As the NFL closes in on two full weeks of the 2010 off-season, one thing has become clear.
Quarterbacks are in high demand and even bad ones and untested ones are getting big money. That was the case last year, when 15 NFL starts was enough for Matt Cassel to get the biggest contract in Chiefs franchise history.
Deals like that one continue and they were the highlight of Day No. 13 of the new business year in the league. The Chiefs were quiet, as they did not announce any moves after being so busy the last few days with the deals for Thomas Jones, Jerheme Urban, Shaun Smith, Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja.
But, back to quarterbacks and their money, for instance Charlie Whitehurst (above). He spent the past four seasons as the No. 3 quarterback with the San Diego Chargers. He played in two regular season or post-season games, putting up a pair of running plays for 13 yards and a touchdown. Whitehurst has yet to throw a pass that counted in the NFL.
And, yet he signed a new contract on Wednesday with the Seattle Seahawks. As a restricted free agent, Whitehurst worked out a deal with the Seahawks, and the club turned around and worked out a trade with the Chargers. Seattle and San Diego swapped spots in the second round of next month’s draft (a move of 20 spots) and the Seahawks also give up a third-round choice in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Whitehurst inked a two-year contract, worth $5 million per year. That’s right, $5 million for a quarterback who hasn’t thrown a single pass in a regular-season game.
Earlier on Wednesday, Derek Anderson (left) found a new home. After being jettisoned by the Browns, he inked a deal with the Cardinals. Despite the fact he has actually started 34 games in the NFL, he got only a two-year deal for $7.25 million, with $3.25 million in guaranteed dollars.
Don’t feel sorry for Anderson. If he can go to the desert and beat out Matt Leinart, his contract includes enough incentive clauses that it would max out at $18.25 million.
There was yet a third quarterback that changed teams on Wednesday. UFA Rex Grossman signed a one-year deal with the Washington Redskins.
Whitehurst, Anderson and Grossman join a group that includes Seneca Wallace, Brady Quinn, Shaun Hill, Jake Delhomme, David Carr and Jim Sorgi that have changed teams in the last two weeks. Whether through trade, free agency or being released by their old teams, these guys have all found new zip codes for the 2010 season.
Grossman joining the Redskins elevated them into a tie with the Chiefs for the most activity so far on the roster. Under new head coach Mike Shanahan, Washington has kept or added 11 players to the roster. Unlike past seasons, none of these new deals is particularly sexy and dramatic. They are the deals of a coach who inherited a bad team and is trying to rebuild with some veterans in this first year.
The AFC was covered on Wednesday. Here’s how things have broken down so far in the NFC:
ARIZONA (5/4) β After the team’s two best seasons in decades, the Cardinals are starting to suffer from defections. Important starters in QB Kurt Warner (retired), UFA LB Karlos Dansby (signed by Dolphins), S Antrel Rolle (released, signed by Giants) and WR Anquan Boldin (traded to Ravens) are gone. They kept five of t heir own UFAs and RFAs with new deals, plus added S Kerry Rhodes (trade from Jets), UFA G Rex Hadnot (Browns) and QB Derek Anderson (Browns).
ATLANTA (4/1) β The Falcons made one big move in signing UFA CB Dunta Robinson (Texans) and otherwise have been quiet. The kept four of their own UFAs, including backup QB Chris Redman, and have lost no one of significance.
CAROLINA (3/2) β The exit door has been very busy around the Panthers, as eight players have either walked out or been pushed away from the roster. The biggest were DE Julius Peppers (Bears) and QB Jake Delhomme (Browns). They kept QB Matt Moore as an RFA as he’s signed his tender offer. The only players they’ve signed were RFAs not extended tender offers: CB Marcus Hudson (49ers) and WR Wallace Wright (Jets).
CHICAGO (1/4) β They made an uncharacteristic big splash in the last two weeks, dropping a big bundle of money to sign Peppers, Taylor and Manumaleuna. They were also able to sign their RFA S Josh Bullocks as well. The only players off their roster were released, including veteran OT Orlando Pace.
DALLAS (1/0) β Jerry Jones has kept his wallet and cash box locked up tight in the last two weeks as the ’10 NFL season has begun. The only signing they’ve made is retaining RFA CB Cletis Gordon. They’ve not added any UFAs, RFAs or made any trades to add players. The only contract they are currently trying to nail down is that of RFA WR Miles Austin. The Cowboys gave him a tender offer that would take a first and third-round draft picks in compensation, so he’s not going anywhere.
DETROIT (3/7) β The Lions have been the league’s most active team when it comes to adding players, as they’ve signed new contracts or traded for seven new faces. UFA’s WR Nate Burleson (right) (Seahawks) and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (Titans) were added, along with not tendered RFAs WR Brian Clark (Buccaneers), and CB Jonathan Wade (Rams) and trade pickups QB Shaun Hill (49ers), CB Chris Houston (Falcons) and DE Corey Williams (Browns).
