2005 free agency: Week 4 overview

As we roll into Week 4 of free agency, let's take a look back at what has transpired in the past week.

In the NFC East, things slowed down over the past week.

The Dallas Cowboys continued to stay out of the free agent fray after making three big signings at the start of free agency earlier this month.

The Washington Redskins signed former Buffalo Bills safety Pierson Prioleau, who will play on special teams and compete for playing time mostly as a backup. He's a decent player who is capable of starting if needed.

Part of free agency is re-signing your own players ,and the Philadelphia Eagles were able to do that by re-signing linebacker Keith Adams. He'll compete for the starting weakside job against the incumbent Mark Simoneau, and Adams will still be a big part of their special teams coverage.

The New York Giants started off the week by releasing veteran defensive end Keith Washington, who lost his starting job to Osi Umenyiora. The biggest story of the week in the division or possibly in the entire league was when the Giants signed veteran wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who recently turned down a similar deal to sign with the team. It's amazing what a switch in agents can do for a player. Burress is the badly needed deep threat that they craved at receiver and he has size to go along with that. Without a first-round pick, it would have been hard to get an impact receiver that could come in and make a difference right away had they not signed Burress.

Turning our attention to the NFC North, the Chicago Bears made a few moves last week. They signed free agent guard Roberto Garza, who will compete for the starting right guard spot. Garza is a serviceable player who can also play at center if need be. They also re-signed backup cornerback Todd McMillon, who is also a contributor on special teams.

The Detroit Lions, after taking a little while off, jumped back in to the limelight and signed former Indianapolis Colt guard Rick DeMulling. He should be an improvement at right guard over David Loverne.

The Green Bay Packers finally made some moves last week. They re-signed backup tight end David Martin and also re-signed veteran offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer, who can back up at center and at guard. It's also possible that the team will give him a chance to compete for the starting left guard spot that was vacated when Marco Rivera signed with Dallas. They also looked to sign some players outside their team. Free agent offensive lineman Adrian Klemm, who likely will line up at left guard this season, was signed to a two-year deal. Closing out their moves of the week, the Packers signed free agent safety Todd Franz to a one-year deal. He has mostly been a backup in his five seasons of play, but could get a chance to start with his new team.

Closing out the division, the Minnesota Vikings continued their busy off-season by signing free agent wide receiver Travis Taylor. At his best, earlier in his career, Taylor was a decent deep threat who was capable of making plays down field. He's a pretty good fit for the Vikings offense. He'll compete against veteran wide receiver Marcus Robinson for a starting job. Robinson will have the advantage going in to training camp, but the oft-injured receiver is far from a sure bet to line up next to Nate Burleson as a starter next season. They also made an important move by signing free agent quarterback Brad Johnson, who will make his second tour of duty with the team. He's a perfect fit to back up Daunte Culpepper. Later in the week, they re-signed backup center Cory Withrow who is one of the better backups at his position in the league. To close out their week of moves, the Vikings acquired veteran linebacker Sam Cowart, who has been penciled in at middle linebacker over E.J. Henderson. They only gave up a seventh-round pick for Cowart so you have to like that move. At his best, Cowart is a supreme run-stuffer. If healthy, the 30-year-old linebacker should be a major upgrade over Henderson who was way too inconsistent.

Turning our attention to the NFC South, that division saw a decent amount of activity last week.

The Atlanta Falcons made one move during the week as they signed free agent guard Matt Lehr, who will get a chance to compete for a starting job. He wasn't able to establish himself with Dallas but has a decent upside.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed free agent tight end Anthony Becht to a multi-year deal. He's not much of a pass catcher but he's one of the better blocking tight ends, which is an area where they were looking for an improvement. They also re-signed backup fullback Jameel Cook.

The New Orleans Saints released starting safety Tebucky Jones which wasn't a surprise at all considering they signed free agent safety Dwight Smith a few weeks ago. Although defensive end Darren Howard signed his one-year franchise tender offer, there's still a good chance that he gets traded before next month's NFL Draft. Later in the week, the club signed free agent linebacker Levar Fisher to a one-year deal. He'll likely be a backup and play on special teams.

Closing out the division, after making a big splash early on, the Carolina Panthers stayed out of the way of free agency last week.

