Highlights from first week of heavy FA action
--- LB LaVar Arrington has interviewed with the Giants and his agents have begun negotiations. But one of his agents, Carl Poston, was recently suspended for two years for behavior unbecoming an agent by the NFL Players Association. That might cause Arrington to drop Poston and his brother, Kevin, as agents. Arrington wants a $10 million signing bonus and the Giants are not prepared to do that. Arrington has threatened to use interest from Miami and Cleveland to get the Giants to move, but they have refused thus far. --- Speaking of the Poston brothers ... The agents for LB Julian Peterson might have priced his client so high that the 49ers are hoping they can get him back now that he's lasted more than one week on the open market as one of the top linebackers available. Kevin Poston, who now is Peterson's sole representative now that his brother has been banished, has put such an exorbitant asking price on Peterson that many clubs have been scared away. He is believed to be searching for $20 million guaranteed and a yearly average of $9 million on a multi-year contract. So far, only the Seahawks and Dolphins have shown interest in the sixth-year player. The 49ers, of course, still are interested, but they're following their strategy of letting the market set Peterson's worth and vaule. So far, the plan has worked, because Peterson still is available and perhaps closer now to considering San Francisco's best offer. --- WR Terrell Owens was made to wait as long as possible before the Eagles set him free Tuesday. They released him just a half-hour before they would have been compelled to give him a $5 million roster bonus and a $2.5 million signing bonus. They'll tell you they wanted to exhaust all trade opportunities before cutting Owens. In truth, it was a final display of spite toward the man who made their life miserable for much of 2005. The release announcing Owens' departure was just 14 words long. "The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have terminated the contract of WR Terrell Owens," it said. Owens - the tempestuous former 49ers star - didn't wait long before agreeing to terms with the Dallas Cowboys. Initial reports regarding Owens' contract indicate that he will earn a $5 million bonus in 2006, along with $5 million in base salary. He can earn as much as $25 million over the next three years if he stays with the team. Roster bonuses ion 2007 and 2008 would round out the deal. --- QB Joey Harrington, who expressed reservations at the end of the 2005 season regarding his future in Detroit, apparently decided it was time to move on. Lions president Matt Millen, a longtime Harrington supporter, agreed to trade or release him, just weeks after the Lions declared their commitment to the former first-round draft choice as the No. 1 quarterback. The Lions did not immediately indicate how they will handle the Harrington situation but it appears they will make a move to free him from the final two years of his original contract by the start of the April 29 draft or by June 15, the day he is due a $4 million roster bonus. --- QB Brett Favre has purposely put off making a decision on his playing future in part because he wants to know if the Packers, coming off a horrendous 4-12 season, are playing to win now or later. A report circulated in the past week that Favre explicitly told Packers general manager Ted Thompson to be very aggressive in free agency or Favre would be more inclined to retire. Thompson, though, said no such mandate came from Favre. --- Javon Walker has vowed to not suit up for the Packers again unless his contract is renegotiated. He recently declared that he would "retire" before returning to Green Bay. Packers general manager Ted Thompson has made it clear he will hold his ground and not give in to Walker's demand for a new contract because the talented wideout has to prove his worth all over again after missing all but the season opener last year with a knee injury. The Packers have added some money to contract, but it remains to be seen if it was enough to satisfy him. --- RB Edgerrin James signed with the Cardinals. The former Colts star received a $7 million signing bonus and a $4.5 million roster bonus to be paid before mini-camp. His salaries are $3.25 million this year, $5.25 million in 2007, $5 million in 2008 and $5 million in 2009. His 2006 salary cap figure with the roster bonus factored in is $9.5 million. --- LT L.J. Shelton signed a four-year, $15 million contract with Miami that included a $3.5 million signing bonus. A seven-year NFL veteran, Shelton was a 16-game starter last season in Cleveland who failed to reach agreement with the Browns on a new contract. Cleveland opted to let Shelton leave via free agency after signing Atlanta tackle Kevin Shaffer to a free-agent contract. --- QB Partrick Ramsey was acquired by the Jets from Washington for a sixth-round draft choice. Ramsey is a stopgap