Roundup: After franchise tag blowup, Briggs agrees to stay with Bears

Updated: March 2, 2008, 4:46 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Lance Briggs, who tried for a year to leave the Bears for a huge contract, agreed Saturday night to a six-year, $36 million deal to stay with Chicago.

The Bears franchised him a year ago, and Briggs wasn't happy about it. At one point, he pushed for a trade to the Washington Redskins that fell through and didn't happen right before the draft.

"I'm extremely happy about it,"' Briggs told the Chicago Tribune. "With Bernard [Berrian] signing with the Vikings, I think it gave me the opportunity to come home. I'm happy to return to the team that I started my career with."

In order to gain a chance at the free-agent market, Briggs worked out a deal with the franchise tag that gave him the chance to earn complete free agency if he hit a certain percentage of playing time. He won that freedom but couldn't come up with a deal from another team in the first two days of free agency.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com and The Associated Press

The Vikings landed Bears wide receiver Bernard Berrian by reaching a six-year agreement Saturday. The Raiders were trying to get him to make a visit, but Berrian stayed in Minnesota a little longer to get a deal.

It was pretty well tipped off to Vikings reporters that Berrian might agree. On Saturday morning, former Bengals safety Madieu Williams held a news conference after signing a six-year, $33 million deal. Before the news conference started, Berrian popped in to say hello, wearing a Vikings cap.

Financial terms of Berrian's six-year deal weren't available.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

The Buffalo Bills acquired three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud in a trade with Jacksonville.

The deal was announced by the Bills at a press conference on Saturday.

It was not immediately clear what the Bills gave up in exchange for Stroud, a seven-year veteran who had the Jaguars' permission to seek a trade.

The move was completed after the Bills began revamping their porous defense on Friday, the first day of NFL free agency. Buffalo signed linebacker Kawika Mitchell and released veteran defensive tackle Larry Tripplett.

In another move Saturday, the Bills signed former Minnesota defensive tackle Spencer Johnson to a five-year contract.

-- The Associated Press

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis continued to stress the importance of keeping the team's own players by reaching a contract agreement Saturday with wide receiver Devery Henderson.

The Saints announced the signing, but terms of the deal were not available. Henderson is one of the fastest receivers in football, but he has had difficulty catching the ball at times.

In four seasons with New Orleans, he never has caught more than 32 passes. His best season for yardage was 2006, when he caught 32 passes for 746 yards. Last year, his numbers dropped to 20 catches for 409 yards.

Still, he has the potential for big plays. The former second-round choice has averaged more than 20 yards a reception for the past two years. His career receiving average is 20.2 yards a catch.

The Saints terminated the contract of linebacker Brian Simmons, saving the team $2.4 million of cap room.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

The Carolina Panthers added a key role player for their defense Saturday by reaching a two-year, $4 million deal for Browns cornerback Ricardo Colclough.

Colclough is a former second-round choice from the Steelers who went to Cleveland after being cut this past fall. He can help as a third cornerback and also can be a help on special teams.

The Panthers have been busy re-signing players this week. They re-signed fullback Brad Hoover and cornerback Dante Wesley on the eve of free agency. After trading Kris Jenkins to the Jets, the Panthers are looking to add players to the roster, and Colclough is the first of what could be several additions.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

The Eagles have signed free-agent defensive end Chris Clemons to a five-year contract. ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reports that the deal is worth $18.5 million.

ESPN.com reported Friday that Philadelphia and Clemons, who had eight sacks in a reserve role with Oakland last season, had reached an agreement. The move came one day after the Eagles lured cornerback Asante Samuel away from New England with a six-year deal worth $57 million.

Clemons, who is 26, began his career with Washington in 2003 as an undrafted rookie from Georgia. He had five sacks in 20 games with the Redskins in 2004-05, but didn't play in 2006.

An outside linebacker in the Raiders' 3-4 defense, Clemens was on the field for just 37 percent of the team's defensive plays but still tied Derrick Burgess for the team lead in sacks.

