Peyton Manning got some more guaranteed money Tuesday, and he also got more protection. The new league year triggered a clause in Manning's contract that guarantees his $20 million salaries each of the next two seasons. His salary in 2013 is fully guaranteed against injury, while his 2014 salary would only not be guaranteed if Manning were to suffer a neck injury in 2013.
Manning also gets a new right guard, as the Broncos agreed to terms on a four-year, $23.5 million contract with Louis Vasquez, according to a person informed of the agreement.
The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet signed, said Vasquez will receive $13 million guaranteed.
The San Diego Chargers, who drafted Vasquez in the third round in 2009, never made a serious push to retain him.
Four of the Broncos five projected starting offensive linemen are coming off of surgeries, with only right tackle Orlando Franklin and left guard Zane Beadles expected to be ready for the start of offseason workouts.
The Vasquez deal could be bad news for longtime starter Chris Kuper, who has had multiple surgeries to his ankle and arm in the past 14 months. Kuper is due $4.5 million in 2013.
On the defensive side, coordinator Jack Del Rio could be reaching into his past to rebuild his line.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton will visit, said a person with knowledge of Knighton's plans. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the Broncos have not publicized their free-agent visits.
Knighton, 26, started 49 games over the past four seasons for Jacksonville, including all 16 games in 2009 and 2010 when Del Rio was the Jaguars' head coach. Del Rio prefers stout interior lineman, and Knighton, at 335 pounds, fits that profile.
A year after taking a pay cut to stay in Denver, defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson signed a new two-year contract with the Broncos.
The team announced Vickerson's new contract Tuesday evening. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
Vickerson decided to slash his pay by about $1 million in 2012 because he was confident he would be able to earn himself a new deal while playing in new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio's 4-3 scheme. Vickerson gained nearly 50 pounds, became a starter by early September and played well enough to convince the team he was worth re-signing early in free agency.
Only Vickerson and special teamer David Bruton have re-signed with the Broncos in 2013 while other free agents have been allowed to test the market.
Colts upgrade O-line, secondary
The Indianapolis Colts are making moves to help protect Andrew Luck a bit better than he was in his rookie year.
The team has agreed to terms with offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus, according to a person informed of the talks between the sides. The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal isn't yet signed, did not provide financial terms.
Cherilus, the 17th overall pick in the 2008 draft, was a starter at right tackle for most of his five seasons with the Detroit Lions. There had been reports he'd undergone an unconventional knee procedure in Germany recently, though Cherilus denied those reports. The Colts clearly aren't that concerned about his knee.
Indy also added guard Donald Thomas, who started seven games for the New England Patriots last season.
Finally, the pass defense got a boost with the addition of former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler.
Toler, 28, started only two games in 2012 after missing all of 2011 with an ACL injury. He has five career interceptions since joining the Cardinals in 2009.
Indianapolis allowed 236.8 passing yards per game in 2012, and its secondary especially struggled in the wild-card loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Mendenhall to make visits
Rashard Mendenhall will pay free agent visits to the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals as the Pittsburgh Steelers' former starting running back prepares to find a new home, a person with knowledge of Mendenhall's plans told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because the clubs have not announced the visits.
Mendenhall ran for 1,273 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010 when he helped lead the Steelers to the AFC championship.
He averaged 1,103 yards rushing between 2009 and 2011 but was slowed last season by a strained right Achilles tendon. He was trying to comeback from an ACL tear suffered in the 2011 regular-season finale.
Mendenhall, 25, fell out of favor with the Steelers when he was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team when he didn't show for a Dec. 9 loss to the San Diego Chargers after learning he would not dress for the game.
The former Illinois back, who was drafted 23rd overall in 2008, gained just 182 yards in six games last season.
Mendenhall is a good receiver and a younger option in a free agent class that includes Reggie Bush, 28.
Vikings keep key blocker
Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt was a major reason NFL MVP Adrian Peterson rumbled for 2,097 yards in 2012.
Rather than lose a key cog in their ground game, the Vikings re-signed Loadholt, one of the best blockers on the market, Tuesday. In four seasons in the Twin Cities, Loadholt has missed one game while starting 63.
Eagles opt for versatility
The Philadelphia Eagles plucked James Casey away from the Houston Texans, importing a player who can serve several roles in new coach Chip Kelly's offense.
Casey was the starting fullback in front of Arian Foster last season but has also extensively played tight end in the NFL. Casey established career bests with 34 catches for 330 yards last season.
Jets to bring in wideout for visit
There were rumblings before this weekend that Brandon Gibson would draw interest from the entire AFC East.
Well one of those teams is proving it to be true.
The New York Jets will bring the free agent wide receiver in for a visit on Wednesday, according to a person informed of the meeting. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the visit wasn't to be discussed publicly.
