Sunday, July 31, 2011
QB Dennis Dixon not at Steelers camp
ESPN.com news services
Quarterback Dennis Dixon, a restricted free agent, did not sign his tender and has yet to report to Pittsburgh Steelers training camp.
Dixon's agent, Jeff Sperbeck, told ESPN.com's James Walker on Sunday that his client prefers a chance to compete for another team over backing up two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.
Dixon was drafted by the Steelers in 2008 and has been Roethlisberger's backup the past three seasons.
"Dennis would love the opportunity to start," Sperbeck told Walker. "Yes, we would look forward to an opportunity for a trade -- it's a starting opportunity we're looking for."
Pittsburgh placed a fifth-round tender on Dixon. Therefore, any team that makes an offer would have to give up a late pick in 2012. The Steelers also have the right to match any offers.
Despite Dixon wanting out, Sperbeck didn't rule out Dixon eventually signing his tender if there's no interest.
"There's a possibility he will sign it," Sperbeck said to Walker. "We're just looking to gather information here during the early part of free agency."
As Dixon sits out, Pittsburgh bolstered its secondary on Sunday, agreeing to terms with cornerback William Gay. The team also re-signed punter Daniel Sepulveda, who is coming off a knee injury.
The 26-year-old Gay gives Pittsburgh some added depth in the defensive backfield. He had 34 solo tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery last season working most of the time as a nickel back.
Sepulveda averaged 45.5 yards a punt in 12 games in 2010 before tearing the ACL in his right knee. If he passes a physical, he'll compete with Jeremy Kapinos and Aaron Bates for the punting job.
Neither player can practice with the team until Thursday under new NFL rules.
Jags TE Lewis to end holdout Monday
Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis is ending his holdout with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Although he still doesn't have a long-term contract, Lewis said on his Twitter page Sunday that he is returning to the team after a five-day holdout.
Jaguars general manager Gene Smith expects Lewis to be at training camp Monday, saying "I eagerly anticipate him being back here. He's a big part of this team and where we're going. It'll be great to see him."
Lewis caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns last season -- all career highs. The Jaguars placed the franchise tag on Lewis, who signed a one-year tender offer worth nearly $7.3 million. But both sides want to work out a long-term deal and are continuing to negotiate.
Jacksonville also signed Matt Turk, one of the oldest players in the NFL last season, to a one-year contract worth nearly $2 million on Sunday, giving the team an experienced punter to replace Adam Podlesh.
Calling Turk a veteran would be an understatement. The 43-year-old player is joining his seventh franchise in 18 seasons.
"He could walk in here with a cane, but I think he's going to be OK," coach Jack Del Rio said.
Falcons agree to deal with RG Blalock
The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with left guard Justin Blalock on a six-year contract Sunday.
Blalock has started all 64 games that he's played since Atlanta drafted him in the second round of the 2007 draft out of Texas.
With Blalock's return, the Falcons have four of their five starting offensive linemen back for a fourth straight season under coach Mike Smith, coordinator Mike Mularkey and quarterback Matt Ryan. Right guard Harvey Dahl left as an unrestricted free agent and signed with St. Louis.
Right tackle Tyson Clabo, like Blalock, returned after becoming an unrestricted free agent. Center Todd McClure is back for his 13th season, and left tackle Sam Baker returns for his fourth.
Rams rookie Quinn on injury list before 1st practice
The St. Louis Rams have placed first-round pick Robert Quinn on the non-football injury list.
Quinn hurt his right knee while working out in North Carolina two months ago. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end agreed to a four-year deal with an option for a fifth year Saturday.
"Robert came in with really a sprained knee from his workouts in North Carolina," St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo said after practice at Rams Park. "We thought he'd be better off over there with (trainer) Reggie (Scott). We really haven't seen Robert do anything. We want to get a good assessment where that knee is before we throw him out there with the rest of the guys."
The Rams also reached deals with defensive tackle Justin Bannan and linebacker Zac Diles on Sunday. The 6-3, 310-pound Bannan started all 16 games last season at Denver, which released him this offseason. Diles, who played for the Texans last season, is expected to play both outside linebacker positions.
