Titans sign former Viking Hutchinson
The Tennessee Titans have signed free-agent offensive guard Steve Hutchinson to a three-year contract, the team announced Thursday.
Hutchinson is a friend of Peyton Manning, so the signing of Hutchinson may have something to do with the Titans' attempt to sign Manning as well.
Hutchinson, an 11-year NFL veteran, is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, who has spent the past six seasons with the Vikings.
"Steve is a really talented player who has had a great deal of success in this league," said Titans general manager Ruston Webster in a statement. "I like his leadership and his toughness and he will obviously add to the overall talent of the group up front."
Chargers sign WR Royal
The San Diego Chargers added another wide receiver by signing Eddie Royal to a three-year contract on Thursday.
The Chargers lost free-agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson to Tampa Bay, but signed wide receiver Robert Meachem to a four-year contract on Tuesday.
Royal, who is also a good punt returner, had a series of injuries last season, including problems with his toe and groin as well as a concussion.
He played in 12 games for the Broncos in 2011 and had just 19 receptions, although he did average 16.2 per punt return.
In 2010, Royal had 59 catches for 637 yards.
His best season was 2008 when he had 91 receptions for 980 yards and five touchdowns.
Spencer cut by 49ers; Texans reportedly call
The San Francisco 49ers released cornerback Shawntae Spencer after eight years with the team, the 49ers announced Thursday.
Spencer immediately received a phone call from Houston Texans defensive backs coach Vance Joseph, Spencer told csnbayarea.com.
After spending his entire NFL career in San Francisco, Spencer told the website he will take some time to process his departure and mull his choices for next season.
Spencer had started all 16 games in 2009 and 2010, but saw his role greatly reduced last season when head coach Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff came in.
While the 49ers made a run to the NFC Championship game, Spencer played in just nine games and did not start one during the regular season. He also was inactive in the postseason.
The 49ers, who will reportedly clear $3.3 million in cap space with the move, allowed Spencer to seek a trade last month.
"The 49ers would like to thank Shawntae for his eight years of service to the organization and the Bay Area community," 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. "He has always represented himself, his family and this organization with the utmost class. We wish him, and his family, the very best."
In eight seasons with the team, Spencer had 11 interceptions, 345 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks and 58 passes defensed
Saints sign Grubbs to replace Nicks
The New Orleans Saints replaced one Pro Bowl guard with another Thursday, signing guard Ben Grubbs from the Baltimore Ravens a day after Carl Nicks joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After Nicks met his goal of becoming the league's highest-paid guard with a five-year contract worth a reported $47.5 million, Grubbs signed a deal with the Saints for the same timespan at a reported $36 million.
General manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released by the team that New Orleans was eager to welcome the unrestricted free agent who made last year's Pro Bowl.
"Our offensive line has been an integral part of our team's success on offense over the last six seasons," Loomis said in the statement. "We're excited that Ben will be a New Orleans Saint and think he will prove to be an outstanding fit to our offensive line and our team both on and off the field.
"Ben comes to us from an offense in Baltimore that experienced a lot of success, both running the football and in pass protection. He was a big part of that and we believe that he can come right in and fit into our program without missing a beat."
The former first-round draft pick out of Auburn missed six games last year with a toe injury, but eventually helped the Ravens lead the league with 2,068 yards from scrimmage. Running back Ray Rice also rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards.
Grubbs, who had been a Pro Bowl alternate in 2009 and 2010, made his first Pro Bowl outright this year.
Cowboys sign S Pool from Jets
Safety Brodney Pool signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys, the team announced Thursday.
Pool, who played for the New York Jets the past two seasons, was expected to play strong safety for the Cowboys.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys had been interested in Pool for a while, and would have made a run at him last year as a free agent, but did not have the financial resources at the time.
Pool started six of the 14 games he played in for the Jets last season and 12 of 15 the previous year. He had an interception, three passes defensed and 34 tackles last season.
"He makes a lot of plays in the passing game and we have a familiarity with him," Garrett told reporters on a conference call. "… He's a guy who can come down and do all the jobs that a safety in our defensive scheme has to do."
Pool had a career-high four interceptions for the Cleveland Browns in 2009, when he played under current Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
In seven years with the Jets and Browns, the former second-round pick out of Oklahoma has 13 interceptions, 5 1/2 sacks, 50 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.
Bills sign DE Williams to rich 6-year deal
Despite the Buffalo Bills' reputation of being unable or unwilling to pay big money for star players, the Bills grabbed a major free agent off the market on Thursday, signing defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year deal that could be worth up to $100 million, with $50 million of it guaranteed, according to multiple media outlets.
The $50 million guarantee is the largest ever for a defensive player in the NFL.
Williams, who said he was attracted by Buffalo's family atmosphere, is hoping to push the Bills into the playoffs. They started the 2011 season 5-0 but collapsed after that, finishing 6-10 and failing to make the playoffs for the 12th straight year.
"You don't get many chances to be the guy to get across the hump," Williams, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2006, said at a press conference. "This is a great opportunity."
Buffalo finished 26th in the NFL in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed last
Williams' 2011 season was limited to five games because of a torn pectoral muscle, and he had just five sacks last season, but he has 53 sacks in his six-year NFL career, all with Houston.
Williams will be part of a new defensive scheme that will feature a four-man front under new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt, with Williams at right end and Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus on the inside.
Williams spent 2 1/2 days in Buffalo before signing with the Bills. General manager Buddy Nix and Wannstedt took a private jet to pick up Williams in North Carolina to bring him to Buffalo.
He said the uncomplimentary things people say about Buffalo are inaccurate, and that the atmosphere in Buffalo was one of the main things that attracted him.
Free agency continues without Vikings
Viking Update Top Stories
Diggs active for Vikings, two WRs inactiveThe Minnesota Vikings are getting their leading receiver back in the lineup, but they will be missing two other receivers.
Viking Update8:17 AM
Sunday slant: ‘No coddling’ in film sesssionsMike Zimmer is the “straight-up coach” in film sessions, not afraid to call out a player about a mistake in front of the team. Several of his defenders describe the experience.
Viking Update5:44 AM
Preview: Vikings facing aggressive EaglesThe Minnesota Vikings’ continued success on Sunday will be predicated on their ability to handle and exploit the aggressiveness of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 7:26 PM
Roads wins becoming a Vikings trademarkSince 2009, few teams struggled as badly as the Minnesota Vikings when it came to winning on the road. Since their 2015 bye week to their 2016 bye week, nobody has been better.
Viking UpdateYesterday at 7:20 PM