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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: NFL offseason furor may be craziest ever

New+Orleans+Saints+tight+end+Jimmy+Graham+leaps+over+Atlanta+Falcons+cornerback+Desmond+Trufant+for+yardage+during+the+first+half+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+7%2C+2014%2C+at+Georgia+Dome+in+Atlanta.+%28Curtis+Compton%2FAtlanta+Journal-Constitution%2FMCT%29
Curtis Compton
New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham leaps over Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant for yardage during the first half on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, at Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT)

If you didn’t think the NFL is the most popular sports league in the nation, take a look back at the last few days and reevaluate your views. Boatloads of money were spent in what was arguably the most hectic opening day of the NFL league year, and several seemingly secure players were shipped off to new destinations. 

Despite contracts like Ndamukong Suh’s monster $114 million deal with the Miami Dolphins, teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks took swift advantage of the beginning of the new league year.

A bevy of talented players were traded over a 10-minute period. Here’s a rundown of players who were traded during that stretch: All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham from New Orleans to Seattle, Pro Bowl center Max Unger from Seattle to New Orleans, Pro Bowl quarterback and former Arizona Wildcat Nick Foles from Philadelphia to St. Louis, quarterback and former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford from St. Louis to Philadelphia and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata from Baltimore to Detroit. 

It’s remarkable to think that all those moves went down in that 10-minute window in a league that traditionally has shied away from trading big-time players for other marquee players. 

The scary thing is that those are just the trades that went down that day, and doesn’t take into account some of the free agent signings that also impacted the league in a big way, the biggest of which was cornerback Darrelle Revis heading from the Super Bowl champs in New England back to the team that drafted him 14th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, the New York Jets. 

In a move reminiscent of LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Revis went back home and got an insane amount of money from the Jets to do so. New York signed him to a five-year, $70 million contract with $39 million guaranteed. 

It may not be the highest amount of guaranteed money for a cornerback ever — Arizona’s Patrick Peterson holds that record with $48 million guaranteed in his deal — but the $14 million per year average is tied with Peterson and Seattle’s Richard Sherman for the highest in the league, according to ESPN Data.

Much like James’s situation, Revis heads to a team desperately in need of his services. The Jets employed a multitude of corners in the secondary, looking, praying and hoping one of them would turn into anything above average. Instead of a clear-cut star emerging, the team was left with mediocrity throughout the secondary, something too detrimental for most teams to overcome. 

Revis’ return brings hope for new head coach Todd Bowles’ defensive unit, and is one of those feel good stories that fans like to hear about. 

Some of the other notable signings and agreements are as follows: Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati signing with Arizona, Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas heading to Jacksonville, linebacker Trent Cole and running back Frank Gore signing with Indianapolis along with Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson, and Super Bowl champ and wide receiver Torrey Smith heading to San Francisco.

On a much sadder note, linebacker Patrick Willis, quarterback Jake Locker and linebacker Jason Worilds retired from the game, with Willis citing injuries and Locker and Worilds citing a lack of passion to play the game. All of them are not yet in their 30s. 

Locker, the 26-year-old No. 8 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2011 NFL Draft, and Worilds, the No. 52 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft, were in line for multi-million dollar free agent contracts. 

Willis was under contract for the next three seasons with base salaries of $7.065 million, $7.985 million and $4 million, respectively. 

Tuesday was one of the craziest days in NFL offseason history. If history is any inclination, it’s only going to get more hectic as the years go by. 

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Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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