Receiver Carlton Brewster returned to Green Bay after a productive season in NFL Europa.
Brewster, a starter for Berlin, was second in the league with 548 receiving yards and tied for third with 37 receptions in 10 games.
The Packers acquired Brewster in a trade with Cleveland late in the preseason last year. After being cut before the start of the regular season, Brewster re-signed with Green Bay in October and spent the rest of the season on the practice squad.
CB Nate Vasher's five-year, $28 million contract extension ensures that the Bears will keep at least one of their starters beyond this season, when both he and Charles Tillman were scheduled to become free agents. But Vasher's deal, which includes $14 million in guaranteed bonus money and runs through 2012, probably means Tillman will be an ex-Bear after the 2007 season, since they're already paying nickel corner Ricky Manning Jr. $21 million over five years.
"It's a great relief that we could get this process done to where I could just focus on the season," Vasher said Monday when the deal was announced. "I know that a lot of people have contract issue stuff about this time. It's one less thing that I have to worry about."
Vasher was picked by the Bears in the fourth round (110th overall) of the 2004 draft and was voted to the Pro Bowl after the 2005 season. He is the Bears' active leader with 16 career interceptions, and is the first player in almost 50 years to record that many picks as a Bear in his first three seasons. The 16 interceptions are tied for fifth most in the NFL over the last three seasons. In 2005, Vasher set the NFL record for longest play, since tied by teammate Devin Hester, when he returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown vs. San Francisco.
Mr. Irrelevant? Cornerback Ramzee Robinson has been teased with a nickname before and turned it into a positive. Growing up, teammates turned Ramzee into Rambo. Rambo became Rambino. Rambino become Bino. And Bino stuck.
When Robinson got to Alabama, people kept asking him about Bino. Where did it come from? What did it mean? He wanted to come up with something good. At the suggestion of his high school coach, he told people it stood for "Best Is Number One." His sophomore year at Alabama, he started wearing No. 1. "I honestly go by Bino," Robinson said.
"It's just that I haven't earned my stripes yet here. Once I - Lord willing - I make the team and when we get into the season, then I'll be correcting people. 'Hey, man, it's Bino. Not Ramzee.'"
Any threat that disgruntled cornerback Antoine Winfield might not show up for the start of training camp has been put to rest.
Winfield, who had been staying away from the Vikings' non-mandatory off-season workouts for reasons he refused to specify, has smoothed things over with coach Brad Childress.
Winfield, in fact, agreed to show up for the final two days of organized team activities. (The veterans did not end up practicing in either case, going for a team-bonding activity on Monday and then being given the final day off.)
Winfield did attend the team's three-day mandatory minicamp this month and made it clear his problems with the organization had nothing to do with the $35 million, six-year contract he signed in 2004. Attempting to read between the lines, it became pretty obvious Winfield wasn't thrilled with the direction of the team and his relationship with Childress might not have been the best.
The latter issue was resolved through a series of discussions and correspondences between the two.
"The lines of communication are more open now," said Ashanti Webb, who serves as one of Winfield's agent. "Antoine is a quiet and reserved guy, and Brad was in his first year as coach last season. They both just needed to know how to communicate with each other. The main thing is they were able to build up a relationship over a certain amount of time, which is needed in the player-coach relationship."
Said Childress: "(Antoine has) had some personal things he's dealt with, but we're happy that we're moving on here. He's a talented veteran who puts his money where his mouth is on the playing field. Over the years, he's been a good player and a good leader."
The Vikings definitely want Winfield to be happy. The starter will be counted on to be an anchor of the defense, playing across from second-year cornerback Cedric Griffin.
The hard-hitting Winfield also is valuable because of his ability to slide into the slot in the nickel defense. With Winfield absent during the majority of the organized team activity practices, the Vikings had used Dovonte Edwards and then third-round pick Marcus McCauley at corner with the first-team defense.