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Blog posts: "free agency"

NFL: Brandon Jacobs agrees with 49ers (CNNSI)

March 28, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A person with knowledge of the contract says veteran running back Brandon Jacobs and the San Francisco 49ers have agreed to terms on a one-year deal.

ESPN first reported Jacobs would join the NFC West champion 49ers. A person confirmed the deal Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team had yet to make a formal announcement. Jacobs was released March 9 by the New York Giants after he failed to reach agreement on a restructured deal.

He is expected to play behind Frank Gore and could share the backup role with Kendall Hunter.

Jacobs spent seven seasons with New York, winning two Super Bowls and beating the 49ers 20-17 in overtime of the NFC championship game at Candlestick Park on Jan. 22.

The 29-year-old Jacobs ran for 571 yards and seven touchdowns last season as a backup to Ahmad Bradshaw. He is the fourth-leading rusher in franchise history with 4,849 yards, but saw his role diminish with the emergence of Bradshaw.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2005, Jacobs rushed for 56 touchdowns. He had 1,000-yard seasons in 2007 and 2008, but his carries and yardage dipped the past two seasons. He gained 823 yards in 2010, and had just 152 carries and a 3.8-yard average last season.

Jacobs had expressed hopes after the 21-17 Super Bowl win over New England that he would be able to work out a deal and stay with the Giants.

"It's been a great ride,'' Jacobs said.

Jacobs was drafted out of Southern Illinois. He began his college career at Coffeyville Community College and transferred to Auburn before finally settling in with the Salukis.

Jacobs becomes the second member of last season's Super Bowl champion Giants to join the Niners this month. Wide receiver Mario Manningham signed a two-year deal last week.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/football/nfl/wires/03/28/2020.ap.fbn.49ers.jacobs.1st.ld.writethru.0371/index.html#ixzz1qSBHXpRR

NFL: Alex Smith, 49ers have deal in place (Boston.com)

March 21, 2012

By Janie McCauley AP Sports Writer / March 21, 2012

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Quarterback Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers have agreed to terms on a three-year contract that will pay him $8 million per season with $16.5 million guaranteed, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Wednesday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. Smith was expected to sign within the day. Smith's new deal, which was all but done late Tuesday, can pay him up to $33 million.

On Tuesday, Peyton Manning was formally introduced in Denver after the 49ers pursued the four-time NFL MVP. Coach Jim Harbaugh worked out Manning at Duke last week.

The 27-year-old Smith met with Miami on Sunday but ultimately decided to stay put with the storied franchise that drafted him first overall in 2005.

Smith had a breakthrough season last year, throwing for 3,150 yards and 17 touchdowns to help San Francisco reach the NFC title game.

Both sides made it clear after the Niners' 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the NFC championship game that they planned to work out a new deal.

It just took a little while longer than expected after Manning briefly entered the picture.

Smith and Harbaugh built a strong working relationship in a matter of months, and Smith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Sunday that he understood the business side of the NFL. So, perhaps it won't take long for Harbaugh and Smith to get over San Francisco's weeklong courting of Manning.

"It's a very strong relationship," Harbaugh told reporters while leaving team headquarters Tuesday, noting nothing had changed in Smith being "our guy."

Last spring, Harbaugh handed over his playbook to Smith during a brief lifting of the lockout -- a show of confidence in the QB even though he wasn't under contract. Smith wound up re-signing for $4.9 million, then earned a $1 million bonus for making the playoffs as the 49ers ended an eight-year stretch without a postseason berth or winning record.

Now, he is getting some job security and a nice raise to boot.

"Oh, I'm excited," tight end Vernon Davis said in a text message. "I'm glad. Alex deserves all good things that come his way."

49ers CEO Jed York had said the team's three-year offer still stood despite the pursuit of Manning, and it was just up to Smith to sign.

"I don't think there will be any bad blood because he went to Miami for an interview," former 49ers running back great Roger Craig said Tuesday. "That's part of the process, it's the nature of the beast. He has to do what's best for him and his family. I'm pretty sure the 49ers are going to work something out. Players love him, fans love him. I love him.

"I think Alex wants to get this put to bed so he can focus on having a great year, an All-Pro year this year," Craig said. "He doesn't want this dark cloud over him. It's really his time, and he understands the business. He knows it's a good situation."

Long booed by his home fans at Candlestick Park, Smith had only five interceptions last year as San Francisco went 13-3 to win its first division title since 2002. That was a remarkable turnaround under first-year coach and 15-year NFL quarterback Harbaugh -- the NFL coach of the year -- who declared his confidence in Smith as a winner from Day 1 when Harbaugh was hired away from Stanford in January 2011.

