The free agency period officially got underway at 10:01 p.m. MST on Thursday, so check back with this blog all day for free agency news from across the league, and any official Broncos signings that come across our desk.
8:57 a.m. MST: Wow, you guys have been busy in the comments. Love to see it. All right, time to play some catch-up from the first night/morning of free agency. This early in the game it’s a little hard to tell what’s official and what’s just a bit of speculation, but let’s get started.
9:10 a.m. MST: Some Broncos news just came across our desk: Brandon Lloyd and Russ Hochstein have agreed in principle to re-sign with the team. Terms will not be released, but we’ll have more on this later.
9:23 a.m. MST: Speaking of Broncos news, published reports have three players visiting with the Broncos: Browns center Rex Hadnot, Dolphins cornerback Nathan Jones and Ravens defensive lineman Justin Bannan.
9:30 a.m. MST: Reports have former Chargers tight end Brandon Manumaleuna heading to Chicago. Speaking of the Bears, Julius Peppers is on his way to Chicago for a visit, but word is the Eagles and Patriots also have offers out for the defensive end.
9:37 a.m. MST: More catch-up from early in free agency: the Eagles have reportedly come to terms with Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver, making him the highest-paid fullback in NFL history.
9:54 a.m. MST: In other big free agent news, coveted linebacker Karlos Dansby will make Miami his first visit of free agency. We’ll see if that means he’s heading to the Dolphins, as the Cardinals reportedly still have a lot of interest.
10:04 a.m. MST: A list of all the unrestricted free agents in the league has just come our way. We’ll focus on the Denver UFAs — Mitch Berger, Vernon Fox, Brandon Gorin, Nick Greisen, Ben Hamilton, Vonnie Holliday and Ty Law. We’ll keep you updated as to where they head as the free agency period continues. Hochstein and Lloyd were also unrestricted free agents until the two players and the Broncos agreed to terms today.
10:31 a.m. MST: With the exception of the Lions picking up Vanden Bosch and Burleson, things have been pretty quiet early on the free agency front. Many predicted teams would feel each other out the first day or two before jumping into the bidding. We’ll see if any big names get picked up as the day progresses.
11:29 a.m. MST: Safety Gibril Wilson has joined the ranks of free agents, as he was released by the Dolphins today.
12:10 p.m. MST: NFL Fanhouse is reporting that the New York Giants and safety Antrel Rolle are on the verge of an agreement. Rolle amassed four interceptions and 72 tackles last season for the Arizona Cardinals.
12:42 p.m. MST: Sorry for the slight delay in posts — grabbed a little lunch. So it appears the Bears will pull in quite a free agent class on the first day, as Chester Taylor has agreed to terms after the Bears already signed Manumaleuna. Now, it looks like Julius Peppers could be a Chicago Bear as well. We’ll keep an eye on that situation.
12:49 p.m. MST: Another big-name defender on the market is cornerback Dunta Robinson. According to Steve Wyche’s blog on NFL.com, Robinson will sign with the Atlanta Falcons by the end of the weekend.
12:50 p.m. MST: The Redskins haven’t been quite as active this free agency period, though they have re-signed three of their own — defensive lineman Phillip Daniels, versatile backup Lorenzo Alexander and offensive lineman Mike Williams — and offensive tackle Chad Clifton is scheduled to visit Washington.
12:53 p.m. MST: A few AFC West notes:
It has been reported that the Chiefs are interested in veteran running back Thomas Jones.
1:01 p.m. MST: Quarterback A.J. Feeley has reportedly finalized a deal to join the St. Louis Rams.
1:11 p.m. MST: While we’re finding out roster moves via Twitter…the official New England Patriots Twitter page has announced that the team has signed linebacker Tully Banta-Cain to a three-year deal.
2:30 p.m. MST: Word has it the Chiefs are interested in trading for Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin. ProFootballTalk.com says the Ravens and Patriots are also interested.
3:41 p.m. MST: Well Will Witherspoon’s stay in Philadelphia didn’t last long. Reuben Frank of the Burlington County Times reports that the Philadelphia Eagles are set to release the linebacker after acquiring him from the Panthers via a trade during the 2009 season.
3:47 p.m. MST: ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that CB Dunta Robinson – formally of the Texans – and the Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a six-year contract.
5:25 p.m. MST: Sorry for the delay between posts — had to head home. The big news out right now is that the Ravens have traded 2010 third- and fourth-round picks for receiver Anquan Boldin and a 2010 fifth-round pick.
In other news, the Dolphins have released linebackers Joey Porter and Akin Ayodele and safety Gibril Wilson.
I’ll check back in sporadically with new signings throughout the evening, and update you on any action involving the Broncos on the first day of free agency.
5:40 p.m. MST: Back with some Broncos news. The team has officially signed free agent running back J.J. Arrington. He originally signed with the team a year ago today, but was waived due to injury in May and spent the year out of football. The last game Arrington played was Super Bowl XLIII for the Arizona Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
6:10 p.m. MST: Three coveted players have signed long-term deals with their respective teams. Kevin Walter will be staying in Houston, Chad Clifton will remain a Packer, and Vince Wilfork has signed a 5-year contract after being tagged as a franchise player.
On the opposite side of things, the Eagles have officially released Brian Westbrook, making him a free agent.
6:20 p.m. MST: Adam Schefter is reporting that Karlos Dansby has signed with the Miami Dolphins.
7:10 p.m. MST: The Broncos have officially signed unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Justin Bannan and cornerback Nathan Jones.
“We are excited with these two additions and expect Justin Bannan and Nathan Jones to make positive contributions to the Broncos both on the field and in the locker room,” Head Coach Josh McDaniels said. “Justin will fit into our scheme very well, and having played his college ball at Colorado, he’s thrilled to return to this state as a Bronco. Nathan’s versatility in the secondary will make us better. He is a quality player who is eager to compete and make an impact on this team.”
General Manager Brian Xanders added, “Besides being a quality football player who is versatile, tough and smart, Justin Bannan is a quality person. He is the type of player we are looking for as we build our football team. Nathan Jones has experience playing outside cornerback, nickel cornerback and safety. He makes plays on defense and has been a core contributor on special teams.”
7:51 p.m. MST: The Patriots have locked up guard Stephen Neal.
9:00 p.m. MST: Antrel Rolle has been made the highest-paid safety in NFL history by the New York Giants, according to Jason La Canfora.
And what could be the last note of the evening, Tennessee restricted free agent running back LenDale White is apparently asking for a trade.
If any other big news comes out tonight, it will be posted here. If not, this has been an eventful first day of free agency. Hope you enjoyed the blog as a place to congregate and discuss the day’s events.
We will of course keep you updated with all the Broncos’ activity as the free agency period continues.
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com