Free Agency Recap: Day 1

Posted Mar 11, 2014

The Rams remained quiet amid a first-day flurry of free agent activity following the start of a new league year.

The first day of the NFL’s free agency period was met with a bevy of early moves, but the Rams stood pat at least in the short term.

The only Rams-related news Tuesday involved G/T Rodger Saffold, who agreed to a five-year contract with the Oakland Raiders, and CB Cortland Finnegan, who was released following two seasons in St. Louis. Saffold had expressed a likelihood of him leaving St. Louis early in the week, and that sentiment was confirmed with his signing, which will net him an average of $8.5 million per season.

Finnegan’s release had been anticipated for roughly a week, and allows the Rams to avoid a potential $10 million salary cap hit tied to Finnegan for 2014.

Tuesday was a particularly busy day for the NFC West.

Arizona bolstered their offensive line by signing T Jared Veldheer to a five-year, $37.5 million contract. The Cardinals’ decision to add to their offensive line was an expected one, and was emphasized by Head Coach Bruce Arians in the weeks leading up to Tuesday.

San Francisco acquired QB Blaine Gabbert, a St. Louis native, in a trade with Jacksonville in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. A former 10th overall draft choice, Gabbert received just three starts in 2013, with his final appearance of the year coming in St. Louis in Week 5, a 34-20 Rams win. Additionally, the 49ers released CB Carlos Rodgers, and signed S Antoine Bethea, who has been named to two Pro Bowls in his eight previous seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Instead of looking outside the organization for 2014 upgrades, Seattle used Tuesday to secure members of last year’s Super Bowl-winning roster. The Seahawks resigned Michael Bennett to a four-year, $28.5 million deal, and also agreed to terms with TE Anthony McCoy. The Seahawks will reportedly meet with TE Jermichael Finley, who is arguably the top pass-catcher among free agents at his position.

While Tuesday was particularly busy for free agent offensive linemen and safeties, among the key free agents remaining is S Jairus Byrd, who reportedly was set to meet with New Orleans Tuesday evening. Corners Aqib Talib and Alterraun Verner also remained on the market Tuesday. In addition to an ample supply of defensive backs, DE DeMarcus Ware became the top pass-rusher available when he was released by the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, followed by DE Jared Allen and DE Julius Peppers, who was released by the Chicago Bears Tuesday evening.

The signing flurry left much of the receiver free agent class untouched, including Denver’s Eric Decker and Seattle’s Golden Tate. Defensive tackles Jason Hatcher and Henry Melton also were unsigned on Tuesday.

According to ESPN’s John Clayton, 26 unrestricted free agents agreed to terms with new contracts within the first 90 minutes of Tuesday’s opening of the new NFL season.

The Rams were a notable exception from that flurry of activity, electing—for at least a day—to stand pat.