Brown, Harris added to secondary

Originally Published: March 18, 2004
ESPN.com news services

Washington Redskins: The club continues to build up its cornerback position in case it can't re-sign Fred Smoot, who is a free agent after the season.

Over the past 24 hours, the Redskins reached a two-year, $1.385 million deal with Giants backup cornerback Ralph Brown and former Colts starting cornerback Walt Harris. Harris reached a three-year agreement that should pay him around $1.4 million in 2004.

The Redskins have been revamping their secondary after trading cornerback Champ Bailey to Denver in exchange for Clinton Portis. Bailey was going to be difficult to re-sign and, after being franchised, Bailey was given permission to talk to other teams. Though Smoot isn't as talented, he, too, will be tough to re-sign.

Shawn Springs was brought in as Bailey's replacement and will play on the other side of Smoot. Brown and Harris will be used to fill out coverages against three- and four-receiver sets.

Each has a health issue that apparently didn't bother the Redskins. Harris underwent surgery three weeks ago to repair a torn tendon. He had a reattachment of the tendon. Rehab is expected to be four months.

Brown recently underwent shoulder surgery and should be ready for practice by May or June.
-- John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers continue to work with their salary cap and get long term deals with starters.

On Thursday, they reached a three-year agreement with safety Mike Logan for more than $1 million a season. Logan had been talking to the Green Bay Packers, but his desire all along was to stay in Pittsburgh.

By Logan staying, though, free safety Brent Alexander becomes expendable.

A similar move was made a few weeks ago when the Steelers re-signed outside linebacker Clark Haggans. This week, the Steelers gave starting outside linebacker Jason Gildon permission to seek a trade. Something similar may happen with Alexander.

Logan is expected to start at safety along with last year's first-round choice, Troy Polamalu.
-- John Clayton

Cleveland Browns: Much-traveled defensive tackle Michael Myers, an unrestricted free agent who spent the second half of the 2003 season with the Browns, re-signed with the team, netting a two-year contract.

The former Dallas Cowboys part-time starter posted 23 tackles, three sacks and one pass defensed in seven appearances with the Browns last season. He was signed after being cut by the Cowboys following 5½ seasons in Dallas.

In six seasons, Myers has played in 75 games and has 216 tackles and 10½ sacks.

Cleveland also signed wide receiver Frisman Jackson, a young player whose potential still intrigues the Browns, to a two-year extension. Jackson has played in 12 games in two seasons and has three catches for 35 yards. His size and speed, however, are impressive and Cleveland coaches feel he can still develop into a contributor.
-- Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The quality of the backfield might still be an issue for debate, but there is no denying the Bucs now possess quantity at the tailback spot, after reaching agreements with a pair of unrestricted free agents.

Tampa Bay added former Cleveland Browns backup Jamel White and onetime Cincinnati No. 2 tailback Brandon Bennett, bolstering a position that is undergoing a refurbishing. The Bucs have now signed or reached agreements with three tailbacks in the past 10 days, the most notable of whom was former Oakland Raiders standout Charlie Garner.

Details of the Thursday agreements were not yet available, but it is believed that the pair of tailbacks received modest contracts.

The Bucs also finalized the accord with quarterback Brian Griese, first reported on Wednesday by ESPN.com. Griese will sign a three-year deal that totals $18 million. But he will make just under $1 million in 2004, including a $400,000 signing bonus and a base salary of about $550,000, before the deal explodes in 2005. The Bucs would have to pay Griese roughly $8 million for the '05 campaign. The former Denver starter can earn incentives for 2004, with play time bonuses beginning at 27 percent of the snaps.

Bennett, 31, played six seasons with the Bengals, appearing in 74 games and starting two of them. He rushed for 1,127 yards and five touchdowns on 306 carries and is also a very good special teams player, with the ability to return kickoffs. The former South Carolina star is a solid third-down receiver as well.

In White, the Bucs are getting a four-year veteran who flashed excellent skills during his tenure with the Browns, who released him earlier this month. White, 26, appeared in 59 games, starting 16, and ran for 1,324 yards on 349 carries. He also had 166 catches for 1,273 yards.

"We have added two versatile and productive players that will help both our offensive and special teams units," said coach Jon Gruden. "They have both proved to be threats out of the backfield during their careers."

Tampa Bay lost tailback Thomas Jones to Chicago in free agency and Michael Pittman still faces possible legal and NFL sanctions because of a pair of spousal abuse incidents with his wife.
-- Len Pasquarelli

Denver Broncos: Promised a more prominent role in a Denver backfield that no longer features tailback Clinton Portis, unrestricted free agent Reuben Droughns has opted to remain with the club, reaching agreement on a three-year contract.

