Friday, March 24, 2006

Niners sign 10-time Pro Bowl guard Larry Allen - NFL - Yahoo! Sports

Niners sign 10-time Pro Bowl guard Larry Allen - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
Larry Allen, a 10-time Pro Bowl guard for the Dallas Cowboys, agreed to a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Friday.

Allen, the last link to the Cowboys' most recent Super Bowl-winning team, was released Tuesday when he refused to take a pay cut. The 12-year veteran cleared a path for NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith and his teammates while being placed on eight All-Pro teams, including each of his first seven seasons as a starter."

Cowboys sign Vanderjagt, NFL's most accurate kicker - NFL - Yahoo! Sports

Cowboys sign Vanderjagt, NFL's most accurate kicker - NFL - Yahoo! Sports: "By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
March 23, 2006

Indianapolis Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt, right, kicks a field goal from the hold of Hunter Smith as the Colts played the Tennessee Titans in Indianapolis Sunday, Dec. 5, 2004. Mike Vanderjagt, the NFL's most accurate kicker who was no longer needed in Indianapolis, signed a three-year contract Thursday with the Dallas Cowboys. Vanderjagt wasn't re-signed by the Colts, who instead signed Adam Vinatieri earlier this week. .
AP - Mar 23, 7:15 pm EST
More Photos

Mike Vanderjagt, the NFL's most accurate kicker who was no longer needed in Indianapolis, signed a three-year contract Thursday with the Dallas Cowboys.

Vanderjagt wasn't re-signed by the Colts, who instead signed Adam Vinatieri earlier this week. Vinatieri twice hit winning kicks in the Super Bowl for New England, but the Patriots allowed him to test free agency.

After depending so long on inexperienced or inexpensive kickers, the Cowboys didn't pass on Vanderjagt, a former Pro Bowl kicker and unrestricted free agent. A story posted on the Cowboys Web site reported that the deal was worth $5.4 million, including a $2.5 million signing bonus. Phone messages and an e-mail to the kicker's agent, Gil Scott, weren't returned."

Keyshawn agrees to deal with Panthers

SportingNews.com - NFL - Keyshawn agrees to deal with Panthers

Associated Press

Keyshawn Johnson agreed to a four-year deal with the Carolina Panthers and was expected to sign a contract later Friday.

"The terms have been agreed to, now he's just taken it to someone outside to have the language approved," Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said. "We hope to be able to formally introduce him later today."

Johnson, released last week by the Dallas Cowboys, turned down an offer from the New York Giants and had planned to visit Seattle after meeting with the Panthers. But he never made it out of Carolina, where he spent Thursday meeting with team officials and dining with Hurney.

He will be paired with All-Pro receiver Steve Smith, who lobbied both the team and Johnson to get the deal done, and perhaps become the final piece needed to get them back to the Super Bowl. "Steve actually called Keyshawn before he agreed to help recruit him," Hurney said. "Anything that is good for the team, Steve wants. He wants to make sure we bring in good people, and he wants to make sure we win."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's official: Owens joins Cowboys

SportingNews.com - NFL - It's official: Owens joins Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens has gone from stomping on the Dallas Cowboys' star logo to wearing it on his helmet.

The reviled receiver joined the Cowboys on Saturday, signing a three-year contract to play for Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells in what promises to be an interesting combination of strong personalities.

"I'm a star among stars now," a smiling Owens said.
There's no questioning his talent -- Owens has consistently put up numbers the Cowboys have lacked since Michael Irvin was in the prime of his career a decade ago.

It's his attitude that prompted the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles to get rid of Owens. His relationship with the Eagles soured only months after he led them to the Super Bowl, finally ending with his release Tuesday.

Owens referred to his past problems as "life-learning experiences."

"I'm going to put those things behind me," Owens said. "They can only make a man stronger, wiser. For me, that's what it's done. I'll be a better teammate, a better person, a better man in life. I'm looking forward to this opportunity. I couldn't be more excited to be here."

Following up a question to Jones about Owens' past, the receiver interjected: "Jerry, I know what's expected of me. I won't let you down."

Jones didn't immediately reveal any contract details, but it was likely to include behavior-related provisions. Owens' blowup with Philadelphia last season even led to new rules regarding punishment being written into the NFL's latest collective bargaining agreement.

"We can both disappoint each other in this agreement," Jones said. "But this is no free lunch to the Dallas Cowboys. We made a commitment to him. That means something."

