Dolphins sign guard Smiley to 5-year, $25M deal

Updated: February 29, 2008, 4:23 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The first deal done in free agency made guard Justin Smiley of the 49ers smile.

Minutes after the opening in free agency, Smiley agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with the Miami Dolphins. The deal includes $9 million of guaranteed money.

The 49ers let Smiley and tackle Kwame Harris hit the free agent market. Smiley goes to a Dolphins offensive line that is looking for three new starters and Smiley is the first acquisition to try and fill those needs.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Pats re-sign WR Washington
The New England Patriots entered the first minutes of free agency with four potential free agents at wide receiver, but reached a deal to keep one of them.

Kelley Washington, who had an option the Patriots weren't going to pay, reached an agreement to stay with the Patriots. Terms of the deal -- including the length of the contract -- were not available.

While Washington is returning, the Patriots still have yet to offer deals to unrestricted free agent receivers Randy Moss and Jabar Gaffney. The Patriots also didn't put up an option in Donte' Stallworth's contract that allows him to reach free agency.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Collins stays in Washington
The Washington Redskins fought off the advances of Jacksonville, the New York Giants and the St. Louis Rams to keep backup quarterback Todd Collins.

Collins agreed to a three-year, $9 million deal to stay in Washington. Though the Giants and Rams made hard pushes after the 12:01 a.m. Friday morning opening of free agency, the Jaguars made the hardest push to pull Collins away from the Redskins.

The Redskins kept upping the offer to Collins and the Jaguars kept upping their offer. Collins, who studied all the backup quarterback numbers and met with head coach Jim Zorn Thursday in Quincy, Ma., found the market for him hotter than expected.

Collins not only won over his Redskins teammates by a late-season surge that led the Redskins to the playoffs, but he earned the respect of the league as a valuable backup. Redskins owner Dan Snyder did not want to lose him as a backup to Jason Campbell and stepped up in the end to make sure he stayed.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

49ers sign RB Foster to two-year deal
The San Francisco 49ers reached deals with two unrestricted free agents and a running back who was cut by the Panthers.

The 49ers reached agreements Friday morning with Lions quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan and Vikings linebacker Dontarrious Thomas. They also signed former Panthers halfback DeShaun Foster to a two-year deal worth around $1.8 million.

O'Sullivan agreed to a one-year deal at the NFL minimum along with a $40,000 signing bonus. Thomas agreed to a two-year deal. Former Steelers cornerback and kick-returner Allen Rossum passed a physical Thursday and signed a one-year, $870,000 contract.

The 49ers will have Bengals defensive end Justin Smith in for a visit Friday.

Davis signs 4-year, $16M deal
What is expected to be a hot free-agent market continued to sizzle Thursday when Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Davis became the second free-agent receiver to come off the market to re-sign with his team.

Davis agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal that included $8 million in guarantees. On Wednesday, the Tennessee Titans re-signed Justin Gage to a four-year, $14 million deal. They came off the market, but Randy Moss continues his negotiations with the Patriots.

What made the 28-year-old Davis valuable was his deep speed. He caught 33 passes last year for the Texans and had a 17.7 yard per catch average. In 2004 with the Browns, Davis had a 26.0 average and the following season with New England, he had a 21.1 average.

There was some thought Davis could have received a $5 million-a-year deal on the open market. In the end, he decided to stay with the Texans and hope to start on the other side of star receiver Andre Johnson.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Panthers close to trading Jenkins to Jets; FB Hoover re-signs
Nearly a year after starting the process, the Carolina Panthers are about to unload disgruntled defensive tackle Kris Jenkins. The Panthers and New York Jets have been in heavy trade discussions about the three-time Pro Bowler and a deal could be completed Friday, according to multiple sources. The Panthers tried to trade Jenkins before last year's draft but pulled back when they couldn't get a first-round pick in return.

It's likely they'll willl settle for less (probably a third-round choice) this time to get rid of Jenkins, who, in July, said he didn't like living in Charlotte. He also didn't endear himself to the coaching staff by skipping last year's voluntary workouts to spend time with family in the Washington, D.C. area.

Jenkins may not be returning to the Panthers, but the team came to terms with fullback Brad Hoover on a three-year deal. Agent Tim Irwin declined to give financial details. Hoover, 31, has spent the past eight seasons with the Panthers after earning a spot on the roster as an undrafted rookie out of Western Carolina. Hoover played in all 16 games last season and started 12, used mostly as a blocker.