The Jets were extremely thin at receiver last season, especially after Santonio Holmes went down with a foot injury. The team restructured Holmes' deal on Tuesday to lower his base salary from $11 million to an undisclosed amount.
If Gibson signs with the Jets, it will be a disappointing development for Stevie Johnson. The Buffalo Bills' wide receiver has been recruiting Gibson, who told USA TODAY Sports last week it was pretty clear his days with the St. Louis Rams were over.
Burress sticks with Steelers
It took Plaxico Burress eight months to get back into the NFL last year.
This year, he's already reached an agreement with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to a person informed of the progress of negotiations between the sides. The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports' Mike Garafolo on condition of anonymity because the deal isn't official yet, said Burress will sign a contract in the coming days.
Burress will be 36 on opening day, but the Steelers are a bit desperate. They have little salary cap room and are expected to lose Mike Wallace via free agency this week.
Burress had just three catches in four games with Pittsburgh last season after signing in November with the team that drafted him and was inactive for two games, though his best game was his last one - two receptions and a touchdown.
It wasn't quite the production he had vowed in an interview with USA TODAY Sports in October when he said he'd have "a two- or three-touchdown game just coming off the couch," but it was apparently enough for the Steelers to give him another shot.
The Steelers, who drafted Burress in 2000, brought him back last November after he spent months waiting for a free agent offer to materialize after his one-year hitch with the New York Jets.
Bears land new tight end
Martellus Bennett announced he'd be joining his buddy Brandon Marshall with the Chicago Bears.
Seconds later, the free agent tight end said it's not a done deal but "just know that's where I wanna be."
Later Tuesday afternoon, he was officially headed to the Windy City thanks to a new four-year deal.
Bennett goes to a third team in three years, as he'll be departing the New York Giants after only one season in which he set career-highs with 55 catches for 626 yards and five touchdowns.
The former second-round pick signed his one-year deal with the Giants to prove his four disappointing seasons with the Dallas Cowboys were due to his being stuck behind Jason Witten rather than an indication of his value as a player.
Though the numbers aren't in yet, it's clear Bennett has made his point.
Canty switches leagues
After a tour of teams that included visits with the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans, Chris Canty has landed with the Baltimore Ravens.
The former New York Giants defensive lineman tweeted he's signed with the Super Bowl champion Ravens. Terms of the deal were not immediately available.
Canty was owed $6.5 million in base salary from the Giants this upcoming season, which is why he was released. The team then added former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins on a three-year, $8 million deal.
For the Ravens, Canty's signing means one addition to the defense on a day had two big subtractions in linebacker Paul Kruger (Cleveland Browns) and Dannell Ellerbe (Miami Dolphins).
Chiefs keep adding new players
The Kansas City Chiefs are continuing their aggressive offseason by striking deals with tight end Anthony Fasano and backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
Fasano agreed to a four-year, $16 million pact while Daniel left the New Orleans Saints for a three-year offer to back up newly acquired Alex Smith.
In Tuesday's final move, the Chiefs agreed to a three-year, $12.6 million deal with former New York Jets defensive end Mike DeVito. The Buffalo Bills, who recently hired former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, made a push for DeVito but the Chiefs' final offer put them in the lead for good.
Winfield joins cornerback market
Veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield has joined the long list of defensive backs hitting the free agent market.
The Minnesota Vikings released Winfield on Tuesday rather than pay him a $7.25 million salary in 2013.
Winfield had three interceptions last year for the Vikings depsite wearing a cast to protect a broken bone in his hand late in the season.
Winfield joins an intriguing group of free agent defensive backs that includes safeties Dashon Goldon, Ed Reed, Adrian Wilson and Charles Woodson and cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Sean Smith and Brett Grimes.
Winfield, despite his age, might be the best of the bunch for a team needing a strong tackler and locker room leader.
Winfield's release is yet another significant move for the Vikings on the eve of free agency, following the major trade on Monday that will send disgruntled wide receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle in exchange for multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder in April's draft.
NFL's oldest player coming back
Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson, the NFL's oldest active player, has decided to return for a 22nd season provided the unrestricted free agent can work out a new deal with the team, his agent, Jack Mills, wrote in an email to USA TODAY Sports' Mike Garafolo.
Hanson turns 43 in June but hasn't showed signs of slowing down. His 88.9% success rate on field goals last season was his highest since 2008. Hanson was 2-for-3 from 50 yards or in 2012 and is 10-for-14 from that range in the last three seasons, combined.
A second-round pick out of Washington State in 1992, Hanson has spent his entire career with the Lions and is far and away the franchise's scoring leader with 2,150 points. He joined the team months after its divisional playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit's only postseason victory since the 1970 merger.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Hanson is also the league's active scoring leader. His 495 field goals rank third in league history.