Financial details of the contract were not yet available.

A four-year veteran, Droughns drew interest from several teams in free agency, largely other clubs in the AFC West. But those teams could not promise the former University of Oregon standout any more playing time than he has gotten in Denver the last two years, and he felt the departure of Portis in a trade to Washington might enhance his role in the Broncos offense.

Droughns, 25, will remain primarily a fullback but could see playing time at tailback in one-back formations.

He had just 58 "touches' from scrimmage during 2001-2003, including 40 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown. Droughns started four games in 2003 and carried six times for 14 yards, while notching nine receptions for 87 yards. He has also averaged 25.3 yards on kickoff returns during his career.

Originally a third-round choice of the Detroit Lions in 2000, he missed his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury. Droughns was signed as a free agent by Denver in 2002. In addition to possibly expanding his role in the backfield, the Broncos coaches wanted to retain Droughns because of his standout play on special teams.
-- Len Pasquarelli

Dallas Cowboys: Two-year veteran kicker Billy Cundiff, who has converted 72.9 percent of his field goal attempts with the Cowboys, has signed his one-year qualifying offer with the club. The deal is worth $380,000, the NFL minimum for a player entering his third season.

As an "exclusive rights" player, a veteran with fewer than three years of tenure, Cundiff could not negotiate with other teams.

Cundiff, 23, joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and the former Drake star beat out incumbent Tim Seder for the starting job as a rookie. In two seasons, he has converted 35 of 48 field goals, including 24 of 27 from inside 40 yards. Cundiff also has made all but one of his 56 extra point tries.
-- Len Pasquarelli

Cincinnati Bengals: Club officials freed up $628,000 in cap room by rescinding their qualifying offer to three-year veteran linebacker Riall Johnson, a former sixth-round draft choice. The offer, which allowed the Bengals to retain a right of first refusal had Johnson signed an offer sheet with another franchise, was made earlier this month.

The maneuver means that Johnson, 25, is now free to sign with any other team.

A former Stanford standout, Johnson played in 32 games and started one contest, totaling just a dozen tackles in three seasons.
-- Len Pasquarelli

San Francisco 49ers: Highly regarded tight end Eric Johnson, who missed all of 2003 with a broken collarbone, on Thursday re-signed with the 49ers, ESPN.com has learned.

The three-year veteran was a restricted free agent and the 49ers had retained right of first refusal by making Johnson a qualifying offer of $628,000. Instead, the former seventh-round draft choice signed a three-year contract worth $4.5 million, a deal that includes a signing bonus of $1.5 million.

Johnson, 24, can also earn an additional $1.5 million in "escalators" and, if he does so, he would be in the top echelon of tight end compensation.

A former Yale star, Johnson started in 25 of 28 appearances in his first two seasons in the league. He has 76 receptions for 683 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson is a superior receiver, with the ability to split the safeties and get deep, and his absence from the lineup in 2003 was a setback to the San Francisco offense.
-- Len Pasquarelli

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs on Thursday re-signed free agent tight end Jason Dunn to a six-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Dunn has served as the blocking tight end in Kansas City behind Pro Bowler Tony Gonzalez since 2000.

"Jason is an extremely integral part of our offense and possibly the finest blocking tight end in the National Football League," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. "He also has contributed touchdowns with his few receptions and is particularly effective in the red zone."

In 56 games with the Chiefs, Dunn has been responsible for providing an extra blocker for the running game. He has just 13 catches for 131 yards and four touchdowns.

Prior to joining the Chiefs in 2000, Dunn spent his first four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

-- SportsTicker

New York Giants: Veteran placekicker Mike Hollis was waived with a failed physical by the Giants on Thursday.

Hollis, who signed a five-year, $4 million contract a year ago, never kicked for the Giants in a regular-season game. He hurt his back in training camp and spent last season on injured reserve.

The move means Matt Bryant, the free agent who has been the Giants' placekicker the past two years, will head to training camp on top of their depth chart.

The Giants also claimed safety Jack Brewer on waivers from the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday.

Brewer is entering his third NFL season. In two years with the Vikings, he played in 21 games with one start.

Brewer appeared in six games last season before going on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.
--The Associated Press

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals agreed to terms on a two-year contract with return specialist/wide receiver Karl Williams.

Terms were not disclosed Thursday.

Williams has played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, appearing in 115 games. He played in 13 games last season as the Bucs' punt returner and backup wide receiver. He returned 15 punts for 110 yards and caught seven passes for 114 yards in 2003.

Williams holds several Tampa Bay records, including most punt return yards in a game, 116 against Chicago in 1997.

He initially signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M-Kingsville in 1996.
--The Associated Press

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