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said several other teams were interested, "but this was the only team for Terrell."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cleveland signs McGinest

NFL.com - Cleveland Browns Team News

CLEVELAND (March 15, 2006) -- Free agent linebacker Willie McGinest signed a three-year contract with the Cleveland Browns, reuniting him with coach Romeo Crennel.

McGinest visited Cleveland March 14 and reached the deal March 15 without visiting any other teams, said Steve Caric, spokesman for McGinest's agent, Gary Uberstine.

McGinest will find similar surroundings in Cleveland: cold weather and Crennel.
McGinest will find similar surroundings in Cleveland: cold weather and Crennel.
McGinest was cut by New England after 12 seasons in a salary cap move.

The 34-year-old McGinest spent seven seasons with Crennel in New England, including four with Crennel as defensive coordinator.

Recently signed nose tackle Ted Washington, who played with McGinest on the Patriots' 2003 championship team, had said he would encourage his former teammate to come to Cleveland.

The Browns, with lots of cap room to spend on free agents, have been one of the most active teams this offseason, signing center LeCharles Bentley, wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, offensive lineman Kevin Shaffer, punter Dave Zastudil and Washington.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Detroit Lions Team News Lions Sign TE Dan Campbell to 5 year deal

NFL.com - Detroit Lions Team News

Courtesy of Detroit Lions media relations

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (March 14, 2006) -- The Detroit Lions announced that they have signed unrestricted free agent TE Dan Campbell to a five-year deal. Additional contract terms were not disclosed.

Campbell is a seven-year veteran that has a proven reputation as both a reliable receiver and a valuable blocking tight end. During his career, he has played in 95 games (65 starts) and registered 68 receptions for 604 yards and seven touchdowns. He has played in all 16 games in five of his seven seasons.

In 2003, Campbell garnered a career-best 195 receiving yards, 20 receptions and one touchdown. He was named to the USA Today All-Joe Team for his work in the trenches. In 2004, he was looking to build on his first season in Dallas, but his season was cut short due to a sprained right foot. Last year he played in 16 games (12 starts), while catching three passes for 24 yards and one touchdown.

Prior to signing with Dallas in 2003, Campbell spent the first four years of his NFL career with the New York Giants. Campbell was originally drafted by the Giants in the third round (79th overall) of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M.

Cowboys release Keyshawn Johnson

Star-Telegram.com | 03/14/2006 | Cowboys release Keyshawn Johnson
By CLARENCE E. HILL JR.
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

IRVING -- Receiver Keyshawn Johnson has been released by the Cowboys, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Johnson is a due $1 million roster bonus by 3 p.m. He was informed by owner Jerry Jones at about 2:30 p.m. of the team’s decision to not pay the bonus and release him.

“It’s a business,” Johnson said. “I am thankful they brought me here. I feel good. I get a chance to be a free agent for the first time. If you want a receiver that is going to get it done. I am available.”

Johnson, who will represent himself in free agency, said Jones told him that the Cowboys would consider re-signing him once he tested the market and determined his value. Johnson said he would give the Cowboys an opportunity to do so.

A 10-year veteran, Johnson caught 141 passes and 12 touchdowns the past two years for the Cowboys.

He led the Cowboys in receptions in 2005 with 71 catches.

Dallas Cowboys Add Akin Ayodele

Dallas Cowboys Add Akin Ayodele

Bill Parcell's plan to reshape the Dallas Cowboys defensive front is starting to come into fruition and it starts at the linebacker position.

Despite losing Dat Nguyen to retirement and Scott Fujita to free agency, the Cowboys should field a very formidable linebacking unit now that they have brought former Jacksonville Jaguars' LB Akin Ayodele. The 6-2, 250 pound local product from Irving McArthur High School in suburban Dallas should pay immediate dividends with his consistency in terms of tackling and his ability to pressure the quarterback. The four-year veteran is coming of a solid season where he collected 72 tackles, three sacks, and four forced fumbles. Teamed up with rookie phenom DeMarcus Ware, Ayodele should help make the Cowboys a formidable pass-rushing defense.

Owens finally released by Eagles

SportingNews.com - NFL - Owens finally released by Eagles

Posted: March 14, 2006

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Terrell Owens is free to play for any team willing to have him.

The Philadelphia Eagles released the exiled Owens on Tuesday, ending a tumultuous, two-year relationship with the wide receiver.