San Francisco went 6-2 on the road and won four of those games in comeback fashion -- and Smith rallied his team from behind five times in all, not to mention a 36-32 victory against the favored Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs. Smith completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Davis with 9 seconds left to seal it after Drew Brees had put his team ahead.

MORE: http://www.boston.com/sports/football/articles/2012/03/21/ap_source_alex_smith_49ers_have_deal_in_place/

NFL: Titans agree to five-year deal with Kamerion Wimbley (USA Today)

March 20, 2012

Following a failed bid for QB Peyton Manning, the Titans turned their attention to the defense, acquiring former Raiders pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley on Tuesday.

Wimbley received a five-year $35 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed, according to The (Nashville) Tennessean. The Raiders and new general manager Reggie McKenzie last week released Wimbley one season into a five-year, $48 million contract as a cost-cutting move.

The 28-year-old collected 16 sacks in two seasons with the Raiders as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and joins a Titans pass rush that managed the second-fewest sacks in the league last season (28). Tennessee plans to utilize Wimbley as a 4-3 defensive end.

"I felt like it would be an easy transition for me to go back to playing defensive end which is what I played in college,'' Wimbley told The Tennessean. "So I am looking forward to the opportunity to come in and get into a Titans uniform and be able to perform on Sunday."

In six seasons, Wimbley has 369 career tackles, 42.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles. It has been speculated that the Titans would have pursued free agent defensive end Mario Williams, now a member of the Bills, if not for their interest in Manning. Wimbley, a cheaper alternative, became available late in the game.

"Kamerion has been a very productive player in this league and is a good pro," Titans coach Mike Munchak said in a statement. "On passing downs over the last few years, he has played with his hand down in Oakland and he will playing full-time at defensive end for us. I feel like he is coming into the best years of his career and his skills will help us pressure the passer."

MORE: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2012/03/titans-agree-to-five-year-deal-with-kamerion-wimbley/1#.T2jycNk3kyM

NFL: David Garrard to Dolphins (ESPN)

March 19, 2012

Former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has agreed to a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, Garrard's agent confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Dolphins settled on Garrard after being spurned by almost every free-agent quarterback they courted this offseason.

Both Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn chose to sign elsewhere after visiting with the Dolphins and new coach Joe Philbin. Former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who visited the team Sunday, will likely return to San Francisco.

Garrard sat out 2011 after being cut by Jacksonville days before the start of the season and eventually underwent back surgery.

The Dolphins have also informed safety Yeremiah Bell that he will be released to create cap space, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press

The person confirmed the discussions to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Dolphins hadn't announced a move.

The Dolphins will save more than $4 million in cap space.

Bell, 34, has played his entire eight-year career with Miami and became a starter in 2006. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and led the team in tackles each of the past four seasons.

Read More: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7711362/2012-nfl-free-agency-miami-dolphins-agree-1-year-deal-david-garrard-agent-says

NFL: Peyton Manning picks Broncos; Tebow status cloudy (USA Today)

March 19, 2012

Peyton Manning, the most prominent free agent in NFL history, finally made his big decision on Monday.

And the Denver Broncos won the prize of lofty new expectations.

Manning, who turns 36 on Saturday, instantly pushes Tim Tebow out of a starting job and assumes his quest to win a second Super Bowl with the franchise hoping to repeat the glory it achieved more than 13 years ago with John Elway.

Manning informed the Broncos early Monday that they could begin negotiations with his agent, Tom Condon, according to ESPN, citing multiple people, and the Associated Press based on a person with knowledge of the discussions. Manning also phoned representatives of other finalists, the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, with his decision.

Manning, Condon and Broncos decision-makers were unavailable Monday, but that did not prevent the news from traveling fast.

"I think it's a great place for him," Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers told reporters who had gathered outside the team's headquarters. "I don't think that he made a bad decision. I think he made a great decision. Hopefully, we can prove him right."

When the Indianapolis Colts released Manning after 14 seasons March 7, the Broncos were considered a "mystery" team in the equation. Yet Manning began his methodical tour, which included meetings with at least five teams, in Denver.

Manning also met with the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins, and worked out for the Broncos, Titans and 49ers to show the teams where he stands after missing last season recovering from three neck surgeries.

According to the Denver Post, the Broncos were prepared to offer a deal similar to Manning's last pact with the Colts, a five-year, $90 million contract.

In Denver, he stays in the AFC and takes over a unit that had an 8-8 record in winning the AFC West crown last season behind Tebow.

