The Wednesday FA Wire, 3/15/06 - 8:15 PM EST

The free agency period which officially began at 12:01 AM EST on Saturday has been one of the more active and interesting in recent memory. Scout.com will continue to take you through all the cuts, transactions and rumors, providing our own insider analysis as well.

Update - 3/15/06 - 8:15 PM EST

Lots happening today - signings now with further details and analysis to follow:

The New Orleans Saints released QB Aaron Brooks on Wednesday. Teams that could be interested in bringing him in as a backup are: Oakland Raiders, Atlanta (should they deal Matt Schaub), New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs.

UFA TE Jeb Putzier's (Denver) agent Joe Linta told scout.com Wednesday that the New York Jets, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals are showing the most interest in his client. Linta added he expects to have a deal completed for Putzier by early next week at the latest.

The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract with safety Chris Hope, an unrestricted free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports that former New England DE/LB Willie McGinest has agreed to a 3-year, 12-million deal with 6 million in bonus and guarantees with the Cleveland Browns.

The Denver Broncos have signed middle linebacker Nate Webster to a two-year deal. Webster, a five year veteran who comes from the Cincinnati Bengals, will receive a $200,000 signing bonus. He is scheduled to get salaries of $585,000 in 2006 and $710,000 in 2007.

The Green Bay Packers reached a multi-year contract agreement with UFA DT Ryan Pickett.

As first reported by ESPN's John Clayton, the Seattle Seahawks have reached an agreement to terms with free agent defensive lineman Rocky Bernard on a reported three-year contract worth $13 million including a $5.4 million signing bonus.

Bernard has spent his entire four-year career with Seattle and his re-signing is a boon to the Seahawk defensive front. He finished second among interior defensive linemen in the NFL with 8.5 sacks and is an integral part of the defensive line rotation.

The Seahawks are also interested in a marquee linebacker. Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune is reporting that the Seahawks are planning to meet with 49ers LB Julian Peterson for a free-agent visit in the coming days. Peterson has been one of the few bright spots for the San Francisco 49ers over the years. He is coming off a slow season in 2005 due to a torn Achilles' tendon, but the general consensus is that Peterson will likely be much more effective in 2006.

At this point, there's no indication of what Peterson's asking price would be - or if the Seahawks would be willing to accept it - but there can be no doubt that fans would salivate over the idea of a LB trio of Peterson, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.

The Bengals today signed S Anthony Mitchell, one of the team’s unrestricted free agents, to a one-year contract. Mitchell (6-1, 215; Tuskegee) is a seventh-year NFL player in 2006. He will be in his third season with the Bengals. He played in every game last season and led the team in special teams tackles (18) and special teams snaps (340). On defense, he had 18 tackles, including a sack.

The Detroit Lions announced today that they have re-signed RB Shawn Bryson to a three-year deal. Additional contract terms were not disclosed.

Bryson, who first signed with the Lions prior to the 2003 season, continues to be a valuable contributor on offense while filling a myriad of roles. In 2005 he saw action as a tailback, fullback and kick-returner and finished the season as the team's fourth-leading receiver (37 receptions). Bryson's season was highlighted by a career-long 77-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Baltimore (10/9) which was the longest by a Lions' running back since Barry Sanders had an 80-yard run vs. Indianapolis (11/23/9) as well as the longest run from scrimmage ever yielded by the Baltimore Ravens.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland Raiders briefly considered signing former Vikings guard Toniu Fonoti, who visited the team Tuesday. Fonoti, the Chargers' second-round pick in 2002, failed his physical. Fonoti, whose weight has approached 400 pounds, was traded to Minnesota last season but reported at 385 pounds and was recovering from a broken hand. He finished the season on injured reserve because of a groin injury.

Scout.com has learned that the Tampa Bay Buccanneers have an interest in Fonoti. The Bucs and Fonoti may be close to a contract.

UFA offensive lineman Kevin Barry signed a two-year deal with the Packers today.

The Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to contract terms with backup tight end Jerame Tuman. Tuman is entering his seventh season with the Steelers.

The Steelers also came to terms with backup offensive tackle Barrett Brooks, claimed fullback Doug Easlick off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers, and signed fullback Brandon Joe.

Scout.com has confirmed the Philadelphia Eagles have re-signed UFA WR Darnerian McCants. The 27-year old McCants (6-3, 215) was a reserve wide receiver and a valuable special teams contributor for the Eagles in 2005, as he finished 4th on the team in special teams production points (128) despite playing in only 12 games. He finished the season with five receptions for 87 yards.

Scout.com has confirmed the Philadelphia Eagles have reached a contract agreement with UFA QB Jeff Garcia. Garcia is expected to sign a contract within the next 24 hours.

Once Garcia is officially in the fold, look for the team to soon release one of their backup quarterbacks, Koy Detmer or Mike McMahon

ESPN.com reports the New York Giants have reached a contract agreement with UFA S Will Demps.

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Update - 3/15/06 - 11:20 AM EST

KFFL.com reports that according to Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com, the Seattle Seahawks have re-signed free agent WR Peter Warrick to a one-year contract extension worth $1 million.

In 2005, Warrick caught 11 passes for 180 yards in a limited role. He also returned 6 punts for 29 yards.