Owens was due a $5 million roster bonus on Wednesday, so the Eagles had to cut him or trade him before then to avoid paying him the money.

The move was a formality because Owens was kicked off the team in November following a series of incidents and infractions, including repeated criticism of quarterback Donovan McNabb.


The Eagles announced the cut in a one-sentence statement. Team officials said they would not comment.

Agent: Lions, Kitna reach tentative agreement

SportingNews.com - NFL - Agent: Lions, Kitna reach tentative agreement
Associated Press

DETROIT -- The Lions and Jon Kitna have reached a tentative agreement that will bring the free-agent quarterback to Detroit, his agent said Tuesday.

Kitna visited the Lions at their practice facility in suburban Detroit on Saturday and was 'very impressed' with the organization, agent Mike Moye said. Kitna met with head coach Rod Marinelli, offensive coordinator Mike Martz and team president Matt Millen.

Kitna, 33, is a nine-year veteran who spent the past five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, earning comeback player of the year honors as a starter in 2003 before becoming the backup to Carson Palmer. He started his career with the Seattle Seahawks.

Detroit has been looking for a veteran backup for Joey Harrington. Earlier in the offseason, the Lions signed Shaun King to a one-year contract.

The Lions also re-signed defensive end Kalimba Edwards and kick returner Eddie Drummond to five-year deals.

Edwards, who was a free agent, led Detroit in sacks with seven last season. The four-year veteran also recorded 31 tackles, two forced fumbles and a team-leading three fumble recoveries in 2005.

Drummond, a free agent and one of the NFL's top kick returners, also signed a five-year deal.

Brees agrees to six-year deal with Saints

SportingNews.com - NFL - Brees agrees to six-year deal with Saints
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Free-agent quarterback Drew Brees agreed to a six-year contract Tuesday with New Orleans, providing the Saints with a proven replacement for Aaron Brooks.

A team spokesman confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press shortly after the Miami Dolphins, who also had been courting Brees, traded for Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper.

Brees is a bit of question mark after injuring his throwing shoulder with San Diego in the final game of the season. He underwent surgery and said last weekend he will take four or five months to be ready.

Brooks is expected to be released by New Orleans after his worst season since taking over as the Saints starter in 2000.


With Brees as their starting quarterback, the pressure is off the Saints to use the No. 2 choice in the draft on Southern California's Matt Leinart, who is expected to be available with Reggie Bush the likely No. 1 selection by Houston.

Vikings trade Culpepper to Dolphins

SportingNews.com - NFL - Vikings trade Culpepper to Dolphins

Posted: March 14, 2006

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings traded Daunte Culpepper to the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, granting the disgruntled quarterback's wish to leave the team after a subpar season that ended with a serious knee injury.

Vikings spokesman Tom West confirmed the deal, but did not give specifics. Several media reports say Minnesota received a second-round pick in return.

The deal gives Culpepper the out he wanted from Minnesota, where he made the Pro Bowl three times in seven seasons. But his relationship with the organization had deteriorated swiftly in recent weeks, when Culpepper said he felt unwanted.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mel Kiper's Big Board

Mel Kiper - ESPN.com:

Player Class Pos. School Stock
1. Reggie BushJr.RBUSC
Bush can score from anywhere on the field.
2. Matt LeinartSr.QBUSC
Arm strength has improved since 2004.
3. Mario WilliamsJr.DEN.C. State
Rushes the quarterback extremely well.
4. D'Brickashaw FergusonSr.OTVirginia
Best offensive line prospect in the senior class.
5. Vince YoungJr.QBTexas
Moved into top three after Rose Bowl performance.
6. Michael Huff Sr.DBTexas
Athletic, instinctive and has versatility for next level.
7. A.J. HawkSr.LBOhio St.
Best senior prospect on defense.
8. Vernon DavisJr.TEMaryland
Wide receiver in a tight end's body.
9. DeAngelo WilliamsSr.RBMemphis
Third in the nation in rushing yards per game.
10. Haloti NgataJr.DTOregon
Clogs the middle and penetrates backfield well.
11. LenDale WhiteJr.RBUSC
Touchdown scoring machine.
12. Jimmy WilliamsSr.CBVa. Tech
Shutdown corner who cuts the field in half.
13. Laurence MaroneyJr.RBMinnesota
Patient but explosive runner.
14. Ernie SimsJr.LBFlorida St.
Very disruptive in the backfield.
15. Jay CutlerSr.QBVanderbilt
Has all the tools NFL looks for in a QB.
16. Santonio HolmesJr.WROhio St.
Very good burst of speed out of his break.
17. Brodrick BunkleySr.DTFlorida St.
Defenisve standout at the combine.
18. Tye HillSr.CBClemson
Senior Bowl week helped move him into top 25.
19. Tamba HaliSr.DEPenn St.
Great pure pass rusher. Sells out on every play.
20. Chad GreenwaySr.LBIowa
Smart player with great physical skills.
21. Ashton YoubotyJr.CBOhio St.
Good cover corner.
22. Winston JusticeJr.OTUSC
Excellent blocker; can play either tackle position.
23. Kamerion WimbleySr.DEFlorida St.
Excellent at combine; might play OLB in NFL.
24. Chad JacksonJr.WRFlorida
Combine proved why he's one of the best WR in draft.
25. Leonard PopeJr.TEGeorgia
Size (6-7) causes huge matchup problems.