"Basically, he can really take us to another level," Broncos running back Willis McGahee said during a radio interview. "We were young and I think those guys got the jitters out of them last year, even though we did go to the playoffs. It was a certain something that we were missing. We were missing that general to take charge in tough situations and I think he brings that to the table.

"And once those guys see him out there I think they're going to rise to the occasion and just have a breakout year."

Still, questions persist. Among them:

How good of a fit will Manning be with the Broncos' coaching staff?

If it's good enough for the savvy Manning, it is tough to argue that he won't mesh well with head coach John Fox, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and the rest of the staff.

There may not be a more coachable player in the NFL than Manning, even as he heads into his 15th season. Tony Dungy recently recalled what Manning told him on his first day as Colts coach: "I want to be coached."

That said, Manning is used to essentially being a coach on the field, having called plays at the line of scrimmage for years. That mental edge is crucial to his greatness, and something the Broncos coaches will have to factor into their system.

It's also worth noting that Fox, who did a wonderful job last season figuring out how to get the best out of Tebow, has a history of adapting well and quickly preparing new and young players.

Was Elway a key factor?

If anybody could convince Manning that he can finish his career as a champion, it would be Elway — the Hall of Fame quarterback who won Super Bowls at ages 37 and 38 in his final two seasons.

Elway and Manning have maintained a strong relationship, and it probably wasn't difficult for Elway to sell Manning on the benefit of an aging quarterback playing for a balanced team.

As great as Elway was, he never won a championship until running back Terrell Davis came to town. Now, with Manning positioned to write his final chapters, the support he can get from a rushing attack that ranked No. 1 in the league last year and a stout defense could make the quest for another ring a bit easier.

Is Tebow destined to wind up in Miami?

Of all the teams that were bypassed in the Manning sweepstakes, the Dolphins might be the biggest losers.

The Titans still have Matt Hasselbeck, arguably the best free agent acquisition last season, and a quarterback-of-the-future in Jake Locker. And the Cardinals have Kevin Kolb, who has the benefit of a full offseason after last year's lockout limited his ability to prepare.

Yet the Dolphins are visiting with Jacksonville Jaguars castoff David Garrard, which is quite the drop off from Manning. Maybe Miami can make a splash yet by trying to swing a trade that would pave the way for the magnetic Tebow to return to his home state.

Remember where Tebow's rise began last season? Miami. It was the Dolphins' first sellout of the season. Bring him back, and Tebow would surely sell tickets and appeal to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross' celebrity factor.

But Tebow will still need to continue to develop as a passer. Stay put, and there's an excellent tutor in Manning. Either way, so much for the contention expressed by Elway after the playoff loss that Tebow had earned the opportunity to enter training camp as the starter.

When can Manning get to work with his new teammates?

There used to be a time when a big free agent addition could sign his deal and promptly proceed to camp out at his new team's headquarters, immersing himself in the playbook. Not anymore.

With the new collective bargaining agreement, Manning can't begin having meetings with the Broncos' coaching staff until April 16, when the team's offseason program begins. Because he's rehabbing from an injury, he can't hit the field until May 2.

Instead, Manning will have to organize workouts away from the supervision of coaches for a few weeks. That probably won't be too difficult as players will want to make a statement about where the team is headed.

What are some of the challenges awaiting Manning?

After all those years of playing home games in domed stadiums, Manning will have to deal with the elements in Denver, where it has snowed as early as September.

Then again, Manning won his only Super Bowl in a steady rain in Miami. The thin air will undoubtedly increase the velocity of Manning's throws, which can't be a bad thing as questions surround his arm strength following the neck injury.

But the real issue might be who is on the other end of those passes. Denver's receiving corps is thin with very little in the way of proven talent beyond former first-round pick Demaryius Thomas. The leading receiver last season, Eric Decker, caught just 44 passes for 612 yards. And Eddie Royal just signed with San Diego.

Beyond the task of establishing his rhythm in a new environment with new teammates, an intriguing set of challenges rests with the schedule. By winning their division, the Broncos earned a "first-place" schedule, which means Manning will face some of his old friends with the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, in addition to a matchup with the New Orleans Saints. And an opponent that used to be such a pain to Manning — the San Diego Chargers, whom he is 4-5 against in his career — now comes twice a year in the AFC West.

Are the Broncos the team to beat in the AFC West?

A double-digit victory season with a healthy Manning would seem to be at the low end of expectations.

Manning guided the Colts to at least 10 victories in 11 seasons. Whether he can produce that type of consistency in a new environment is part of the challenge.

In any event, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith — no big fan of the Mannings after Eli snubbed his franchise coming out of college — and coach Norv Turner can't be thrilled about the signing. San Diego owned the division for a few years but could never get over the hump. Now comes Peyton.

