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Charles Grant agrees to deal with Dolphins

A tumultuous offseason for former Saints defensive end Charles Grant will end happily.

Steve Wyche of NFL Network reports that Grant agreed to a two-year deal with the Dolphins.  Grant was cut by the Saints back in March and has been recovering from a torn triceps.  There were whispers about his desire to play again, while an involuntary manslaughter charge was dropped against him Georgia.

(Oh, and the Starcaps case figures to hang over him until he can collect social security.)

In Grant, Miami adds yet another big body and more flexibility for their defensive line.  He doesn’t figure to play every down and may not be a lock for the team, but he’s an intriguing option to help stuff the run if healthy.

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Antoine Bethea is a rich man

One down, three Colts veterans to go.

Indianapolis agreed to terms with safety Antonie Bethea on a four-year, $27 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.  Bethea is due $18 million over the next two years.

On one hand, it’s surprising to see Bethea get paid before Peyton Manning.   But this was a simpler deal to finish and the Colts clearly placed a priority on Bethea over disgruntled veterans Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne, who both have two years left on their deal.

We are somewhat surprised the Colts are willing to pay another safety so much money after sinking cash in to Bob Sanders.  Most teams don’t value the position that much, but Indianapolis identifies core players and isn’t afraid to pay them handsomely.

Next up: Peyton Manning.

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Raiders sign former Jaguar John Henderson

All has been quiet on the John Henderson front since he didn’t visit the Chiefs just after April’s draft, but the free agent defensive tackle has finally found a new home.

Notorious collectors of former first-round picks, the Raiders have agreed to terms with Henderson — the No. 9 overall selection in 2002 — on a one-year contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Behind perhaps only O.J. Atogwe, Henderson is the premier defender on the free agent market.  Henderson, 31, has lost much of his pass-rush ability, but remains a quality run stopper.  He is also capable of playing both defensive end in a 3-4 defense and tackle in a 4-3.  The Raiders have hinted that they will be using more 3-4 fronts by trading for outside linebackers Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves, and drafting Nick Saban disciple Rolando McClain with the eighth overall pick.
At 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds, Henderson gives the Raiders an imposing bookend for 6-foot-6, 310-pounder Richard Seymour.
The Raiders, though, will probably still find a way to again rank among the NFL’s worst run defenses.
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Texans set deadline for Andre Johnson deal

Speaking to ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky, Texans G.M. Rick Smith made it clear that the team has a deadline for negotiations about a restructured contract for wide receiver Andre Johnson.

“Our policy’s been that we’ll look at deals and we’ll try to get things done during the offseason,” explained Smith.  “But once the season starts, our entire focus as an organization goes to football and playing games.”
Smith acknowledged that the Texans have been in discussions with Johnson’s new agent, Kennard McGuire, though no new deal seems imminent.
“It’s pretty well known that he’s hired Kennard and we’ve been in contact,” Smith confirmed.  “So I’ll just leave it there.”
Though Johnson has outplayed the eight-year, $60 million extension he signed in 2007 relative to other top NFL receivers, his camp is in a difficult position.  The Texans have Johnson under control through the 2014 season, with impending salaries of $5.8 million (2010), $6.8 million (2011), $7.3 million (2012), $7 million (2013), and $7.3 million (2014).
The sides will have to get creative to get something done before Smith’s deadline.
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Broncos take hardball approach with Dumervil

Citing a source with the NFL Players Association, the Denver Post reports that the Broncos have threatened to reduce unsigned restricted free agent Elvis Dumervil’s tender offer if he doesn’t sign the team’s initial one-year proposal by Monday.

Dumervil is currently wearing a first- and third-round tender that would pay him $3.168 million in 2010.  He would prefer a long-term contract, and has made a good faith gesture by practicing with the team on an injury waiver during negotiations.  Dumervil led the NFL in sacks last season, is only 26 years old, and by all accounts is a quality citizen.  He fully intends to participate in Denver’s minicamp this weekend.
The Broncos are still playing hardball.
Second-year coach Josh McDaniels’ team could reduce Dumervil’s tender to as little as $630,000 if he doesn’t sign the $3.168 million offer by next Tuesday.
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Falcons ink Shann Schillinger

The Falcons announced the signing of seventh-round pick, safety Shann Schillinger on Thursday morning. 

