NFL free agency: Notable moves

Here's a list of the biggest NFL free-agent deals of 2016.

Forte catches on with Jets

Running back Matt Forte is moving to the Jets after eight seasons in Chicago. (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)

Here's a list of the biggest NFL free-agent deals of 2016.

Free-agent signings were allowed to become official beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Forte highlights Jets' makeover

The New York Jets on Thursday reportedly agreed in principle to sign free-agent running backs Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson, and re-sign running back Bilal Powell.

The team announced that it re-signed backup tight end Zach Sudfeld and tendered an offer worth $1.671 million to restricted free agent wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.

After spending his first eight NFL seasons in Chicago, Forte comes to the Jets on a three-year deal and will likely replace the departed Chris Ivory as the starter. Forte, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, ranks second in Bears history to Hall of Famer Walter Payton in several categories, including yards rushing, receptions and yards from scrimmage.

His 64 touchdowns (45 rushing, 19 receiving) rank third behind Payton and Neal Anderson. Forte also set the NFL's single-season record for receptions by a running back with 102 in 2014.

Forte is 30, though — considered an age of decline for NFL running backs — and the Bears chose not to offer him a contract.

Robinson is a strong and versatile back coming off a broken leg suffered last November against the Giants.

Powell set a career high with 47 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns last season, while finishing with 313 yards rushing and a TD as the backup to Ivory.

Raiders' spending spree continues

The Oakland Raiders added another top free agent to their off-season haul, agreeing to a four-year, $40 million US deal with former Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith.

Smith's agent, David Canter, said Thursday that Smith had agreed to join the big-spending Raiders. Oakland previously reached deals with offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele for up to $60 million for five years and pass rusher Bruce Irvin for up to a reported $39 million for four seasons.

But finding a cornerback was the top need in free agency, and Oakland won a heated competition for Smith. Smith has allowed opponents to catch fewer than 60 per cent of passes for all seven of his NFL seasons and gives the Raiders the starter they needed alongside David Amerson.

Osweiler leaves Broncos for Texans

The Houston Texans have reportedly agreed to a multiyear contract with free agent quarterback Brock Osweiler.

ESPN reported the deal is for four years and $72 million US.

The Texans were looking for an upgrade at the position after Brian Hoyer's struggles last season, particularly his turnover-filled performance in their wild-card playoff loss to Kanas City.

Osweiler appeared in eight games with seven starts last season for the Super Bowl champion Broncos. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound player spent the first four years of his career with the Broncos after being drafted in the second round in 2012 out of Arizona State.

He threw for a career-high 1,967 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions last season.

Osweiler's decision comes two days after Peyton Manning retired from the Broncos.

Giants lure Vernon, 2 others

New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese made a huge splash on the first day of NFL free agency, agreeing to terms with pass rusher Olivier Vernon, former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and former New York Jets defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison.

Vernon, the six-foot-two, 261-pound centrepiece of Reese's $200 million spending spree, was regarded as the premier pass-rusher in this year's free agent class. His deal is worth $85 million over five years. The 25-year-old had 7½ sacks in 16 starts in 2015 while being a constant presence in the backfield.

Harrison, 27, will be play next to returning veteran Jonathan Hankins to form a solid middle.

Jenkins will get slightly more than $12 million annually, making him the second-highest-paid cornerback behind the Jets' Darrelle Revis' $14.024 million average.

Lions sign WR Marvin Jones 

A person with knowledge of the deal says the Detroit Lions have agreed to a five-year contract with free agent wide receiver Marvin Jones.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the deal had not been announced. Jones caught 65 passes for 816 yards and four touchdowns last season for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Bears scoop up LB Trevathan

The Chicago Bears boosted their defence by agreeing to a four-year contract with Super Bowl champion linebacker Danny Trevathan.

The 25-year-old Trevathan was the leading tackler on the league's No. 1 defence.

The six-foot-one, 240-pound Trevathan made 275 tackles, three sacks, five interceptions and had 18 pass breakups over four seasons with the Denver Broncos.

Jets nab 2-time pro bowler Forte

The New York Jets have reportedly agreed to terms with former Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte.

Terms of the deal are no yet known.

At 30 years old, Forte had been a mainstay with the Bears, spending eight seasons there. He's proven to be extremely durable, missing only eight games in his career.

He leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage since he entered the league in 2008. 

Miller joins Texans

Running back Lamar Miller signed a four-year contract with the Houston Texans worth $26 million. The deal includes $14 milliion guaranteed.

Only 24, Miller owns a 4.6 career yards per carry mark, and ran for 872 yards last season in Miami. 

Bucs keep Martin

Running back Doug Martin reached a five-year, $35 million deal to stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ESPN reported.

Martin finished second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,402) last season.

Mack jumps to Falcons

Centre Alex Mack is expected to sign with the Atlanta Falcons, according to multiple reports.

The 30-year-old spent six seasons in Cleveland and was named to the Pro Bowl three times.