Read More: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/broncos/story/2012-03-19/Peyton-Manning-picks-Denver-Broncos-Tim-Tebow-status-unclear/53657438/1

NFL: Jets sign 1-year deal with S LaRon Landry (Sports Illustrated)

March 19, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - LaRon Landry is bringing his bone-jarring hits to Rex Ryan's defense.

The free-agent safety signed one-year deal Monday with the Jets, filling one of New York's most pressing needs.

With starter Eric Smith the only experienced safety on the roster, the Jets focused on addressing the position in free agency. Landry visited with New York on Sunday, and had a number of other teams interested in him despite finishing last season for Washington on injured reserve with an injured left Achilles tendon.

ESPN reported that the deal was for $4 million.

With Smith and rookie Tracy Wilson, a practice squad call-up, as their only safeties, the Jets spent the last several days trying to help themselves in free agency. They lost out on Reggie Nelson, who was in for a visit but chose to return to Cincinnati, and Brandon Meriweather, who signed with the Redskins.

"When you factor in that Rex coached my brother (Dawan) and the family-oriented demeanor, it just felt like home,'' Landry said. "It made the decision real easy for me. They have a top-notch support staff and facility and I really feel that I can prosper here.''

Dawan Landry played under Ryan in Baltimore when Ryan was the Ravens' defensive coordinator.

New York allowed Brodney Pool to leave as a free agent; he signed with Dallas. Jim Leonhard, a starter the last three seasons, is also a free agent but is coming off a second straight season-ending injury. Leonhard is recovering from a torn patellar tendon in his right knee, and could return to the Jets.

LaRon Landry spent his first five NFL seasons with the Redskins after he was picked No. 6 overall in the 2007 draft out of LSU. He played at both free and strong safety with Washington, and was a two-time Pro Bowl alternate. The hard-hitting Landry could be used as a blitzing safety in Ryan's aggressive defense and be a solid presence against the run - as long as he stays healthy.

His last two seasons have been marked by injuries, finishing both years on injured reserve and playing in just 17 games. Landry played just nine games in 2010 after injuring his left Achilles tendon. Last season, he struggled with a strained hamstring, a pulled groin and again with the Achilles, which landed him on IR with a few weeks left in the season.

The Washington Post reported that Landry was told by the Redskins after both seasons to have surgery on the tendon area to remove bone spurs, but he instead elected to try alternative procedures such as shockwave therapy and platelet-rich plasma treatments.

Landry apparently is healthy enough for the Jets to sign him to a low-risk type of contract, giving New York a secondary with four first-rounders, along with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Landry was selected eight spots ahead of Revis in the 2007 draft.

Landry has 383 career tackles, 5 1/2 sacks, four interceptions and six forced fumbles.

NFL: Matt Flynn Ready To Win QB Job (ESPN)

March 19, 2012

RENTON, Wash. -- When Matt Flynn came to visit the Seattle Seahawks, he wowed the staff with his personality and ability to understand offensive systems.

That still wasn't enough to completely satisfy the Seahawks considering how little playing time Flynn got backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. So Pete Carroll and crew handed Flynn some workout gear, took him into their indoor facility and put him through a lighthearted throwing session to make sure that what they saw on tape looked just as good in person.

"I was totally up for it and we had fun out there. It was real laid-back," Flynn said. "It wasn't a pressure cooker or anything like that. They kind of just wanted to see me in action I guess."

What the Seahawks saw was impressive enough for them to offer up a three-year deal for Flynn that was more appealing than other opportunities for one of the hottest free agents. That's even though Flynn was completely aware when he agreed to come to the Pacific Northwest that he was entering an open competition with incumbent Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job.

Flynn agreed to his deal with the Seahawks on Sunday. The contract is worth $26 million with $10 million guaranteed, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

During a conference call on Monday, Flynn said that when he visited late last week, the entire situation felt comfortable and it felt like the team was moving in the right direction.

It's the kind of answer Carroll likes hearing, especially after Seattle's main focus in the early stages of free agency was on bringing back its own players who were key in a late-season run that brought the Seahawks to the fringes of the NFC playoff chase. The Seahawks locked up running back Marshawn Lynch with a five-year deal worth up to $31 million, re-signed defensive end Red Bryant and brought back fullback Michael Robinson.

"Free agency for us was really to get our own guys," Carroll said. "That was the start of it. The fact we were able to do that ... this has been real important to us. Now we're trying to add."