The 200-pound player helped Montana reach the D-1 (formerly 1-AA) National Championship game in back-to-back years.  To make room for him, the Falcons waived quarterback Eric Ward.

Shann will try to replace the character from Oz played by the father in Juno as the most famous Schillinger of all time.

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Bills lock in two more draft picks

Two late-round picks by Buffalo have agreed to terms, according to Scout’s Adam Caplan.

Sixth-round linebacker Arthur Moats from James Madison will earn $1.9 million over the next four years, including $112,000 guaranteed.  Moats is making the transition from a college defensive end to inside linebacker, where the new 3-4 Bills defense needs help.

Hopefully he doesn’t fight any teammates for his meeting room chair.

Also coming to terms was seventh-round quarterback Levi Brown.  He gets $69,000 guaranteed and $1.86 million if he makes it through four years.  First, he has to hope the Bills cut one of their veteran quarterbacks in training camp.  Browns looks ticketed for the practice squad otherwise.

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Patriots play it safe with Hernandez's deal

Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez says he only failed one drug test in college, despite reports to the contrary.

Whatever the truth is, Hernandez’s off-field problems cost him in terms of 2010 pay.  The details of his four-year contract are eye-opening.  Albert Breer of the Boston Globe writes that Hernandez only received a $200,000 signing bonus, $308,000 less than Bears defensive end Corey Wooten, taken four spots in front of him.

Hernandez can make that money back and then some in the form of roster bonuses if he makes the team in 2011, 2012, and 2013. So Hernandez will be fine if he stays out of trouble and performs well.

But there’s a reason you don’t see many rookie deals like this.  It doesn’t contain a lot of security.  It makes us wonder if something like a failed test or placement in the league’s substance abuse program is already at play here. After all, the Patriots knew Hernandez’s history when they drafted him. 

He paid for that history once with falling draft stock, and just paid for it again.

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Panthers RFAs Marshall, Davis sign tenders

Darin Gantt of the Charlotte Observer and Rock Hill Herald reports that Panthers restricted free agents Thomas Davis and Richard Marshall signed their one-year tenders on Tuesday.

Davis, a linebacker, will collect $3.268 million after receiving the highest possible tender (first and third round).  The former first-round pick is coming off a torn ACL, but was recently timed at 4.47 in the forty-yard dash, indicating that his recovery has gone smoothly.  The Panthers run a Tampa 2-style defense under second-year coordinator Ron Meeks, and Davis’ role on the weak side is crucial in the scheme.
Marshall, a cornerback, is now slated for a $1.759 million base salary.  Though Marshall was initially upset with the restricted free agent tender, he reported to offseason workouts in late May and has been a regular participant ever since.
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Bills announce rookie deal for Kyle Calloway

The Bills announced Tuesday that they have signed seventh-round pick Kyle Calloway to a four-year contract.

Calloway bookended No. 23 overall pick Bryan Bulaga at Iowa as the Hawkeyes’ right tackle.  A 37-game starter under Kirk Ferentz, Calloway possesses the build at 6-foot-7, 315 to stay at tackle in the pros.  He is considered to lack ideal athleticism, however.
Still, it would be an ominous sign for Calloway if he failed to make the team.  The Bills have perhaps the weakest offensive tackle corps in the league.
To make room on the 80-man roster, the Bills waived undrafted rookie cornerback Stephan Virgil.
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Pats do four-year deal with rookie Hernandez

The Boston Herald reports that the Patriots have come to terms with rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez on a four-year contract.

