When NFL teams are finally allowed to sign veteran players in March, one statement usually applies to the first day of activity: Free agency is for losers.
The majority of teams active when free agency begins are usually organizations fresh off a losing season. Those teams generally whiffed on a player in a previous draft, and free agency was the easiest way to correct that mistake. Winning franchises, such as New England and Green Bay, are not known for signing free agents, and most organizations prefer to maintain their success through the NFL draft.
That was not the case this year.
Six playoff teams from 2013 added new players to their roster on the first day of free agency, including some huge contracts. It is not uncommon for teams to re-sign their own players, but adding new faces on day one of free agency is usually not the norm.
Here are the teams that were active:
Denver: Signed cornerback Aqib Talib (Patriots), safety T.J. Ward (Browns) for a combined $80 million, and the Broncos are reportedly the front-runnes for former Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
San Francisco: Traded for quarterback Blaine Gabbert (Jaguars) and offensive tackle Jonathan Martin (Dolphins), and signed safety Antoine Bethea (Colts) to a $26 million deal.
New Orleans: Signed safety Jairus Byrd (Bills) to a six-year deal that included $28 million guaranteed, the most guaranteed money any free agent received on Tuesday.
Philadelphia – signed safety Malcolm Jenkins (Saints) to a three-year, $16.25 million deal. Also signed safety Chris Maragos (Seahawks) on Wednesday.
San Diego – signed running back Donald Brown (Colts) to a three-year, $10.5 million deal.
Indianapolis – signed defensive end Arthur Jones (Ravens) to a five-year, $30 million contract with $16 million guaranteed.
In addition, Seattle is hosting former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, as the reigning Super Bowl champions join the list of playoff teams looking for an upgrade during the early stages of free agency.
Denver's John Elway is leading the charge in this aggressive approach. He is one of the few successful general managers to embrace free agency.
A huge part of the Broncos' AFC championship team was built through free agency. Elway rolled out the red carpet to obtain Peyton Manning two years ago. He has also signed Wes Welker, Shaun Phillips, Terrance Knighton, Joel Dreesen, Kevin Vickerson and Louis Vasquez in free agency.
Seeing six playoff teams sign new players, many to large deals, suggests the first day of free agency is no longer a place to watch Cleveland and Oakland make bad decisions. Still, the top teams will always have a high priority on re-signing their own.
Seattle’s biggest offseason priority was re-signing defensive end Michael Bennett, which occurred prior to free agency. Indianapolis re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis, Philadelphia kept receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, while Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy were franchise tagged by their teams.
Once free agency slows down, teams will continue building a foundation through the draft. Then they will fill their remaining holes during the second wave of free agency.
Nevertheless, the first day of free agency proved one thing.
It is not just for losers.
- - - - - - -