NFL: The best off-season trades and signings in the league
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 06/08/13 5:14pm
With pre-season training underway the new season is fast approaching in the NFL, and after the usual frenzy of activity during the off-season we look at who made the best moves in free agency and the best trades to improve their teams.
The Miami Dolphins made the biggest noise in the off-season, splashing out big money to bring in speedster Mike Wallace from Pittsburgh and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe from Super Bowl champions Baltimore.
Some big names have switched teams this off-season, the famous Wes Welker-Tom Brady partnership has been broken up, but the former has swapped one elite QB for another after joining Peyton Manning at Denver.
Other names such as Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin and Reggie Bush have all swapped shirts, while locking down star players such as Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan could well be the biggest deals Baltimore and Atlanta have done in years.
Top off-season moves, have your say at the bottom of the page...
The missing piece in the jigsaw? Jackson is an elite every-down back that has been toiling away at struggling St Louis for years. He now gets the chance to help a Super Bowl-ready team go one step further than last year, and his consistent and penetrating running will only help Matt Ryan and his potent passing attack - this one is a great move by the Falcons.
Welker and Tom Brady had arguably the best link-up in the NFL, but the Patriots decided they could do without the receiver as they opted to sign Amendola (see below) and send Wes on his way. Denver wasted no time in plucking the diminutive wideout up and now he has gone from one of the best QBs of his generation to the other one with Peyton Manning now supplying the ammo.
So to Amendola, the man the Pats hope with be their Welker 2.0 if you will. There are certainly big shoes to fill, metaphorically if not literally, in replacing Welker at Foxborough but New England have bet $31million on him being able to do just that. Injury issues must be of slight concern, but when he did play he impressed under Sam Bradford so should be able to be productive under Brady.
The Fins really loosened the purse strings this off-season and handed up to $60m of it to former Pittsburgh speedstar Mike Wallace. 32 touchdowns for the Steelers came with a dizzying 17.2 yard per catch to illustrate his deep threat ability, so look for Ryan Tannehill and Miami to go long and often to their new weapon to try and get their money's worth.
Wide receivers have been chopping and changing more than most this off-season, including Pro Bowler Jennings who may have angered a few Green Bay fans by switching allegiances to fierce rivals Minnesota. It made sense for the Packers to let him go with a good stock of receivers and Jennings struggling with injuries, while an experienced leader out wide and serious threat to help free-up Adrian Peterson was a necessity for the Vikings.
Another deal that made sense for the Vikings was allowing Percy Harvin to join Seattle - especially getting such a wealth of Draft picks in compensation and also bringing in Greg Jennings as a replacement. Harvin's raw ability made him a great move for the Seahawks, but adding Jennings, plus drafting receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and cornerback Xavier Rhodes also made it great business for the Vikes.
One of the more bizarre stories in the off-season saw Denver lose out on pass rusher Elvis Dumervil after an error in sending a fax between the team and his agent resulted in a missed deadline for sorting out a new contract. As a result he slipped into free agency, and an ever-alert Baltimore Ravens stepped in with a $35m offer. He opted to join the Super Bowl champs instead of remaining at Mile High.
Boldin was the star receiver on the Ravens team, especially in the play-offs and their victorious Super Bowl, but salary cap issues meant it was always likely that he could leave the champions despite such success. As it turned out though, a quick call between brother John and Jim Harbaugh saw him switch to the team he beat in New Orleans and he now bolsters an already impressive San Francisco 49ers team.
The main reason Boldin had to go was the fact Baltimore had to splash out huge money on Super Bowl MVP Flacco, making their decision not to hand him a new deal last year look even more laughable. They'll probably still think it was worth asking Flacco to prove himself though, as he brought home the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but it cost them a few extra dollars in doing so. Sometimes keeping your best stars is a bigger move than signing new ones.
Moneybags Miami did not keep hold of Bush despite his two superb seasons in South Florida, and he has now added an extra dimension to an exciting Detroit Lions offence. The Motor City may be broke but the Lions splashed out on the exciting running back, who excelled as a regular ball carrier in Miami but is also an excellent receiving option out of the backfield and even in the slot - he could be a great move for the Lions.