The Jets are looking for a bigger defensive tackle to man the middle and it became clear after last season that Dewayne Robertson wasn't who the team wanted in that role. Jenkins, 28, is listed at 6-4 and 335 pounds, but his weight became an issue after he missed much of the 2004 and 2005 seasons with knee and shoulder injuries. He admitted to getting close to 400 pounds while he was sitting out but got his weight under control and played well enough to make the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season. The Panthers are scheduled to pay Jenkins a $1 million roster bonus next week.

-- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN.com and The Associated Press

Lions, Saints appear favorites to land Vilma
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma is moving closer to being traded away from the New York Jets, and he may get the word on his new team by as early as Friday.

This week, Vilma has visited with the New Orleans Saints and the Detroit Lions, and they appear to be the two teams ready to pull off a Vilma trade for a draft pick. Terms of the draft choice compensation is unknown.

A bone chip from a pre-existing condition from high school led to a November surgery that ended Vilma's season and effectively ended his Jets career.

He only started jogging recently, but hopes to be running at full speed within a month. Vilma is in the last year of his contract.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Rams part ways with WR Bruce
Wide receiver Isaac Bruce, the last remaining player from the team's 1995 move from Los Angeles to St. Louis, was released after each side failed to reach a lower salary number. Bruce, 36, was scheduled to make $5 million this year, including a $2 million roster bonus due Friday.

A year ago, Bruce was cut but then was re-signed by the Rams. This time, St. Louis decided to part ways, leaving the Rams with Torry Holt and Drew Bennett as their top two receivers. Also released was quarterback Gus Frerotte, the team's backup the last two seasons.

The Rams saved $6.9 million of cap room with their releases. Both were entering the final years of their contracts. The move frees up $1.9 million heading into free agency while leaving the Rams with only two quarterbacks, Marc Bulger and Brock Berlin, on the roster.

-- ESPN.com news services

Lions re-sign CB Smith to 2-year deal
Detroit Lions president Matt Millen made his second move in two days to fill up a changing secondary by re-signing cornerback Keith Smith.

On Thursday, Smith agreed to a two-year deal for $5 million and may have a chance to compete for a starting job. On Wednesday, the Lions signed safety Dwight Smith to a two-year $5 million contract.

A starting opportunity was opened last week when the Lions released Fernando Bryant. Bryant started 16 games last year at cornerback on one side while Travis Fisher started 13 games on the other side. Fisher is a free agent.

Smith, 27, was a third-round choice of the Lions in 2004.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Chiefs re-sign Colquitt, but Law likely to be cut
The Kansas City Chiefs kept punter Dustin Colquitt off the restricted free-agent market, as ESPN.com learned the team has signed him to a contract extension that makes the three-year veteran one of the NFL's highest-paid players at his position. Colquitt, 25, signed a five-year contract worth $8.5 million, which includes a $2.4 million signing bonus.

While Colquitt will be a Chief next season, it seems Ty Law's career in Kansas City may be over. The Chiefs have told Law he will be released, likely within the next week, according to a team official speaking on the condition of anonymity. Linebacker Kendrell Bell, tight end Jason Dunn and defensive lineman James Reed are also expected to be released.

The official declined to be identified because the players had not yet been released. The moves were first reported in The Kansas City Star.

Kansas City also released 31-year-old offensive lineman Chris Bober, the seventh Chiefs veteran older than 30 to be released in the past couple weeks. An eight-year vet, Bober saved the Chiefs $1.78 million in cap room by having his contract terminated. Overall, the Chiefs have cleared more than $15 million of cap room.

-- Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton, ESPN.com

Bills re-sign four, release veteran CB Thomas
Kiwaukee Thomas' contract was terminated by the Buffalo Bills, further depleting the team of experienced cornerbacks on the eve of free agency.

Safety Jim Leonhard and reserve running back Shaud Williams will become free agents on Friday after the Bills elected not to issue qualifying offers to retain their rights.

The Bills did retain the rights to defensive tackle Jason Jefferson by making him a qualifying offer. And they re-signed four players: tight end Tim Massaquoi, safety Dustin Fox, receiver Scott Mayle and defensive tackle Corey Mace.

-- The Associated Press

Cowboys officially sign LB Thomas
Linebacker Zach Thomas officially joined the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday after spending his entire career with the Miami Dolphins.

The $3.3 million, one-year deal had been confirmed last weekend by agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Thomas was released Feb. 14 by the Dolphins, part of the massive rebuilding project being overseen in Miami by new vice president of football operations Bill Parcells.