quarterback to compete with Chad Pennington, whose future is questionable after two shoulder operations in less than two years. --- RB Mike Anderson expressed no regrets about coming to the Ravens, saying he was assured by team officials that he will have the opportunity to compete against Jamal Lewis for the starting running back job. It was assumed the former Denver Broncos back would be the Ravens' featured runner when he reached a four-year, $8 million agreement Sunday night. Just a few hours later, he didn't know what to think after the Ravens re-signed Lewis. --- RB Jamal Lewis is being prodded, it seems, by the Ravens, who restructured Lewis' contract and added former Broncos RB Mike Anderson. Lewis's rushing totals have declined every season since he gained 2,066 yards in 2003 - the second-highest total in NFL history. Lewis' three-year, $26 million contract is essentially a one-year commitment. After receiving $6 million this season ($5 million signing bonus plus $1 million salary), Lewis is scheduled to earn $10 million in the final two years of the deal. Before he is due a $5 million bonus next March, the Ravens must decide whether to pay him (which is considered unlikely), renegotiate a new contract or cut him. It was a surprise that Lewis agreed to this deal - turning down a longer-term contract from the Denver Broncos - only a few hours after Anderson accepted a four-year, $8 million contract. --- RB Ron Dayne was re-signed by Denver to a three-year contract and might have immediately jumped from No. 3 to No. 1 on the depth chart when he did so. Dayne was behind Anderson and Tatum Bell last season, but played well when he got a chance. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan prefers Dayne's downhill running style to get a majority of the carries. --- G Larry Allen's tenure in Dallas could be over after the Cowboys signed G Kyle Kosier to a contract that includes a $5 million signing bonus. Allen is the longest tenured Cowboy and is the last remaining player with a Super Bowl ring from the 1990s. --- He has a $2 million roster bonus due April 1 along with an $8 million cap number for next season. There is no way the Cowboys are going to pay Kosier, Allen and G Marco Rivera - last year's high-priced free agent - those high salaries and have one of them sit on the bench. Allen is likely the odd man out because of his declining play and Kosier's upside. --- QB Chris Simms said the Buccaneers' starting quarterback job was promised to him before he agreed to sign a first-round tender for $2.1 million. The Bucs need to finally discover what they have in the 26-year-old quarterback who went 5-1 against the NFC South and led the Bucs to a division title. But the player he took over for wanted his old job back. That's why it's unlikely Brian Griese will accept a proposal to return to the Bucs. --- Griese, who was 5-1 when he suffered two torn ligaments in his left knee against the Dolphins, was replaced by young Simms, who said he has been promised the starting job next season. Apparently, the Bucs made it clear to Griese they are turning over the starting job to Simms. And it's believed the Bucs' offer to Griese does not exceed what Simms will earn next season. Agent Ralph Cindrich indicated Griese probably wouldn't return to Tampa Bay. He visited the Bengals and Bears last week. Griese is expected to visit Halas Hall again early next week, as the Bears seek to upgrade their depth at quarterback. The Bears will not offer Griese an opportunity to compete with starter Rex Grossman on a level playing field, but they would like a veteran to push Kyle Orton for the No. 2 spot and be able to step in as a starter without a big drop-off in production. The Bears' job could be attractive to Griese, given Grossman's extensive injury history - he's missed 27 of the last 32 games with knee and ankle injuries. --- QB Aaron Brooks might be under consideration by the Raiders to replace Kerry Collins. According to one NFL source, owner Al Davis has a high opinion of Brooks, the deposed Saints starter who is available after being waived after the free agent acquisition of Drew Brees. Brooks, who turns 30 on March 24, has 82 career starts, all with New Orleans, and has passed for 19,156 yards and 120 touchdowns (a New Orleans record) with 84 interceptions. The Raiders could represent Brooks' best chance to remain a starter, given the vote-of-no-confidence the franchise issued Marques Tuiasosopo last season and the lack of experience to 2005 third-round draft pick Andrew Walter. --- DE Anthony Weaver signed a five-year, $26.5 million deal that included a $12 million signing bonus. The Texans won't say it, but that move likely ruled out the possibility that they will trade down in the NFL draft. There were suggestions that the Texans would trade down from the No. 1 pick if the price was right so that they could then acquire Mario Williams. With Weaver, the Texans have their starting ends