NFL Free Agency Day 2: Bush, Gonzalez, Asomugha

Yesterday, the NFL’s annual free agent signing period kicked off at 4pm. Yesterday, the Miami Dolphins made the biggest moves, signing WR Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh) to a 5 year, $60 million deal, and LB Dannell Ellerbe (Baltimore) to a $35 million contract over five years. Today, the Dolphins continued to make news, but this time, it was about a player leaving South Beach. Former Dolphins RB Reggie Bush inked a 4 year deal with the Detroit Lions today, and is expected to be the lead back in the Motor City. The former Heisman Trophy winner (since forfeited) and No. 2 overall pick in 2006 rushed for 986 yards and 6 touchdowns and caught 35 passes for 292 yards and another two scores last year for the Dolphins.

IN OTHER NEWS:

QB Alex Smith was officially traded to the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday. The former #1 pick in 2004 started eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, and started this season before suffering a concussion in Week 10 and being replaced by Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers found success with Kaepernick, and Smith rode the bench for the remainder of the 2012 season and playoffs. The 49ers will receive Kansas City’s 2013 second-round pick and a future draft pick.

Nnamdi Asomugha was released by the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday, part of new coach Chip Kelly’s overhaul of the Eagles’ defense. The 31-year old cornerback was signed to a 5 year, $60 million deal in 2011, as part of a free-agent spending spree. Disappointing in his two years in Philadelphia, Asomugha was scheduled to make $15 million next season, but will still count $4 million against the Eagles cap.

TE Tony Gonzalez announced he will return to the Atlanta Falcons for his 17th NFL season next year. Gonzalez, 36, is the NFL’s career leader among tight ends in touchdowns, and sixth all time in receptions. Gonzalez (93 rec, 930 yards, 8 TD in 2012) considered retiring, but decided to return for the opportunity to play in his first Super Bowl in 2014.

Former Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall signed a one year contract with the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday, replacing the injured Beanie Wells in the desert. At just 25, Mendenhall has plenty of upside and potential for the Cardinals. He rushed for 3,309 yards with 29 touchdowns in three seasons as lead back for the Steelers, before being replaced last season by Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.

The Baltimore Ravens lost another defensive starter today by releasing safety Bernard Pollard. The Ravens leading tackler (71) in 2012, Pollard also had two sacks and an interception in thirteen games for the Ravens last year. The 28-year-old safety was set to make $2.5 million in 2013, and a combined $5.6 million in 2014 and 2015. The Ravens might also lose safety Ed Reed to free agency, who has been linked to the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers.

Former #1 pick Jake Long could be headed out of Miami as well, reportedly signing a contract with the St. Louis Rams today. Long spent five seasons in Miami after being selected #1 overall in 2008; Long had a five-year, $58 million contract with the Dolphins. He was very successful, making four straight Pro Bowls form 2008-2011. The price for Long will be expensive, but the signing gives QB Sam Bradford valuable protection, and continues the rebuilding process in St. Louis.

Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was also released. Fitzpatrick disappointed in two seasons after signing a 6-year, $59 million extension with the Bills, posting a 12-20 record over those two seasons. The move leaves Tavaris Jackson and Aaron Corp as the only two quarterbacks on the Buffalo roster, which could indicate the Bills’ desire to draft Geno Smith in April’s NFL Draft.

Former Ravens LB Ray Lewis also made news Wednesday, signing a contract to join ESPN. The 17-year veteran retired after winning Super Bowl XLVII with Baltimore in February. Lewis will appear on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown,” “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “SportsCenter” programs.

Check back tomorrow for more information about NFL Free Agent signings and updates.

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