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Update - 3/15/06 - 10:20 AM EST

The Boston Globe reports that former Patriots safety Lawyer Milloy is set for his third free-agent visit on Wednesday, when he travels to Seattle to meet with the Seahawks, according to his agent Carl Poston. Milloy has visited with the Bengals and Falcons already. Poston said cornerback Ty Law has generated interest from the Seahawks, Chiefs and Dolphins. The Packers and Redskins have also reportedly considered Law. The Patriots haven't entered the mix. Poston added that the Patriots also havent expressed interest in another of his clients, linebacker LaVar Arrington.

This breaking news from our good friend Ed Thompson of Coltpower.com, Scout.com's Colts site:

ColtPower has learned from one of our network sources that six teams have made preliminary inquiries about linebacker Rocky Calmus with varying degrees of interest -- despite being only a few days into the free agency signing period. Those teams include Jacksonville, Dallas, Seattle, Miami, New Orleans and San Francisco.

Based on what we've heard over the last few months, Calmus is approaching this season as one in which he wants to reestablish his value -- just as many other NFL stars have done following a serious injury. For Calmus, this season isn't as much about money or a long-term deal as it is about re-establishing his reputation as a formidable player at his position.

Calmus will be an impact player again in the NFL based on all the reports we're receiving about his rehab and conditioning. And the Colts need a veteran presence who could step into David Thornton's strongside linebacker spot. Finances were a major factor in the Thornton loss, which was understandable. But with Calmus that's just not the case.

Just before the 2005 season started, the Colts added a former Butkus Award winner to their linebacker corps by trading for Rocky Calmus. With an established record as a big hitter and strong leadership skills, it appeared the Colts had struck gold, adding much-needed depth, an immediate specials teams contributor, and a player who could easily contend for a starter's role as the season wore on.

But before he got to play a single game as a Colt, Calmus suffered a hamstring tear that required surgery. He spent the 2005 season on injured reserve while healing and putting himself through the rigors of rehab.

According to one of our sources, Calmus is currently working out in Arizona with Jay Schroeder, Dwight Freeney's trainer. He's moving well and by all indications is showing no detrimental impact from the hamstring tear. If Calmus had to start offseson workouts today with a team, he'd be able to do so with no problem.

Hopefully, the Colts don't let this situation linger to the point where they lose another talented linebacker, perhaps even to another AFC South rival like the Jaguars.


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Update - 3/15/06 - 1:50 AM EST

Seahawks.NET has more exclusive news on the Sammy Morris front. As was first reported here, the former Miami RB, who is an unrestricted free agent, was in town Monday to discuss the possibility of his replacing Maurice Morris as the team’s backup behind Shaun Alexander. Morris left town today, but that doesn't mean there isn't a deal.

Both sides are very interested in putting a deal together, and Morris has no more visits scheduled anywhere else. Miami also wants Morris back, but Morris would want to know what the lay of the land would be as far as the running back situation. He wouldn't return if both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown were there, because his chances if seeing any time in the backfield.

Seahawks Team President Tim Ruskell earmarked Morris some time ago, perhaps in his pre-Seattle days in either Atlanta or Tampa Bay. Word is that Ruskell really likes Morris on and off the field. Morris was told that he'd see time as a third-down back (he's known as a quality receiver) and on special teams.

In 2005, the 6'0", 218-pound Morris carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards and a touchdown in an offense where Brown and Williams made playing time for any other back near-impossible.

Morris' best season was in 2004, when he rushed 132 times for 523 yards and 6 TDs.

Bottom line? Maurice Morris is pretty much gone, according to our source. And if Tim Ruskell has his way, Sammy Morris will replace him.

We have also learned more about the KFFL report, in which Sean Jensen of the Pioneer Press was quoted, that RFA WR Nate Burleson, currently with the Minnesota Vikings, will visit with the Seahawks. Seahawks.NET has learned that Burleson will most likely be in town on Thursday.

The Seahawks see Burleson as a #2 receiver, which would put Bobby Engram back in the slot for the most part.

The Vikings tendered Burleson to the minimum qualifying offer of $712,000. If he is signed to an offer sheet by another team and the Vikings decline to match it, Minnesota would receive a third-round draft choice.

Regarding the idea that there's a possibility that Burleson's signing could be related to Steve Hutchinson's offer sheet from a compensation standpoint – that is a no-go. In other words, the idea that Seattle could ask for Burleson without giving up a draft pick in exchange for a promise not to match the offer sheet is not permissible under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. One deal would not have anything to do with the other.

Burleson had a bit of a down year in 2005 after spraining the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 18. He caught 30 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown, despite missing several games. In 2004, Burleson led the Vikings with 1,006 receiving yards, becoming the ninth player in team history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving. Ranked seventh in the NFC with nine touchdown receptions, and his 91-yard punt return for a touchdown against Indianapolis was the longest in the NFL in 2004 and the second-longest in team history. He finished the season with 68 catches and 25 punt returns.

A graduate of Seattle’s O-Dea High School, the 6’0”, 189-pound receiver was quoted by Jensen as being excited by the prospect of a hometown return. "I always loved the Seahawks and Sonics, because I was a hometown guy,” Burleson said. His parents still live in the Seattle area.

Hopefully, we'll have some breaking news on Burleson by the end of the week. Stay tuned for more details as they happen.


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