NFL: More stars are set to join new teams
Darrelle Revis and Darren Sproles found landing spots in the Northeast. Now Steve Smith and James Harrison look for new NFL homes.
Revis’ stay in Tampa Bay was short, and he might not be in New England much longer. After less than a year as a Buccaneer, he was cut Wednesday and officially agreed to terms with the Patriots on Thursday — but only on a one-year deal, albeit worth about $12 million.
The 28-year-old shutdown cornerback whose contract impasses have led him from the Jets to the Bucs to the Patriots since last April, was the latest big name on the move. Versatile running back-kick returner Sproles will add some juice to Philadelphia’s already high-energy offense after he was acquired from New Orleans. And someone — Baltimore, maybe — will grab veteran Smith after the standout wide receiver was released by Carolina.
As for Harrison, the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year was cut by Cincinnati, where he spent only the 2013 season after being released by Pittsburgh It was yet another busy period on the third day of NFL free agency in which Jonathan Martin signed a two-year contract with San Francisco.
Martin passed his physical Thursday to complete a trade that sent the tackle from the Dolphins to the Niners to be reunited with his college coach, Jim Harbaugh. The teams first announced the move Tuesday night for Martin, who left the Dolphins last fall after accusing teammate Richie Incognito of bullying in a scandal that overshadowed the franchise’s 8-8 season.
Tampa Bay cut tackle Donald Penn and signed Anthony Collins to replace him; Oakland signed defensive end Justin Tuck; Green Bay re-signed linebacker Mike Neal and tight end Andrew Quarless; and the Jaguars formally signed defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood and re-signed defensive end Jason Babin, who led the team with 7ﾽ sacks in 2013.
Revis’ business manager, John Geiger, tweeted: “Now it’s Official.@Revis24 has agreed to terms with the New England Patriots!”
Tampa released the three-time All-Pro before he was due a $1.5 million bonus. Revis was cut after efforts to trade him and his $16 million salary failed.
New England had a need at the position because Aqib Talib left for Denver. The Patriots have not announced the Revis move.
The Eagles were eager to let the world know about the addition of the 30-year-old Sproles, who figures to be a threat as a receiver, runner, returner and in pass protection against blitzers — all the things he did so well in New Orleans.
“Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon,” coach Chip Kelly said. “He can do it all: run, catch, plus he’s a proven winner. And on top of that, he can bring all of those dynamic skills to the return game as well. There is no question we were all excited once we found out we were going to be able to trade for him.”
Sproles had 71 catches for 604 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 220 yards and two scores in 2013.
Smith has been the face of Carolina’s franchise for a decade. But he turns 35 in May and would have cost the Panthers $7 million under this year’s salary cap. The Panthers still owe Smith $3 million.
“When I took this position I knew that difficult decisions would have to be made along the way,” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “To move on from a storied veteran player is probably the most difficult of all. A decision not to be taken lightly. However, after much thought I feel very strongly it’s the right one.”
Hours after being let go, Smith traveled to Baltimore to visit with the Ravens, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Ravens do not announce free agent visits.
Cincinnati no longer was the right place for Harrison, 35, who had a limited role with the Bengals after he helped the Steelers win a pair of Super Bowls. Harrison played in 15 games and finished 12th on the team in tackles.
“It was great for our coaches, players and fans to have James on our team last year,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “He’s a player everyone looks up to because of his ability, his accomplishments and his drive to be the best. He helped us win a division title with his play and with the example he set.
“It’s time for us to go a different direction now, with some younger guys, but we will all still reap benefits from having had James with us as a Bengal last year.”
Tuck, soon to turn 32, got a two-year deal in Oakland. He spent nine seasons with the New York Giants during which he helped them win two Super Bowls. Tuck has made two Pro Bowls and has 60 ﾽ career sacks, 20 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in 127 career games. Oakland also gave linebacker LaMarr Woodley a two-year deal. Woodley was cut by Pittsburgh.
In other moves:
• Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and Tarvaris Jackson agreed to a one-year contract for him to back up quarterback Russell Wilson.
• Rodger Saffold’s bizarre free-agent experience ended back in St. Louis. He re-signed Thursday, one day after he failed a physical to void a five-year, $42.5 million deal with the Raiders.
• Jason Hatcher agreed to a four-year, $27.5 million deal to join the Redskins, a person with knowledge of the agreement said on condition of anonymity because the contract had not yet been signed.
• Buffalo brought back its top tight end, Scott Chandler, who holds the Bills’ record for tight ends with 32 consecutive games with a catch.
• Minnesota signed cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, a starter on Carolina’s improved defense last year. Munnerlyn got a deal that could pay him $15 million over three years with incentives.
• Tight end Garrett Graham re-signed with the Texans, two days after the team released two-time Pro Bowler Owen Daniels. Graham took over as the starter last season when Daniels was injured.
• Arizona signed wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to a three-year contract and agreed to terms on a two-year deal to keep linebacker Matt Shaughnessy. Ginn had 36 receptions for 556 yards and a career-high five touchdowns with the Panthers in 2013. The team also released linebacker Dontay Moch.
• Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa, who’s likely to replace Samson Satele, who started the last two seasons with Indy. Satele was released in a cost-cutting move late last week.
• Cleveland signed tight end Jim Dray to a three-year, $5.62 million contract, with $2.25 million in the first season. And the Browns signed Cincinnati slot wide receiver Andrew Hawkins to a four-year offer sheet.
• The New York Giants reached an agreement with fullback Henry Hynoski on a one-year contract worth $1 million, a person with knowledge of the deal said.
• Dallas signed linebacker and special teams player Will Herring. The eighth-year pro spent the past three seasons with New Orleans.
• San Diego agreed to terms on two-year contracts with backup quarterback Kellen Clemens and cornerback Brandon Ghee, and signed inside linebacker Kavell Conner to a three-year contract.