NFL Free Agents 2013: Biggest Steals from First Two Days of Frenzied Action

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2013

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24:  Defensive lineman Cliff Avril #92 of the Detroit Lions reacts in the first half while taking on the Green Bay Packers during the Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field on November 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks landed one of the biggest steals of NFL free agency in 2013 when they agreed to terms with pass-rusher Cliff Avril.

Avril wasn't the only bargain to be found in the first two frantic days of action, either.

While some teams like the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns made big splashes early, there were a few teams that waited patiently for the chance to secure players with excellent value at bargain rates.


Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks

Avril was one of the crown jewels of this year's free-agent class. The former Detroit Lions' pass-rushing specialist made his case with 29.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles in the past three years and was hoping to earn a payday to the tune of the contract Mario Williams signed in 2012. 

In the end, he settled for far, far less. 

NFL Network's Albert Breer broke the story first:

According to ESPN, via Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith, "Avril has agreed to a two-year, $15 million deal with the Seahawks."

As Smith points out in his column, Avril bet he'd make more than the Lions' three-year, $30 million offer from last year, and it didn't work out quite the way he hoped.

On the flip side, Seattle landed one of the best pass-rushers available for practically nothing, considering how much elite pass-rushers are going for these days. 

Paul Kruger was somewhat of an equal peer to Avril in this process, in terms of their value as pass-rushers, and he received a five-year deal worth approximately $40 million (h/t the Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot). 

Score one for Pete Carroll's Seahawks. 


Glenn Dorsey, San Francisco 49ers

Dorsey was one of the top interior linemen available in this year's crop of free agents. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the 49ers' acquisition:

The Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows provided us with the details of the deal:

Key words being, "as much as."

This language suggests that Dorsey's deal is incentive laden, which works out well for the 49ers. If he doesn't live up to expectations, the team won't pay him as much but, if he does, he's worth the money.

He injured his calf last year playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and was placed on the IR, likely one of the reasons the 49ers were able to land him for such a reasonable price. 

When healthy, Dorsey is a big, strong interior lineman who can play multiple positions for the 49ers, which run a traditional 3-4 base and often shifts to a nickel set. Their version features four down linemen.

The former No. 5 overall pick will provide much-needed depth and talent to the team's defensive line, which recently lost Isaac Sopoaga (h/t Breer) and which could be losing Ricky-Jean Francois to free agency. 


Wes Welker, Denver Broncos

One man's trash...

Schefter first reported that the Broncos had landed Welker:

The New England Patriots apparently never intended on re-signing Welker unless he was willing to accept a two-year deal worth $10 million. Instead of matching Denver's two-year deal worth $12 million, the Patriots signed Danny Amendola to a five-year deal worth $31 million, with $10 million guaranteed (h/t's Albert Breer, via Gregg Rosenthal).

Oh, well. 

The Broncos will now head into the 2013 season with one of the most productive receivers in the NFL the past six years, paying him next to nothing compared to the massive contracts being handed out these days to the NFL's "top" receivers.

Given the fact Peyton Manning is throwing passes and the fact he will be able to work out of the slot, with incumbents Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker effective receivers themselves, Welker is bound to put up numbers comparable to what he was able to do in New England.

The deal Welker struck with Denver is one of the biggest steals of free agency this year.


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