Titans' Hutchinson retires
NASHVILLE - Tennessee Titans left guard Steve Hutchinson has decided to retire after 12 NFL seasons, the last cut short by a knee injury that limited him to 12 games.
Hutchinson announced his decision Tuesday morning on Twitter and the Titans confirmed it.
Hutchinson wrote he was retiring after a "great run" in the NFL. He thanked the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Titans along with fans of those teams.
A seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All Pro, Hutchinson started all 169 games he played spending his first five seasons in Seattle, six in Minnesota and his final season in Tennessee.
The 35-year-old Hutchinson was placed on injured reserve Dec. 5 after hurting his right knee in a 24-10 loss to Houston. He signed a three-year deal with Tennessee in March 2012.
Glenn Dorsey visiting 49ers
Defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, the former No. 5 overall pick whom the Kansas City Chiefs did not re-sign, is visiting the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday night, his agent said.
Dorsey has struggled mightily in his career. He's notched only four sacks in five years and last year played in only four games before landing on injured reserve with a calf injury.
Dorsey's visit to San Francisco is a bit of a head-scratcher because his issues have been in part due to his playing in a 3-4 defense. Many believe he's best suited for a 4-3 front. The Niners play a lot of 3-4.
It will be interesting to see if the Chiefs continue to push for Dorsey's return. Despite the recent regime change, the team has retained much of its own talent. Dorsey, however, has not been able to reach a deal with the team.
Aaron Ross heads back to original team
The New York Giants will welcome back a key player for both of their recent Super Bowl titles.
The team will soon re-sign cornerback Aaron Ross, according to a person informed of the agreement between the sides. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal isn't yet finalized.
Ross was the team's first-round pick in 2007 and became a starter for portions of that season, including the postseason run that ended with an upset of the then-undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Ross struggled with performance and injuries the next few seasons before returning to form in 2011 to become a starter on the team that again beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent last offseason but was released a few days ago.
Texans let No. 2 receiver go
The Houston Texans released wideout Kevin Walter on Tuesday.
He caught 326 passes in seven years with the team but never established himself as a player who could make teams pay for double covering fellow receiver Andre Johnson.
Houston is hoping to re-sign free agents Connor Barwin, Glover Quin and James Casey, among others.
Rams keep defensive lineman
The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms on a deal with defensive end Williams Hayes less than an hour before he was to hit the free-agent market, according to a person informed of the agreement. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports' Mike Garafolo on condition of anonymity because the contract isn't yet signed.
Hayes had a breakout season last year with a career-high seven sacks. The former fourth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans received interest from the Detroit Lions during the free-agent negotiating period.
Jets' Pouha, Panthers' Anderson, Bolts' Garay, McMichael released
NFL teams are continuing to dump salaries ahead of the start of the new league year, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Two veteran defenders who are now on the market are New York Jets defensive lineman Sione Pouha and Carolina Panthers linebacker James Anderson, who were both released Tuesday morning a person with knowledge of the moves told USA TODAY Sports' Lindsay H. Jones.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the cuts.
Pouha, 34, was due a $4.9 million salary in 2013, and his release saves the Jets $3.8 million toward the salary cap. Pouha signed a three-year contract with the Jets last March.
Anderson signed a five-year deal worth $22 million in 2011 but was set to make $2.9 million in 2013.
The San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, announced veteran tight end Randy McMichael has been released. McMichael, 33, had nine catches last season.
Later in the day, the Bolts parted with nose tackle Antonio Garay. The quirky lineman was the team's starter in 2010 and 2011 but only appeared in spot duty during eight contests in 2012, making 16 tackles.
Bengals lock up Gilberry
The Cincinnati Bengals have signed defensive end Wallace Gilberry to a contract extension, another move to keep their defensive line intact.
Gilberry was signed as a free agent last September and finished third on the team with 6½ sacks. He also recovered three fumbles and returned one for a touchdown, becoming an integral part of Cincinnati's rotation.
Gilberry played with the Chiefs from 2008-11. He could have become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday when his previous deal expired.
Earlier this month, the Bengals used their franchise tag on end Michael Johnson, who had 11½ sacks last season.
Cardinals re-sign safety
The Arizona Cardinals and strong safety Rashad Johnson agreed to a three-year deal Tuesday to keep him in the desert.
A third-round pick in 2009, Johnson started three games and made 20 tackles in 2012. He is expected to take over for longtime Cardinal Adrian Wilson, who was released Friday.
Sam Baker stays put
The Falcons kept left tackle Sam Baker off the market by re-signing the former first-round pick to a six-year deal that could be worth up to $45 million, with $18 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.