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NFL Free Agency Recap: Week 2

by Photo of Gil Santos

Henry Melton, James Jones, and several back-up QB’s found new landing spots.

NFL Free Agency Recap: Week 2

All the big names are off the market, but in week two of free agency, some NFL teams made solid signings that can impact their teams next season. Here is a recap of the deals made: 

Dallas Cowboys sign ex-Chicago Bear DT Henry Melton

After losing key players such as DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, and Anthony Spencer, from their front seven, the Cowboys softened the blow with the signing of defensive tackle Henry Melton. Regarded as the top remaining free agent, Melton inked a one-year deal with a team option for three seasons. Following a Pro Bowl year in 2012, Melton's 2013 season was cut short after he tore his ACL in his left knee in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Melton will look to prove that he is still a top 4-3 defensive lineman and luckily will have the help of his former Bears' defensive line coach, Rod Marinelli, in Dallas. In his Pro Bowl season with the Bears, Melton recorded 44 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles. 

Oakland Raiders add WR James Jones

The Raiders nabbed veteran wide out James Jones from the Green Bay Packers on Monday. Oakland signed Jones to a bargain deal worth $11.3 million for three years. Last season, Jones caught 47 balls for 676 yards and two touchdowns while mainly serving as a secondary target for Aaron Rodgers. Jones has a career 310 receptions for 4,305 yards and 37 touchdowns in seven seasons with Green Bay. He should give the Raiders more depth at the wide receiver position and a reliable target for whomever the quarterback is.

Carolina Panthers finally find weapons, sign Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood

Panthers fans were getting a little worried about their wide receiver corps after losing their main contributors in Steve Smith, Brandon LeFell, and Ted Ginn Jr. But fortunately the Panthers were able to add two weapons for Cam Newton with the pickup of former Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Jerricho Cotchery and ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Tiquan Underwood. Cotchery had a solid year for the Steelers, grabbing 46 receptions for 602 and a career-high 10 touchdowns. Underwood caught 24 balls for a career-best 440 yards and four touchdowns. Before the signings, the cupboard was bare for the Panthers at wide receiver. Between their six receivers, not including Cotchery and Underwood, they played a combined 13 career games with 5 receptions for 83 yards and one touchdown. It would've been a long year for Newton if he had that going into the season.

Cleveland Browns sign RFA WR Andrew Hawkins

The Browns bolstered their wide receiver group with the addition of Cincinnati Bengals Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins inked a four-year, $13.6 million deal, which the Bengals declined to match. He joins Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron to make a formidable receiving corps for the Browns' eventual quarterback. Hawkins is a small, speedy wide receiver, and his a threat underneath. His best season came in 2012, where he had 51 receptions for 533 yards and four touchdowns. In 2013, Hawkins returned from an ankle injury to play the Bengals' final eight games of the regular season and collected 12 catches for 199 yards.

Back-up QB's find new homes

Several veteran back-up quarterbacks landed in new places this week. Former first round pick Brandon Weeden signed with the Dallas Cowboys for two years and $1.23 million. Weeden will likely compete for the backup role with incumbent Kyle Orton. Weeden flamed out as the hopeful franchise quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, where he went 5-15 and threw for 3,385 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 26 interceptions. He completed just 55.9% of his passes with a 71.8 QB rating.

Tennessee Titans back-up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick inked a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Houston Texans. Fitzpatrick did an admirable job in relief of the oft-injured Jake Locker in his lone season in Tennessee. He went 3-6 while throwing for 2,454 yards for 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The move signified the exit of Matt Schaub, who was dealt to the Oakland Raiders for this season's sixth-round pick. 

The other Cleveland Brown quarterback, Jason Campbell, stayed in state and signed with the Cincinati Bengals to back up Andy Dalton. Campbell reunites with his former head coach on the Raiders, Hue Jackson, who is currently the offensive coordinator of the Bengals. Despite going 1-7 in 8 starts with the Browns, the journeyman posted decent numbers, throwing for 2,015 yards for 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Electric return men sign with new teams

One of the best return men in NFL history, Devin Hester, will be in a new uniform next season as he signs a three-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons. The 3-time Pro Bowler had a relatively quiet 2013 season in his final year as a Chicago Bear with just one punt return touchdown. However, Hester did achieve a career best 1,422 yards on kick-offs.

The New York Giants also added Trindon Holliday from the Denver Broncos on the same day they signed Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie. Holliday burst onto the season in 2012 with the Denver Broncos, where the speedster returned two touchdowns combined on punt returns and kick-offs. Last season, Holliday matched his touchdown total and gained a total 1,046 return yards.

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