Ultimately, it was time for the Seahawks to address an issue that's lingered since Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived before the 2010 season: the Seahawks' long-term future at quarterback. They whiffed on Charlie Whitehurst. The verdict is still out on Jackson after he played behind an inexperienced offensive line early in 2011 then played through a painful pectoral injury for more than half the season.

Maybe Flynn will be the hit -- if he wins the job.

"We now have the opportunity to make this an open competition. Tarvaris is well ahead and he's the guy here working for us now," Carroll said. "I told Tarvaris when I talked with him yesterday that what we're doing with Matt is bringing him in here to compete for the job. And he's going to make everybody better and help our football team."

The other main suitor for Flynn appeared to be Miami, which makes his decision to come to Seattle a bit more surprising. In Miami there was familiarity as Flynn would have been reunited with former Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, the Dolphins' new head coach. But Flynn also had a connection in Seattle with Schneider, who was in the Packers front office when Flynn was selected in the seventh round of the 2008 draft out of LSU.

Flynn might have become a secondary option for the Seahawks had Carroll and staff been able to meet up with Peyton Manning in Denver during his whirlwind tour. But the meeting never came to fruition.

The idea of earning a job is nothing new to Flynn. He waited behind JaMarcus Russell at LSU for three seasons, then when Flynn got his shot to be the starter he led the Tigers to the BCS national championship. Carroll said the competition theme was emphasized throughout their conversations with Flynn and that Jackson has a significant advantage with a season in the Seahawks offense under his belt.

But unlike last offseason, which was mostly wiped out by the lockout, Flynn will get a full allotment of OTAs, minicamp and training camps to try to earn the job.

"I've always been a very competitive guy, a very confident guy and a guy who believes in working his tail off and doing the best he can," Flynn said. "I know I'm going to come in here and be in a competition and whatever happens, whatever my role is, I want to make Seattle a better football team. I think there is an opportunity there to have a very special football team."

FROM: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7710656/matt-flynn-not-afraid-seattle-seahawks-competition-tarvaris-jackson

NFL: Titans strike three-year deal with G Steve Hutchinson (USA Today)

March 15, 2012

The Tennessee Titans reeled in a probable future Hall of Famer on Thursday.

No, it wasn't QB Peyton Manning.

Five-time first-team all-pro LG Steve Hutchinson, a member of the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s along with Manning, agreed to a three-year deal with Tennessee, per ESPN.

VOLUNTEER TITAN?  Adams ready to make Manning a Titan 'for life'

His addition could be welcome news in the recruitment of Manning, however no one may be happier than Titans RB Chris Johnson. Hutchinson's pancake blocking has helped Shaun Alexander, Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson to numerous 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Alexander never again topped 1,000 yards after Hutchinson left the Seahawks following their 2005 Super Bowl season; the Vikings pried "Hutch" loose the following offseason with a "poison pill" contract Seattle could not match after placing the transition tag on him.

A seven-time Pro Bowler, Hutchinson, 34, missed seven games over his final two years in Minnesota. However he said recently that the time off allowed his body to heal, and he anticipated recapturing his dominant form.

FROM: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2012/03/titans-strike-three-year-deal-with-g-steve-hutchinson/1#.T2JWyXmiZWA

NFL: Buffalo Bills sign Mario Williams (LA Times)

March 15, 2012

The Buffalo Bills have landed a prized free agent -- and it's not Peyton Manning.

The Bills have scheduled a news conference today to announce they have signed Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams, Houston's No. 1 overall pick in 2006. The story was first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Williams reportedly is getting a six-year deal that will make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. That comes on the heels of Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson signing the league's biggest-ever deal: eight years, $132 million.

The Bills are switching to a 4-3 defense and are in need of defensive ends. Williams will line up alongside defensive tackles Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, forming an elite front that arguably is the best in football.

And especially in a division that features Tom Brady, having a top pass rusher isn't such a bad thing.


FROM: http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-buffalo-williams-20120315,0,1613252.story

NFL: Eagles Re-Sign DeSean Jackson (ESPN)

March 14, 2012

ESPN- DeSean Jackson got his wish after all.

Jackson agreed to a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the deal is worth $51 million.

The two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver already was tagged as the franchise player, meaning he would've earned at least $9.4 million next season. Now, he gets the long-term security he sought last year.

Jackson held out last training camp because he wanted an extension and let his contract situation affect him. He was deactivated for a game after being late for a team meeting, dropped more passes than usual and his production dipped. But the Eagles are counting on Jackson to be the dynamic player he was in 2009-10.

"We are thrilled to be able to keep one of the NFL's top playmakers in Philadelphia," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "DeSean is a gamebreaker. He has the speed and ability to score from anywhere on the field, and he has proven himself to be a big threat for our offense."

Philadelphia stumbled to 8-8 last year, but closed with four straight victories, building momentum for 2012. The Eagles finished just one game behind the New York Giants, who not only won the NFC East, but also the Super Bowl.

Jackson has career totals of 229 receptions, 4,085 yards and 21 touchdowns in four years after being drafted out of Cal. He also has three rushing scores and a franchise-record four punt return touchdowns.

"Signing our own players was a big priority for us this offseason," Reid said. "And DeSean was certainly high on our list. We are very excited about his future as an Eagle."

Jackson, 25, was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and is one of five players in NFL history to record at least 900 yards receiving in each of his four seasons.

"DJACC!!!! Congrats buddy @DeseanJackson10," Eagles tight end Brent Celek tweeted Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, defensive end Trent Cole and the Eagles agreed on a four-year contract extension through 2017, and on Tuesday, offensive tackle Todd Herremans agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2016.

A source told Schefter that Cole's extension is worth $48.525 million, including $15 million guaranteed. The deal could be worth $55.25 million if escalators in the contract are triggered.

Cole is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks third on the team's all-time list for sacks with 68. He had 11 sacks in 2011, his fourth season with a double-digit total.

"Trent plays the game with a level of tenacity that's hard to replicate," Reid said. "He's one of the premier defensive ends in the league."

The Eagles also made a couple of roster moves, trading offensive lineman Winston Justice to Indianapolis and releasing former starting center Jamaal Jackson.

While Jackson's contract situation was somewhat contentious, Cole and Herremans waited patiently for their deals to materialize.

"I think that with Todd and me, we conducted business professionally, the way it's supposed to be conducted," Cole said. "We never went out to the media and complained. We did what we had to do to keep moving and we didn't cause any problems with the team and this atmosphere."

With the key returnees, there's a feeling -- inside the organization, at least -- that Philadelphia will return to its status as a perennial playoff team in the NFC.

"As the season went on, we started coming together a lot more and it showed by us winning our (last four) games," Herremans said. "We really feel that we don't need any extra pieces brought to us in free agency. We feel that the team we have in the locker room can make a great run and go to the Super Bowl next year."

The Eagles spent plenty of money in free agency last year, signing several players with high pedigrees. They were expected to contend for the Super Bowl, and had to play under the "Dream Team" label that was attached to them by backup quarterback Vince Young, one of those high-priced signings that didn't pan out.


NFL: Peyton Hillis leaves Browns for Chiefs (USA Today)

March 14, 2012

Kansas City became Peyton's place Wednesday evening.

No, Peyton Manning is not joining the Chiefs. Rather the team announced it had come to terms with bruising RB

A change of scenery could be welcome for Hillis, who struggled with injuries and off-field drama in 2011 after a breakout effort in 2010.

After amassing 1,654 yards from scrimmage two seasons ago, Hillis managed just 717 last year. He missed six games and sat out one with strep throat, a move that caused some locker room consternation, especially given Browns C Alex Mack didn't miss a snap despite undergoing a midseason appendectomy.

Hillis tried not to let his unsettled contract situation be a distraction even as he repeatedly switched agents in Cleveland.

Now he should have some security in K.C. even though he'll almost certainly receive fewer touches behind Jamaal Charles, who's coming off a torn ACL after an all-pro year in 2010. Yet Hillis, who caught 61 passes in 2010, should provide a perfect foil to the speedy, slashing Charles in a change-of-pace role.


NFL: Cowboys fill big need by signing CB Brandon Carr (SportingNews)

March 14, 2012

Clifton Brown- Sporting News

The Dallas Cowboys snagged much-needed cornerback help Wednesday, signing former Kansas City Chiefs player Brandon Carr to a five-year deal worth a reported $50.1 million, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Secondary play was a major weakness for the Cowboys last season, and they recently released veteran cornerback Terence Newman.

With Cortland Finnegan (St. Louis Rams) and Eric Wright (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) already off the market, signing Carr became even more imperative for the Cowboys.

Carr, 26, who started every game for the Chiefs during his four years in Kansas City, had a career-high four interceptions last season. At 6-0, 207 pounds, he has the size to match up with bigger receivers.

The Cowboys needed a player of Carr's caliber to help against receivers in the wideout-rich NFC East. In addition to holdovers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants, and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin of the Philadephia Eagles, the Washington Redskins this week signed Pierre Garcon.

Carr should be a fixture in the Cowboys' secondary the next few years, and the Cowboys might add another corner or two in the draft.

Also on Wednesday, the Cowboys signed Kyle Orton to back up quarterback Tony Romo and replace Jon Kitna, who retired.

Chargers re-sign Gaither, add Jarret Johnson for four years

March 14, 2012

By Nate Davis, USA TODAY

UPDATE: Later on Wednesday afternoon, the Chargers reached a four-year deal with former Ravens OLB Jarret Johnson, who had 56 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his ninth and final season in Baltimore. Never a flashy player, Johnson does everything well and was an underrated cog in Charm City, where he last played for DC (and new Colts HC) Chuck Pagano, whose brother, John, is San Diego's new defensive coordinator.


The San Diego Chargers' offensive line might not be in such bad shape after all.

The team announced Wednesday it had agreed to a new four-year deal to keep LT Jared Gaither.

"I was ecstatic," said Gaither, who began his career with the Ravens in 2007, in a statement. "It's definitely been a blessed day to be able to get that done and just get that out of the way. It allows me to focus on football strictly and solely and get the job done."

He was claimed off waivers from the Chiefs late last season and replaced injured Marcus McNeill for the final five games. The Chargers went 4-1 in that stretch, and Gaither did not allow a sack of Pro Bowl QB Philip Rivers.

Arguably the best tackle available in free agency, Gaither will remain in place with San Diego C Nick Hardwick, who re-signed for three years Tuesday. The Bolts released McNeill yesterday and had already lost LG Kris Dielman to retirement.

Read More: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2012/03/chargers-re-sign-lt-jared-gaither-for-four-years/1#.T2Dz93miZWA

NFL: Report- Peyton to pick Titans or Broncos (FOX SPORTS)

March 14, 2012

Peyton Manning appears to have entered the home stretch of his search for a new landing spot.

The four-time MVP quarterback will meet with Titans owner Bud Adams, coach Mike Munchak and several other club officials Wednesday at an undisclosed location amid reports he has narrowed his choices to the Broncos and Tennessee.

Manning has also visited the Cardinals and met with the Dolphins since being released by the Colts last week, but the Denver Post reported Tuesday that he was deciding between the Broncos and Titans -- a stance seconded later in the day by former Colts GM Bill Polian on ESPN.

Meanwhile, Jets owner Woody Johnson said in a television interview that the team "passed" on Manning and he expects to see a "growth spurt" in Mark Sanchez.

The Jets explored signing Manning last week when he became a free agent, but extended Sanchez's contract once it became clear Manning was not interested. Johnson, appearing on the Fox Business Network, said the Jets did not want Manning.

"We passed on him," he said. "We're signed up with our quarterback. We've got a pretty good tether, we've got five years. We like Mark."

Johnson did admit the team explored the possibility of signing Manning.

"We have to," he said. "Our fans expect us to look at every opportunity."


NFL: Calvin Johnson signs $132M deal (ESPN)

March 14, 2012

ESPN- The Detroit Lions signed star receiver Calvin Johnson to a seven-year extension Wednesday, the team announced on its Twitter account.

An NFL source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the contract is worth $132 million and includes $60 million guaranteed. Johnson's contract is the richest deal ever for an NFL wide receiver, exceeding the $120 million deal Larry Fitzgerald signed with the Arizona Cardinals last year.

The extension puts Johnson under contract with the Lions through the 2019 season. The team is holding a news conference at 1 p.m. ET.

He was set to enter the final season of the deal he signed as the No. 2 pick overall in the 2007 draft.

Johnson earned All-Pro honors for the first time last season with a league-best 1,681 yards receiving. He followed up with 211 yards receiving against New Orleans in the playoffs, setting a league record for a player in his postseason debut.


NFL: Bucs sign All-Pro guard Nicks and CB Wright (

March 14, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright to five-year contracts.

Nicks was one of the key blockers for Drew Brees on the Saints' record-setting offense. He's considered one of the best pass blockers in the NFL. He made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons.

Wright, a five-year veteran, was with the Lions last season after spending four years in Cleveland. He had 73 tackles, four interception and 16 passes defensed in starting all 16 games in 2011.

The Bucs announced the signings Wednesday, one day after they landed wide receiver Vincent Jackson on the first day of free agency.

Tampa Bay finished 4-12 with one of the worst offenses and defenses in the league last season.

NFL: Free Agent DE Mario Williams To Visit Bills (CNNSI)

March 13, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - The Buffalo Bills have made no secret of their need to improve their pass rush, and are hoping prized free agent, defensive end Mario Williams, can be convinced to provide that push.

Williams accepted the Bills' invitation to meet with them in Buffalo on Tuesday, the first day of the NFL's free agency period, two people familiar with discussions have told The Associated Press. ESPN first reported Williams' scheduled visit with the Bills earlier in the day.

