NEW YORK — The Eagles gave away everything but the Liberty Bell to bring in players. The Seahawks couldn't get rid of some of their players fast enough. And a player just out of jail has a deal with the Jets for a guaranteed $3 million.
The biggest, wildest spending spree in NFL history is almost over, with several teams making headlines for their generosity. Others stood out for not being particularly active, even though they're not exactly world beaters.
Did all the trades and free agency signings swing the balance of power in pro football toward anyone? We won't find out for months, but here's a look at who went hog wild and who was reluctant to play the game before the real games are played.
Nobody outdid or outbid the Eagles, who swooped in late to grab the most prized free agent, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, away from the Jets and Cowboys. They also added yet another quality cornerback — the Eagles already have Asante Samuel — when they traded backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Altogether, Philly has made seven major acquisitions, adding defensive linemen Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins, running back Ronnie Brown, offensive lineman Ryan Harris and quarterback Vince Young.
"When a team wants you, you can feel it," Asomugha said. "And when you feel that match, I don't think you can shy away from that."
Not for $60 million over five years, you can't.
The Colts had no choice but to open the vault for Peyton Manning, who says the five-year, $90 million deal ensured "I will be an Indianapolis Colt for my entire career."
Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay made sure the contract with the four-time MVP got done before his team began serious workouts.
"I think from my perspective when I said I wanted him to be the highest-paid player in the league, that was really a symbolic way of showing respect," Irsay said. "I didn't want there to be any debate about what Peyton's done for the franchise."
Also digging deeper than most were the Jets and Dolphins, who clearly understand how difficult it is to keep up with the Patriots.
New York guaranteed receiver Plaxico Burress $3 million even though he spent much of the last two years in prison and hasn't played since 2008. The Jets also re-signed their top wideout, Santonio Holmes, for $50 million over five years, and their No. 2 cornerback, Antonio Cromartie ($32 million, four years). Cromartie said there were no hard feelings that the Jets pursued Asomugha first, then backtracked.
"Just know that I have a big chip on my shoulder," Cromartie said, "and expect something really big this season."
Miami has done plenty of big things, from trading for Reggie Bush and reworking his deal (two years, $10 million) to signing tackle Mark Colombo, LB Kevin Burnett and bringing back longtime defensive star Jason Taylor for, perhaps, a last hurrah. There's still a chance the Dolphins could pull off a deal for a veteran quarterback, possibly Kyle Orton of Denver.
Fans might think such also-rans as the Bengals, Browns, Broncos and 49ers would dive headfirst into the signing extravaganza. They haven't.
Perhaps Cleveland, Denver and San Francisco thought changing coaching staffs during a year of unparalleled upheaval was enough, because none of them has been making headlines with any transactions.
The Browns' most notable move was bringing in Usama Young to start at safety.
"We're not going to spend a ton of money right now in that (free agent) situation," GM Tom Hecker said. "For our team, we think we've added players who are going to help us. We really do. Are they big-name guys? No."
Nor are Denver's additions (Brodrick Bunkley, Derrick Harvey, Dante Rosario) nor San Francisco's (David Akers).
As for the Bengals, one of their best players, cornerback Johnathan Joseph, left for Houston, and the veteran quarterback, Carson Palmer, says he'd rather retire than stay in Cincinnati. But the Bengals have been virtually silent since the lockout ended.
It all depends on what you consider to be inexpensive. But Tennessee's signings of veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to fill a huge void, and LB Barrett Ruud, a tackling machine when he was with Tampa Bay, were huge. Ruud cost $4 million, not at all ridiculous in this environment. Hasselbeck got $21 million for three years, about the going rate for an experienced passer, but much of it is backloaded, protecting the Titans.
San Diego grabbed a still-dynamic linebacker in Takeo Spikes to juice its defense. Spikes played in San Francisco the past three years in a 3-4 scheme under new Chargers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Kansas City's addition of receiver Steve Breaston, St. Louis bringing in safety Quintin Mikell, and Detroit signing LB Stephen Tulloch are under-the-radar moves that won't break the bank, but vastly improved those teams.
New England risked plenty by trading for Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco. Remember, though, that recent "problem children" such as Randy Moss and Corey Dillon fared well in Foxborough.Comment on this story
"I've always been a chameleon, so I am going to blend in and do it the Patriot way, which is win," the often outlandish Ochocinco said. "We had our talk, and without him (coach Bill Belichick) even having to say anything — there is no need for some of the stuff I did before. There's no need for it."
Also feeling a need to gamble were the Jets on Burress, the Eagles on Young, the Seahawks on Tarvaris Jackson, and the Cardinals on oft-injured LB Stewart Bradley.
Seattle has blown up some of its roster, with such leaders as Hasselbeck, Lofa Tatupu and Chris Spencer exiled. Then again, the Seahawks were only 7-9 with those guys, albeit NFC West champions.