now. The former Raven will start at right end for the Texans, which means Jason Babin will move to left end to compete with Antwan Peek. While the Texans can still use depth at end, they do not need another multi-million dollar starter. --- QB Carson Palmer's recovery is worrying the Bengals, who told Ralph Cindrich, Brian Griese's agent, that they are concerned Palmer won't be ready to start the season. Palmer underwent surgery Jan. 10 to replace two knee ligaments (the anterior cruciate and medial collateral, ACL and MCL) and has returned to Cincinnati to continue rehab and meet with coaches. Palmer is believed to be wearing a knee brace and walking without crutches in his street clothes. --- QB Philip Rivers, a third-year pro, has been thrust into the starting role as the team decided to let veteran Drew Brees exit as an unrestricted free agent. Brees landed with the Saints, so the Chargers march on with Rivers. Rivers, though, has thrown only 30 NFL passes and never started a game. As good as he was at North Carolina State, that is no guarantee he will be a success in the NFL. --- OG Toniu Fonoti has signed with Tampa Bay, a day after he had reportedly agreed to terms with Oakland. The Vikings had acquired Fonoti for a seventh-round draft pick in next month's draft, but he played in only one game after reporting at 404 pounds. Fonoti (6-feet-4, 350 according to the Bucs), a veteran of four seasons in the NFL, has played in 34 games with 33 starts as a member of the San Diego Chargers (2002-05) and Minnesota Vikings (2005). A former second-round pick (39th overall) by the Chargers in the 2002 NFL Draft, Fonoti was traded to the Vikings on October 18, 2005 for an undisclosed pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. --- S Shaun Williams became the Giants' third first-round draft choice in a year to depart, all three having been either flat-out released or allowed to dangle in free agency without an offer. Williams, who signed with Carolina, was the Giants' top choice in 1998. He joins Ron Dayne (2000), now with Denver, and Will Allen (2001), still a free agent, in the exodus. --- LB Nick Greisen, a free agent, has an interest in the Green Bay Packers and a few other teams and has told the Giants he'd like to return, but he must be paid as a starter (acceptable, since he became one) and he wants to play inside (which is not acceptable, since in their 4-3 alignment Antonio Pierce is the MLB). --- QBs Jon Kitna, a nine-year veteran with Seattle and Cincinnati, and Josh McCown, a four-year veteran from Arizona, signed with Detroit as the Lions prepare to cut ties with 2002 first-round draft choice Joey Harrington. Kitna received a four-year contract reportedly worth $11.5 million, including a $3.5 million signing bonus; McCown signed a two-year deal worth $6 million, including a $2 million signing bonus. --- WR Corey Bradford, formerly with Green Bay and Houston, signed with the Lions, giving them the veteran presence they want as part of the wide receiver mix. Although they feel they have a strong corps of promising young receivers in Roy Williams, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams, the Lions felt they needed veteran leadership in setting the pace for work habits and toughness. --- G Kyle Kosier left as a free agent to the Dallas Cowboys, so it appears the Lions will have a new left guard when they start the 2006 season. Kosier took over the job from former Indianapolis Colts lineman Rick DeMulling early in the season and did an adequate job, but the Lions viewed his value more as a dependable backup at several positions than as a starting left guard. DeMulling is expected to compete for the job but the Lions are expected to continue shopping the free agent market - including the possible June 1 cuts - for another interior lineman. --- S Marquand Manuel signed with Green Bay. Manuel made a name for himself as the injury replacement for Ken Hamlin in the Seahawks' run to Super Bowl XL. Rewarded with a five-year, $10 million contract, the hard-hitting Manuel figures to be an upgrade over Mark Roman at strong safety. --- NT Ryan Pickett signed with the Packers won out over the Rams and Buffalo for the 6-foot-2, 320-pounder, who played for St. Louis last season. Green Bay views the former first-round draft choice as a superb run stuffer who, at 26, has more fuel in the tank than 33-year-old Grady Jackson, whom Green Bay deemed expendable. Pickett had 65 tackles, including 12 for loss, as the Rams' top defensive lineman last season. --- OL Kevin Barry, convinced he finally would be given a legitimate chance to crack the starting lineup, rejected offers from Detroit and Arizona and decided to stay put with the Packers. Barry, an unrestricted free agent, signed a two-year contract March 15. The deal is worth $2.785 million, including a signing bonus of $600,000 and an immediate roster bonus of $600,000. His base salaries will be $625,000 this year and $910,000 