Gonzalez Back To Falcons; Bills Cut QB
FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2013, file photo, Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez celebrates after his 10-yard touchdown reception during the first half of NFC championship NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Atlanta. Gonzalez, who has more catches than any tight end in NFL history, announced Tuesday, March 12, 2013, that he is returning to the Falcons for the 2013 season. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Ryan Fitzpatrick is out at Buffalo and Paul Kruger is in with the Browns in the first major moves as NFL free agency began yesterday.
The Bills’ starting quarterback was cut 1½ years after getting a six-year, $59 million contract extension. Fitzpatrick, a former Harvard University passer, struggled after signing the new deal, and the Bills went 6-10 in 2011 and in 2012.
Buffalo has not made the playoffs since 1999, the longest active streak in the NFL. For now, the Bills’ No. 1 quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson.
“Difficult decisions often have to be made and so we are moving forward, Bills general manager Buddy Nix said. “Our focus remains on adding another quarterback to our roster and we will continue to explore every option available to us.”
Kruger helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl, leading the team with nine sacks. The outside linebacker added 2½ in the postseason.
But he was too expensive for Baltimore to keep and Kruger moves north in the AFC North to Cleveland, which needs help everywhere. He got a five-year deal for $40 million.
The Ravens also made official their trade of receiver Anquan Boldin, another playoff and Super Bowl standout, to San Francisco for a sixth-round draft pick.
Earlier, Tony Gonzalez changed his mind and decided to return to the Falcons.
The NFL’s career leader among tight ends with 1,242 receptions and 103 touchdowns said he was 95 percent certain he would retire after 2012, but the other 5 percent won out.
“The lure of being on such a great team and organization, along with unbelievable fan support was too good to pass up,” Gonzalez tweeted hours before free agency began yesterday.
■ Philadelphia released cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who two years ago got a five-year, $60 million contract, $24 million guaranteed, when he left Oakland as a free agent. Asomugha was a flop in Philly, often victimized in single coverage.
Asomugha was scheduled to make $15 million next season, with $4 million guaranteed.
■ Defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, both implicated in the Saints’ bounty scandal, agreed to restructure their contracts to remain with New Orleans.
The 31-year-old Smith and 30-year-old Vilma, both veteran defensive captains, would have taken up about $23 million combined in salary cap space without the redone deals.
■ Minnesota finalized the trade of receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle, released 14-year veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield and re-signed right tackle Phil Loadholt. The Seahawks are sending their first-round and seventh-round draft picks this year plus their third-round selection in 2014 for Harvin.
■ Pittsburgh re-signed linebacker Larry Foote and wide receiver Plaxico Burress and tendered offers to four restricted free agents: receiver Emmanuel Sanders, running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, all of whom could be starters in 2013, and nose tackle Steve McLendon. Burress should provide depth with the Steelers losing Mike Wallace in free agency, but Burress struggled to get onto the field after returning to the Steelers last November.
Foote also came back to Pittsburgh last season and will stay at inside linebacker, where the other starter, James Harrison, was released this week. Foote got a three-year deal.
■ Tight end Martellus Bennett agreed to a four-year contract with the Bears, leaving the Giants after one season.
■ San Diego released 11-year veteran tight end Randy McMichael and signed kicker Nick Novak to a four-year contract; the New York Jets cut nose tackle Sione Po’uha and restructured the contract of receiver Santonio Holmes; Cincinnati re-signed defensive end Wallace Gilberry; Arizona re-signed safety Rashad Johnson to a three-year contract; and Tennessee guard Steve Hutchinson retired after 12 seasons.
■ Carolina cut linebacker James Anderson, a seven-year veteran who set a franchise record in 2011 with 174 tackles.
■ The Houston Texans released receiver Kevin Walter, who was due to make $2 million in salary. Walter never became the threat opposite Andre Johnson that the team hoped for. He caught 41 passes for 518 yards and two touchdowns in 2012.