Here is a look at some of the winners from a crazy first day of NFL free agency:
You have to respect John Elway’s aggressive nature. The Broncos’ general manager knows the championship window closes when Peyton Manning calls it a career, and future consequences be damned, he’s going for the ring now.
Denver, coming off a Super Bowl loss, made two enormous signings and appear set to make a third. The first two were in the secondary. Safety T.J. Ward, an impact player from Cleveland, signed for $23 million. Then the big bombshell: Cornerback Aqib Talib, formerly of the Patriots, for $57 million. Nobody saw that coming.
The Broncos also emerged as the front-runners for pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, cut by Dallas shortly before free agency started on Tuesday. Ware has a visit to Denver scheduled, and usually that’s the first step toward a contract. Ware and Von Miller, if healthy, would make a devastating pass-rush duo.
How will Denver pay for all this? Ask again in a couple years when it’s stuck in a salary-cap mess. But if the Broncos can win a Super Bowl before then? Nobody will say it wasn’t worth it.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
The decision to dump cornerback Darrelle Revis seemed weird, and then the Buccaneers went and redeemed themselves by signing cornerback Alterraun Verner.
The trade for Revis (the Jets ended up with Sheldon Richardson and have another pick coming, and the Buccaneers got one year out of Revis in return) will end up being an all-time debacle. But having Verner replace Revis at a lower cost, while signing defensive line reinforcements in former Bengals end Michael Johnson and former Seahawks tackle Clinton McDonald, is pretty good.
Even though the Buccaneers will get rid of one of the NFL’s best cornerbacks, they ended up doing well on Tuesday.