TORONTO - Leave it to the NFL’s glamour boys to find a way to score first, and score big.
Next to the quarterback spot, perhaps no position engenders as much interest as wide receiver. And it didn’t take the NFL’s free agent crop of pass catchers long to hit paydirt.
The New Orleans Saints took one of the premier receivers off the free-agent market before it even opened Tuesday.
Marques Colston signed a five-year deal worth $40 million, including just under $20 million guaranteed, to stay with the Saints. Vincent Jackson went to the Bucs. He didn’t come cheap; $55 million.
Meantime, the Dolphins made the biggest splash on the trade front, sending Brandon Marshall to the Bears where he will be reunited with Jay Cutler.
It all began a frenzied few first hours as the free agent free-for-all opened with players running up the frequent flyer miles. No position is offering teams more variety and talent than the receiver spot.
Pierre Garcon, who turned down an offer from the Colts was in Washington and announced on Facebook that he would sign with the Redskins.
The 49ers lost Josh Morgan, who also went to Washington, signing a two-year deal worth up to $12 million, to play in his hometown. Meantime, Eddie Royal arrived in town Tuesday night as the Redskins try to load up in the receiver position for quarterback in waiting, Robert Griffin III.
Reggie Wayne patched up differences agreeing to a three-year deal with Indianapolis.
Robert Meachem was talking with the Bills Tuesday night. Chicago fell out of the Vincent Derby as the gold standard of free agents signed a five-year deal worth a guaranteed $26 million with Tampa, which also has shown an interest in Mario Manningham of the Giants.
The Patriots, with $18 million to spend before hitting the salary cap threshold, are the early line favourites to get Brandon Lloyd. He wants to come to New England and has told Patriots players his demands won’t be outrageous. He’s there for Bill Belichick’s taking.
The Jets are looking for somebody to pair with Santonio Holmes and such as Laurent Robinson with Meachem looking like he’ll end up in Buffalo.
Meachem would be paired with Stevie Johnson, giving quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick another weapon.
Colston, 29, decided not to join in on all the madness, saying he had no interest in testing the market.
“This was important to me, to be back with this team in this situation,” Colston said in a prepared statement. “It was more important for me to be back in our program, a program we have been building and a program I believe in. The Saints have been loyal to me from the beginning ... now it is time to get back to work and win some more rings.”
He is one of only seven players in league history to generate more than 1,000 receiving yards in five of his first six seasons.
The Dolphins dealing Marshall for a 2012 third-round pick and 2013 third round pick was a bit of a surprise. But it might be the percusor to a move by Miami to convince Peyton Manning they’re serious. Manning reportedly had reservations about playing with the taciturn Marshall. Cutler, in Chicago, has no such issues, the two having spent three years together in Denver.
Cortland Finnegan’s cross-country tour never got past St. Louis. The top free agent cornerback available has agreed to a five year, $50 million deal to play under Jeff Fisher, his former head coach in Tennessee.
The No. 2 corner available, Brandon Carr, was in Dallas talking to the Cowboys Tuesday night.
Former Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn is in contract talks with the Browns and Dolphins, although with Miami chasing Peyton Manning his best chance to start would appear to be in Cleveland ... The Giants signed former University of Waterloo offensive tackle Joel Reinders ... Dallas released cornerback Terrence Newman ... .. The Saints made an offer that Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks called “respectable” but the Bears are expected to go after him big-time in an effort to get some protection for quarterback Jay Cutler ... Longtime Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill, unable to pass the team physical after a neck injury last year, is being released to clear $10 million in cap space. His contract was guaranteed for skill but not against injury. Not fair? Perhaps, but such is life in the NFL. Here yesterday — hurt, and gone, today ... The Jaguars have re-signed punter Nick Harris who, at age 33, has 876 career punts ... The Giants made a major in-house move resigning cornerback Terrell Thomas to a four year, $28 million deal... Jordan Babineaux has resigned with Tennessee where he will be the strong safety ... Houston cut fullback Lawrence Vickers to shed cap space ... The Bears resigned feisty cornerback Tim Jennings, who has started 28 games the past two seasons, to a two-year deal ... Browns kicker Phil Dawson signed his franchise tender, accepting the one-year, $3.81 million offer ... Jaguars have re-signed safety Dwight Lowery to a four-year contract ... The Bengals, trying to upgrade the secondary are talking to former Giants corner Aaron Ross ... The Bears, in a fallback from Mario Williams are talking with Jeremy Mincey after his breakout year with the Jags ... The Chiefs are looking at both Peyton Hillis at running back, and Mike Tolbert, who is scheduled to visit Wednesday ... Bears’ free agent tight end Kellen Davis has visits scheduled with the Cowboys, Steelers, and Bengals ... Seahawks have resigned tackle Red Bryant but are close to losing tight end John Carlson, possibly to the Bears or Cowboys ... Tackle Eric Winston has narrowed his choices to the Rams, Chiefs and Dolphins ... Carlos Rogers is expected to join Perrish Cox in the 49ers secondary.