in 2007. --- K Adam Vinatieri was in Green Bay for a free-agent visit Friday. The ante for wooing Vinatieri, one of the most accurate kickers in league history with New England, was raised some after Minnesota landed Longwell on March 11 with a five-year, $10 million deal that included a $3 million signing bonus. The Packers, despite having ample room under the salary cap, weren't inclined to throw that type of money at Longwell, Green Bay's all-time leading scorer. --- WR Rod Gardner signed a one-year contract to remain with the Packers. He gives Green Bay protection against the loss of Pro Bowl receiver Javon Walker, who's vowed to not suit up for the team again unless his contract is renegotiated. Gardner, a former first-round draft pick of Washington, made a good impression in the final two games of last season after he was signed off waivers from Carolina. At 6-2, 215 pounds, Gardner fits the mold of big, aggressive receivers desired by coach Mike McCarthy for the offense he will implement. --- WR Terrence Murphy, who showed flashes as a rookie early last season, is still a question mark. Murphy is afflicted with a narrowing of the spinal column from a hit he took on a kickoff return at Carolina on Oct. 3, and it's unlikely he'll be cleared to play this year, if ever again. --- WR Harry Williams was claimed by Green Bay off waivers from the New York Jets on March 13. The 6-2, 186-pound Williams, a seventh-round draft pick last year, appeared in one game with the Jets. The Packers assume the final three years of Williams' rookie contract. --- DT Cullen Jenkins, who started 12 games last season, signed a one-year, $425,000 tender with Green Bay as an exclusive-rights free agent March 16. That leaves nose tackle Colin Cole as the Packers' only unsigned exclusive-rights free agent. --- CB Ahmad Carroll pleaded innocent March 10 to misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged run-in with a police officer inside a bar in Fayetteville, Ark., last month. Carroll's attorney, Sam Hilburn, entered the pleas on Carroll's behalf for the charges of assaulting an officer, refusing to submit to arrest and disorderly conduct. --- RB Chester Taylor signed with Minnesota on the first day of free agency. Taylor's four-year, $14.1 million contract included $5.6 million in guaranteed money. Taylor, 26, served as Jamal Lewis' backup in Baltimore and started only eight games in four seasons. He put together his best season in 2004 when he rushed for 714 yards and two touchdowns on 160 carries. Taylor has 373 carries in 62 career games for 1,599 yards and four touchdowns. --- K Ryan Longwell signed with Minnesota. The Packers' all-time leading scorer received a five-year, $10 million deal that included a $3 million signing bonus on the opening day of free agency. --- LB Ben Leber signed a five-year, $20 million contract with Minnesota that included a $4 million signing bonus. However, that would only seem to be the start of a makeover at this position as the Vikings prepare to switch to a Cover-2 scheme. --- DTs Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis signed with the Panthers. Kemoeatu agreed to a five-year, $23 million contract that includes an $8 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-5, 350-pounder is known as a run-stopper and will start alongside Kris Jenkins, who is expected to return after missing all but one game last season due to a torn ligament in his knee. With Jenkins also weighing around 350 pounds, that will give the Panthers two mammoth men to occupy the middle of the line. Lewis, who got a two-year deal worth $3.9 million per year, will likely be the first player off the bench. But he could end up starting if Jenkins struggles to return from injury. --- C Justin Hartwig signed a five-year contract with Carolina worth $17 million in all, $11 million of which is guaranteed money in the first two years of the contract. Hartwig replaces free agent Jeff Mitchell, a four-year starter for Carolina. --- LB Will Witherspoon, one of the most highly sought after free agents on the market, signed a six-year contract with the Rams worth $33 million that includes $15 million in guaranteed money. Witherspoon was Carolina's top free agent entering the market and the team tried to re-sign him before the start of free agency on Saturday. --- S Shaun Williams filled the vacancy left by Marlon McCree's departure by signing a one-year contract with Carolina. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it's believed Williams received a deal at or around the league's minimum salary. Williams started 60 games during eight seasons with the Giants, but only two in the last two seasons. He's been plagued by injuries of late, finishing the last three years on injured reserve while missing 28 games. --- DT Kendrick Clancy, formerly of the New York Giants, signed a four-year contract with Arizona. The team is hopeful he will be the stud run stopper it has lacked. --- QB Daunte Culpepper, acquired from Minnesota for a second-round draft choice, represents a gamble fo the Dolphins. Coach Nick Saban, though, is confident that Culpepper can put an ugly 2005 behind him. So confident that Miami agreed to a restructuring of Culpepper's contract that paid the quarterback a $7 million signing bonus with a $1 million base for 2006. --- DE Kevin Carter agreed to restructure his contract with the Dolphins to create additional salary cap room by converting a $3 million roster bonus into signing bonus. The move created $1.25 million in cap space. --- RB Ricky Williams' status for the 2006 season is unchanged, Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. Williams is reportedly appealing an imminent one-year suspension after failing a fourth drug test under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. --- LB Chad Brown was released on March 13. The Patriots had high hopes for Brown, 35, but he never found his niche, partly because he was miscast as an inside linebacker. He failed to record a sack for the first time in his 13 years in the NFL and remains stuck on 78 sacks for his career. That leaves him tied with Willie McGinest for the most by an active player. --- LB Peter Boulware and offensive tackle Orlando Brown were released by the Ravens. It was the second time in two seasons that the Ravens have cut Boulware, the team's all-time sacks leader who never made an impact after re-joining the Ravens last season. --- T Orlando Brown and LB Peter Boulware were released by the Ravens. It was the second time in two seasons that the Ravens have cut Boulware, the team's all-time sacks leader who never made an impact after re-joining the Ravens last season. --- LB Bart Scott stayed with the Ravens, signing a three-year, $13.5 million contract that included a $6.5 million signing bonus. Considered one of the top sleepers in free agency, Scott stayed with the Ravens despite a more lucrative offer on the table from the Browns, a five-year, $25 million contract that averaged $500,000 more a year than the Ravens' deal. --- WR Joe Jurevicius signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Browns on the opening day of free agency, knowing Braylon Edwards is the No. 1 receiver, or at least will be when he fully recovers from knee surgery. Jurevicius is an eight-year veteran who previously played for the Giants, Buccaneers and Seahawks. He went to the Super Bowl once with each team. Jurevicius had the best season of his eight-year career in 2005 when he caught 55 passes for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing for the Seahawks. --- C Jeff Hartings took a pay cut from his $4.75 million salary/bonus this year and had his contract extended by one year to 2007. Hartings' new deal reduced his salary and roster bonus from $4.75 million to $2.2 million. He received a signing bonus of $1.75 million. His salary in 2007 is $3.6 million. --- RB Duce Staley's salary was reduced by $1 million by Steelers to $1.5 million in '06. He can earn some of that back in performance bonuses: $500,000 if he rushes for 1,250 yards, $250,000 if he rushes for 1,000 yards or $100,000 if he rushes for 900 yards. He will receive $100,000 if he scores nine touchdowns, another $100,000 if he rushes for 500 yards and also catches 35 passes, and another $100,000 if he makes the Pro Bowl. Staley's salaries of $2.69 million in 2007 and $2 million in 2008 were untouched by the restructured deal. --- K Jose Cortez was re-signed with unrestricted free agent K Mike Vanderjagt expected to be playing for another team soon. An unrestricted free agent, Cortez was added to the Indianapolis roster late in the 2005 season to handle the team's kickoff responsibilities. He replaced rookie Dave Rayner in the job after the former sixth-round draft choice begin to struggle. He joins rookie free agent Shane Andrus and Rayner as potential kicking candidates on the Colts' off-season roster. --- RB Dominic Rhodes received a $1.45 million roster bonus with Indianapolis shortly after RB Edgerrin James signed with Arizona. Rhodes is expected to get a long look as a possible replacement for James during pre-season workouts. --- RB James Mungro, an unrestricted free agent, continues to wait for an offer from Colts' officials in the wake of Edgerrin James' signing with Arizona. Mungro has been a favorite of the Indianapolis coaching staff. --- OLs Mike Williams and Stockar McDougle, former first-round draft choices considered busts, will get a second chance with the Jaguars, who need depth in their line. Jacksonville signed Williams to a two-year contract with a $1.4 million signing bonus. McDougle received a $100,000 signing bonus. --- T Mike Pearson, who suffered a severe knee injury in 2004 and played in only four games last year, isn't likely to return. He visited Tampa Bay last week and is searching for a new home. --- LB Jamie Winborn was obtained by Jacksonville in a trade with San Francisco