Brown, Wright agree to multi-year deals

Originally Published: March 12, 2004
ESPN.com news services

Baltimore Ravens: Completing two deals that have been in the works for more than a week, the Ravens on Friday reached contract agreements in principle with starting right offensive tackle Orlando Brown and backup quarterback Anthony Wright.

The massive Brown, who returned to the league in 2003 after a three-season hiatus forced by a severe eye injury and started 13 games, will sign a five-year contract, $17.5 million contract.

The deal includes a $4 million signing bonus and then a second-tier option bonus of $1 million after the first two seasons, if the Ravens want to trigger the final three years of the deal. The base salaries are $660,000 (2004), $1.34 million (2005), $2.5 million (2006), $3.5 million (2007) and $4.5 million (2008).

By retaining Brown, the Ravens will be able to keep intact their entire starting offensive line, a rare feat in the free agency era.

Brown, 33, is an eight-year veteran and has appeared in 106 games, with 97 starts. He had signed a one-year, $1 million contract last season, with the idea of re-establishing himself in the league, then testing the free agent market again. Several teams pursued Brown ardently in free agency the last two weeks but the Ravens, who were also in discussions with free agent Ephraim Salaam, pressed for a resolution.

"He physically and tempermentally is a big part of what we did last year," said Ravens head coach Brian Billick.

Wright finished the season as the Baltimore starter in 2003, replacing an injured Kyle Boller, and starting the final seven games of the regular season and the club's one game in the playoffs. He completed 94 of 178 passes for 1,199 yards with nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

The 27-year-old Wright, who began his career with the Dallas Cowboys, was also being pursued by the Tennessee Titans in free agency. He will sign a two-year contract that is believed to be worth slightly more than $3 million.

Said agent Joel Segal: "I had serious discussions with a number of teams about Anthony, but his preference all along was to return to Baltimore, and we're excited that we were able to accomplish that. It's a great situation, with a team on the rise, and an organization that has established itself as one of the NFL's best."
-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer

San Franisco 49ers: Moving to solidify a placement game that has been shaky for the past few seasons, the 49ers re-signed unrestricted free agent Todd Peterson on Friday, ESPN.com has learned.

In eight games with the 49ers last year, Peterson converted 12 of 15 field goal attempts and all but one of his extra point tries. Before signing the nine-year veteran at mid-season, the 49ers struggled badly, with Jeff Chandler and Owen Pochman combining to make just 14 of 22 field goal attempts.

Peterson, 34, will sign a one-year contract. He chose to return to the 49ers over an offer from the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been attempting to upgrade the kicker position.

Key elements in Peterson's decision to return to the 49ers were his relationship with head coach Dennis Erickson and his high regard for special teams assistant Larry McDuff.

The former University of Georgia star enjoyed the best years of his career during a five-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks, and Erickson was the head coach for four of those seasons. It was Erickson who pushed hard to get Peterson to San Francisco last year.

In stints with five different teams, Peterson has converted 194 of 249 field goal tries and 280 of 283 extra point attempts, a total of 862 points.

Five times in his career, Peterson has scored 100-plus points, his career high coming in 1999, when he scored 134 points with the Seahawks.
-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer

St. Louis Rams: The club has matched offer sheets made to a pair of restricted free agents, cornerback Jarametrius Butler and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, and will retain both players rather than allow them to escape to other teams.

Butler, who started 15 games in 2003, had signed an offer sheet with the Washington Redskins, a deal for six years, worth $15 million and including a signing bonus of $4 million. By matching, the Rams now assume that contract. Had they declined to match it, the Rams would have received a fifth-round draft choice as compensation.

A three-year veteran, Butler had four interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 2003 and also posted 95 tackles, one forced fumble and two recoveries.

Manumaleuna, 24, was a fourth-round pick in the 2001 draft. He signed a five-year, $8.3 million offer sheet with the Carolina Panthers and the deal featured a signing bonus of $2 million. The Rams would have received a fourth-round choice as compensation had they not matched the offer sheet but, as was the case with Butler, the numbers were palatable enough that St. Louis officials never seriously considered not matching.

A former University of Arizona standout, Manumaleuna has an expanding role in the St. Louis offense and coach Mike Martz has utilized him at tight end, fullback and H-back. In his first season as a starter in '03, he had 29 catches for 238 yards and two scores.
-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer

New Orleans Saints: For the second time in free agency, the club has strengthened its depth at tailback, as the team reached agreement with unrestricted free agent Lamar Smith, a 10-year veteran who appeared in four games with the Saints in 2003.

The much-traveled Smith, 33, will sign a one-year contract for $760,000, the minimum base salary for a player of his experience.

Smith has rushed for 4,853 yards and 38 touchdowns on 1,322 carries in a career that has included stops at Seattle (1994-97), New Orleans (1998-99 and 2003), Miami (2000-2001) and Carolina (2002). His best season came in 2000, with the Dolphins, when he ran for 1,139 yards.

The Saints late last week added tailback Aaron Stecker from Tampa Bay, and the four-year veteran is expected to be the top backup to starter Deuce McAllister.
-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer

Denver Broncos: The Broncos have reached agreement with free agent wide receiver Willie Jackson, who did not play in the league in 2003, ESPN.com has learned. Jackson will sign a one-year contract on Friday and it likely will be worth the NFL minimum.

An eight-year veteran, Jackson, 32, has spent time with Jacksonville (1995-97), Cincinnati (1998-99), New Orleans (2000-2001), Atlanta (2002) and Washington (also 2002). The former University of Florida star has always been regarded as a very good possession receiver.

In 113 appearances, including 38 starts, Jackson has 284 receptions for 3,641 yards and 24 touchdowns.
-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com senior NFL writer

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins agreed to contracts with tackle John St. Clair and punter Matt Turk, and signed fullback Sammy Morris to a two-year deal.

St. Clair, who played the last four seasons with St. Louis, agreed to a two-year, $2.6 million contract. Turk agreed to re-sign when offered a three-year, $2.65 million deal.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound St. Clair was a third-round pick in 2000. He started 13 games at right tackle in 2002 but played a reserve role last season after the Rams acquired Kyle Turley.

Morris, who played his first four NFL seasons in Buffalo, will back up Rob Konrad and play on special teams.

Also, the Dolphins are one of several teams interested in receiver David Boston, who is on the trading block. In Miami, he would be reunited with receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, who worked with Boston in Arizona and helped him reach the Pro Bowl in 2001.

A trade might require restructuring the seven-year, $47 million deal Boston signed before he fell out of favor in San Diego.
-- The Associated Press

Oakland Raiders: Linebacker Danny Clark signed with the Raiders on Friday.

Clark spent his first four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars, starting nine games last season and 28 in his career.

The Raiders signed defensive back Ike Charlton and defensive tackle Ted Washington earlier this month, adding to a defense that struggled while Oakland went 4-12 last season.

Terms of the contract were not revealed.

-- The Associated Press

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