The seven-time Pro Bowler missed much of last season because of concussions and migraines. Coincidentally, the Cowboys made room on their roster by releasing fullback Oliver Hoyte, who gave Thomas a concussion when Dallas played Miami in September.

-- The Associated Press

Titans waive Givens, tender 7 offers
The Tennessee Titans cut ties with wide receiver David Givens and tendered one-year contracts to seven restricted agents including All-Pro kicker Rob Bironas, tight end Bo Scaife and starting right tackle David Stewart.

The Titans signed Givens to a $24 million, five-year deal in 2006, but the former Patriots receiver played in only five games that season before tearing his left ACL.

Bironas and Stewart are expected to be attractive targets when free agency opens Friday. If the Titans don't match any offers, they would get a second-round draft pick for Bironas and first round for Stewart.

The Titans also tended offers to safety Vincent Fuller, cornerback Reynaldo Hill, fullback Casey Cramer and offensive lineman Daniel Loper.

-- The Associated Press

Cards give trio qualifying offer
The Arizona Cardinals tendered one-year qualifying offers to defensive end Antonio Smith, cornerback Eric Green and offensive lineman Elton Brown. All three are restricted free agents, which means they have until April 18 to sign the offer. In the meantime, they can negotiate with another team but the Cardinals have a right to match any offer or receive a draft pick as compensation.

Green and Smith, starters last season, were tendered first-round offers of $2.07 million. The Cardinals would receive a first-round pick if they sign with another team and that offer is not matched by Arizona. Brown's tender offer of $927,000 would reward Arizona with a fourth-round selection, the same round in which he was drafted.

The Cardinals declined to tender offers to four restricted free agents: linebacker Darryl Blackstock, tight end Tim Euhus and receivers Jerehme Urban and Ahmad Merritt.

The team also extended offers to three exclusive rights free agents -- cornerback Michael Adams, tight end Troy Bienemann and wide receiver Jamaica Rector.

-- The Associated Press

Engelberger re-signs with Denver
The Denver Broncos made the first move to restore their defense by reaching a two-year deal to keep defensive end John Engelberger.

Engleberger, 31, has been with the Broncos for three years, but last year was his most productive. He started 15 games and had 41 tackles after serving as a backup defensive end in his first two seasons.

He came to Broncos in 2005 from San Francisco in a trade for cornerback Willie Middlebrooks.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Steelers make 1-year offers to 4 players
The Pittsburgh Steelers have made one-year contract offers to four restricted free agents.

The team made offers to wide receiver Nate Washington and guard Chris Kemoeatu, reportedly for more than $1.4 million each, and offers to long snapper Greg Warren and offensive tackle Trai Essex, reportedly for just over $900,000 each.

Essex is entering his fourth NFL season. The third-round draft pick in 2005 played in three games in 2007. Kemoeatu is also entering his fourth season. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2005 draft and played in 15 games last season.

Warren has handled all the long-snapping duties for the Steelers since he was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2005. Washington ranked fourth on the team with 29 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns last season.

-- The Associated Press

Eagles, Reed agree to deal
The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a one-year deal with safety J.R. Reed and tendered a one-year contract to restricted free agent cornerback Joselio Hanson.

Reed, originally a fourth-round pick out of South Florida in 2004, played 15 games for the Eagles in 2007 as a reserve safety and kickoff returner. He had 23 tackles, including a career-high 11 against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 2. Reed also returned 31 kickoffs, averaging 22.6 yards per return last season.

Reed was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on Friday.

Hanson joined the Eagles in 2006 after originally signing with 49ers as a rookie free-agent in 2003. He played in all 16 games last season, serving mostly as a nickel cornerback and had a career-high 45 tackles. For his career, Reed has averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff return and has played in 35 games (4 starts), logging 50 tackles.

-- ESPN.com news services

Packers' Williams headed to Cleveland
Packers defensive end Corey Williams was surprised a week ago when he was slapped with the franchise tag. All it meant was that he was going to a new franchise. Once the trade deadline begins, Williams is reportedly going to the Browns for a draft choice -- possibly a second-rounder -- and sign a lucrative six-year deal.

Williams was hoping to hit the free-agent market, but the Packers decided to protect themselves from losing him without compensation. The franchise tag bought the Packers time to see if there was a market for a talented defensive tackle on a team deep at the position.

Williams is expected to sign a deal worth more than $6 million a year when he gets to the Browns, who have been looking to upgrade their defensive line. The early reports are that he will get a six-year, $38 million contract, but there was no conformation that those numbers were correct.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com