last season, but wound up on the injured reserve list and isn't likely to return. He visited Seattle last week. --- DT Gerard Warren, one of the Broncos' priorities, was re-signed on the first day of free agency. Warren wanted to return to Denver and the Broncos were willing to facilitate it, giving him a $36 million contract over six years. Warren said repeatedly during last season that he didn't want to go anywhere else, turning his career around with the Broncos after some disappointing years in Cleveland. --- WR Keyshawn Johnson is looking forward to his newfound free-agent status. He said he will take his time but would consider playing for the Chiefs, Giants, Seahawks, Dolphins, Patriots, Panthers and Eagles. --- C Andre Gurode re-signed with the Cowboys with a one-year contract. He will compete with Al Johnson for the starting spot at center for next year and likely years to come. The two players split time at the position last year, although Johnson has been the starter the past two years. --- QB Drew Brees agreed to a $60 million deal with the Saints last Tuesday. The only question that remained when the Saints got the former Chargers QB to sign is his availability. He is still weeks away from being able to throw a football after undergoing shoulder surgery in January. Brees, however, said he had no concerns about being ready for training camp and the regular season. He will split the next several weeks between Birmingham, Ala., where he's rehabbing, and New Orleans for the Saints' off-season program. --- RB Michael Bennett signed New Orleans, indicating the Saints are again looking for a capable backup to Deuce McAllister. With McAllister coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the Saints want a younger, quicker back than Antowain Smith, who recently turned 34, and Aaron Stecker, who is a change-of-pace back. In addition to the Saints, Bennett said the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts were interested in his services after spending his entire five-year career with the Minnesota Vikings. A 5-foot-9, 202-pounder, the speedy Bennett has averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 3,174 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,296 yards and five TDs in 2002. --- QB Aaron Brooks, who turns 30 next week, was released March 15, three months after being benched by former coach Jim Haslett for the final three games of the 2005 season. Before being replaced by Bouman, Brooks had started 82 straight games for the Saints. Teams around the league did not show much interest in trading for Brooks because of his high salary and because it was no secret the Saints would likely release him. He was scheduled to earn $6.5 million in salary and bonuses this season and $7.5 million next season. --- DT Chris Hovan signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum last season after his career slipped with the Vikings. He saw it pay off after leading the Buccaneers defensive line in tackles and helping them improve from 19th to sixth against the run. This year, Hovan signed a five-year, $17.5 million deal to stay with Tampa Bay. --- S Dexter Jackson cashed in on his success with the Buccaneers again. Having helped Tampa Bay return as the league's No. 1 defense in his second stint with the team, Jackson signed a four-year, $7.6 million contract with the Bengals on Monday. Jackson is hoping his free-agent choice goes better than the one he made in 2003, when he took advantage of his Super Bowl XXXVII MVP award to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. --- WR Antonio Bryant said he covered all of his checkered past, including two college suspensions and a run-in with Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, during hour-long meetings with San Frsncisco coach Mike Nolan before the 49ers signed him to a reported four-year, $15 million contract. --- CB Renaldo Hill, whose play as a starting nickel back made him one of Oakland's best defenders last season, was the Raiders' first significant loss in free agency. Hill signed a three-year deal with Miami with a reported $2 million in bonus. --- QB Jon Kitna's departure from Cincinnati leaves a vacuum in the locker room and takes away one of the Bengals' most important off-field leaders. He provided competent quarterback play on the field and stability off the field. In the three years prior to Kitna's arrival in Cincinnati, the Bengals were 11-37. Kitna directly and indirectly helped the Bengals become a playoff team in 2005. The same contribution is expected of Kitna in Detroit, where the Lions are 16-32 in the past three seasons. Kitna agreed to terms Tuesday on a four-year, $10.5 million contract with the Lions. He will receive $4 million to sign. --- WR Kevin Walter signed a four-year, $6.4 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent with the Houston Texans. Walter and his wife traveled to Houston and had dinner Saturday night with Texans coach Gary