Gates stays in San Diego

The San Diego Chargers say they've agreed to a two-year contract with star tight end Antonio Gates.

Gates will reportedly get $12 million, with $6 million guaranteed, to keep his terrific combination with quarterback Philip Rivers going.

The 2016 season will be Gates's 14th with the Chargers. He signed as an undrafted rookie in 2003.

Gates was suspended for the first four games of 2015 after testing positive for a banned substance. Upon returning, he had 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns.

Gates is the franchise leader with 844 catches, 10,644 yards receiving and 104 touchdown catches.

San Diego will also reportedly add receiver Travis Benjamin, formerly of Cleveland, while Chargers tight end Ladarius Green was expected to sign with Pittsburgh.

Dolphins grab former Bills pass rusher Williams

Defensive end Mario Williams signed a $16 million, two-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.

Williams reached the agreement a week after being released by Buffalo. The Dolphins sought reinforcement at end because they may lose Olivier Vernon in free agency, and the status of four-time Pro Bowler Cameron Wake is in question, too.

Williams was scheduled to make an $11.5-million base salary this year if the Bills had kept him. He finished with five sacks last year, the fewest Williams managed in a season in which he played in at least 13 games since he had 4½ as a rookie in 2006.

Super Bowl champs lose key piece

Defensive end Malik Jackson, a key performer in Denver's championship season, is heading to Jacksonville as the opening move in the NFL's free agent period.

A person familiar with the negotiations said the Jaguars have agreed to terms with Jackson on a six-year deal worth up to $90 million and including $42 million guaranteed.

Johnson takes pay cut to stay in Carolina

Defensive end Charles Johnson has agreed to take a major pay cut to return to the Carolina Panthers, according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Johnson, who was released last week by Carolina in a salary cap move, has agreed to a one-year contract worth $3 million with the NFC champions. Johnson was slated to cost the Panthers $15 million this season under the cap before he was cut.

The 29-year-old Johnson has played nine seasons with Carolina and his 63½ sacks are second-most in franchise history.

JPP sticking with Giants

Citing unfinished business, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said Tuesday he has agreed to terms on a new contract with the New York Giants.

The free agent said he chose to return to the team that made him a first-round draft pick in 2010 despite interest from several other teams, including Arizona.

The popular pass rusher who had 11½ sacks in the 2011 Super Bowl season got one sack in playing final eight games last year after a July 4 fireworks accident cost him his right index finger and he missed half the schedule.

Bills keep Incognito, lose McKelvin

Buffalo is bringing back guard Richie Incognito, who accepted a pay cut and agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract with the Bills on Tuesday.

"I went from a guy nobody wanted to getting redeemed by Buffalo, and I owe them a lot," Incognito said. "You can't put a price tag on that. They believe in me and I believe in them."

His future had been uncertain before he signed a one-year contract with Buffalo in January 2015. It came after Incognito spent 15 months out of football for being a central figure in the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal in 2013.

Incognito emerged as a team leader and key member of an offensive line that helped the Bills lead the league for yards rushing. He started all 16 games at left guard.

"I was just talking with my mom and we were shedding tears of joy," he said. "This is another chapter in my life, and the other chapters have not been so great. But just the resiliency and the dedication and the resolve to get to this point, it definitely plays in the back of my mind."

While Incognito returns to Buffalo, former Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin agreed to a two-year contract with Philadelphia.

Jeffery signs Bears' tender

Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery signed his franchise tag tender for $14.6 million.

The Bears and Jeffery have until July 15 to agree to a multiyear contract.

Injuries limited Jeffery to nine games last season but he still led the team in receiving.

Ivory joining Jags

Running back Chris Ivory was expected to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars, ESPN reported.

Ivory, who turns 28 on March 22, set career highs with the Jets last season for carries (247), rushing yards (1,070), rushing touchdowns (seven) and receptions (30).

Hali staying in K.C.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Tamba Hali have reached an agreement on a three-year deal, ESPN reported.

Hali, 32, was named to his fifth Pro Bowl last year and recorded 6½ sacks. He has 86 career sacks.

Bucs add Sweezy

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers called, J.R. Sweezy did more than listen.

The free agent guard exchanged several text messages with Jameis Winston and also talked to the young quarterback's backup, Mike Glennon, before signing a five-year, $32.5 million contract.

"It just feels right," the former Seattle Seahawks lineman, who addressed a need created by Logan Mankins' retirement, said Thursday.

Sweezy, 26, joins the Bucs after spending his first four seasons with the Seahawks, starting 49 of 59 regular-season games and 10 postseason games in helping win a pair of NFC championships and one Super Bowl.

Seahawks bring back Canadian punter

The Seattle Seahawks continued to focus on retaining their own free agents by re-signing Canadian punter Jon Ryan to a four-year deal.

Seattle announced the new contract with Ryan on Friday. Ryan, a Regina native, is the longest tenured member of the Seahawks roster having joined the team in 2008. He is the last current Seattle player to have played for Mike Holmgren when he was coach of the Seahawks.

With files from The Associated Press


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