Source: Jeffri Chadiha, SI.com [ Full Article ] If we've learned anything from the first few weeks of the NFL's unrestricted free agency period, it's that bigger bank accounts usually lead to riskier decisions within the marketplace. The recent increase in the NFL's salary cap -- it has grown by nearly $25 million over the last two years -- has given more teams more license to indulge in the kinds of moves that they wouldn't even consider a few years ago. I'm talking about aging running backs signing for good money and guards -- yes, guards -- finding fat paydays after years of being dismissed as the most expendable components of an offensive line. It's these types of trends that have made this offseason all the more interesting. Seriously, there used to be a time not too long ago, when free agency wasn't that much fun to follow. Aside from a handful of moderately big-name signings, there was little intrigue associated with the process. It was as if all those teams who spent big money unwisely in the 1990s had realized it was better to invest in their own players than to throw their cash away on some over-the-hill, high-profile player looking for one last big contract. Well, now we know that free agency became boring because the money dried up. And with teams looking to spend more again, it's time to evaluate some of the more surprising trends of this offseason: 1. Running backs playing musical chairs There really wasn't much to like about the cast of available players at this position when free agency opened on March 2. Former Indianapolis Colts running back Dominic Rhodes was arguably the most attractive talent until a glut of other players showed up on the market. A few weeks later, eight teams had signed or traded for new running backs. What has prompted the rush on runners? Well, it's apparent that a lot of teams are looking for a running back that can be part of a 1-2 punch. The New York Giants (Reuben Droughns joins Brandon Jacobs), Oakland Raiders (Rhodes teams with LaMont Jordan), Cleveland Browns (Jamal Lewis with either Jason Wright or possibly Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, if the Browns draft him) and the Houston Texans (Green will be the feature back while Wali Lundy backs him up) will all go that route this year. As for the teams who should profit the most from their new additions, I like these three: Baltimore (who acquired Willis McGahee in a trade with Buffalo), the New York Jets (who landed Thomas Jones for basically nothing in a trade with Chicago) and Denver (who signed Travis Henry after the Titans cut him). 2. Guards are getting paid It wasn't that long ago that a guard could count on one thing when free agency arrived: He wasn't going to get top dollar. But that trend changed when Seattle's Steve Hutchinson signed a $49 million deal with Minnesota last season, and it's still yielding significant dividends for his peers. This year alone, three guards have cashed in with seven-year deals: Dallas' Leonard Davis ($50 million with a $16 million bonus), Buffalo's Derrick Dockery ($49 million, $18 million bonus), and Cleveland's Eric Steinbach, ($49.5 million, $10 million bonus). It's starting to look like offensive tackles aren't the only linemen who can break the bank at this time of year. 3. San Francisco is making the best moves San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan continues to put his team in position to challenge for a playoff spot. Last season the offense matured with the emergence of second-year quarterback Alex Smith and Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore. This year his defense has a chance to improve dramatically. By adding cornerback Nate Clements, who was arguably the best available player in free agency, Nolan ensured that his secondary had a proven playmaker who can hold his own against the likes of Torry Holt, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Deion Branch in the NFC West. The 49ers also scored by landing outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain and strong safety Michael Lewis, who should benefit from a change in scenery after struggling last season in Philadelphia. If Nolan can get Lewis back to Pro Bowl form, the 49ers could be the most improved team in the NFL this coming season. 4. Joey Porter moves South It wasn't surprising that Pittsburgh cut Porter earlier this month. What was eye-opening is that he wasn't even offered a deal by his former team. Porter says former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher promised him that the team would at least make an attempt to sign him to a new contract before free agency arrived. But Porter says he had one phone call with new Steelers coach Mike Tomlin -- who was excited to have Porter on his defense -- and the next call he received a few weeks later was the one bidding him farewell. But as Porter says, "I've seen that team get rid of Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Jason Gildon, Chad Brown, Earl Holmes and Levon Kirkland. There's a pattern there." 5. Ovie Mughelli gives hope to fullbacks everywhere Mughelli's six-year, $18-million deal in Atlanta (which included a $5 million signing bonus) is perplexing because he plays a position that is clearly dying in the NFL, at least in its purest form. Most teams only use fullbacks on 20 to 30 percent of their offensive plays while others are more inclined to play an undersized tight end at the spot when necessary. But new Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino clearly has plans for the position, and Mughelli should be a nice addition, one who could do for the fullback market what Steve Hutchinson did for the guard market.