Mort: Rivera suffers pain exercising

Updated: March 10, 2005, 8:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Dallas Cowboys: Marco Rivera, the ex-Packers Pro Bowl guard who last week received a $9 million signing bonus to sign a free agent contract with the Cowboys, underwent back surgery Thursday in Dallas after experiencing pain while running on a treadmill, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Rivera, 32, is expected to be inactive for four-to-six weeks after surgery that repaired a L-5 disk problem, the sources said. He experienced significant pain in a leg when he was running on a treadmill Wednesday morning in Baltimore, where he was honored at the annual Ed Bloch Awards.

Rivera underwent the operation in Dallas and was said to be resting comfortably at Presbyterian Hospital. Rivera is expected to recover in time for training camp in late July, sources said.

A Cowboys spokesman had no comment about Rivera's status.

Baltimore Ravens: The club filled a need along the offensive line by reaching a three-year, $4.64 million deal with Pittsburgh Steelers guard Keydrick Vincent that included a $1.25 million signing bonus.

Vincent did a great job last season filling in for the injured Kendall Simmons and proved he was an NFL starter. The Steelers wanted him back to be their first offensive lineman off the bench or compete for the starting right tackle Max Starks.

Vincent, 26, was an undrafted player in 2001 who became a starter for nine games in 2003. He played the entire season for Simmons last year and the line had one of its best seasons.

Denver Broncos: The club opted to match the restricted free agent offer sheet that tight end Jeb Putzier signed with the Jets last week, meaning they will retain the rights to the third-year veteran.

Denver had until Friday to make a decision. There is still a slim chance that, having matched the offer sheet, Denver could trade Putzier to the Jets. It seems, though, that their intention is to keep him.

Putzier signed a five-year offer worth $12.5 million, and the deal included bonuses that totaled $2.5 million – a $1 million signing bonus and $1.5 million roster bonus. Had the Broncos decided not to match the offer sheet, they would have received a sixth-round choice in this year's draft from the Jets as compensation.

The Broncos retained a right of first refusal on Putzier, by making him the low-level qualifying offer, the equivalent of a one-year proposal for $656,000.

A sixth-round pick in '02, Putzier enjoyed a breakout season in '04, with 36 receptions for 572 yards and two touchdowns. His 15.9-yard average per catch was the best in the NFL for a tight end. He converted 27of his receptions into first downs and had 10 that were for gains of 20 yards or more.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kicker Jeff Reed signed a $7.5 million, five-year contract Thursday that includes a $1.5 million signing bonus to stay with the team.

The deal was agreed to earlier this week. Reed enjoyed a comeback season in 2004 by making 28 of 33 field-goal attempts, plus all four attempts during the playoffs. He converted his final 21 attempts, including postseason play.

Reed signed with the Steelers midway through the 2002 season after going undrafted following his final season at North Carolina. He was 17-of-19 as a rookie, but struggled at times by going 23-of-32 during the Steelers' 6-10 season in 2003.

Since joining the Steelers, Reed is 68-of-84 (80.95 percent) during the regular season and 7-of-9 in postseason play.

Reed was a restricted free agent, but the Steelers moved to keep him earlier this month by making him a $1.43 million tender offer. By doing so, the Steelers forced any team signing Reed to give them a first-round draft pick as compensation.

San Francisco 49ers: Star-crossed kicker Joe Nedney is going cross country to try to revive his career.

Nedney, who has been limited by injuries to only one game appearance and one field-goal attempt the past two seasons, has agreed to join the 49ers on a one-year contract. The deal is believed to contain a minimum base salary of $665,000.

A nine-year veteran, Nedney will replace Todd Peterson, who kicked for the 49ers the last two seasons before signing with the Falcons last week. The 49ers will be Nedney's seventh team and allow him another tour in the Bay Area; he was with the Oakland Raiders for three games in 1999.

Nedney was one of six players released by Tennessee two weeks ago for salary cap reasons.

A proven and reliable kicker when healthy, Nedney's career has been derailed by injuries. In the 2003 season opener, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while making a tackle against the Raiders and was placed on injured reserve. Last summer, Nedney tore his left hamstring in practice the week before the start of the season. In 1998, while with the Arizona Cardinals, he tore the ACL in his left knee.

