Bad day for 49ers: TE Putzier off market, too

Not only did the 49ers lose their outside shot at bringing back linebacker Julian Peterson on Monday, but another free agent in which they had high interest – veteran tight end Jeb Putzier – also is off the open market after the Niners were out-bid for his services by the Houston Texans. Here's a look at Putzier's deal and other player movement, along with the latest news and rumors swirling in free agency.

--- Putzier's agent, Joe Linta, said his client has agreed to a four-year $7.5 million contract with the Texans that includes a $1.85 million signing bonus. The 49ers clearly wanted Putzier, but at a lesser price.

--- After a day of posturing and speculation, the Seattle Seahawks have declined to match the offer sheet from the Minnesota Vikings for All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson. With Hutchinson in the fold, the Vikings are expected, according to a team source, to stay out of the rest of free agency except for a possible lower tiered player or two later on. Earlier in the day, it appeared the Seahawks had maneuvered themselves into position to keep Hutchinson, whose contract was the subject of a hearing in Philadelphia where a special master was to decide how much of the Minnesota Vikings' offer the Seahawks must match to keep Hutchinson, considered a key to Seattle's run to the Super Bowl this year. The Vikings seven-year offer included $16 million guaranteed and would be the richest deal ever given to a guard. But the contract also contained a provision that would guarantee the entire $49 million if Hutchinson is not the team's highest-paid offensive lineman at any time after the first year of the contract. The league and the Seahawks argued on Monday that Seattle didn't have to match that provision. But Richard Berthelsen, an attorney for the NFL Players Association who attended the hearing, told The Associated Press that the Seahawks told the special master on Monday that the team had restructured the contract of six-time Pro Bowl tackle Walter Jones, currently Seattle's highest-paid offensive linemen, to avoid the conflict. But later Monday afternoon, the NFL announced that Seattle can't change that principal term of the offer sheet. During a hearing in front of Stephen Burbank, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the Seahawks did not argue the legality of a so-called "poison-pill" clause that would guarantee all of Hutchinson's $49 million offer sheet if he does not have the highest annual average salary of any offensive lineman on his team in 2006. Instead, the Seahawks revealed they had renegotiated the contract of left tackle Jones, whose contract now averages less than $7 million annually - a move the Seahawks argued would allow them to match the offer sheet without triggering the clause. Jones' contract previously averaged $7.5 million a year. But Burbank decided that the changes the Seahawks were attempting to make would have changed a principal term of the offer sheet.

--- The Oakland Raiders signed cornerback Tyrone Poole to a two-year contract to give them added depth in the secondary. Poole, an 11-year NFL veteran, played the past three seasons with the New England Patriots but was limited to six games the last two years because of injuries. He played only one game last season, the opener against Oakland, before being sidelined with an ankle injury. The Raiders were looking for secondary help after cutting ties with Charles Woodson earlier this offseason. Poole will be added to a roster that includes three young cornerbacks in Nnamdi Asomugha, Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt. A first-round draft pick by the Carolina Panthers in 1995 out of Fort Valley State, the 34-year-old Poole has his best season in 2003, when he intercepted six passes and helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl. He has 17 interceptions in his career with Carolina, Indianapolis, Denver and New England.

--- The Miami Dolphins added two more unrestricted free agents to their roster when they signed former New York Giants cornerback Will Allen to a four-year contract and former San Diego Chargers tight end Justin Peelle to a three-year deal. Allen, 27, was a first-round draft choice (22nd overall) of the Giants in 2001. He has been a starter for New York in each of his five seasons, having opened 71 of the 72 regular season games in which he has appeared, including all 16 the past two years. In those five seasons, he has amassed 274 tackles, eight interceptions, 68 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He recorded a team- and career-high four interceptions in 2001, becoming the first Giants rookie to lead the team in interceptions since 1988. The 27-year old Peelle was a fourth-round draft choice (103rd overall) of San Diego in 2002. Since that time, he has gone to start 19 of the 62 games in which he has played, and caught 40 passes for 270 yards and four touchdowns. He had his most productive season for the Chargers in 2003 when he started nine of the 15 games that he played and totaled 16 receptions for 133 yards and a TD.

--- The Falcons announced that they have traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for S Chris Crocker. "Chris Crocker is a talented, young safety," said Falcons Head Coach Jim Mora. "Our personnel people identified him as a potential trade option early in free agency, and we are thrilled to have a chance to add him to our team." Crocker, 5-11, 192 pounds, played the last three seasons in Cleveland after being drafted in the third round (84th overall) by the Browns in 2003. In his career, Crocker has played in 44 games with 22 starts, and has totaled 172 tackles, three interceptions, eight passes defensed and four sacks. Crocker, 26, amassed career-highs with 86 tackles and two forced fumbles, in addition to tallying two sacks and two interceptions, while starting all 16 games for the Browns in 2005.

--- The Philadelphia Eagles announced they have released quarterbacks Mike McMahon and Andy Hall. McMahon started the final seven games of the 2005 season for an injured Donovan McNabb after being acquired as a free agent on March 11, 2005. Hall was a sixth round draft choice of the Eagles in 2004, but did not see any game action.

--- The Detroit Lions announced that they have signed G Rex Tucker to a three-year deal. Additional contract terms were not disclosed. Tucker (6-5, 315) enters his eighth year in the NFL and first with the Lions. The veteran guard spent last season with the St. Louis Rams, where he played for Lions Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz who was the Rams coach at the time. Prior to playing in St. Louis in 2005, he spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chicago Bears. During his career, Tucker has played in 43 games (30 starts), starting at left guard, right guard and right tackle. Last season, Tucker played in eight games for the Rams, including three starts at right tackle.

--- The Lions began their offseason conditioning program Monday with players reporting to the Lions practice facility in Allen Park for lifting and workouts. But among the ranks of players and coaches, one specific player was not present – quarterback Joey Harrington. Addressing the situation in a late-morning media session, head coach Rod Marinelli confirmed that the Lions will be moving forward without Harrington. "I've decided to go in a different direction with Joey," said Marinelli. "I made the decision that I think is best for our team. We're moving on at this point without Joey. I think [it's unfortunate] anytime things don't work out for any player in any situation. As a coach, you're always striving to be the best and striving to get the best out of every person. That's part of your goal. That's why you get in this profession. As of this moment, we've gone different ways." Heading into this season, it was unclear whether Harrington, who has not yet been released or traded, would be Detroit's starter for 2006. Now, with Marinelli taking the reigns, the decision has been made to move forward without the fifth-year NFL quarterback. "I'm going to leave [the decision of whether Harrington will be released or traded] with Matt (Millen) and the personnel department," said Marinelli. "At this moment, he's not with us. That's been my decision. We're moving in a new direction." With Harrington out of the mix, the Lions are looking at four quarterbacks heading into the 2006 season: newly-acquired tenth-year veteran Jon Kitna (Cincinnati), fifth-year quarterback Josh McCown (Arizona), second-year Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky and seventh-year quarterback Shaun King.

--- The Dallas Cowboys signed linebacker Rocky Boiman (Titans) to a three-year contract and re-signed cornerback Jacques Reeves. --- San Diego Chargers restricted free agent guard Kris Dielman signed the one-year contract tendered by the team earlier this month. The 6-4, 310-pound Dielman played in all 16 games and started the last 14 at left guard in 2005. His consistent play on the line helped the Chargers rush for 2,072 yards as a team last season. Dielman came to the Chargers as an undrafted free agent defensive lineman out of Indiana University in 2003 and has become one of the team's strongest offensive linemen.

--- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed CB Torrie Cox and WR Ike Hilliard. Terms were not disclosed. Cox, a former sixth-round pick (205th overall) by the Buccaneers in the 2003 NFL Draft, has played in 25 career regular season games and one postseason game. Last season, he finished third on the team with 19 special teams tackles and also returned 24 kickoffs for 464 yards (19.3 avg.). He added two tackles on defense and one forced fumble on special teams. In 2005, Hilliard played in all 16 regular season games and one postseason game in his first season with the Buccaneers. He finished the season fourth on the team with 35 receptions, with 24 of those catches going for first downs, while totaling 282 receiving yards and one touchdown. A veteran of nine seasons in the NFL, he grabbed his 400th reception at New England (12/17/05). He has totaled 403 career receptions for 4,912 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns while playing in 114 career games with 94 starts.

--- QB Craig Nall and the Buffalo Bills agreed to terms of a three-year contract. Nall's departure to Buffalo is a strong indication that Brett Favre will return for another season in Green Bay.

--- OT Jason Fabini signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal that includes a $1.75 million signing bonus with the Dallas Cowboys. Fabini is expected to enter training camp as the starting right tackle, filling a major hole for the Cowboys. "We think he brings quite a bit to the table here," owner Jerry Jones said. "He could obviously be the answer at right tackle, but he also plays left tackle and could be a guy who could really solidify an offensive line in terms of if we needed some flexibility there as well."

--- WR Josh Reed's new contract is worth $17.6 million over five years with a $3 million signing bonus.

--- S Derrick Gibson re-signed with Oakland. He had been cut before free agency so the Raiders could avoid a $10 million cap hit next season.

--- DT Russell Davis, a free agent from Arizona, has agreed to a deal with Seattle as the Seahawks stockpile defensive tackles. The contract is reportedly for four years.

--- DT Justin Bannan has signed with Baltimore.

--- OG Corey Hulsey, an unrestricted free agent, re-signed with Oakland.

--- LB Tracy White, who was not tendered a contract as a restricted free agent by Jacksonville, re-signed with Green Bay.

--- The Miami Dolphins signed wide receiver Kelly Campbell, who had been with the Minnesota Vikings, and also re-signed defensive tackle Josh Shaw, a former 49er.


Niners Digest Top Stories