GREEN BAY (5/0) β Following their normal approach to free agency, the Packers have made re-signing their own players the priority. With the exception of DE/OLB Aaron Kampman who escaped to the Jaguars, Green Bay’s kept all their other players, including starting OTs Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, plus they got long-term deals done with NT Ryan Pickett and S Nick Collins.
MINNESOTA (3/1) β The new rules limited the final eight NFL teams in free agency was something on the Vikings radar screen, but losing RB Chester Taylor (Bears) and G Artis Hicks (Redskins) allowed them some room to maneuver. But they haven’t gotten very frisky, adding only kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd (Panthers). They were able to keep three of their own, including former Chiefs CB Benny Sapp.
NEW ORLEANS (4/0) β The Super Bowl champions have tossed a few hooks in the water, but haven’t gotten any free agents to bite. They’ve re-signed four of their own and will continue to work on filling holes in their roster for the ’10 season, especially on defense where they’ve said good bye to LB Scott Fujita (Browns) and DE Charles Grant (failed physical/released.)
NEW YORK GIANTS (0/2) β After spending a lot of money in free agency before the ’09 season, the Giants have only made one big move, signing S Antrel Rolle (Cardinals) to a 5-year, $37 million contract with $15 million in guaranteed money. The other addition was backup QB Jim Sorgi (Colts). They’ve lost backup QB David Carr (49ers) and DT Fred Robbins (Rams).
PHILADELPHIA (2/2) β There has been a lot of talk surrounding the Eagles in the last two weeks, especially when it comes to their quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick are on the roster and one of those guys has to go. Kolb looks like the only one who will definitely stay. Philadelphia kept a pair of RFAs with new contracts, WR Jason Avant and FB Leonard Weaver. They also added WR Hank Baskett and CB Marlin Jackson (both from Colts). They traded away WR Reggie Brown and released RB Brian Westbrook and LB Will Witherspoon.
ST. LOUIS (2/4) β No big headline signing news from the Rams after their league-worst season in ’09; they’ve added four players from other teams, topped by C Hank Fraley (Browns) and DT Fred Robbins (Giants). The Rams also kept a pair of RFAs.
SAN FRANCISCO (1/2) β In the last few years the Niners were very active in the early days of free agency, but this year they’ve been quiet. Only backup QB David Carr (Giants) and CB Karl Paymah (Vikings) have been signed. They kept potential UFA LB Matt Wilhelm and have see five players leave, including QB Shaun Hill who was traded to the Lions.
SEATTLE (2/3) β The new duo of head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider has not been very active in their first signing period together. They kept K Olindo Mare with a franchise tender and re-signed P Jon Ryan. They added Whitehurst, WR Ruvell Martin (Rams) and TE Chris Baker (Patriots). The Hawks have lost WR Nate Burleson (Lions) and QB Seneca Wallace (traded to the Browns).
TAMPA BAY (0/2) β The Buccaneers have done a lot of shopping, but not an awful lot of buying in this free agency period. They signed UFA LB Jon Alston (Raiders) and traded for WR Reggie Brown (Eagles). That’s it, including their free agents. Their biggest loss was WR Antonio Bryant (Bengals).
WASHINGTON (5/6) β They’ve made not a single big splash in free agency, but the Redskins have been one of the league’s busier teams when it comes to signing players, a total of 10 in all, including five of their own that they retained. That group included starting offensive linemen Casey Rabach and Mike Williams. They also added six players from other teams, including a pair of offensive linemen in Artis Hicks (Vikings) and Kory Lichtensteiger (Broncos), along with former Chiefs RB Larry Johnson and just on Wednesday, QB Rex Grossman (Texans.) They also released 10 players and starting LT Chris Samuels retired.
THE PERSONNEL FILE FOR DAY #13 OF THE OFF-SEASON
- BEARS β released CB Nathan Vasher.
- BROWNS β re-signed LB Marcus Benard, LB Blake Costanza and RB Chris Jennings.
- CARDINALS β signed QB Derek Anderson (Browns).
- CHARGERS β re-signed DT Ian Scott.
- 49ERS β signed CB Karl Paymah (Vikings).
- PANTHERS β re-signed DE/OLB Tyler Brayton.
- REDSKINS β signed QB Rex Grossman (Texans).
- SEAHAWKS β acquired QB Charlie Whitehurst from the Chargers for a swap of second round choices in the 2010 NFL Draft and a third-round selection in the 2011 Draft.
- TITANS β signed DE Jason Babin (Eagles) to an offer sheet; Philadelphia retains only the right to match.