NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL’s business season began with a bang. Several actually: trades, retirements and, yes, even some big free agent moves.
It wasn’t until mid-evening Tuesday that the first huge star took advantage of free agency: Darrelle Revis returning to the Jets for five years and $70 million.
There were plenty of moves beforehand involving frequent All-Pros. But they were in the form trades or leaving the sport altogether.
Monster deals sent Saints tight end Jimmy Graham to Seattle and Rams quarterback Sam Bradford to Philadelphia. San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, plagued by sore feet, announced his retirement. So did injury-prone QB Jake Locker of the Titans, who spent just four seasons in the league.
The biggest shocker was the Graham deal, which sent Seahawks center Max Unger to New Orleans, along with a first-round draft pick. Seattle also got a fourth-rounder.
“In complementing the rest of our team, we think he’s just a fantastic target that we can implement in a number of ways,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “It’s pretty clear he’s a big receiver, plays big, makes plays in a crowd, makes plays on top of guys. He’s a very effective player in the red zone, he has been a terrific, consistent scorer, so all of that stuff, we’re just going to fit it into our offense and make him hopefully a very complementary part of it.”
Not quite so stunning but certainly newsworthy was St. Louis sending Bradford, the top overall draft pick in 2010, to the Eagles for quarterback Nick Foles.
The injury-prone Bradford barely has played the past two years because of a torn ACL. Foles also comes off an injury-shortened season (collarbone).
“Sam was a leader on our team in the locker room and on the field,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “He was a great teammate who was dealt some adversity but handled it all with grace and dignity.”
Foles is the latest starter to depart Philadelphia. He joins two-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy, now in Buffalo, and Pro Bowl wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, headed for Kansas City, in going elsewhere.
Philadelphia also added Seahawks starting cornerback Byron Maxwell as a free agent with a six-year deal. And Seattle brought in cornerback Cary Williams, formerly of the Eagles and a 2012 Super Bowl winner with the Ravens.
Several other trades became official Tuesday.
Baltimore dealt nose tackle Haloti Ngata to Detroit, which is about to lose All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh in free agency. Ngata, 31 and a five-time Pro Bowler, is due $8.5 million next season and has a $16 million salary cap figure.
The Bills confirmed acquiring McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso; McCoy also signed a contract extension for $40 million over five years.
The Jets also confirmed a previously agreed upon trade, getting receiver Brandon Marshall from Chicago for a fifth-round draft pick. They released WR-KR Percy Harvin, whom they acquired last season from Seattle.
But their big move was returning Revis Island to the Meadowlands.
Revis becomes one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in NFL history, with $39 million fully guaranteed. He’ll make $33 million in the first two years, and $48 million in the first three.
“I want to thank the Pats and Pats Nation for an unbelievable year,” Revis wrote on Twitter. “NEW YORK I’m coming home. (has)revisisland #jetnation.”
Five-time All-Pro Willis, the heart of San Francisco’s defense for eight seasons, called it quits. The 2007 Defensive Rookie of the Year is leaving because of recurrent toe and feet injuries.
“In my head, I’m already a Hall of Famer,” Willis said. “I am leaving this with closure, saying that I am happy today, more happy today than I was the day I was drafted. That says something to me.”
Locker, the eighth overall draft pick in 2011, noted he has no “burning desire” to keep playing.
“I realize this decision is surprising to many, but I know in my heart that it is the right decision,” he said, “and I look forward to spending more time with my family and pursuing other interests.”
—Carolina released DeAngelo Williams, its career rushing leader.
—Frank Gore, the 49ers’ career rushing leader, joined the Colts as a free agent. But the 49ers added WR Torrey Smith.
—Linebacker A.J. Hawk, who grew up in Ohio and attended Ohio State, agreed to terms with Cincinnati on a two-year deal. Hawk spent his first nine seasons in Green Bay.
—Jacksonville, with lots of salary cap room, grabbed tight end Julius Thomas away from Denver among a slew of moves. The Jaguars agreed to deals with defensive end Jared Odrick, right tackle Jermey Parnell, cornerback Davon House, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Sergio Brown. Thomas agreed on a five-year deal worth $46 million, with $24 million guaranteed.
—Arizona got probably the best run blocker in this year’s group, guard Mike Iupati, who agreed on a five-year, $40 million contract with $22.5 million guaranteed. The Cardinals also re-signed linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
—Atlanta fortified the middle of new coach Dan Quinn’s defense by signing free-agent linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant.
—Oakland added LB Malcolm Smith, the 2014 Super Bowl MVP with Seattle, and RB Roy Helu.
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This article was written by Barry Wilner from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.