Top 5 Tight Ends In The Draft

NFL.com - NFL News

1. VERNON DAVIS, MARYLAND (UNDERCLASSMAN)

Vernon Davis was a first-team All-Amercan this past season.
Vernon Davis was a first-team All-Amercan this past season.
Positives: Off-the-charts performance in Scouting Combine drills only enhanced the status of a player already widely regarded as the draft's best at his position. … Has a staggering combination of outstanding size (6-foot-3 and 254 pounds), speed (ran 40-yard dash at Combine in 4.38 seconds), strength (best bench press showing of any tight end at the Combine), and athleticism (impressive vertical leap of 40 inches). … Dependable hands. … Excellent route-runner with knowledge to find openings against zone- and man-to-man coverage, and necessary burst to create separation in his patterns. … Capable of consistently turning short catches into long gains.

Negatives: Needs to work on his blocking skills. … Despite strength, doesn't seem to know how to use hands properly when engaging with linebackers.

2. LEONARD POPE, GEORGIA (UNDERCLASSMAN)

Positives: Tall target (6-7 and 250 pounds) with large hands and long arms that he uses well to keep defenders at bay. … Impressive athletic display at Scouting Combine. … Superior speed that is capable of stretching coverage. … Shows strong explosion off the line of scrimmage. … Excels at finding soft spots in zone coverage.

Negatives: Needs to add some bulk, which figures to be fairly easy given his frame. … Has problems sometimes with defenders who are able to get their hands on him near the line.

3. ANTHONY FASANO, NOTRE DAME (UNDERCLASSMAN)

Anthony Fasano was the third option for the best Irish team since 2002.
Anthony Fasano was the third option for the best Irish team since 2002.
Positives: Catches the ball well in traffic and on the run. … Tremendous intelligence allows him to consistently find openings against zone and man-to-man coverage. … Worked well in a pro-style offense that should enhance his readiness for the NFL. … Good initial burst helps compensate for general lack of speed. … Displays solid blocking technique. … Superior hustle and work ethic.

Negatives: Lack of speed and athleticism. … Doesn't make many would-be tacklers miss and is not particularly effective on seam routes, where tight ends usually make their greatest impact.

4. MARCEDES LEWIS, UCLA

Marcedes Lewis was to UCLA's passing game what Maurice Drew was to the running game.
Marcedes Lewis was to UCLA's passing game what Maurice Drew was to the running game.
Positives: Concentration when catching the ball. … Makes good use of 6-6 frame, particularly on jump balls. … Good route-runner. … Solid blocker.

Negatives: Doesn't get much explosion off the line. … Has problems releasing on the snap. … Lacks a natural running stride.

5. JOE KLOPFENSTEIN, COLORADO

Positives: Nice combination of height (6-5) and speed. … Runs good, crisp routes. … Will battle for the ball. … Intelligence. … Durability. … Strong work ethic.

Negatives: Doesn't consistently get good release from the line. … Must add bulk and st

Titans, Thornton agree on 5 year deal

NFL.com - Tennessee Titans Team News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 13, 2006) -- The Tennessee Titans agreed to terms on a five-year deal with Indianapolis linebacker David Thornton.

Thornton was scheduled to meet with three other teams but after visiting with the Titans coaches, decided to play for Tennessee.

