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Saturday, March 3, 2007
Rams sign WR Drew Bennett for six years, $30 million

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St. Louis Rams: The Rams filled a potential void if wide receiver Kevin Curtis leaves by signing Drew Bennett to a six-year, $30 million contract that includes $10 million in guarantees.

Between bonuses and base salary, Bennett will pocket $9.5 million in 2007. He will earn $13 million in the first two years of the contract and $21 million over the first four seasons of the deal.
Clayton's take
The second day of free agency turned into Patriots' Day, as New England was extremely aggressive, writes John Clayton. Story

Bennett leaves the Tennessee Titans and joins one of the most productive receiving duos in the NFL in Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Curtis visited the Minnesota Vikings Friday and is scheduled to also visit the Detroit Lions.

A former quarterback, Bennett has been a successful possession receiver with the Titans. He's played six seasons after making the team as an undrafted player in 2001.

-- ESPN.com senior writers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli.

Arizona Cardinals: The Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms Saturday on three-year contracts for running back Marcel Shipp and safety Hanik Milligan. Both were unrestricted free agents after finishing last season with the Cardinals. Terms were not disclosed.

-- The Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens: The Baltimore Ravens re-signed linebacker Jarret Johnson to a three-year, $13 million deal Saturday, securing a replacement for All-Pro Adalius Thomas.

Johnson, 25, was drafted in the fourth round out of Alabama by Baltimore in 2003 and will join the NFL's top-ranked defense as its only new starter after Thomas signed with New England.

-- The Associated Press

Cleveland Browns: Cleveland has agreed to terms with former Texans defensive end Antwan Peek. Terms weren't immediately available. This might take the Browns out of the running for Joey Porter, who they had expressed interest in picking up after his release from the Steelers.

-- ESPN.com senior writer Michael Smith

Denver Broncos: The Denver Broncos signed free agent guard Montrae Holland to a one-year deal Saturday. The 26-year-old Holland has played the last four seasons with the New Orleans Saints, starting 30 of the 52 games he's played. Holland was expected to compete for the starting spot at right guard with Chris Kuper and Cooper Carlisle, who's a free agent and may not be re-signed.

-- The Associated Press

Kansas City Chiefs: Offensive tackle Damion McIntosh has agreed to a six-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

McIntosh, an unrestricted free agent who started 13 games at Miami last season -- 11 at left tackle and two at right guard -- will likely play left tackle for the Chiefs, general manager Carl Peterson said.

-- The Associated Press

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings signed former Giants tight end Visanthe Shiancoe to a five-year, $18.5 million deal, with $7 million guaranteed and $8.2 million in the first year. The Vikings also signed Vinny Ciurciu.

-- ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton

New England Patriots: The Patriots continued their signing spree Saturday. After reaching an agreement with Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas and Jaguars tight end Kyle Brady. New England also signed halfback Sammy Morris of the Dolphins. Terms of the deal weren't available.

Morris ran for 400 yards and one touchdown on 92 carries last season. In seven NFL seasons with the Dolphins and Buffalo Bills, he has 1,469 yards rushing and 14 rushing TDs, as well as 112 recpetions for 792 yards and one TD catch.

-- ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton

New Orleans Saints: Offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb, who overcame a catastrophic knee injury to resurrect his career in 2006, has agreed to a two-year contract that will keep him with the Saints. The contract is worth $7 million and will pay Stinchcomb $5 million in 2007, between his signing bonus and base salary.

Stinchcomb, 27, drew interest from other teams on the opening day of the NFL's free agent period, but opted to remain with a Saints team that brought him into the league in 2003. He also turned down a longer-term offer from the Saints, one that would have included a larger signing bonus, after he and agent Pat Dye Jr. decided the two-year contract actually offered more flexibility.

The shorter deal will allow Stinchcomb, who has only started one year, to further establish himself and then be eligible again for free agency in the spring of 2009.

A second-round choice in the '03 draft, Stinchcomb appeared in only 10 games, none as a starter, in his first three seasons. Stinchcomb sustained a ruptured right patella tendon in training camp in 2005, sidelining him the entire season and jeopardizing his career. But he rehabilitated diligently, won a starting spot in training camp and performed at a high level all season as the Saints won the division title.

-- ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli

San Diego Chargers: For days, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith was dreading an expected phone call that guard Kris Dielman was leaving for another team in free agency. As it turned out, Dielman didn't want to make that call. He decided to stay in San Diego.

Dielman shunned a more lucrative offer from the Seattle Seahawks and a few other teams to stay with the Chargers. Dielman agreed to a six-year, $39 million deal with the Chargers that had $17 million in guarantees. The Seahawks, Browns and a few other teams were willing to play more.

But Dielman wanted to stay on a 14-2 team. He woke up in Seattle on Saturday morning and before a breakfast meeting with the Seahawks, he instructed his agent, Mike McCartney, to get a deal done with the Chargers. McCartney scrambled and got him $17 million in guarantees.

-- ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton

San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who spent the first 48 hours of free agency trying to upgrade his defense, made a quick move to help the offense.

The 49ers reached a two-year agreement with former Broncos and 49ers wide receiver Ashley Lelie, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. Lelie gives the 49ers a tall, speed receiver to balance out a group of receivers considered more for possession routes. The thought in San Francisco was to test the free agent market to find a receiver with speed.

Though the 49ers were looking at Drew Bennett and a few other receives, Lelie offered them some deep speed. The fear in signing another possession receiver was that cornerbacks would try to squat on the routes and try for interceptions.

With Antonio Bryant being released this week, Lelie has a chance to compete for a starting job in a vertical offense. He has a chance to be a No. 1 receiver in something different than the West Coast offenses he's played on in Atlanta and Denver.

Defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on Saturday, making him the third free agent in two days to come in to bolster one of the NFL's worst defenses last season. The 49ers also re-signed Bryan Gilmore, their third receiver last season.

-- ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton and The Associated Press.

Washington Redskins: Cornerback Fred Smoot really didn't want to leave the Redskins. Now, he feels as though he's come back home.

Smoot signed a five-year deal worth $25 million Saturday with the Redskins to return after spending three turbulent seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

But this move wasn't about money. Smoot went for the money three years ago when he signed a six-year, $34.7 million but Smoot struggled with his play and with some off-the-field problems.

The Vikings cut him last week, but Smoot couldn't wait to make a trip to Washington and try to talk the Redskins into re-signing him. While Smoot's agent, Bus Cook, was negotiating the contract, Smoot was in Daniel Snyder's office trying to speed up the process to try to get the deal done.

Smoot is the second defensive addition for the Redskins, who added linebacker London Fletcher on Friday.

-- ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton