NFL player wire: Smith signs with Chargers

A look at current player happenings around the NFL, including former 49ers linebacker Derek Smith signing a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers and veteran kick returner Allen Rossum working on a deal with the 49ers.

ILB Derek Smith: Former 49ers linebacker Derek Smith, released by the team last week, has signed a two-year deal with the San Diego Chargers. An 11-year veteran, Smith led the 49ers in tackles each season from 2001-05. The 33-year-old was released Tuesday in a salary-cutting move. He was due to make $3.28 million in 2008. "The day he was released we had great interest," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement. "We like our inside linebackers but we are young at the position. We love the possiblity of mixing youth with experience. Derek brings a wealth of experience and we're happy to have him aboard." Smith will re-unite with Chargers head coach Norv Turner, who was San Francisco's offensive coordinator in 2006 and head coach of the Washington Redskins when Smith entered the league with that team in 1997. "Derek brings experience, a real knowledge of the game and knowledge of this league," Turner said in the statement. "He's a physical player and an outstanding tackler. He's been a very productive player the last few years in San Francisco." Smith has long been one of the NFL's top unsung defensive players, annually racking up gaudy tackling statistics with little fanfare. He made at least 123 tackles in each of his first nine NFL seasons. He was voted the 49ers' co-MVP in 2005, but missed two games in 2006 because of a strained eye muscle that limited his peripheral vision, eventually requiring surgery. He started 14 games and made 98 tackles last season, but his playing time decreased significantly in the final months of San Francisco's fifth straight losing campaign.

KR Allen Rossum: The 49ers have reportedly signed the veteran return specialist, though the team has not announced any transaction and the paperwork is not expected to be completed for several days. Rossum returned 38 kickoffs and had a 23.3 return average with one touchdown to rank 24th in the NFL last year. He averaged 6.4 yards a return on 36 punts with eight fair catches. Rossum had three fumbles, none of which was lost. Rossum returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against the 49ers last season during their Week 3 loss at Pittsburgh.

DT Shaun Rogers: Rogers is on the market, but Lions coach Rod Marinelli said the team will not let Rogers shop himself around. "He's a heck of a player," Marinelli said. "We like him, and he performed very well. But now we're just in a situation. Obviously this thing started at the Senior Bowl, however that happened, people have gotten interest. So we're just ... I can't come out and say this is going to happen. I don't want to say that. We'll just kind of wait and see how the whole thing works out." Marinelli said he's not concerning himself with the various rumors floating around about who is, or isn't, interested in Rogers. "That's why I say they're rumors, and I just deal with that," Marinelli said. "A lot of information, and you just kind of put it in this can over here. And it's just information, some true, some false. I think when you talk to people that matter in the decision-making process, then that's when it's real."

TE Antonio Gates: Gates said he is leaning toward toe surgery that would keep him sidelined 4-6 months. "There's a higher chance I'm going to have surgery," Gates said at the Combine in Indianapolis. He is expected to make a decision next week.

QB Derek Anderson: Anderson and the Cleveland Browns have until midnight Thursday to reach terms on a new contract. Otherwise, they are expected to give him a one-year, $2.5 million tender to prevent him from hitting the market as an unrestricted free agent. "I know that people are considering that to be a hard deadline. But in a lot of ways, it's almost a perforated deadline," general manager Phil Savage said. "We can still put the tender on him and continue to talk if that's something they want to do. Our preference is to get it done before the free agency period begins. But at this point I'm not sure that's going to happen one way or the other." Savage said the length of the agreement is probably the biggest sticking point in the negotiations. "There's some quarterbacks out there in recent history that got six-year deals, and we're trying to do something a little bit unique," Savage said. "In our situation, because of the makeup of our team right now, we feel like a three-year agreement is one that would work for both sides because Derek is 24 years old. He could play three years and then potentially hit free agency again, where the money could be $70 or $80 million. "So we have our reasons and they have theirs, but that's kind of here it stands right now."

WR Javon Walker: Walker isn't due to become a free agent, but he will be owed $5.4 million in bonuses this year and met with team officials last week. If he's not traded before March 4, when he's due a $4 million bonus, Walker is expected to be released. Tampa Bay, Washington and the New York Jets are among the teams who are believed to be interested in discussing a deal for Walker.

RB Jamal Lewis: Lewis agreed to a three-year deal with the Browns on Feb. 21, keeping him off the market as a pending free agent. "I felt like he gave us so much not only on the field but off the field as well, in terms of the intangibles he brought and the football emperament, intelligence, toughness and just the overall demeanor that he brought to our young players," said Browns GM Phil Savage. "We thought it was important to continue on that track."

OT Bryant McKinnie: McKinnie was arrested in Miami and charged with aggravated batter, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence on Feb. 24, according to a police. The arrest stemmed from an incident outside a nightclub early Sunday in which there was reportedly a street brawl. "We are aware of the situation with Bryant McKinnie. We will respond further once we have collected the appropriate information," the Vikings said in a statement.

RB Fred Taylor: Taylor is 32 years old, but he has averaged 227 carries the past two seasons. So coach Jack Del Rio isn't worried yet about when he needs to start giving more of the load to backup Maurice Jones-Drew. "I'm not into the crystal ball business," Del Rio said. "Obviously, Maurice is an excellent football player, a very explosive player. We like the fact that both of them are still playing at a very high level right now. We also know Fred can't do it forever. At some point, Fred will get less and Maurice will get more. "There is no reason to rush that. We're very happy to have two guys that are great teammates. They're both explosive. They give us a very strong 1-2 punch. When we take one guy out and go to the next guy, we don't drop off. We have that explosive guy who can make a guy miss and go the distance. So right now, it's a luxury for us, one we're enjoying."

DE Jared Allen Allen was unhappy about being slapped with the team's franchise tag, even if it means nearly $8.9 million next season if the sides can't agree on a long-term contract. Allen threatened to play only one more season in Kansas City if he was franchised, but he now has more time to work on a multi-year deal with the Chiefs -- if he's open to it. "I don't deal with contracts, I don't read the newspapers, so if there has anything that has been said, I wouldn't know," coach Herm Edwards said. "But I know Jared is with us now. ... Will Shields and Tony Gonzalez were franchised, too. That's happened in this rganization, and they ended up with long-term contracts. Jared is a part of our football team, and it's good to have him back. He'll be ready to play."

TE Desmond Clark: Clark agreed to a two-year deal to stay with the Bears. Financial terms weren't immediately known. He finished third on the team with 44 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns last season.

TE Marcedes Lewis: Marcedes Lewis didn't just emerge in the passing game in his second season (he was fifth on the Jaguars with 37 receptions), he also received high grades from the coaching staff for his blocking. Marcedes was really our go-to guy in the passing game, and our primary blocker," Del Rio said. "We were able to continue to rush the ball at a great level. "(Marcedes) wasn't quite that effective as a blocker (as Kyle Brady), but he's done a nice job for us and allowed us to run the ball, and also gave us a downfield threat. Marcedes had a big year for us and we think he's just getting started."

Niners Digest Top Stories