Redskins, tackle Brown agree to 5-year deal
The Washington Redskins decided to stay the course at right tackle Sunday, agreeing to terms with Jammal Brown for a five-year deal worth $27.5 million.
The Redskins also re-signed linebacker H.B. Blades and acquired running back Tim Hightower from the Arizona Cardinals for defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday and an undisclosed draft pick.
Brown rounds out a potential starting offensive line for coach Mike Shanahan's team. Second-year player Trent Williams is set at left tackle, Kory Lichtensteiger at left guard, Will Montgomery at center, and newly signed free agent Chris Chester at right guard.
Vikings' K. Williams hasn't heard about suspension
Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams said Sunday that he has not heard from the NFL about a possible suspension stemming from a weight loss supplement he took three years ago.
Williams and former teammate Pat Williams had been embroiled in a long court fight over their positive tests for the banned diuretic bumetanide in 2008. They argued that the supplement StarCaps did not include the ingredient on its label.
In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Pat Williams. That appeared to clear the way for them to be suspended for the first four games of 2011.
"We haven't heard anything. Hopefully they forget about it, but you know how that goes," Kevin Williams said jokingly when he reported to Vikings training camp at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Not likely, but the new collective bargaining agreement may factor into the enforcement of the suspension. The league and the NFLPA are still talking about several facets of the deal, including the drug policy. Williams has vehemently denied taking steroids and has never tested positive for them. But bumetanide is banned because it is a diuretic that can be used as a masking agent for steroids.
If his suspension is upheld, Williams would miss the first four games of the season.
Williams is free to practice and work out with the team until a decision is issued by the league. But the Vikings are taking precautions if they lose their star player.
The Vikings drafted Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard in the fourth round in April and also re-signed versatile backup Fred Evans on Sunday to give them a little more depth at the position.
Sources: Lions sign Tulloch, agree with Houston
The Detroit Lions have signed former Tennessee Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch to a one-year deal worth $3.35 million, including $1.8 million guaranteed, league sources tell ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The 26-year-old Tulloch has led the Titans in tackles each of the past two seasons.
In 2010, his first season as a full-time starter in the Titans' linebacker corps, he had a career-high 160 tackles, including 111 solo takedowns.
He originally was a fourth-round selection of the Titans in the 2006 draft.
Detroit also agreed to a two-year contract with cornerback Chris Houston, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Houston spent 2010 with the Lions after three years in Atlanta.
The 5-foot-11, 178-pound cornerback has four career interceptions in 59 games.
Texans re-sign Foster; Sign DE Watt
Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010, officially re-signed with Houston on Sunday.
Foster ran for 1,616 yards and 17 touchdowns last season in just his second NFL season. The Texans signed Foster in 2009 after he went undrafted out of Tennessee.
The Texans also signed first-round pick J.J. Watt.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound defensive end was the 11th overall selection after helping Wisconsin win the Big Ten in 2010. Watt led the Badgers with seven sacks, three forced fumbles and three blocked kicks. He also had 21 tackles for a loss to rank third nationally.
The Texans opened training camp Sunday and are scheduled to have their first practice Monday morning.
Houston also announced the signings of linebacker Brooks Reed (second round), cornerback Brandon Harris (second round), cornerback Roc Carmichael (fourth round), safety Shiloh Keo (fifth round), quarterback T.J. Yates (fifth round), offensive tackle Derek Newton (seventh round) and linebacker Cheta Ozougwu (seventh round).
Guards Mike Brisiel and Kasey Studdard also re-upped with the Texans.
Packers, WR Jones agree to deal
Wide receiver James Jones and running back John Kuhn both will be back with the Green Bay Packers.
Agent Frank Bauer said Sunday that Jones has agreed to a three-year deal with the team, and agent Kevin Gold said Kuhn has agreed to a three-year deal.
Specific financial terms were not disclosed. Gold said Kuhn's deal puts him among the best-paid fullbacks in the league.
Bauer said Jones is glad to be back and the Super Bowl champions are happy to have him.
Jones explored the free-agent market, but several teams looking for receiving help signed other free agents. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has said the team should make keeping Jones a top priority.