-- The Associated Press and Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who took steps to upgrade their offense Friday, turned their attention to the defensive side Saturday, signing unrestricted free agent cornerback Drayton Florence.

The five-year veteran had spent his entire NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, appearing in 74 games, including 43 starts.

Florence, 27, was regarded by many as the second-best cornerback in the unrestricted free agent pool, after only former New England standout Asante Samuel, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday.

Although contract details were not yet available, it's expected that Florence has landed a deal that includes guaranteed money in excess of $10 million.

Florence likely will become the nickel cornerback in Jacksonville, assuming the role that previously was held by veteran Terry Cousin behind starters Rashean Mathis and Brian Williams. It is a key role, particularly given that the Jags face Indianapolis twice yearly and that the Colts' offense dictates so much nickel coverage.

For his career, Florence has 238 tackles, 10 interceptions and 47 passes defensed. The former Tuskegee star, a second-round choice in the 2003 draft, averaged 13.6 starts over his final three seasons with the Chargers. His ability to support well against the run is evidenced by the fact Florence averaged 60.3 tackles the past three seasons.

-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com

The Denver Broncos on Saturday added depth at wide receiver, signing unrestricted free agent Keary Colbert to a two-year, $2.4 million contract.

Colbert, 25, had spent his entire four-year career with the Carolina Panthers, starting in 42 of his 55 appearances. A second-round choice in the 2004 draft, Colbert caught 47 passes for 754 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie when pressed into the lineup because of injuries.

But the former Southern California standout never again approached those rookie numbers, in part because of injuries. In fact, in 2006, Colbert posted only five catches. He finished his stint in Carolina with 109 receptions for 1,424 yards and seven touchdowns, but the Denver coaches believe he can regain his earlier form and be an effective No. 3 wide receiver.

-- Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com

The Falcons' first move in the post-Bobby Petrino administration was to reach out to the Jets and land free safety Erik Coleman.

Coleman agreed to a four-year, $10 million contract that had slightly less than $3 million in guarantees. A fifth-round pick by the Jets in 2004, Coleman was a full-time starter for his first three seasons but started only four games last year under Eric Mangini.

Despite getting only those four starts, Coleman played close to a third of the Jets' defensive snaps in 2007. He was brought in to start ahead of Jimmy Williams, a converted safety, and to replace Chris Crocker, who is an unrestricted free agent for the Falcons.

After signing Coleman, Atlanta signed versatile cornerback Von Hutchins to be a third cornerback and a role player in the secondary.

Hutchins signed a four-year, $9 million deal that had $2.35 million in guarantees. He was a sixth-round pick by the Colts in 2004 and played two seasons in Indianapolis. He came to the Texans in 2006 and played two seasons. Hutchins started 15 games last season at cornerback and had a career-high 94 tackles.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jacques Reeves signed with the Houston Texans on Saturday.

Reeves, an unrestricted free agent, spent his first four seasons with the Cowboys where he became a starter last season. He had 60 tackles and an interception in 13 starts last season for Dallas.

The Texans are in need of help in the secondary with top cornerback Dunta Robinson likely to miss the early part of the season recovering from a severe knee and hamstring injury.

Reeves was a seventh-round pick in 2004 out of Purdue.

-- The Associated Press

The Dolphins added their seventh unrestricted free agent Saturday when they announced the signing of Texans linebacker Charlie Anderson.

Anderson is expected to help out at strongside linebacker.

-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Free-agent tight end John Gilmore and defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday.

Gilmore, who entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2002, played the past six seasons with the Chicago Bears. He has appeared in 86 regular-season games, starting 10, and has 21 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

Wilkerson, who entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by the Chiefs in 2003, played the past five seasons with the Chiefs. He has 97 career tackles, one sack, six passes defensed, one fumble recovery and 41 special teams tackles.

-- The Associated Press