The biggest move at Tuesday’s start of the NFL free-agency signing period was a departure: Franchise sack leader DeMarcus Ware was released by the Dallas Cowboys to create room under the salary cap.
With the cap rising $10 million to a record $133 million, a crop of players quickly found new homes as soon as the market official opened Tuesday afternoon – and offensive linemen were a popular commodity.
Others released included Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley and 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, a former Butler High standout.
With Rogers’ departure, San Francisco will clear $5.1 million in salary cap room.
Rogers, 32, who missed time late in the season with a strained right hamstring, had 47 tackles and two interceptions last season.
Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert and the Miami Dolphins agreed to a five-year contract worth more than $45 million.
Guards switching teams: Zane Beadles was expected to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars from the Denver Broncos; the Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with Jon Asamoah, who was with the Kansas City Chiefs; and
the Washington Redskins struck a deal with Shawn Lauvao, who left the Cleveland Browns.
The Jaguars announced they re-signed cornerback Will Blackmon to a two-year deal, traded quarterback Blaine Gabbert to San Francisco for a sixth-round draft pick, and scheduled a visit with free-agent linebacker Dekoda Watson, a former South Aiken star.
The Chicago Bears agreed to a five-year contract with former Raiders end Lamarr Houston and a two-year contract with former Steelers and Giants safety Ryan Mundy, along with one-year deals with linebackers Jordan Senn and D.J. Williams.
Other players changing teams: kick returner and receiver Dexter McCluster agreed to terms with the Tennessee Titans, leaving the Chiefs; safety Antoine Bethea went to the 49ers from the Colts; safety Malcolm Jenkins agreed to a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, leaving the New Orleans Saints; defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai both joined the Falcons.
Late Tuesday, the 49ers traded for Jonathan Martin, the offensive tackle at the center of the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal.
Martin’s move cross country brings him back to the Bay Area to be reunited with his former Stanford coach, Jim Harbaugh.
Still, Ware’s exit from Dallas was the most significant development.
Ware, went to seven Pro Bowls while with the Cowboys, was set to count $16 million against the salary cap. He had a career-low six sacks last season. By releasing him now, the Cowboys saved more than $7 million.
Ware missed time with a thigh injury, then had offseason elbow surgery.
Others released included Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb (who failed a physical), Eagles safety Patrick Chung, and Bengals center Kyle Cook.
Among players staying with their teams thanks to new deals reached Tuesday:
• RB Darren McFadden was given a $4 million, one-year contract by the Raiders.
• KR-WR Brandon Tate re-signed with the Bengals.
• PK Adam Vinatieri, the 41-year-old with four Super Bowl rings, agreed to a two-year contract with the Colts. Other PKs getting new contracts: Nick Folk (Jets), Phil Dawson (49ers), Dan Carpenter (Bills).
• CB Vontae Davis re-signed with the Colts.
• RB Joique Bell is now signed with the Lions for $9.3 million over three years, with $4.3 million guaranteed.
• LB Perry Riley and the Redskins agreed to a deal worth about $13 million over three years, with about $4.25 million in guaranteed money. Washington also re-signed WR Santana Moss.
• DT Jonathan Babineaux got a three-year contract from the Falcons.
• TE Anthony McCoy got a one-year deal from the Super Bowl champion Seahawks after he missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon.
• WR Andre Caldwell got a two-year contract from the Broncos.