Kuhn was considered a fullback going into last season, but took on additional rushing responsibilities late in the season after the Packers were hit with injuries. Kuhn became something of a folk hero to Packers fans, scoring five touchdowns -- three rushing, two receiving -- in the final five games of the regular season.
Fans at Lambeau Field yelled "Kuuuuuuhn!" whenever he touched the ball.
Jones, a third-round draft pick out of San Jose State in 2007, has 149 catches for 2,069 yards and 13 touchdowns in four seasons. He also has three touchdowns in seven playoff games. He had five catches for 50 yards in the Super Bowl victory over Pittsburgh.
Bills sign free agent LB Barnett
The Buffalo Bills signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Barnett on Sunday.
A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Barnett will receive $12 million over three years with $6 million guaranteed.
The Bills announced the signing just after the start of their evening practice
The deal came two days after Barnett was released by the Green Bay Packers. And it was reached hours after the eight-year veteran watched a Bills walkthrough at training camp in suburban Rochester. Wearing his 2011 Super Bowl ring, Barnett spent much of the session chatting with assistant coach Dave Wannstedt, who doubles as the team's inside linebackers coach.
The Bills were in need of an inside linebacker after Paul Posluszny signed with Jacksonville last week.
Barnett had already begun posting notes hinting at the agreement on his Twitter account.
"You bills fans are great here on twitter. How bout in the stadium?" Barnett had written. He also added: "GO BILLS."
Ravens sign FB Leach to 3-year deal
All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach signed a three-year, $11 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The Houston Texans were hoping to re-sign the 6-foot, 255-pound Leach, who was the lead blocker for Arian Foster, the NFL's leading rusher in 2010.
But the Ravens needed an escort for running back Ray Rice, especially since Baltimore expects to lose unrestricted free agent Le'Ron McClain.
"We looked at him since early this offseason, and he was definitely on our wish list," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Vonta fits the style of offense we are building, and his type of physical play is an addition that fits. We're looking forward to getting him in here and start mixing him in right away. This is another addition where the coaches can send a big thank you to the personnel department."
General manager Ozzie Newsome, who negotiated the deal, said of Leach: "He's a Raven-type player. He's very physical and dedicated to the game. Our running game just got better."
The Ravens announced the signing late Sunday afternoon.
Houston contacted Leach immediately when free agency began, but Leach wanted to test the market after making his first Pro Bowl in 2010. Leach played the last five seasons with the Texans after signing with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2004.
Broncos deepen backfield, sign McGahee
Veteran running back Willis McGahee has signed with the Denver Broncos.
The 29-year-old McGahee figures to complement incumbent starter Knowshon Moreno with his powerful style. New coach John Fox wants to lean heavily on the running game after the Broncos were pass-heavy in 2010 under Josh McDaniels.
The 6-foot, 235-pound McGahee spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens after four years with the Bills. Denver running backs coach Eric Studesville was McGahee's position coach in Buffalo from 2004-06.
McGahee has 1,541 career carries for 6,167 yards and 55 touchdowns. McGahee hasn't been a full-time starter since shortly after being picked for the Pro Bowl in 2007.
The Broncos also agreed to terms with former Rams tight end Daniel Fells on a one-year deal, a league source told ESPN.com's Bill Williamson.
Titans agree to multiyear deal with Graham
The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms on a multiyear deal with tight end Daniel Graham, adding some strong blocking help.
Terms of the deal weren't immediately available Sunday. But Graham had visited the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday before flying to Nashville to meet with the Titans.
The former first-round pick decided he liked what he saw in Tennessee. The 6-foot-3, 257-pound Graham also has 222 catches with 24 touchdowns in 126 games and has played for New England and most recently Denver.
Chiefs sign DE Gilberry
The Kansas City Chiefs have signed defensive end Wallace Gilberry to his restricted free agent tender.
The 6-foot-2, 268-pound Gilberry was a pleasant surprise during last year's 10-6 run that led to the AFC West title.
In three seasons, he has played in 37 regular-season games and had 34 solo tackles with 11½ sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. He came into the NFL in 2008 as a rookie free agent with the Giants.
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton, ESPN.com's James Walker, Bill Williamson, Pat Yasinskas and Kevin Seifert and The Associated Press contributed to this report.