Burleson finds match in Lions

Some early notes on the comings and goings:

It’s good to be Nate Burleson. Three years ago, he was the lucky beneficiary of the war between the Seahawks and the Vikings over the poison pill contract given to then-Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson. The Seahawks reacted by using the same “poison pill” to extract Burleson from the Vikings with the same $49 million that Hutchinson got. Of course, Burleson only had $5.25M of that guaranteed, but that was a nice deal for Burleson. Now he becomes the first signing of the 2010 league year, a surprising choice of the first one out of the box, receiving $11M guaranteed on a five-year, $25M contract from the Lions. Although it is not at the level of the five-year, $40M deal with $15M guaranteed to T.J. Houshmandzadeh given by the Seahawks at this time last year, it is receiving a reaction around the league. One thing about the Lions: they will pay wide receivers, considered by many teams to be a low-impact position.

Chad Clifton is reportedly on his way to Washington. This is good news for Clifton and his agent; bad news for the Packers. Six years ago in the same position, Clifton and the Packers reached a deal. Now he’s on his way to meet Dan Snyder, whose left tackle just retired, who is close with Clifton’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, and who does not like hearing the word “No.” It looks like Chad could be a Redskin soon.

Speaking of the Redskins, their moves yesterday speak to the dangerous waters of free agency and the hit-or-miss quality. They released players that were once in the position that the lucky ones are in today — first-day free agents signing for top of market prices. At one time that applied to Antwaan Randle El, Randy Thomas (another Sexton client), Cornelius Griffin, Fred Smoot and Todd Collins. Now they are pushed aside and more pricey new toys will be added. Out with the old, in with the new.

There are more examples of recent treasures turned to trash, including:

Jake Delhomme was rewarded with an extension in April with $19M guaranteed. The face of the franchise has now been pushed aside. As I detailed in December when he was benched in favor of Matt Moore, the Panthers are on the hook for almost $13M in remaining guarantees. Of all the moves yesterday, that was the most surprising. The Panthers now have parted with Julius Peppers and Delhomme as they try to bring payroll down for 2010. They also decided to take the cap hit on Delhomme in the 2009 league year, a year with a cap, rather than releasing him in 2010, a year without a cap. That suggests to me that they believe the rumblings that I hear that there may be some form of retroactive accounting for moves made in 2010.

Laveranues Coles was a marquee free-agent signing at this time last year for the Cincinnati Bengals with a shiny new contract that totaled almost $10M (9.7M) for 2009 alone, paid the following way:

Signing Bonus - $3M
Roster Bonus - $4.7M
Salary - $1.9M
Workout Bonus - $100,000

The Bengals have been known to be a team that watches their spending. The release of Coles after one expensive season is an admission of almost a $10M mistake and perhaps a deterrent on any free-agent spending this year.

More comments to come…

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