this Sept. 22, 2013, file photo, Dallas Cowboys
defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) sacks St. Louis
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the third
quarter of an NFL football game, in Arlington,
Texas. The Cowboys are releasing franchise sacks
leader Ware to save salary cap room after the worst
season of his career.
of accomplished NFL pass rushers suddenly became available
when DeMarcus Ware and Julius Peppers were released to
create room under the salary cap in two of the biggest
moves at Tuesday's start of the free-agency signing
cut ties with Peppers, who has 118½ sacks in 12 seasons,
as part of a series of moves aimed at improving their
defense, including a five-year contract with former
Raiders end Lamarr Houston.
Cowboys let Ware and his 117 sacks go.
decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone
player in the history of your franchise, is extremely
difficult," Dallas owner Jerry Jones said. "We
were also in very strong agreement that playing for the
Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both
cap rising $10 million to a record $133 million, a crop of
players quickly found new homes as soon as the market
officially opened Tuesday afternoon — and safeties and
offensive linemen were popular commodities.
hours after free agency began, one of the top players
available, three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, agreed
to terms with the Saints, part of a merry-go-round of
moves at his position. Other safeties swapping clubs:
Michael Jenkins, from Saints to Eagles; Donte Whitner from
49ers to Browns; Antoine Bethea from Colts to 49ers; T.J.
Ward from Browns to Broncos; Mike Mitchell from Panthers
to Steelers; Ryan Mundy from Giants to Bears.
addition to jettisoning Peppers and adding Houston and
Mundy, Chicago agreed to one-year deals with linebackers
Jordan Senn and D.J. Williams.
the most sought-after cornerbacks also were on the move.
Alterraun Verner, who had five interceptions for Tennessee
last season, agreed to a four-year contract with Tampa Bay
and Aqib Talib left New England for a six-year deal with
25, could wind up being a replacement for Darrelle Revis,
who might be traded or cut to create more salary-cap room
for the Buccaneers.
this Sept. 29, 2013, file photo, Chicago Bears
defensive end Julius Peppers (90) watches from the
bench during the fourth quarter of an NFL football
game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit. The Bears
released eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end Peppers
on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
offensive linemen were highlighted by Pro Bowl left tackle
Branden Albert's five-year contract with the Dolphins.
Albert left Kansas City to take over the position played
at the start of last season by Jonathan Martin, whose exit
from Miami in October led to an NFL inquiry into bullying
on the team.
Tuesday, Martin was traded by the Dolphins to the 49ers.
tackle Jared Veldheer and the Cardinals agreed to a
five-year contract worth up to $35 million. Veldheer left
the Raiders, who replaced him by giving former Rams
lineman Rodger Saffold a five-year deal. Another left
tackle, Eugene Monroe, agreed to a five-year contract to
stay with the Ravens.
Jets right tackle Austin Howard agreed to a five-year, $30
million contract, with $15 million guaranteed after
starting every game the last two seasons in New York.
switching teams: Zane Beadles was joining the Jaguars from
the Broncos, pending a physical; the Falcons agreed to
terms with Jon Asamoah, who left the Chiefs; the Redskins
struck a deal with Shawn Lauvao, who left the Browns. The
Redskins also agreed to terms with Cardinals receiver
Andre Roberts and special teams standout Adam Hayward and
scheduled a visit with cornerback Corey Graham.
Jaguars also were busy, including a trade that sent
quarterback Blaine Gabbert to the 49ers for a sixth-round
draft pick, an agreement with former Vikings running back
Toby Gerhart, and re-signing cornerback Will Blackmon to a
returner and receiver Dexter McCluster went to the Titans
from the Chiefs; defensive end Arthur Jones joined the
Colts from the Ravens; defensive end Tyson Jackson and
defensive tackle Paul Soliai joined the Falcons; and
defensive tackle Earl Mitchell left the Texans for the
all, the Ware and Peppers departures might have been the
most significant developments.
31-year-old Ware, who went to seven Pro Bowls while in
Dallas, was set to count $16 million against the salary
cap. By releasing him now, the Cowboys, who were right up
against the cap, saved more than $7 million. Ware had a
career-low six sacks last season, his ninth in Dallas. He
missed time with a thigh injury, then had offseason elbow
released included Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb (who failed
a physical), Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud, Steelers
linebacker LaMarr Woodley, 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers,
Eagles safety Patrick Chung, and Bengals center Kyle Cook.
players staying put:
Darren McFadden was given a $4 million, one-year contract
by the Raiders.
Brandon Tate re-signed with the Bengals.
Adam Vinatieri, the 41-year-old with four Super Bowl
rings, agreed to a two-year contract with the Colts. Other
PKs getting new contracts: Nick Folk (Jets), Phil Dawson
(49ers), Dan Carpenter (Bills).
Vontae Davis re-signed with the Colts.
Joique Bell is now signed with the Lions for $9.3 million
over three years, with $4.3 million guaranteed.
Perry Riley and WR Santana Moss re-signed with the
Jonathan Babineaux got a three-year contract from the
Anthony McCoy got a one-year deal from the Super Bowl
champion Seahawks after he missed all of last season with
a torn Achilles tendon.
Andre Caldwell got a two-year contract from the Broncos.