A trade, a number of signings of big-name free agents and some insight to a failed physical highlighted Friday's NFL notes.
RB Ruben Droughns was traded to the Giants in exchange for WR Tim Carter. "Reuben rushed for 1,200 yards in '04 and '05 (1,240 and 1,232, respectively) and 750 (758 to be exact) last year," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. "We think he gives us a nice veteran presence and complements Brandon Jacobs and the rest of our running back group nicely."
FS Deon Grant signed a six-year deal worth more than $30 million with the Jaguars. Grant was a longtime starter in Jacksonville. Seattle rolled out the red carpet for him and it made a difference. "It's a great organization and they seemed like really honest people," Grant told the Florida Times-Union. "The guys they had there, I went to dinner with the guys and they showed a lot of interest in me. "I already knew Patrick Kerney and he was waiting for me at the airport where they picked me up in the owner's jet. It was something different that I had never seen. They treated me with A-1 status as far as showing how much they wanted me here."
WR Tim Carter was traded from the Giants to the Browns in exchange for RB Ruben Droughns. The oft-injured Carter played all 16 games in 2006, catching 22 passes while notching two touchdowns.
OT Jordan Black turned down a better offer from the Oakland Raiders to sign a two-year, $3.5 million contract with the Texans. Black, who grew up in Dallas and played at Notre Dame, started 16 games at left tackle for Kansas City last season, including the wild-card playoff loss to Indianapolis, the eventual Super Bowl champion. The Chiefs made an offer to re-sign Black, but the Raiders and Texans were the finalists. Black, who is represented by Houston-based Select Sports Group, is getting a signing bonus of $1.5 million. "Jordan came real close to signing with Oakland," agent Jeff Nalley said. "When it came down to it, he was within 30 minutes of signing with the Raiders, but then (Texans general manager) Rick Smith called. Jordan took less money to sign with the Texans because he's impressed with the organization and the direction they're going." Black, a fifth-round pick in 2003 who started 10 games in 2005, turned 27 last month. He is 6-5 and 320 pounds and also can play the right side, even though left tackle is where he started at Notre Dame and with the Chiefs.
WR Joe Horn was said to have been cut in New Orleans, in part because he failed a physical. Horn, who missed eight games last season with a groin injury, clarified that at a Thursday news conference. "Once I knew they were going to release me, I felt like I was doing them a favor by hurrying up the process so I just went ahead and signed the papers, but I didn't even take (a physical)," Horn said. Horn passed his physical with the Falcons.
LB Na'il Diggs re-signed with the Panthers to a one-year, $950,000 deal.
OT Langston Walker signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Bills. Walker, who towers at 6-8, 345, is a former second-round pick. Walker had his struggles with the Raiders in pass protection but also played with quarterbacks a lot slower than J.P. Losman.
CB Fred Thomas, the subject of much speculation about his future with the Saints since the end of last season, has restructured the final year of his contract to remain with the team. Citing league sources, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Thomas, who will turn 34 in September, reduced his salary by $800,000 to stay with the team for an eighth season. Thomas was due a $1 million roster bonus this month and a $2 million salary for 2007.
P Andy Lee, a restricted free agent who signed an offer sheet with Steelers, had the deal matched by the 49ers. The Steelers signed Lee to a six-year, $7.1 million deal with $1.66 million guaranteed. The 49ers probably would've gone a little higher in signing Lee to a long-term deal. "Andy had a nice year for us. We like the development he had," McCloughan said. "We look forward to having that type of player around. We identified guys when we got here and we see him as one of our guys." Lee ranked seventh in the NFL with a 44.8-yard average in his third NFL season. It was the best season for a 49ers punter since the team moved to windy Candlestick Park in 1971. Lee had nine touchbacks and 22 punts inside the 20.
RB Jamal Lewis, the Ravens' all-time leading rusher, signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Cleveland Browns. It was a big increase over the Ravens' one-year offer of $2 million. "Jamal wanted to stay in Baltimore," said Mitch Frankel, Lewis' agent. "Unfortunately, Baltimore didn't give him an option. Their contract offer made him go elsewhere."
G Edwin Mulitalo was released by the Ravens. As a post-June 1 transaction, the Ravens will save $2 million after June 1. Mulitalo will then count $1.7 million against the Ravens' 2008 cap. According to Mulitalo, the Ravens told him that they wanted to go with younger players on the offensive line. With Mulitalo gone, Jason Brown will take over at left guard after starting 12 games last season. "I was a little surprised," Mulitalo said. "It's a little tough at first. Every player is thinking about this in the back of their minds. At first, it's humbling. But I totally understand the business."
TE Paul Smith, formerly of the Rams, signed with the Broncos. Smith will immediately impact the special teams and will have a chance to play on offense. "He's always been an impact special-teams player who has a chance to be an impact fullback in the right offense," Smith's agent Steve Baker said.
RB Dominic Rhodes signed a two-year deal worth $7.5 million with the Raiders. Rhodes was arrested for driving under the influence in Indianapolis on Feb. 19 and could face discipline under the NFL's substance abuse policy. Rhodes averaged just 3.4 yards per carry with the Colts in 2006, but came to life in the playoffs with an NFL-high 306 yards and 4.9 yards per carry. Rhodes also caught 36 passes in a Colts offense that throws heavily to their backs, but was regarded as a weaker receiver than Colts starting running back Joseph Addai.
QB Brett Elliott, from tiny Linfield College in Oregon, showed the Chargers enough last summer for them to sign him and send him to NFL Europe. Elliott was cut during last year's Chargers training camp.