Though considered in some circles to be a borderline first-round talent, Hernandez fell all the way to round four (No. 113 overall) due to a torn muscle in his back and concern over multiple failed drug tests as a Florida Gator.  Hernandez did pass his drug test at February’s Scouting Combine.
With the Patriots, Hernandez has the look of New England’s “move” tight end of the future, behind on-the-line tight end Rob Gronkowski.  Gronkowski projects as an every-down player because he is a skilled blocker, but Hernandez may wind up with more production because of his catch-first role.
In a blog post last week, the Boston Globe predicted that Hernandez will play “a significant role as a rookie.”
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Dawan Landry signs restricted free agent tender

The Baltimore Ravens announced Tuesday that strong safety Dawan Landry has signed his one-year, restricted free agent tender.

Landry is a rising fifth-year player and received a second-round tender, so his salary is slated to be $1.759 million in 2010.
Everybody wants to do a long-term deal, but it probably won’t happen,” admitted Landry, the older brother of the Redskins’ LaRon.
After a lost 2008 season due to a neck injury, the Ravens’ Landry returned last season to pick off four passes, including a 48-yard pick six.  He also posted a career-high 89 tackles, starting all 16 games.  Entering a contract year, however, Landry doesn’t have a whole lot of leverage in his bid for a long-term extension.  Current No. 3 safety Tom Zbikowski showed promise while filling in for injured free safety Ed Reed last year.
Fullback Le’Ron McClain, who is publicly campaigning for an increased ball carrying role, is Baltimore’s lone restricted free agent yet to sign.
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Raiders rookie McClain vows to not hold out

Last year’s No. 8 overall pick, Jaguars offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, didn’t sign a rookie contract until roughly three weeks into training camp.

This year’s No. 8 overall pick, Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain, intends to avoid a repeat.
I’m not looking to sit out,” McClain told the Decatur Daily.  “In order to play for the team, I need to be in training camp.  I’m going to OTAs and not worried about the contract.”
McClain did acknowledge that negotiations have yet to begin.
“We haven’t started contract talks,” said the 2009 Butkus Award winner.  “I’m not sure where we are on that.  I leave that to (agent) Pat Dye Jr. and the Raiders.  I just play football.”
Based on Monroe’s deal, McClain is likely looking at a rookie contract worth some $36 million with at least $20 million guaranteed.
Of course, that’s assuming the Raiders don’t significantly overpay their top pick.
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Bills do deal with linebacker Torbor

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bills have agreed to terms with free agent linebacker Reggie Torbor, formerly of the Dolphins.  

The deal is for two years, though financial details haven’t been disclosed.
Mostly a special teamer in his career, Torbor made two starts last year for the Fins and was credited with 37 tackles.  He also picked off one pass and recorded a sack.
In Buffalo, Torbor will likely continue to focus on special teams while competing with Kawika Mitchell to be the Bills’ No. 3 inside linebacker.  Torbor’s experience in the 3-4 defense may give him the edge.
Paul Posluszny and Andra Davis figure to be locked in as the team’s starting inside linebackers.
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Polian: Wayne, Mathis not getting new deals

Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Robert Mathis are sitting out mandatory minicamp due to displeasure with their contracts.  Both players have two years left on their current deals.

Speaking to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, Colts president Bill Polian indicated that he doesn’t intend to satisfy Wayne and Mathis’ demands.
“We’re not in a regular environment, that’s the problem,” Polian said, blaming the lack of a CBA for Indianapolis’ financial predicament.  “I’ve spoken to both their agents, and I certainly respect both men and they make a good case.  But the problem is we don’t have a system, and without a system you don’t know where contracts might or might not fit.
“So it’s futile to plan beyond just baseline kind of planning because you don’t know what the final product is going to look like.”
Polian also indicated that the Colts have not begun extension negotiations with contract-year quarterback Peyton Manning, despite owner Jim Irsay’s pledge to make Manning the league’s highest paid player.
“We’ll sit down and talk as we go forward,” Polian said.  “… We’ll talk, but there is no timetable.  I don’t put any timetable on it and neither has Jim Irsay. … [Agent] Tom [Condon] and I have always handled those things.”
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