Roundup: Looking to rebuild secondary, Pats sign CB Webster

Updated: March 5, 2008, 1:00 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

With cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Randall Gay leaving as free agents, the New England Patriots began rebuilding their secondary on Tuesday by signing cornerback Jason Webster.

The 5-foot-9, 187-pound Webster has 393 tackles and 11 interceptions in 87 career games, 74 of them starts.

He played in one game last season for Buffalo before being placed on the reserve/injured list with an arm injury on Sept. 13.

The eight-year veteran was a second-round draft pick of San Francisco in 2000 and played four years with the 49ers before signing as a free agent with Atlanta, where he played for three years.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick says Webster is "an experienced veteran who will add good depth to our secondary."
-- The Associated Press

More than a week ago, the Bears, in search of a quarterback, went back to Rex Grossman and gave him a one-year deal.

On Tuesday night, down two receivers with the release of Muhsin Muhammad and the loss of Bernard Berrian, Chicago reached an agreement with Marty Booker, the former Bear who spent four seasons in Miami. The 31-year-old Booker was traded to the Dolphins in 2004. He spent the past four years as a Dolphins starter.

In Chicago, Booker had a 100-catch season in 2001 and a 97-catch season in 2002. The Bears hope he can regain some of that consistency because they expect him to start.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

As free agency started last Friday morning, the buzz was that 49ers tackle Kwame Harris was heading across the Bay to Oakland for big money.

On Tuesday, that deal came true when he agreed to a three-year, $14 million deal that has easily-achieved escalators that could take it to $16.3 million. A former first-round pick of the 49ers, Harris has the versatility to play left or right tackle.

After starting early in his 49ers career, Harris fell out of favor as a starter. He had 32 starts in 2005 and 2006 but played in only 12 games as a backup last season with no starts.

The Raiders released left tackle Barry Sims at the start of free agency and don't plan to bring back starting right tackle Cornell Green. Harris fills one of those key spots on the line. The 6-7, 322-pound Harris is only 25, and his contract -- if he does well -- gives him a chance to get another big deal.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

A day after signing Damien Woody to play offensive right tackle, the New York Jets cut last year's starter, Anthony Clement.

They also signed cornerback Andre Woolfolk, a former first-round pick by Tennessee who was out of football in 2007.

Clement started all 33 games, including one in the playoffs, since being signed as a free agent in 2006.

Woolfolk played 39 games in four seasons with Tennessee, making 11 starts and intercepting three passes.
-- The Associated Press

The Denver Broncos re-signed veteran defensive end John Engelberger, who led the team's linemen in tackles last season.

Engelberger, entering his ninth season in the NFL and fourth in Denver, started 15 games last year and made 59 tackles and a sack, despite a right shoulder injury early in the season.

Denver also re-signed reserve tight end Nate Jackson, who played in five games last season. He caught the first touchdown of his five-year career before going on injured reserve on Oct. 9 with a torn groin muscle.

Free-agent running back and kickoff returner Maurice Hicks signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings had an opening for a No. 3 back, behind Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, after Mewelde Moore joined the Pittsburgh Steelers.

More importantly, Hicks comes with extensive special teams experience -- both covering kicks and returning kickoffs. With San Francisco last season, he averaged 23.8 yards per kickoff return. Over the past three years, the 49ers credited him with 50 special teams tackles.

"Coming into this league, to stay in this league, one of the things they tell you when you're not a big-time draft pick is you've got to be good on special teams," Hicks said.

The 29-year-old Hicks has started five games at running back in the NFL and posted a pair of 100-yard games. He has 869 career yards rushing, with six touchdowns and an average of 4.2 yards per carry.
-- The Associated Press

Safety Nick Sorensen signed a three-year contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Sorensen, who excelled on special teams last season after joining Cleveland, played in nine games with the Browns in 2007. The 29-year-old ranked fifth on the team with 14 special-teams tackles, making a season-high four in a win over Baltimore on Nov. 18.

"Nick joined us midseason last year and did an excellent job on special teams and also provided veteran leadership," Browns general manager Phil Savage said. "He will be a part of our core special teams unit and serve as a quality backup safety."

An eight-year veteran, Sorensen has also played for St. Louis and Jacksonville.
-- The Associated Press

Reserve offensive tackle Matt Murphy re-signed with the Buffalo Bills, getting another opportunity with the team after finishing last season on injured reserve.

A six-year veteran, Murphy appeared in only two games with the Bills last season before tearing his left calf muscle during a practice in early November. Murphy was a tight end when he signed with the Bills in 2006, but the team began converting him to an offensive lineman last year.

Detroit's seventh-round draft pick in 2002, Murphy spent his rookie season with the Lions before playing the next three years with Houston.
-- The Associated Press

As expected, the Chicago Bears didn't match the one-year, $705,000 offer sheet for defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and he became property of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kennedy signed with the Jags on Wednesday.

The Jaguars were looking for potential replacements for Marcus Stroud, who was traded to the Bills. Kennedy is a former first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added a versatile backup linebacker Tuesday who could start if necessary when they reached a one-year deal with Teddy Lehman.

Lehman, who played for the Lions last season, agreed to a one-year, $1.2 milion deal that could grow to $1.7 million depending on his playing time. The 26-year-old Lehman was a second-round pick of the Lions in 2004.

He started 16 games as a rookie with the Lions but spent the past couple of years as a reserve. The Bucs could use him at any of their three backup linebacker positions.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

The Houston Texans, who lost safety Von Hutchins to Atlanta, prevented safety Will Demps from leaving in free agency.

Demps agreed to a two-year, $4.75 million deal. The 28-year-old Demps started eight of 15 games with the Texans. He came to Houston after one season with the New York Giants. His first four years were with the Baltimore Ravens. He has 70 career starts.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

The Carolina Panthers beat out the Colts and gave former Raiders defensive end Tyler Brayton a two-year deal. The 28-year-old Brayton played mostly defensive end for Oakland although at one point he played some linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. A former first-round pick, Brayton will play defensive end for the Panthers.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com