An incredible stretch of injuries for a player at any position, let alone a kicker, but Nedney is said to be fully rehabilitated and has performed well in recent workouts. Because there is a suspect pool of kickers in the unrestricted free agent market, the 49ers -- who were reluctant to invest a draft pick in a kicker -- believe Nedney is worth the gamble.

Washington Redskins: Safety Sean Taylor was cleared of all charges stemming from a traffic stop last fall.

A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge dismissed Taylor's conviction on a charge of refusing to take a blood alcohol test. The judge ruled there was no probable cause for the arrest.

Taylor, 21, was stopped early last Oct. 28 by Virginia State Police, who said his car was clocked doing 82 mph in a 55 zone.

At a Jan. 5 hearing in Fairfax County General District Court, the trooper who stopped him testified that Taylor smelled of alcohol. But a judge dismissed a drunken driving charge, after watching a video showing Taylor performing field sobriety tests. However, the judge convicted Taylor of refusing to take a blood alcohol test, leading to Thursday's appeal.

When asked for his reaction by reporters Thursday, Taylor responded, "You know I don't talk," and declined to comment further. Taylor's attorney, Warren McLain, said the arrest was "very upsetting" for Taylor, adding his client is relieved that it's over.

Ozzie Clay dies: Ozzie Clay, a former kick returner for the team, has died from complications of a stroke at 62.

Clay died Tuesday at a Washington hospital, family members said.

Clay was drafted by Washington in the 17th round in 1964 out of Iowa State, where he was a wide receiver. He played one season with the Redskins, returning 19 kickoffs for 482 yards, and four punts for 5 yards on a Washington team that went 6-8 under coach Bill McPeak.

In April 2004, Clay was indicted on 17 counts of fraud, money laundering and arson for allegedly having a fire set at his failing business in August 2000 to recoup insurance money. The case never went to trial.

The Temple Hills, Md., company, Armorguard, made and installed security doors and sold home improvement products.

Carolina Panthers: The club added depth to its secondary by reaching a one-year, $640,000 deal with Texans safety Marlon McCree that included a $100,000 signing bonus.

The 27-year-old McCree will be joining his third team since coming into the NFL as a seventh-round draft choice in 2001. He started 27 games for the Jacksonville Jaguars during his first two seasons but was released when the team went through roster renovation under Jack Del Rio in 2003.

The Texans claimed him and he ended up starting 11 games for them in 2003. McCree is 5-11, 196 pounds out of Kentucky.

New Orleans Saints: The team added more depth at a strong position by reaching a two-year, $1.6 million deal with Titans tight end Shad Meier that included a $400,000 signing bonus.

Meier was somewhat of a late entry to the unrestricted agent pool because most teams weren't certain he was going to hit free agency. He had a contract with the Titans that was voided. Meier, a restricted free agent last season, signed a multiyear year deal with the Titans last season knowing there was a good chance he would be free after the season.

The 26-year-old Meier was a third-round choice of the Titans in 2001. He leaves a deep tight end group in Tennessee to go to a deep one in New Orleans. The Saints currently have Ernie Conwell and Boo Williams as their top two tight ends.

Houston Texans: The club continues to retain its own by reaching a $4 million, four-year contract with backup nose tackle Jerry DeLoach. Included in the deal is a $750,000 signing bonus.

DeLoach becomes the team's sixth unrestricted free agent to re-sign and the fifth on defense. He joins cornerback Jason Bell, nose tackle Seth Payne, defensive end Corey Sears, cornerback Jason Simmons and fullback Moran Norris as players who reached agreements to stay with the team.

DeLoach, 27, was an undrafted success story who make the Redskins roster in 2001 and started during his first two years with the Texans. He will enter his third season with the Texans.

Oakland Raiders: The team re-signed offensive lineman Ron Stone, just a week after waiving him in a salary cap maneuver.

Stone, a three-time Pro Bowler, started only five games for the Raiders last season while being slowed by an injured left knee.

The Raiders signed Stone as a free agent last March, giving him an $8.35 million, three-year contract. Terms of his new contract were not disclosed.

Stone has played in 157 games over his 12-year career with Oakland, the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, playing every position on the offensive line. He made the Pro Bowl from 2000-02. He also played in two Super Bowls, winning it in 1996 with Dallas and losing in 2001 with the Giants.

Cincinnati Bengals: The team has terminated the contract of safety Rogers Beckett, releasing him to free agency.

Beckett is a sixth-year player. He started five games last season, and played in seven. He was credited with eleven solo tackles.

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

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