Welcome to the speed round again, where we recap anything you may have missed either last night or earlier this morning during football’s version of March madness.
1. One highly coveted guard will replace another in New Orleans after the Saints signed Ben Grubbs to a five-year deal worth $36 million, with $10 million guaranteed. Grubbs is the ideal replacement for Carl Nicks, who was Drew Brees’ main protector until he left for Tampa Bay.
2. The Jaguars were expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of a backup quarterback who could function as much more than just a backup quarterback. The arm they signed needed to push Blaine Gabbert, the wayward rookie who often looked timid in the pocket during his first season. That search resulted in Chad Henne being signed to a two-year deal, and our early guess for his first start in teal is Week 5. New head coach Mike Mularkey will be tasked with saving Gabbert’s career, but as we’ve seen on a near yearly basis, patience is thin with quarterbacks when the job security at the highest coaching positions barely exists.
3. The Giants ran out of healthy tight ends after both Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard tore ACLs in the Super Bowl. The position then became an immediate priority in free agency, which prompted the signing of Martellus Bennett to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million. Tom Coughlin said that Bennett “hasn’t even scratched the surface of what he can do” after he played behind Jason Witten in Dallas for the past four years. Bennett had four touchdowns in his rookie season, and hasn’t scored since.
4. Tight ends continued to vanish from the free agency pool when Kellen Davis re-signed with the Bears, agreeing to a two-year deal worth $6 million. Davis plays a position which became an afterthought in Chicago following the departure of Greg Olson. There were six games when he didn’t record a reception, but he was still a consistent red zone threat, scoring five times.
5. The assumption was that Paul Soliai had played his final game in Miami, and that his price would be too steep for a team still chasing Peyton Manning. That assumption was wrong, as the Dolphins re-signed their nose tackle to a three-year contract worth $16 million, and $6 million guaranteed. GM Jeff Ireland clearly values Soliai’s run-stuffing presence, and his ability to be a reliable anchor in Miami’s 3-4 front.