Kubiak and other staff members. The Bengals were not expected to match and could replace Walter on the roster with former Green Bay wide receiver Antonio Chatman, who visited March 17. --- QB Drew Brees is coming off shoulder surgery and Chargers general manager A. J. Smith was reluctant to guarantee him the $10 million he would eventually receive from the Saints. So Smith passed, turning to Philip Rivers instead. Brees is happy to land in New Orleans, but is bitter in how his five-year association with the Chargers ended. Brees said Rivers will have to go through a "learning curve" like all young QBs. Brees thinks the Chargers aren't going to be the same team with the unproven Rivers at the helm instead of a Pro Bowler. --- S Marlon McCree signed a five-year, $16 million contract with the Chargers that includes $6 million in guarantees. --- S Lawyer Milloy provides a major upgrade at a position that faltered for Atlanta last season. "I'd like to think other teams never look forward to facing our defense," Milloy said. "We want to make their lives as unpleasant as possible." --- DT Rocky Bernard's re-signing was an important move for the Seahawks because he gives them a needed pass-rush threat. Bernard remains the team's leading interior pass rusher. He collected 8.5 sacks last season, plus two more in the NFC title game. And at age 26, Bernard still has a long future in the league. Bernard has always been a fast starter. He had four sacks in his first four NFL games, but none over the remainder of the season. He was a non-factor in 2003 before coming out of the gates quickly with three sacks in the first three games of the 2004 season. Ten games passed before his next sack. Then a funny thing happened in 2005. Bernard started quickly and kept it going. He had two sacks in September, 2.5 in October and four more in November. Bernard failed to find the quarterback in December, but he atoned with two sacks during a 34-14 victory over Carolina in the NFC title game. The Seahawks gave Bernard a three-year deal worth $13 million. The contract included a $5.4 million signing bonus. --- QB Gus Frerotte received a three-year deal from Miami to be the backup to Marc Bulger. Frerotte played for new coach Scott Linehan in both Minnesota and Miami. --- TE Jerame Tuman has re-signed with Pittsburgh. --- RB Shawn Bryson, DE Kalimba Edwards and PR/KR Eddie Drummond , three key pieces for the Lions, were retained by the Lions in the first week of free agency. --- DL Kenny Peterson, the only one of the team's three restricted free agents to receive a tender, signed a one-year deal for the low-level $721,600 on March 15. --- QB Chris Weinke agreed to a three-year contract worth $4.5 million to remain with Carolina. --- G Reggie Wells, a restricted free agent, has visited Green Bay and Buffalo. The Cardinals tendered him at $721,600. They retain right to match any offer or to receive a sixth-round pick in compensation if they refuse to match an offer. --- DB Troy Vincent was re-elected president of the NFLPA in meetings held in Hawaii. It will be his second two-year term. Vincent, a successful businessman off the field and one of the most respected voices in the game, is often mentioned as the heir apparent to union executive director Gene Upshaw. --- OL Mike Williams, the fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft who was cut by Buffalo's new regime, was signed by the Jaguars. Williams' toughness and work ethic were always in question in Buffalo. --- LS Mike Schneck re-signed with the Bills. Schneck, who played in last season's Pro Bowl, was perfect on 132 snaps on punts and field goals, helping Brian Moorman earn his first trip to Hawaii and PK Rian Lindell post one of his best seasons. --- WR Kelly Campbell is expected to sign with the Dolphins, a source said. Campbell caught 44 passes for 886 yards and five touchdowns for Minnesota in 2003 and 2004 but was out of football in 2005 following his release by the Vikings. Campbell also may compete with incumbent Wes Welker on kickoff returns. --- LB Matt Chatham made only 45 tackles on defense in six seasons with the Patriots. But the core special teamer, who signed with the Jets as a free agent, has a quirky place in Patriots history, thanks to a couple of stops he made in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The second one ended the game as Chatham dropped Carolina's Rod Smart on a kickoff return as time expired. The first tackle - of Super Bowl streaker Mark Roberts - was the one that earned Chatham national acclaim. --- C Chukky Okobi, backup to Pro Bowler Jeff Hartings, extended his contract by two years through 2009. He now has a four-year, $10.5 million contract. He took a pay cut of $700,000 in salary this year to $1.3 million and received a $715,000 signing bonus. He will receive salaries of $3.25 million in 2008 and $3.75 million in 2009. --- LB Rocky Calmus, an unrestricted free agent, has been working out in Arizona and