Running back will back up Martin


New York Jets: On the day the Jets officially lost No. 2 tailback LaMont Jordan to the Raiders, they signed his replacement, adding unrestricted free agent Derrick Blaylock, a four-year veteran who had played his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Jets had to move decisively on Blaylock, who was being pursued by several other clubs, most notably the Bucs. Part of the sales pitch by New York officials was that Blaylock will have the chance to succeed starting tailback Curtis Martin when the future Hall of Famer retires within the next few years.

Blaylock, 25, signed a five-year, $11.1 million deal that includes a $3.2 million signing bonus.

The former Stephen F. Austin standout, selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the '01 draft, spent much of his time in Kansas City as a special teams standout. But with starting tailback Priest Holmes injured in 2004, Blaylock started five games and rushed for 539 yards and eight touchdowns on just 118 carries. For his career, he has 156 carries for 723 yards and 10 scores.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers signed offensive lineman Mike Wahle and cornerback Ken Lucas to contracts on Thursday, the most aggressive single day of free-agent acquisitions in franchise history.

Wahle, who spent seven seasons in Green Bay, signed a five-year deal worth about $25 million. Lucas, a three-year starter in Seattle, signed a six-year contract. Lucas signed a six-year contract worth $36 million, with a signing bonus in the $13 million to $14 million range.

The Packers were forced to release Wahle earlier this week in a salary cap move. Considered one of the top free-agent offensive linemen, he can play guard or tackle.

The Panthers said they will start him out at left guard. Wahle has started 83 of 97 games in his career, including 64 straight.

Lucas was Seattle's second-round draft pick in 2001. He started 47 games and has 11 career interceptions.

Lucas had six picks last season, tying him with Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble for most in the NFC.

Now, he may push Gamble out of a starting job. Panthers coach John Fox said Lucas will start for Carolina, and Gamble and Ricky Manning Jr. will have to battle for the other slot.

Gamble was a first-round draft pick last season, and Manning is best known for his three interceptions against Philadelphia in the 2004 NFC championship game.

The signings are unusual for the Panthers, who have traditionally sat back during the first few days of free agency as teams frantically pursue new talent. Carolina has made a habit of waiting until the signing period calms down a bit and then combing through the leftovers.

New York Giants: The Giants released veteran wide receiver Ike Hilliard, who has had an injury-plagued but very successful career in New York.

Hilliard and Amani Toomer have been the cornerstone of the Giants' receiving corps since the franchise's Super Bowl days of 2000 when they lost to the Ravens. He caught 49 passes for 437 yards last season.

The Giants are looking to improve their speed at the receiver position. Hilliard's release saved the team $750,000.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons didn't make it to the Super Bowl last season, but the Super Bowl could come to Atlanta anyway.

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons hosted 40 business leaders at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday to discuss ways to pay for a $14.5 million bid package for the 2009 game. With NFL owners already in town for a meeting of their own, Falcons owner Arthur Blank made sure to let others know about "Atlanta's ability to put on a grand event."

Atlanta will compete against three other cities for the 2009 Super Bowl, but each of those cities has or will have hosted the big game since 2000, the last time Atlanta hosted it -- Tampa (2001), Houston (2004) and Miami (2007).

The final bid must be presented by May 2, and the league's decision will come May 25.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles reached a one-year, $785,000 to keep defensive end Hugh Douglas.

"We're happy with the valuable contributions that Hugh brings to this team on and off the field," head coach Andy Reid said. "We look for Hugh to continue to add depth to our defensive line rotation. He's one of the best pass rushers in Eagles history. It's a good fit for him to stay right here in Philadelphia."

"It was really important for me to be back with this group of guys here in Philadelphia," said Douglas. "This is a special place to play, there's no question about that. I'm looking forward to getting back on that field next year."

Douglas, 33, was with the Eagles last year after being released by the Jaguars.

Washington Redskins: Unrestricted free-agent wide receiver David Patten, released by the Patriots last week for salary cap reasons, has signed with the Redskins. Contract details were not immediately available.

Patten, 30, actually entered the NFL after a brief career in the Arena Football League, signing with the Giants in 1997. In stints with the Giants (1997-99), Cleveland (2000) and New England (2001-04), he played in 112 games, mostly as a No. 3 wide receiver.

He has 236 catches for 3,519 yards and 20 touchdowns. In 2004, Patten caught 44 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns. Patten is a superb deep receiver, is blessed with great speed and is also adept at running the reverse.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders cleared their final cap room to fit in the contracts of wide receiver Randy Moss and halfback LaMont Jordan by releasing guard Ron Stone and linebacker DeLawrence Grant.

