A few big-name defenders have decided to attend their teams' minicamps this weekend afterall. Plus, get caught up on the signings and speculation from the past few days around the NFL.
MLB Brian Urlacher was a surprise attendee at the first day of the Bears' minicamp Friday. Locked in a contract dispute with the team, Urlacher had said as recently as last week not to bet on him showing up to the mandatory minicamp. Urlacher has boycotted all voluntary offseason activities until now to get more money than the $18 million the Bears have already offered in a renegotiation of his nine-year, $56.65 contract that still has four years remaining.
"When it says mandatory, you're supposed to be at those things, so that's why I'm here," Urlacher said. "I'm supposed to be here. I'm not trying to send any message. It's a mandatory team function and we're supposed to be here."
Saints DE Will Smith said he will participate in this weekend's mandatory minicamp after skipping the team's offseason program thus far. Smith, who can earn between $1.8 and $3.8 million next season as part of his rookie contract, is seeking a new deal. His 7.0 sacks last season led the team.
"Obviously, Will wants a new contract and hopefully that will get taken care of in due time, but first and foremost, he told me he wants to be there today and not miss the mandatory camp," said Smith's agent, Joel Segal, told the Associated Press. "He wants to be with his teammates and pursue the goal of the Saints winning a Super Bowl."
QB Bruce Gradkowski, one of seven quarterbacks under contract with the Bucs, was released by the team. Gradkowski originally joined the Buccaneers as a sixth-round draft choice in 2006. In two seasons, he appeared in 17 games with 11 starts.
TE Jerramy Stevens re-signed with the Bucs. Stevens played in 15 games with three starts for the Buccaneers in 2007. He totaled 18 receptions for 189 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Jaguars DE Paul Spicer showed up to the team's minicamp this week after missing the team's first eight voluntary workouts this offseason. He's entering the final year of his contract scheduled to make $2.5 million. Spicer, 32, is seeking a long-term extension.
Titans QB Vince Young, who was quoted by NFL.com last week as saying he strongly considered retiring after his rookie season, looked to set the record straight. "I was never going to quit football,'' Young told The Tennessean. "Football, that is my pride and joy, it is my dream. I am playing my dream. And I don't plan on giving that up any time soon."
He said the NFL.com story was "blown out of proportion."
"Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I ain't never said I was going to quit football," Young told The Tennessean. "There was a lot of stuff going on in my life, but football is not hard to me. Football is easy. All you have to do is be coachable and use your God-given talent. If it was a thought at all it was just a passing thought for a second.''
S Quintin Demps signed a four-year deal with Philadelphia. Demps, a fourth round draft choice of the Eagles in 2008, was one of the top playmaking defensive backs in college football during his career at UTEP. His 17 career interceptions were the most among all players in the 2008 draft class and rank 2nd in both Conference USA and school history. Demps became the first player in school and conference history to have two 100-yd. INT returns in both a season and a career (at Central Florida and at New Mexico State in 2007). He also holds the school record with 404 INT return yards, becoming only the 7th player in NCAA history to top the 400-yard mark in that category. In 2007, Demps earned third team All-America and All-Conference USA honors as he set school and league records by posting 220 return yards on 5 interceptions, including two touchdowns.
DB Kennard Cox, the 251st overall pick in the seventh round, has signed with the Bills. Terms were not disclosed. He has three cousins currently playing in the NFL — fellow Bills teammate WR Roscoe Parrish, Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Torrie Cox, and San Francisco 49ers S Marcus Hudson.
S Justin Hamilton signed with Washington. Hamilton (6-3, 222), played one year with the Cleveland Browns after being selected in the seventh round (222nd Overall) of the 2006 NFL Draft. He tallied 15 tackles (13 solo) during his rookie campaign. Hamilton was cut from the Browns on September 1, 2007, and did not play during the 2007 season.
Broncos RB Michael Pittman is expected to sign a one-year deal to join the backfield mix in Denver. The 10-year veteran is 32, and would back up Travis Henry and Selvin Young. "I plan on making the team," Pittman told the Rocky Mountain News. "I don't plan on taking over anything. I'm just here to help."
Former Vikings DE Erasmus James was acquired by Washington in exchange for a seventh-round pick, as long as he is able to continue playing. James was put on waivers by the Vikings last week, just three seasons after being the 18th overall pick in 2005. James has suffered through a series of knee injuries, and recently failed a physical. He played sparingly in six games since tearing the ACL in his left knee in Week 2 of 2006. The Redskins were seeking line depth behind aging starter Phillip Daniels. If James can't play anymore because of his knee, the Redskins will be on the hook for a $275,000 injury protection clause he has.
Cowboys CB Pacman Jones reportedly met with Commissioner Roger Goodell last week to discuss his reinstatement to the league, according to The Dallas Morning News. Jones isn't allowed to visit team headquarters or participate in offseason workouts until he is reinstated from his suspension. Goodell has said he will review the case before training camps open in late July.
Broncos OL Chris Kuper, who started 11 games at left guard last season, will be listed as the starting right tackle during the team's upcoming workouts. Ben Hamilton will be at left guard with first-round pick Ryan Clady at left tackle.