Green's signing gets RB market moving

The big-money trend continued in Day 3 of free agency, including a $23 million contract for new Houston Texans RB Ahman Green, writes John Clayton.

Originally Published: March 1, 2007
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

With 55 signings or re-signings of restricted free agents in the first three days of free agency, negotiations are slowing a tad, but the pace has been furious.

It's staggering to think that 18 percent of the 307 unrestricted free agents are off the boards in the first 72 hours. By Monday night, more than 20 percent of the free agents will likely be gone.

The main trend is pretty clear. Guarantees have doubled during this free agency period, a by-product of the $14 million increase in the salary cap the past two years. With a $109 million cap space per team, a signing that used to take an $8 million guarantee now takes $16 million. New Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas secured $20 million in guarantees.

Here are observations of Sunday's wild day:

Running Back
Green Bay Packers

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
266 1059 5 46 373 1

1. The running back market started to move with the four-year, $23 million contract given to Ahman Green by Houston. Losing Green is a blow to the Packers, but they weren't going to pay more than $5 million a season to a 30-year-old running back. Maybe that isn't wise, but the Colts made a similar tough decision in not giving big dollars to Edgerrin James. They made out well with Joseph Addai. Green's signing should get things moving for Travis Henry, who visited Denver on Sunday, and Jamal Lewis, who wants to re-sign in Baltimore. It should pick up negotiations between Dominic Rhodes and the Giants, too.

2. The Leonard Davis drama was the best of the weekend. Davis, a native Texan, wanted to sign with the Cowboys so his parents could see him play. They live a little more than an hour from Dallas. But the Redskins wooed him, and he was intrigued. Pressed by the Cowboys on Friday night for a figure that would prevent him from making the trip to Washington, Davis asked for $24 million in guarantees. Once he got to Washington, Davis' wife kept calling and telling him the wisdom of signing in Dallas so his parents could see him. He signed a staggering seven-year, $49.6 million deal with Dallas that included $18.7 million in guarantees. The Redskins weren't going to go that high. The Giants might have gone higher to make him their left tackle. Davis will play right guard or right tackle for the Cowboys.

3. The final numbers on the Adalius Thomas deal are five years, $35 million with $20 million in guarantees. So who said the Patriots don't want to pay? They structured the deal similarly to what they did with Richard Seymour, one of the league's highest-paid defensive ends.

4. There is draft stuff going on. QB Brady Quinn had his workout Sunday at Notre Dame. He was OK. Quinn did a good job on the inside pass. What was interesting was who was there to watch the workout. The Browns, Vikings and Texans attended with a big collection of owners, coaches and general managers. The Browns asked Quinn for an individual workout, so maybe they will consider him at No. 3. Quinn would be an ideal fit in Brad Childress' offense, but there is no certainty the Vikings would take him at No. 7. With Jake Plummer no longer an option for the Texans, Quinn might be a consideration at No. 8. Note that Matt Millen didn't attend for the Lions. Detroit apparently isn't interested in drafting a quarterback at No. 2.

5. One interesting theory circulating on the Jake Plummer trade to Tampa Bay is Mike Shanahan wanted to make sure he didn't end up in Oakland. Had the Broncos cut him, Plummer could have signed in Houston or Oakland as a starting quarterback. Plummer said he filed his retirement papers Friday and he's definitely done. The Bucs own his rights thanks to a trade for a conditional pick in 2008. For now, Jake the Snake is Jake with a rake working around his home.

Tight End
New England Patriots

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
21 235 2 11.2 29 102

6. The Seahawks and Broncos are the big players now. They are battling over tight end Daniel Graham and defensive end Patrick Kerney. The Broncos may struggle to get deals completed because it lacks cap room. The Seahawks had Kerney, Graham and Broncos guard Cooper Carlisle in town Sunday. Let the negotiations begin.

7. It's curious that the Jaguars would spend $4.8 million a year on tackle Tony Pathos when they have two starting tackles under long-term contracts. It is equally baffling that they would spend $3.4 million a year on Dennis Northcutt when they have three receivers who have underachieved the past couple of seasons. Competition is one thing. Dead cap money from releases are another.

8. Things should start heating up on the backup quarterback market. Raiders quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo visits the Browns on Monday and has a trip planned to the Jets, who cut Patrick Ramsey. Brad Johnson visited the Broncos. Joey Harrington will get cut by the Dolphins in the next couple of days. Oh, yes, the Raiders are looking for a starting quarterback. Any volunteers?

Wide Receiver
St. Louis Rams

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
40 479 4 12.0 42 127

9. Talks between the Vikings and Lions will heat up for Kevin Curtis, the former Rams receiver. Curtis wanted to spend two days with his former coach Mike Martz in Detroit, so Monday should be close to being a decision day. With his job gone in St. Louis after Drew Bennett's signing, Curtis probably won't waste too much time getting a deal done.

10. Antwan Peek, formerly of the Texans, signed an interesting deal with the Browns. He got a three-year, $8.7 million deal that would void to two years if he gets six sacks in a season. On a two-year deal, he would make $5 million and have a chance to hit the free-agent market at age 29. Peek will be used as a pass-rushing linebacker in the Browns' system, so six sacks is reasonable. But will the Browns create enough defensive pressure for a linebacker other than Kamerion Wimbley to get six sacks?

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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