Jonathan Martin, the offensive tackle at the center of the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal, was traded to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Dolphins announced the deal Tuesday night on the first day of NFL free agency. Martin’s move cross country brings him back to the Bay Area to be reunited with his former Stanford coach, Jim Harbaugh.
An investigation for the NFL determined last month that Dolphins guard Richie Incognito and two other offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.
The trade capped a busy first day for the 49ers.
Safety Antoine Bethea agreed to a $23 million, four-year contract with San Francisco, which lost safety Donte Whitner to Cleveland and cornerback Carlos Rogers .
The 49ers also signed kicker Phil Dawson to a two-year contract and acquired quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jacksonville for a sixth-round draft pick this year and a conditional pick next season
In another big move Tuesday, franchise sack leader DeMarcus Ware was released by the Dallas Cowboys to create room under the salary cap.
A decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone player in the history of your franchise, is extremely difficult, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. We were also in very strong agreement that playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both be exploring.
With the cap rising $10 million to a record $133 million, a crop of players quickly found new homes as soon as the market officially opened Tuesday afternoon – and offensive linemen were a popular commodity.
About 5 1/2 hours after free agency began, one of the top players available, three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, agreed to terms with the Saints, part of a merry-go-round of moves at his position. Other safeties swapping clubs: Michael Jenkins, from Saints to Eagles; T.J. Ward from Browns to Broncos; Mike Mitchell from Panthers to Steelers; Ryan Mundy from Giants to Bears.
Deals for offensive linemen were highlighted by Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert’s five-year contract with the Dolphins. Albert left Kansas City to take over the position played at the start of last season by Martin.
Left tackle Jared Veldheer and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year contract worth up to $35 million. Veldheer left the Raiders, who replaced him by giving former Rams lineman Rodger Saffold a five-year deal. Another left tackle, Eugene Monroe, agreed to a five-year contract to stay with the Ravens.
Guards switching teams: Zane Beadles was joining the Jaguars from the Broncos, pending a physical; the Falcons agreed to terms with Jon Asamoah, who left the Chiefs; the Redskins struck a deal with Shawn Lauvao, who left the Browns.
The Redskins also agreed to terms with Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts and special teams standout Adam Hayward and scheduled a visit with cornerback Corey Graham.
Kick returner and receiver Dexter McCluster went to the Titans from the Chiefs; defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai joined the Falcons; and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell left the Texans for the Dolphins.