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The NFL Free Agency Period Is Open. Here's A Review Of The Comings And Goings So Far.

The NFL Free Agency Period Is Open. Here's A Review Of The Comings And Goings So Far.
By Cian Fahey Updated

On Tuesday, the NFL's calendar turned to a new year. The official beginning to the 2013 NFL season is represented by the opening of the free agency period.

Players without contracts were free to sign with the highest bidder and many of them did.

High-Profile Signings:

Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins, $60 million for five years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RpSDwMCwg8

Wallace was the biggest name on the free agent market even if he wasn't the best player available. His whole game is based around his ability to outrun defenders, which dramatically impacts whatever offense he is a part of.

His contract gives him $30 million guaranteed, which is the third highest for a wide receiver behind Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. While Wallace is the fastest receiver in the league, he is not on the same class as those two.

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The Dolphins were desperate to sign a wide receiver. Impressive young talent Ryan Tannehill was throwing to arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL last year. With Wallace, he at least now has a deep threat who can create space for the whole offense.

Wes Welker, Denver Broncos, $12 million for two years.

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Despite Tom Brady's contract extension that created extra cap space for the Patriots, the franchise decided to low-ball his favourite target. Welker reportedly received a $10 million offer over two years, instead taking an extra $2 million from their rivals for the AFC this season.

Welker is in the twilight of his career, but he is still the best slot receiver in the NFL. Playing with Peyton Manning will allow him to continue to excel with an elite quarterback, while being a part of a much better wide receiving corps with Eric Deker and Demaryius Thomas will take some pressure off of him. Welker is the perfect final piece for the Broncos' offense.

Andy Levitre, Tennessee Titans, $46.5 million for six years.

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He may be desperately overpaid for a guard, but Levitre is one of the best in the league at his position so it was never going to be a cheap negotiation. The former Buffalo Bills' offensive lineman is athletic, intelligent and capable of contributing to the offense in multiple ways.

Last season, Levitre allowed pressure on his quarterback on less than one percent of pass protection snaps. That despite playing left tackle and left guard. With Chris Johnson in the backfield, the Titans will still want to run rather than pass all day. The Bills ran over Levitre 49 times last year when he was lined up as a left guard, they averaged an incredible 6.43 yards per play, the best individual mark in the NFL.

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It also doesn't hurt that he's only 26 years of age.

Paul Kruger, Cleveland Browns, $40.5 million for four years.

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Despite hitting the headlines during the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl journey, Kruger remains relatively unproven as a full-time starter. During his first four years in the league with the Ravens, he started just seven total games. However, in those games and as a bit-part player in 51 others he managed 15.5 sacks and two interceptions.

In today's NFL, because of the prominence of the passer, pass rushers come with a premium. Kruger was able to sign a massive deal with the Cleveland Browns regardless of his past experience because of his potential to be a disruptive pass-rusher.

Dannell Ellerbe, Miami Dolphins, $35 million for five years.

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Much like his former teammate, Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe has received a huge contract based on his future potential rather than his past production. Ellerbe emerged as a key player for the Ravens last season as starters Jameel McClain and Ray Lewis dealt with injuries. The inside linebacker had his own injury issues, issues that have plagued his career, but performed admirably through them.

Soon after Ellerbe signed with the Dolphins, the Miami based franchise released former starters Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby. Both Dansby and Burnett were much more experienced than Ellerbe and neither were bad players by any means. The former undrafted free agent has high expectations in his new home.

Under-the-Radar Moves:

Gosder Cherilus, Indianapolis Colts, $34 million for five years.
Donald Thomas, Indianapolis Colts, $14 million for four years.

Thomas and Cherilus are lumped together because they will be on the Colts offensive line also. Cherilus will be the team's starting right tackle, while Thomas is expected to take over one of the starting guard positions. Both players will improve the performance over those players they replace, while they also offer some experience to a youthful roster.

Terrance Knighton, Denver Broncos, Undisclosed for two years.

Knighton is a defensive tackle who played in Jacksonville under current Broncos' defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio when he was the Jaguars' head coach. Knighton has plenty of talent, but has had an inconsistent impact over the course of his career. His best years came under Del Rio, so the Broncos will be hoping he can replicate those at a position of need.

Glenn Dorsey, San Francisco 49ers, Undisclosed for two years.

Dorsey was a high-profile draft pick for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. Despite being the fifth choice that year, Dorsey never really lived up to his expectations in Kansas City. For five years in Kansas City, Dorsey was a decent but overpaid defensive lineman. However, in a limited role that better suits his strengths with the San Francisco 49ers, he could prosper.

Danny Amendola, New England Patriots, $31 million for five years.

No longer just a part of the constant revolving door of slot receivers joke with the Patriots, Amendola fulfilled a few years of speculation by signing with the Patriots. Amendola isn't as durable or consistent as Welker, but he does offer the Patriots a more versatile playmaker who has youth on his side.

Follow Cian Fahey on Twitter - @Cianaf
Read more of him on Irish Central and in the Guardian’s US Sport section.

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