'He fell in love with them and the city,' his agent Brian Mackler told The Associated Press. 'I think they understand the value David brings and what he does.'

Thornton, a fourth-round pick in 2002, became a starter in his second season and was one of the team's most visible players in the community. Last year, he was the team's fifth-leading tackler (96), had two sacks, forced two fumbles and was a key player on special teams.

Mackler said Thornton told him more than a year ago he wanted to stay in Indianapolis, but when things didn't work out, they looked elsewhere.

The Titans, with money to spend in free agency for the first time in several seasons, needed to boost a defense that was among the NFL's worst last season. Thornton will provide some much-needed speed opposite Keith Bulluck.

Pasquarelli: McGinest ready to leave Pats in rearview mirror

McGinest ready to leave Pats in rearview mirror:
There isn't so much as a hint of bitterness in Willie McGinest's voice as he discusses his divorce from the New England Patriots after 12 seasons, three Super Bowl victories and a pair of Pro Bowl appearances. If anything, in fact, the veteran outside linebacker sounds downright enthusiastic about embarking on a second chapter of his NFL career, even pumped up by the prospect of what lies ahead for him.

And as he begins making visits this week to several of the many suitors that have contacted agent Gary Uberstine in the wake of his release, McGinest is eager to let teams know that, although he navigates the free-agent path for the first time, he'll be looking more through the windshield than at the rearview mirror.

It has been more than a week since the Patriots released McGinest to avoid paying him a $3.5 million roster bonus due this month. And although his celebrated tenure in New England never will be expunged from McGinest's personal memory bank, the Patriots certainly are beginning to fade into the horizon.

Redskins continue haul with Archuleta

John Clayton - Espn

Safety Adam Archuleta kept getting calls from his former Rams defensive coordinator, Lovie Smith, who was trying to recruit him to come to the Chicago Bears and help out his defense.

But the Redskins flashed $10 million in guarantees and a contract worth close to $5 million a year, and those thoughts ended. Archuleta became the Redskins' fourth addition from over the weekend, joining receivers Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El and tight end Christian Fauria.

Archuleta flew to Washington on Saturday on Daniel Snyder's private plane and stayed for the weekend until the Redskins finished the deal.

In addition, linebacker Andre Carter will fly to Washington on Tuesday to sign his deal, said an official familiar with the deal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract wasn't signed.

Carter would be the natural replacement for departed linebacker LaVar Arrington. The Redskins want to generate more of a pass rush, and Carter has 32 sacks over his five-year career with San Francisco. He had 12½ in 2002 but only 6½ over his last two years.

Edgerrin signs 4-year free-agent deal with Cardinals

ESPN.com - NFL - Edgerrin signs 4-year free-agent deal with Cardinals: Less than a week after coach Dennis Green declared that his team would not do any shopping in the higher-priced aisles of the free agent market, the Arizona Cardinals landed one of the highest-profile players in the entire pool Sunday, signing former Indianapolis Colts star tailback Edgerrin James.

In terms of productivity and star quality, they don't get much bigger than James, a four-time Pro Bowl performer, in free agency. And in terms of compensation, contracts for tailbacks don't get much bigger than the one James signed in culminating his weekend visit with Arizona officials and coaches.

ESPN.com has confirmed that the four-year contract is worth $30 million. James received an initial signing bonus of $7 million and will pocket a $4.5 million roster bonus on the seventh day of the 2006 league year, essentially the end of this week. The base salaries in the contract are $3.25 million (for 2006), $5.25 million (2007), $5 million (2008) and $5 million (2009).

High Stakes Gambling: Free Agent Style




Adam Schefter By Adam Schefter
Special to NFL.com

(March 13, 2006) -- Start fitting Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson for a Minnesota Vikings.

The $50 million offer sheet that Hutchinson signed Sunday with the Vikings includes a provision dictating that he be the highest paid offensive lineman on his team this season -- or the entire $50 million contract becomes fully guaranteed, according to someone who has seen the offer sheet. Well, Seattle offensive tackle Walter Jones averages $7.5 million per year, while Hutchinson's contract pays him an average of $7 million per year.

The Vikings made Steve Hutchinson an offer that will be tough for the Hawks to match.
The Vikings made Steve Hutchinson an offer that will be tough for the Hawks to match.
So if Seattle matched Hutchinson's offer sheet, it not only would have to figure out how to squeeze in this year's $13-million-plus salary-cap figure, but it also would have to guarantee a whopping $50 million to Hutchinson, making it the richest cash contract in NFL history by a cool $15 million.

