For some NFL teams, free agency is a fast way to change fortunes

Richie Incognito

Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito (64) signs autographs at training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., on Aug. 2.

(Bill Wippert / Associated Press)

The NFL is a passing league, but Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills don’t seem to take a pass on anyone.

Character issues? Checkered past? Questionable decisions?

Apparently, those aren’t a problem for a franchise that has gone 15 years without making the playoffs, the NFL’s longest active streak.

Among Buffalo’s free-agent acquisitions are guard Richie Incognito, at the center of the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal; receiver Percy Harvin, traded by Seattle to the New York Jets last season after being involved in multiple fights with Seahawks teammates; and linebacker IK Enemkpali, who began training camp this summer with Ryan’s former team the Jets, but was shown the door after breaking quarterback Geno Smith’s jaw with a punch.


“I think it just talks about giving people second chances. And maybe third chances, or whatever,” Ryan said recently. “But at the end of the day, when you get it, it’s worth it.”

As is the case every year, each of the 32 franchises has waded into free agency, with some teams dipping a toe into the pool and others getting in up to their neck.

The Dolphins made the biggest splash, picking up All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, signing him to a six-year, $114-million deal with $60 million guaranteed. His average of $19 million per season is the highest in history for a defensive player, topping the $16.7-million average of Houston’s J.J. Watt.

In his five seasons in Detroit, Suh was named All-Pro three times, but was widely regarded among the league’s dirtiest players.


Darrelle Revis, fresh off a Super Bowl victory with New England, is back with the Jets where he built his reputation as one of the NFL’s premier shutdown cornerbacks.

“I think all the pieces that we have and what you see on paper it looks appealing,” Revis told reporters on the first day of training camp. “At the same time, we’ve got to really put the work in. We have a lot of talent on this team. We have a lot of young talent and we have a lot of guys who are going to impact this team.”

Houston picked up longtime Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, former Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer, and safety Rahim Moore, who used to play for Denver.

Former Houston receiver Andre Johnson, now with Indianapolis, is far from the only high-profile wideout to switch teams. Several familiar receivers ran routes to new cities, among them Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe to Cleveland, San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree to Oakland, Baltimore’s Torrey Smith to San Francisco, Minnesota’s Greg Jennings to Miami, Philadelphia’s Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City, and Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones to San Diego.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning lost one of his favorite targets, tight end Julius Thomas, to Jacksonville. But the Broncos got Baltimore’s sure-handed Owen Daniels to fill that vacancy.

DeMarco Murray, the 2014 rushing champion while playing for Dallas, will now be carrying the ball for Philadelphia, as will former San Diego first-rounder Ryan Mathews. LeSean McCoy went from Philadelphia to Buffalo, and former Detroit back Reggie Bush is now in San Francisco.

Bush, 30, is lobbying to be the 49ers’ punt returner.

“It’s another way to get the ball in my hands,” he told reporters. “It’s another way for me to help out the team.”


In the here-today-gone-tomorrow NFL, every little bit helps.

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