has been awaiting a call from the Colts. Indianapolis obtained Calmus in a trade from Tennessee last September prior to the start of the regular season. He spent the year on injured reserve after undergoing sports hernia surgery. Mark Slough, Calmus' agent, said recently that he would like to obtain a one-year deal with a team and then hopefully earn a bigger contract at some point after that. --- TE/LS Mike Leach signed a four-year contract with the Broncos. He has been solid for Denver in that role, and the Broncos didn't want to lose him. --- CB Alphonso Hodge was a robbery victim in Atlanta recently, his agent confirmed, but the agent denied that the little-used player was carrying all the cash and jewelry supposedly taken from him. Police reports cited in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said a gunman robbed Hodge during a late-night trip to a Waffle House and supposedly made off with $8,500 in cash, $12,000 in diamond earrings, a $20,000 bracelet, a $6,000 watch and Hodge's $90,000 Hummer. Ken Harris, Hodge's agent, insisted that the amount of cash and value of the jewelry taken was grossly exaggerated. --- LS Kendall Gammon signed with the Chiefs. Gammon broke a leg and missed the final month of the season last year. During his absence the Chiefs missed a potential game-winning field goal in Dallas in part because of an off-center snap. --- DE Carlos Hall signed with the Chiefs. Hall didn't produce the impact the Chiefs were hoping for last year in his first season in Kansas City. But he remains a Gunther Cunningham project that began when Cunningham coached Hall in Tennessee. --- WR Reche Caldwell signed with New England on Friday. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Caldwell, 26, will enter his fifth NFL season in 2006 and joins the Patriots after spending his first four seasons with the San Diego Chargers. --- TE Randal Williams, a special teams standout who made a successful conversion from wide receiver at the best of former coach Norv Turner in 2005, was signed to a contract. Williams was an unrestricted free agent. Williams had 13 receptions for 164 yards. --- CB Dante Wesley, primarily a special-teams player, signed a two-year contract with the Bears. The 6-foot, 211-pound four-year veteran has started just two NFL games since being drafted in the fourth round (100th overall) in 2002. But Wesley's 18 special-teams tackles were second best on the Panthers in 2004. He impressed Bears special-teams coordinator Dave Toub with his performance as the outside cover man in Carolina's playoff victory at Soldier Field in January, tackling Nate Vasher after punt returns of 6 and minus-5 yards in the fourth quarter. --- FB Jameel Cook, signed with the Texans and will enter camp challenging Moran Norris for the starting job. Cook is a versatile fullback with a knack for catching the ball. He had 20 catches for 120 yards in 2003. He had seven catches for 43 yards last season with the Tampa Bay Bucs. --- TE Ryan Hannam signed with the Cowboys for $5 million over four years. --- RB T.J. Duckett will become an unrestricted free agent after next season. Spending his first four NFL seasons as Warrick Dunn's backup has given Duckett a perspective he never thought he'd like. The 18th overall draft choice in 2002, Duckett still believes he's talented enough to start for most teams. Dunn turns 32 in January, but nobody disputes how much he has excelled as the feature back in the zone-blocking schemes Alex Gibbs designed for the Falcons two years ago. Before earning his third selection to the Pro Bowl, Dunn established career highs in yards (1,416) and attempts (280). --- WR Brian Finneran was on the open market just two days before the Falcons offered the kind of deal that helped him say "thanks, but ..." to Philadelphia and San Francisco. The native of Mission Viejo, Calif., signed a new four-year deal worth $8 million, $3 million of which is guaranteed. --- S Bryan Scott, who lost his safety job in Atlanta after a poor Week 13 showing at Carolina, isn't in immediate danger of being cut. Salary cap savings would be negligible at this point, so Scott will have a chance to make the 53-man roster in August. --- RB Quentin Griffin signed with Kansas City as an insurance policy in case Priest Holmes decides to retire. The former Denver Bronco received a one-year deal. -- WR Josh Reed agreed to re-sign with Buffalo. Terms were not disclosed. --- LB Mario Haggan agreed to re-sign with Buffalo. Terms were not disclosed. --- S Omar Stoutmire has agreed to a contract with New Orleans. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. --- TE Aaron Shea signed a three-year deal with San Diego to be Antonio Gates' primary backup, opting for the Chargers instead of 49ers, who were showing strong interest in his services. --- DE Rodney Bailey signed a one-year deal with Pittsburgh after playing for Seattle last season.
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