As it is, Hutchinson will be the fourth highest paid offensive linemen in football, behind only Jones, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden.

The deal, devised by Hutchinson's agent Tom Condon, makes it exceedingly difficult for the Seahawks to match. One person involved in the composition of the offer sheet predicted the Seahawks cannot match it; the ramifications would be way too severe.

Seattle is said to be miffed not at the contract, but at Hutchinson's actions. As an act of good faith, the Seahawks opted to slap Hutchinson with the "transition" tag instead of the "franchise" tag, enabling the guard to solicit a deal that would be the best gauge of his market value. Seattle opted against the franchise tag only because it did not want to disenfranchise Hutchinson the way so many players slapped with the franchise tags are.

In turn, Hutchinson's agent devised one of the most innovative contracts ever created, a monumental deal that nobody in Seattle saw coming. Now, the overwhelming chances are, Hutchinson is gone.

Seattle does have one other option, but it is highly risky. It can match the offer sheet and appeal the terms of the offer sheet to the NFL's Management Council. A Special Master would hear the appeal and if it ruled against the Seahawks, Seattle would be obligated to pay Hutchinson $50 million.

It's probably a gamble the Seahawks cannot afford to take.

HAIL TO THE REDSKINS

No team is more aggressive, no team is more rash, no team is more intriguing than the Washington Redskins, who were more active in free agency the past three days than some teams have been the past three years.

On Monday afternoon, the Redskins reached agreement with their final big-name free agent of this offseason, defensive end Andre Carter, whom the Broncos and Raiders coveted. Washington agreed to a six-year, $30 million deal that includes a $9 million signing bonus.

With a Super Bowl ring, free agent WR Antwaan Randle El was even more attractive to the 'Skins.
With a Super Bowl ring, free agent WR Antwaan Randle El was even more attractive to the 'Skins.
On Monday morning, the Redskins signed safety Adam Archuleta. On Sunday, the Redskins signed wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. On Saturday, they traded for wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. In between all their spending madness, the Redskins also added tight end Christian Fauria.

Much of the NFL is wondering how the Redskins are doing it. The simple answer is with Daniel Snyder's cash. The Redskins are prorating the huge signing bonuses they're handing out over the life of the contract, usually seven years, softening the blow the team has to take this season.

It can give Randle El $11.5 million of bonuses, as it did, and soften the blow by pro-rating it over seven years. It can give Carter a $9 million bonus and pro-rate it over six years. It's like a credit card -- putting off paying the full bill now, but knowing it's going to come due later.

But for now, Snyder's money and the big bonuses enable Washington to be the New York Yankees of the NFL, buying whatever it wants to help the Redskins to return to the Super Bowl.

At this point, they clearly are one of the NFC favorites.

TIME FOR T.O.

Headlines over the weekend were dedicated to Edgerrin James, LeCharles Bentley, Randle El and Hutchinson. But now get ready for wide receiver Terrell Owens to start making them again.

The Eagles must make a decision on Owens by Tuesday, before he is due a $5 million roster bonus. There's as much chance of the Eagles paying that as there is of Donovan McNabb taking a spring break trip with Owens. Thus, the Eagles must either trade or release Owens by Tuesday.

A team official said there have been "some sniffs." But if no team has traded for Owens by now, it's unlikely they will do it by Tuesday. Look for Owens to be released and one of the biggest stories of the offseason to kick off.

NFL executives believe Dallas, Kansas City and Denver are the three most likely landing spots.

BALTIMORE'S BACKS

When Denver entered the bidding for running back Jamal Lewis, arranging for him to visit on Monday, the Ravens stepped up their efforts to re-sign their back.

The Ravens quickly re-signed Jamal Lewis before he was able to find another suitor.
The Ravens quickly re-signed Jamal Lewis before he was able to find another suitor.
Before Lewis could arrive in Denver, he had reached agreement with Baltimore on a three-year contract worth in the vicinity of $25 million. However, the contract includes a massive roster bonus due on March 1 of next year, meaning Lewis' deal is much closer to a one-year deal worth $6 million this season.

Now, with Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, Ahman Green, Chester Taylor, Mike Anderson and Lewis off the market, the free agent running back field has dried up. Any team that still needs one will have to find one in the draft.