Entering Thursday, the Raiders were $6.6 under the cap, but they had to accommodate Moss' $7.25 million salary and the $1.9 million cap number on Jordan. Stone and Grant saved the Raiders $3.2 million with their releases.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers added depth and experience to their secondary, signing unrestricted free agent Bhawoh Jue of the Packers to a three-year contract. Financial details were not immediately available.

In four years with Green Bay, the versatile Jue played cornerback and both safety positions and is a proven "nickel" defender. The former Penn State standout was a third-round choice in the 2001 draft. Not noted for his stopwatch speed, Jue plays faster than his time and has exhibited good range, because he is such an instinctive defender.

His career totals include 98 tackles, three interceptions, 13 passes defensed and 1 ½ sacks. He has played in 51 games and started 11 of them.

Denver Broncos: Ian Gold is considered one of the better weak-side linebackers in football, but he might have a pretty good future as an agent.

Gold signed a five-year, $22.5 million deal with Broncos after talking with the Bucs, Texans and other teams, but he did it without an agent. Gold received an $8.5 million signing bonus.

Negotiators praised Gold for how well he handled the talks. When he asked for more than the teams were willing to pay, he was cordial and gracious in getting his point across. In the end, though, Gold, who spent last season as a strong-side linebacker with the Bucs, wanted to return to Denver and help them in their transition to a 3-4.

Gold, D.J. Williams and Al Wilson are three linebackers with great range and tackling ability.

The Broncos also re-signed left guard Ben Hamilton to a five-year, $16.25 million deal that included $5.5 million in guarantees.

While it may not seem like a big-name move, it has major significance in the long-term future of the team. Hamilton is heir apparent to Tom Nalen at center, and he could take over the post as early as 2006.

A fourth-round choice out of the University of Minnesota, Hamilton, 25, has started for three consecutive years and continues to improve. He's 6-4, 283 pounds and is the son of former Vikings guard Wes Hamilton.

The Broncos extended the contract of tackle Matt Lepsis last Friday. They also released guard Dan Neil. Losing Hamilton in free agency would have been a major blow to the interior of their line, so they made sure he was taken care of.

Dallas Cowboys: Unrestricted free-agent defensive tackle Leonardo Carson, who started a career-high 15 games in 2004, has re-signed with the Cowboys. Carson received a one-year, $1 million contract.

A five-year veteran, Carson spent the first 3½ seasons of his career with the Chargers but was released midway through the 2003 campaign and signed with the Cowboys. Carson is a tough inside player against the run, a player most effective in a time-sharing or backup role and a veteran who adds depth.

He posted 43 tackles and a half-sack in 2004. For his career, Carson has 129 tackles, 8½ sacks and four fumble recoveries. He has played in 64 games with 34 starts. With the Cowboys set to switch to a 3-4 front in 2005, Carson will likely be a backup.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals claimed Minnesota running back Larry Ned and cornerback Rhett Nelson off waivers.

Ned, who ranked fourth on the team with 15 special teams tackles, appeared in all 16 regular-season games and both playoff games for the Vikings.

Nelson appeared in five games for the Vikings last season after being signed to their active roster Nov. 12.

The Cardinals also signed free agent Fabian Davis. The wide receiver was released by Arizona last August.

Houston Texans: The Texans signed free-agent nose tackle Seth Payne to a four-year, $16 million deal.

Payne, an eight-year veteran, had a hamstring injury in the season finale and missed much of the previous year with a knee injury. He has 423 career tackles and 10½ sacks.

Payne started all 16 games of Houston's inaugural season and led the defensive line with 147 tackles. He tore the ACL in his right knee in the second game of the 2003 season against New Orleans and missed the rest of the year. He had a setback late that year and had a second surgery on the knee.

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags released starting cornerback Dewayne Washington and his primary backup, Juran Bolden.

The Jaguars also released fullback Marc Edwards, who started five of 13 games he played in last season.

The 32-year-old Washington only spent one season with the Jags but struggled in man-to man coverage for the 16th-rated passing defense. The 11-year veteran started all 16 games, registering 86 tackles and two interceptions.

Bolden had 25 tackles and one forced fumble in 13 games after signing as an unrestricted free agent in March.

Edwards didn't have a carry last season but caught seven passes for 41 yards in his second year with the Jaguars.

Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli, and The Associated Press, was used in this report.