth slightly more than $2 million, The Detroit News reported.

The team also reached agreement on a one-year deal with restricted free agent safety Amari Spievey.

--Hours before free agency opened, Anthony Spencer signed a one-year, $10.627 million franchise tender with the Dallas Cowboys.

The move, which confirmed earlier reports that he had agreed to the tender, gives the Cowboys until July 15 to work out a long-term contract with Spencer, who is expected to move to defensive end from outside linebacker in the Cowboys' new 4-3 scheme next season.

--Veteran cornerback Aaron Ross is returning to the New York Giants after spending one season with Jacksonville. He will sign with the Giants, USA Today reported, upon successfully completing a physical.

--The St. Louis Rams signed free-agent tight end Jared Cook to a five-year contract, reuniting the tight end with coach Jeff Fisher. Cook, 26, is familiar with Fisher, having played for him with the Tennessee Titans.

--The Carolina Panthers released linebacker James Anderson, saving the salary more than $4 million in 2013.

Anderson started 12 games at strong-side linebacker in 2012 and played all seven years of his career in Carolina.

--Free agent Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod agreed to five-year contract worth a reported $36 million with the Chicago Bears, filling a long-standing need for a blind-side protector for quarterback Jay Cutler.

Also, Defensive tackle Henry Melton signed his franchise tender Melton is guaranteed $8.45 million, the franchise rate for defensive tackles. The Bears and Melton have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal or he will go through the season under the terms of the franchise tender.

And they are expected to sign free agent tight end Martellus Bennett if the two sides can agree to contract terms. Bennett said via Twitter that he would be joining good friend Brandon Marshall.

--The Cincinnati Bengals re-signed defensive ends Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry, the team announced on its official web site.

Geathers re-signed to a three-year deal of undisclosed financial terms just before the deadline, according to Bengals.com. Gilberry would have become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. ET.

--The Indianapolis Colts agreed to reported deals with tackle Gosder Cherilus and cornerback Greg Toler. A first-round pick in the 2008 draft, Cherilus spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Terms of his contract with the Colts were unavailable, according to NFL.com.

--The Kansas City Chiefs continued their overhaul by agreeing to terms with tight end Anthony Fasano and quarterback Chase Daniel.
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