THE KICKER

Miami has been busy entertaining free-agent visitors, but the most curious one it has had through its building so far has been Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt.

Something appears amiss with Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare, but those close to Mare insisted the kicker is not contemplating retirement, as one NFL executive speculated.

But the Dolphins didn't fly Vanderjagt to Miami just so he could enjoy South Beach. There was no madness to their method.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

ESPN.com - NFL - Reports as free agency begins

Friday, March 10, 2006

Before counting cash, take crash course on new CBA

National Football League - CBS SportsLine.com

One day after the NFL agreed on a new collective bargaining agreement, league general managers were left to figure out what it all means for the new cap year.

Here's what they found.

Free agency starts Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET, with the salary cap jumping to $102 million this year and $109 million in 2007. That's the easy part. The fine print is what follows, and we choose only the highlights to keep it readable:

  • Clubs can waive two players before the cap year (in this case, March 11) and have their costs amortized after June 1 -- preventing them from paying roster bonuses simply to carry contracts into the summer. Example: Tennessee two years ago paid Eddie George a $1 million roster bonus in March so it could attempt a later contract renegotiation. When that failed, the Titans cut him. Because it was after June 1, Tennessee rolled George's unamortized acceleration into the following cap year. That was a popular idea throughout the league, with June 1 a magic date for cutting veterans to save cap room. Now, teams are spared the trouble by designating two players per club, with their salary-cap costs carried against the present cap until June 1 -- at which time the unamortized portion rolls over into 2007. The benefit to the player is that he gains immediate freedom to look for work; the benefit to the team is that it is saves money and cap room by having the unamortized portion of a bonus -- which normally would've count against this year's cap -- rolled into next year, as if he were cut after June 1.

  • While there still is no standard language for signing bonuses, there is more defined language -- preventing clubs from recouping portions of signing bonuses from players guilty of misbehavior, particularly if they violate the league's drug policy. Can you say, "Ricky Williams?" The Miami running back was the most notable subject here, with an arbitrator two years ago ruling that he owed the Dolphins $8.6 million after retiring prior to the 2004 season. Williams returned to the club one year later. Under the new agreement players still can be forced to return bonus money, but punishment is confined to a refusal to play -- such as retirement or a holdout. Clubs can still write their own language regarding bonuses, one sports agent said, but must keep it within the strict guidelines of the new agreement.

  • A club no longer can discipline a player as Philadelphia did Terrell Owens last season. Under the new agreement, the maximum discipline a team can impose on a player is suspension without pay for four weeks -- in essence, a reversal of the Owens decision of last year. The Eagles suspended the wide receiver for four games then removed him from the team and its premises for the rest of the season. Owens complained but lost when an arbitrator ruled in favor of Philadelphia. In essence, the new agreement means clubs like Philadelphia cannot deactivate players as long-term punishment. They can continue to deactivate them week-to-week, but they cannot -- as Philadelphia did -- remove them for extended periods of time as disciplinary measures.

  • Once a team designates someone as its "franchise player" a third time, he gains the average of the top five players at the highest-salaried position -- even if it is not his. So, let's say you "franchise" a kicker for a third straight year; he gains the average of the top five quarterbacks, not the top five kickers. That's meant to deter clubs from keeping a player around by protecting him with the "franchise" tag year after year, as Seattle did with tackle Walter Jones from 2002-04.

  • Players must be three years removed from high school to qualify for the annual NFL Draft. This is the Maurice Clarett rule, preventing someone like Clarett -- the former Ohio State back who tried to turn pro two years after leaving high school -- from entering the draft early. Clarett did not enter the draft until 2005 because a court ruling making him eligible a year earlier was overturned on appeal.

  • When teams designate players for "transition" status, the money is guaranteed once the player signs the tender. Under the old rules it was guaranteed only for players designated as "franchise" players. Now it's available for both "transition" and "franchise" players.

  • All "franchise" numbers and "transition" figures are computed into the averages of their positions. Under the old agreement if a player were designated for one year at, say, running back, his figure was not included in the top five or 10 at that position. Now it is.

  • Minimum salaries increase $40,000 across the board, starting at $275,000 and moving to $350,000, $425,000, $500,000, $585,000, $710,000 and $810,000. Minimums will increase $10,000 annually.

It's not a lot to digest, but it's enough to keep club executives busy for the next few weeks.

"The hard part," said one general manager, "is going to be the interpretation, and I expect it will take a couple of months."