In the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals picked up the pace again and signed former Seahawk linebacker Orlando Huff to a two-year deal. He'll compete for the starting middle linebacker job against Gerald Hayes. Huff hasn't shown that he's anything but an average player so far.

The St. Louis Rams made a huge move last week by re-signing starting left tackle Orlando Pace to a long-term deal. The change of agents seemed to facilitate this move in the right direction. Getting him signed will help get the continuity of their inconsistent offensive line in order. They closed out their moves by re-signing long snapper Chris Massey.

The San Francisco 49ers had a quiet week and didn't sign any players, but the Seattle Seahawks made a move with an important veteran.

Seattle released starting offensive right tackle Chris Terry, who was set to make more money than the club wanted to pay. As of now, they'll give former third-round pick Wayne Hunter a chance to start there. They also signed Denver Broncos restricted free agent cornerback Kelly Herndon to an offer sheet. The hope is that Denver won't match it so Herndon will be able to replace Ken Lucas, who signed with Carolina earlier this month.

Turning our attention to the AFC, the Eastern division had a quiet week except for one team that made a flurry of moves.

The Miami Dolphins signed former New Orleans Saints safety Tebucky Jones, who is slated to take over the starting strong safety spot after Sammy Knight signed with the Chiefs. Miami also signed free agent offensive tackle Stockar McDougle to a one-year deal. He'll compete for the starting right tackle job against John St. Clair. Closing out their moves, they signed free agent fullback Heath Evans, who is expected to replace Rob Konrad as the starter.

The Buffalo Bills were quiet last week as were the New England Patriots. The Patriots did re-sign offensive right tackle Tom Ashworth, who missed 10 games last season due to a bad back. He'll compete against Brandon Gorin for the starting job.

Other than the trade of veteran linebacker Sam Cowart to Minnesota, the New York Jets had a quiet week.

Looking at the AFC North, the Cleveland Browns continued to rebuild their defense by signing free agent defensive tackle Jason Fisk, who is above average against the run. He'll line up at nose tackle. As expected, the club released veteran defensive end Courtney Brown, who was due a sizeable roster bonus. He is receiving a lot of interest elsewhere so don't look for the oft-injured Brown to return. They also re-signed linebacker Ben Taylor, who should compete for a starting outside spot. Cleveland also continued their defensive signings by inking former Falcons linebacker Matt Stewart to a multi-year deal. He has played outside over his four-year career but could see time inside as well with his new team. Some who have watched him on tape believe he's better suited to play inside.

The Baltimore Ravens had a quiet week after being very busy previously. They were able to get long snapper Joe Maese to agree to a multi-year deal and were able to re-sign punter Dave Zastudil.

The Cincinnati Bengals continued to get their important offensive players re-signed as they inked running back Rudi Johnson to a five-year deal. With Johnson back, former first-round pick Chris Perry is destined to be his backup and to be their third-down back.

Closing out the division, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a quiet week and didn't sign any players, although they tried but were unsuccessful in signing free agent offensive tackle Stockar McDougle.

Turning our attention to the AFC South, the Houston Texans made a few minor moves since last Monday. They signed free agent linebacker Frank Chamberlin, who will likely be a backup inside and they also re-signed veteran quarterback Tony Banks.

The Indianapolis Colts saw running back Edgerrin James sign his one-year franchise tender offer. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, believes that by signing the one-year deal that it will help facilitate a trade.

The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed a few of their own players last week. Veteran wide receiver Troy Edwards and running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala re-upped. Edwards did a nice job last season as their third receiver.

Finally, the Tennessee Titans continued their quiet ways and didn't sign any players.

Closing out the conference, the AFC West saw a decent amount of moves for the week.

The San Diego Chargers signed starting outside linebacker Steve Foley to an extension. Foley was one of the better surprises for the club last season. They also re-signed backup offensive lineman Bob Hallen and linebacker Carlos Polk.

After offensive lineman Cooper Carlisle agreed to a deal with the Baltimore Ravens, he changed his mind and re-signed with the Denver Broncos. The key here is that he agreed to a deal with the Ravens and never signed it. He'll be given a chance to start at right guard. The team also re-signed punter Jason Baker.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders were quiet last week after making moves the previous two weeks.

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