Free Agent Moves – March 2014 NFL Offseason

In anticipation of the opening of NFL veteran free agency on Tuesday, several teams have made cap-saving moves on Monday. Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, and Lamarr Woodley have been waived or will be waived soon. Speculation has Carolina’s Steve Smith either being traded or released, while Jared Allen has announced he’ll delve into free agency when the process begins for 2014. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks signed DE/DT hybrid Michael Bennett, who was a key cog in their ascendant 2013 defensive unit.

Michael Bennett Resigns with Seahawks

Michael Bennett signed a 4 year, $28.5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. $16 million of that money is guaranteed. He was an undrafted free agent for the team in 2009, but was released and played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last several seasons prior to 2013. In 2013, Michael Bennett came over to Seattle again, and he had 8.5 sacks while working with their league-leading unit.

Speculation in the last few days had the Chicago Bears throwing a lot of money at Bennett, who was considered the best pass rusher on the Seahawks Super Bowl champion defense. Bennett is listed as a defensive end, but his real value is filling the role of defensive tackle in passing situations. He slides inside on pass rushing downs and dominated NFL guards. According to several reports, Michael Bennett was offered more money by two other teams, but he chose to take the competitive offer from the Seahawks.

Santonio Holmes Cuts by Jets

Michael Bennett Seattle Seahawks

Fear the Beard

The New York Jets waived Santonio Holmes, saving $10.75 million on their salary cap. Santonio Holmes’ 4 year Jets stint has had plenty of ups and downs, but his lack of production in 2013 almost assured the team would cut him this offseason. With the release of Holmes today and Antonio Cromartie yesterday, the team saves $17.75 million under the salary cap. The Jets could save $2 million more if they waive Mark Sanchez this offseason.

Santonio Holmes will turn 30 soon. Teams should have some interest, but the days when Holmes is considered an elite receiver in the NFL might be over.

Steelers Plan to Waive Lamarr Woodley

All indications are the Pittsburgh Steelers will release Lamarr Woodley from their roster after free agency begins on Tuesday. Woodley has the largest-ever contract for a Steelers defensive player. He is set to make $8 million in the fourth year of a 6-year, $61.5 million contract.

The team expects to replace Woodley with 2010 draft pick Jason Worilds, who had 13 sacks over the past two years, including 8 sacks in 2013. To give themselves the right to match any offers he might receive in free agency, Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag 2 on Worilds this past week.

Injuries have hampered the 29 year old Lamarr Woodley over the past couple of seasons. Still, he’s under 30 years old and is considered a valuable pass rusher, so it’s expected that multiple teams will be interested in signing Woodley after the free agency process begins on Tuesday. He’ll be designated as a post-June 1 salary-cap casualty, but can sign with other teams starting March 11, 2014.

In late-breaking news, the Steelers announced they would retain Troy Polamalu.

Steve Smith Trade Talks

The latest rumors have the Carolina Panthers attempting to trade veteran wide receiver Steve Smith. The rumors have led to speculation that the Panthers might cut the 34 year old wideout in the near future. If Steve Smith remains on the roster in 2014, he will counter $7 million against the salary cap.

In further late-breaking news, the Miami Dolphins signed former Lions safety Louis Delmas to a one-year contract. Also, ESPN reports rumors that the Chicago Bears have put Julius Peppers on the trading block. Revis Island appears to have had only a 1-year stint in Tampa Bay. If the Bucs can find no trade partners to ship Darrelle Revis out, they’re likely to cut the cornerback.

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