NEW YORK - Everyone expected a free agency flurry when the NFL’s year began on Thursday. Predicting what happened with Brock Osweiler was beyond anyone’s projections.
One year after signing a four-year deal with Houston, then losing the starting job to Tom Savage late in the season before returning and winning a playoff game, Osweiler is headed to Cleveland. The Texans basically took whatever deal they could get to rid themselves of a $16 million payout to the quarterback in 2017. The Browns and Texans are also swapping fourth- and sixth-round picks in 2017, and Cleveland gets a 2018 second-rounder.
Far more predictable was Chicago releasing Jay Cutler, who had no guaranteed money left on his contract. Cutler led the Bears to the 2010 NFC Championship Game, but otherwise struggled in Chicago.
“His ability, toughness, and intelligence were on daily display at Halas Hall and Soldier Field. He had an extraordinary impact off the field, doing things for people, especially kids, without expecting or wanting any recognition,” Bears chairman George McCaskey said. “I was and am a big fan of his.”
Yet another QB soon to be on the move, the Cowboys’ Tony Romo teasingly told fans in a tweeted video: “Hey everyone. I just wanted to come to tell you it’s been a crazy 48 hours here. Me and my family felt the outpouring of support and love from all of you. It’s been overwhelming and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I want to say thank you and we have a lot to think about going forward but we’ll see what happens. Until then I’m just going to keep listening to Bob Dylan.”
Romo could be headed to East Texas to replace Osweiler now that the Texans have room to pay him. Whether Dallas releases its longtime quarterback or works out a trade will soon be known.
As for the Texans-Browns stunner, it’s possible Cleveland, which owns the top pick in April’s draft, will be moving Osweiler, too. But the Browns had plenty of cap room to absorb the financial hit and load up with more draft picks.
Two players Cleveland added who will be staying are Kevin Zeitler, late of division rival Cincinnati, and Joel Bitonio, who got a five-year extension.
Among the busiest teams were the Buccaneers and Eagles, each getting a dangerous receiver for its young passer.
Tampa Bay brought in DeSean Jackson to team with Mike Evans as targets for Jameis Winston.
Jackson is one of five players since the 1970 merger with 26 or more career touchdowns of 50-plus yards. Only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (23) has more than Jackson’s 22 touchdowns of 60-plus yards.
The Buccaneers also added defensive tackle Chris Baker, late of Washington.
Philadelphia got perhaps the most covered wideout available in Alshon Jeffery, who left Chicago, and also agreed to terms with Torrey Smith, who was cut by San Francisco. Carson Wentz now has two more downfield threats than he did in his rookie season.
The Jets made cornerback Darrelle Revis’ release official. Revis, 31, had been scheduled to make $15 million, including a $2 million roster bonus, this season. The Jets still owe him $6 million as part of the $39 million in guarantees in the five-year, $70 million deal he signed in 2015.