Receivers Percy Harvin and Anquan Boldin were both traded on the eve of free… (Adam Bettcher / Getty Images,…)
A day before Tuesday's start of free agency, some of the NFL's outstanding hands already changed hands.
Minnesota traded receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle, and Baltimore traded receiver Anquan Boldin to San Francisco.
Both deals are contingent on the players' passing their physical examinations. Teams are not allowed to comment on trades or free agency until the new league year begins at 1 p.m. PDT on Tuesday.
A lot of notable receivers are expected to run go routes to new teams in the coming hours and days. Former Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace appears bound for Miami. St. Louis' Danny Amendola is rumored to be headed to Philadelphia. And Green Bay's Greg Jennings will be playing somewhere this season, but he's unlikely to be in green and gold.
Five weeks after meeting in Super Bowl XLVII, brothers John and Jim Harbaugh took center stage again, with John's Ravens trading Boldin to Jim's 49ers, reportedly for a sixth-round pick. That's a modest price for a player who led Baltimore in receiving yards in each of the last three seasons, and caught 22 balls in this year's postseason. But the Ravens needed to part ways with Boldin after he refused to compromise on his $6-million salary to create more room under the $123-million salary cap.
Clearly, teammate Torrey Smith was unhappy about Boldin's being traded, tweeting, "This business is BS at times."
The Seahawks apparently needed to give up much more to get Harvin, including, according to the Associated Press, their first-round pick (No. 25) in next month's draft. Harvin is among the NFL's premier offensive talents, leading the league in total yards last season before suffering a badly sprained ankle in a Nov. 4 game at Seattle.
He gives Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson a dangerous, multi-purpose playmaker, and leaves a huge void in the Vikings' roster. Harvin had been unhappy in Minnesota and later told reporters it was because he was unclear about his role in Bill Musgrave's offense. In Seattle, he will be reunited with former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Said former Vikings teammate Adrian Peterson via Twitter: "The best all around player I ever seen or you'll ever see! Goes to Seattle! I feel like I just got kicked in the stomach. Several times!!!"
Although this free-agent class is flush with pass catchers, there are well-known players at other positions who also will be switching teams.
Reggie Bush, who spent the last two seasons playing for the Dolphins, is the most prized running back on the open market and has the interest of Detroit, Arizona and Denver.
Dolphins teammate Jake Long, too, is packing his bags. The four-time Pro Bowl tackle is the most interesting offensive lineman in free agency. The 2008 No. 1 overall pick figures to have a slew of suitors, probably including Chicago and St. Louis.
On the other side of the ball, some aging stars face uncertain futures. Chicago's Brian Urlacher is set to become a free agent, but the All-Pro linebacker is working on a deal to stay with the Bears. Cornerback Charles Woodson was cut by the Packers last month and is free to sign with another team at any time. Linebacker James Harrison was let go by Pittsburgh. The Indianapolis Colts announced last month they would be not re-signing star defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Among the other defensive players who could hit the open market are defensive end Cliff Avril, who had 29 sacks during the last three seasons with Detroit; former USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, who might be leaving Cincinnati; and several capable defensive backs, such as Philadelphia's Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Miami's Sean Smith, Atlanta's Brent Grimes and Denver's Tracy Porter.