The Bills have also expressed interest in free agent receiver Robert Meachem, one of the people said, though it's initially unclear if the former New Orleans Saints' receiver has agreed to visit Buffalo.

The two people spoke on the condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.

Behind quarterback Peyton Manning, Williams is regarded as one of the top free agents on the market, which means the Bills would have to pay a hefty price if they intend to land the player selected first overall in the 2006 draft by Houston.

Bills CEO Russ Brandon indicated earlier in the day that the team is willing to be aggressive, in an interview with Buffalo's WGR-Radio.

"We plan to be aggressive in free agency, and resources will not be an issue,'' Brandon said.

In six seasons, Williams became the Texans' top defensive player before being slowed by injuries in each of the past two years.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Williams is a two-time Pro Bowl starter, who set a Texans' franchise-best 53 career sacks, including a team single-season best 14 in 2007. Williams was limited to playing just five games last season as a result of a torn chest muscle. He also missed three games in 2010 after having surgery to repair a sports hernia.

Despite Williams' absence last season, the Texans defense finished second in the NFL in fewest yards allowed, and set a team record with 44 sacks while helping Houston to its first playoff appearance. Before making a decision on whether to re-sign Williams this offseason, the Texans went ahead and re-signed running back Arian Foster to a five-year, $43.5 million contract.

Both Bills general manager Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey have emphasized this offseason that improving the team's pass rush is among the top offseason priorities. Buffalo (6-10) managed just 27 sacks last season, 10 of them coming in a 23-0 win over the Redskins on Oct. 30.

Earlier on Tuesday, Texans owner Bob McNair said he was still interested in re-signing Williams, but noted they would have to compete with other teams now that the player became a free agent.


AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan, in Houston, contributed to this report.

NFL: Seahawks re-sign DL Red Bryant (Sporting News)

March 13, 2012

The Seattle Seahawks checked off a key item on their offseason to-do list by re-signing run-stuffing defensive end Red Bryant.

NFL.com, citing league sources, reported Bryant signed a five-year contract that will average more than $7 million per year.

The 6-4, 323-pound Bryant, a former nose tackle, is critical to the Seahawks' run defense. Although he had only 32 tackles in 16 starts last season, he was effective at holding his ground and tying up blockers so the Seahawks' linebackers could flow to the ball.

Bryant also showed some big-play ability last season by collecting two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

NFL: Josh Morgan To Redskins, Brandon Carr Visits Cowboys

March 13, 2012

The Washington Redskins are not allowing any punishment get in the way of their offseason spending as Adam Schefter is reporting that Josh Morgan, the wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, is on the verge of also signing with the Redskins. This comes just minutes after news of Pierre Garcon doing the same. The Redskins are apparently going to hope the $36 million salary cap room penalty goes away via litigation or appeal.

Morgan was one of the more underrated targets available on the open market and was making quite a mark on the 49ers offense before he was lost to injury for the season. Garcon and Morgan give the Redskins two promising targets at wideout to go with Leonard Hankerson, the second round rookie who was lost to injury for the year as well. The team might be cutting ties with Santana Moss and/or Jabar Gaffney because of these moves.

Meanwhile the word on Brandon Carr is that he will take his first official visit with the Dallas Cowboys. If things go well, he might leave with a contract in hand. That first visit is always the biggest for any free agent except for Peyton Manning who seems quite willing to take his time. The Chiefs will definitely miss Carr if he signs elsewhere, but already made a contingency plan with the signing of Stanford Routt.

SB NATION: http://kansascity.sbnation.com/kansas-city-chiefs/2012/3/13/2868737/nfl-free-agency-update-josh-morgan-to-redskins-brandon-carr-visits

NFL: Vincent Jackson To Sign With Buccaneers (SB Nation)

March 13, 2012

Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times has tweeted that the Buccanners and former San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson "is close to a done deal". He reports that the Bucs "have put a full-court press on him" to try and steer other teams toward other options.

Jackson has been one of the more attractive free agents on the market and drew interest from numerous teams.

In 2011, Jackson had just 60 receptions yet had 1,106 receiving yards and had nine receiving touchdowns. In seven professional seasons, Jackson has had three years of 1,000 or more receiving yards and has been elected to the Pro Bowl twice.

For the latest on Tampa Bay free agency, keep it to this StoryStream. For more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, make sure to visit Bucs Nation. For all the latest news around the NFL during free agency, stop by the SB Nation NFL Hub Page.

FROM: http://tampabay.sbnation.com/tampa-bay-buccaneers/2012/3/13/2868644/vincent-jackson-buccaneers-nfl-free-agency-2012

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