Nate Clements didn't lead the league in interceptions last season, but he was the biggest pick in the opening hours of free agency, signing an eight-year, $80 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers yesterday, making the former Bills cornerback the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.
Clements, 27, will receive $22 million guaranteed.
The 49ers also signed defensive back Michael Lewis, a hard-hitting defender who played safety and linebacker for the Eagles last season.
Clements, Buffalo's first pick (21st overall) in 2001, has 23 interceptions and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2004. He has returned five interceptions and two punts for touchdowns. He had three interceptions last season and a career-high 16 passes defended.
The 49ers had more than $30 million in cap room, and a good chunk of it went to Clements.
"I am excited to add two defensive starters to our team," said coach Mike Nolan on the team's website. "Free agency is about adding good players with character to our team. I am confident that Nate and Michael will help make us better."
The quarterback, who lost his starting job during the 2006 season, would rather retire than accept a trade to Tampa Bay, the NFL Network and other media sources reported.
The Broncos and Buccaneers had reportedly worked out an agreement that would send Plummer to the Buccaneers in exchange for a middle-round draft pick.
But Plummer, 32, who has three years left on his contract and is due $5.3 million in 2007, is reportedly balking at a trade.
Stokley, who was due a $500,000 roster bonus, and defensive tackle Montae Reagor, due about a $1 million roster bonus, became the first players to leave the Super Bowl champions. The moves came as free agency opened and the Super Bowl champions faced a host of potential changes.
Former Pro Bowl linebacker
In other salary cap casualties, the Jets released seldom-used backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey; defensive end Kevin Carter and guard Jeno James were released by the Dolphins; and Ed Hartwell, who played in only 13 games in two seasons with the Falcons after signing a four-year, $26.25 million contract as a free agent in 2005, was released by Atlanta, as was veteran linebacker, Ike Reese.
Garcia became a free agent when the Eagles decided not to bring him back, even though he led the team to five consecutive wins to end the regular season and a victory in the first round of the playoffs after Donovan McNabb went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Garcia spent his first five NFL seasons with the 49ers.
The Raiders are expected to use the No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback, either JaMarcus Russell of LSU or Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.
The team with the second pick in the draft, the Lions, sent defensive end James Hall to the Rams for a fifth-round pick.