That's for league officials and club executives to figure out. As far as the players are concerned, there's more money available for them -- and that is good. As far as the fans are concerned, there's more money available to keep rosters intact and offer free agents -- and that is better.

"It's going to make everyone and everything more flexible," said one AFC GM.

Hallelujah.

Team-by-team needs during free agency

Patriots cut McGinest in cap move

FOX Sports - NFL- Patriots cut McGinest in cap move

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots released linebacker Willie McGinest in a salary cap move, ending a 12-year relationship with the NFL's all-time postseason sack leader.
The release of the two-time Pro Bowler was announced Thursday, the day after the NFL owners voted 30-2 at their meeting in Grapevine, Texas, to extend the collective bargaining agreement with the players for six more years, resulting in a new salary cap figure of $102 million.

The 34-year-old McGinest carried a salary cap figure of more than $7 million for next season. The veteran linebacker is now a free agent and can sign with any team, including New England.

McGinest, who has been with New England his entire career, was the fourth pick of the 1994 draft out of Southern California. He played in four Super Bowls, including three Patriots victories. His 16 postseason sacks rank ahead of Bruce Smith (14 1/2) and Reggie White (12).

A two-time Pro Bowler, McGinest ranks third on the Patriots' all-time sack list with 78, just 1.5 behind Julius Adams. Andre Tippett tops the list with 100 sacks.

McGinest has played in 171 games, ninth on the Patriots' all-time list.

Besides McGinest, kicker Adam Vinatieri, wide receivers David Givens and Troy Brown, tackle Tom Ashworth, receiver and punt returner Tim Dwight, tight end Christian Fauria, linebackers Don Davis and Matt Chatham and running back Heath Evans are free agents.

The Patriots also announced the signing of defensive back Artrell Hawkins on Thursday.

Hawkins signed with the Patriots as a free agent on Nov. 15, 2005. The seven-year veteran, who moved from cornerback to safety, started four of the five games he appeared in and made 16 tackles.

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound defender was originally drafted in the second round of the 1998 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, who he played for six seasons.

FOX Sports - NFL- Tagliabue deserves credit for forging labor peace

FOX Sports
During a low point of the marathon NFL owners' meetings, the labor-deal deadlock looked so hopeless that one owner suggested they needed help from beyond. "We need the ghost of St. Wellington to appear with some of the forefathers," Indianapolis' Jimmy Irsay said - "St. Wellington" being the Giants' Wellington Mara, the last remaining member of the league's founding generation, who died last October.

Irsay's plea was right on.

As it turned out, Mara's son John - who has been running the New York Giants for the past few years - helped broker the settlement among the 32 contentious millionaires who own NFL franchises.

In fact, the key moment in the meeting probably came at the meeting's lunch break on Wednesday when Mara, Denver's Pat Bowlen and Carolina's Jerry Richardson were escorted to an elevator by Milt Ahlerich, the NFL's security chief. Ahlerich made sure they were the only ones on the lift as they soared from the basement of the hotel to Paul Tagliabue's suite.

About six hours later, there was a deal, avoiding the unknown territory of a 2007 season without a salary cap and the potential for serious labor problem down the line.

"It really was not about winning for me. I really believe the only chance we had with revenue sharing was to put it into my deal. They would never have agreed without the hammer. So we all won. And most of all the fans and our business partners won."

So did Tagliabue, who maneuvered the higher-revenue owners, notably Dallas' Jerry Jones, into accepting the deal by using some of them to forge it.

"The proposal from the union was a mean mother," is how Jones put it after both brokering - and then voting for - the accord.

More level-playing field helps fuel Arizona optimism

National Football League - CBS SportsLine.com
If it was baseball, Dennis Green would feel like the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- a man telling his team all the right things, sharing promise and hope, but really knowing his team has no hope.


As it is, Green is full of hope. The coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Green can only laugh when told in another league, using another system, many would be using those Devil Rays comparisons when talking about his team.

'But that's what's great about this league,' Green said. 'Teams like us have hope every year. Football is different from baseball. We share television revenues. That helps equal things out. Plus, it's never been proven that the more money you spend will help you win a Super Bowl. In baseball, you have the Yankees spending $200 million and other teams spending $30 million. That won't happen in football, no matter what happens with the CBA. That's why we're different. That's why teams like us have a chance.'

It's also what makes the NFL great.