News and notes
Browns: Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. had minor surgery in January on the knee he injured in a motorcycle accident last year. The Browns did not disclose the surgery until this week. "It was a very minor procedure to clear out some scar tissue from his previous surgery," team spokeswoman Amy Palcic said. Winslow's initial surgery on the knee was about six weeks after his May 1 accident. The former sixth overall pick also had a staph infection in the knee last year that caused him to lose about 30 pounds. There's been no timetable placed on Winslow's recovery, but the procedure in January did not set him back, Palcic said. He's been working out daily at the team's facility.
Niners: San Francisco hopes Allen-itis still is highly contagious. Larry Allen, the Dallas Cowboys' 10-time Pro Bowl guard and perhaps the most dominant offensive lineman of his generation, agreed to a two-year contract. Though the 34-year-old has played 12 tough NFL seasons, the struggling 49ers believe they could use a big dose of Allen's famed nastiness. Allen, the massive last link to the Cowboys' most recent Super Bowl-winning team, was released Tuesday when he refused to take a pay cut. Michael Strahan once called Allen "the legalized killer" because of his size, athleticism and all-around nasty play. At the height of his dominance, other Cowboys chuckled when opposing defensive players came down with mysterious injuries before their meetings with Allen -- a phenomenon known as "Allen-itis." "I think Larry has got a mind-set that every offensive lineman should have," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "I'm looking for an identity that our offensive line is searching for. Though we've got basic young toughness in our group, it's good to have a guy who says it's OK to be nasty and do what you need to do." The 49ers outbid several suitors to put the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Allen on a line that improved last season, but still struggled just as much as every other part of the NFL's 32nd-ranked offense. Allen, who said he weighs 340 right now, will play left guard, his primary position with Dallas in recent seasons after stints at every spot but center.
Eagles: Veteran right tackle Jon Runyan agreed to a three-year contract, returning to the offensive line he has anchored for the last five seasons. The 32-year-old Runyan, who was an unrestricted free agent, has started all 96 games at right tackle for Philadelphia since joining the team as a free agent in 2000. Runyan said the free-agent process was different than six years ago. "Six years ago, I was in it to make a lot of money," Runyan said. "I have made my money. I understand where I am in my life and my family is important to me. That weighed a lot on my decision. I'm glad it's over with. It's been an interesting process, but we met somewhere in the middle and I think that both sides are happy with the situation." Runyan will go into the 2006 season with a streak of 160 consecutive starts -- including the regular season and playoffs -- over the last 11 years. The last time he missed a game was in college, at Michigan in 1994.
Panthers: Carolina receiver Steve Smith might have been the biggest influence in persuading Keyshawn Johnson to the sign with the Panthers. "He threatened me a couple of times to make this decision," Johnson quipped Friday after signing a four-year contract to play for the Panthers. Johnson, who negotiated the contract himself while his agent serves a one-year suspension, got a $19 million deal that includes a $5 million signing bonus. "Was I unreasonable?" he asked general manager Marty Hurney. "Apparently not!" Hurney fired back. Johnson becomes the complement to Smith that the Panthers lacked last season during their run to the NFC championship game. Smith was their only big playmaker, and teams could clamp down on him to stop Carolina's offense. Johnson called Smith "the most dominant force in the NFL at wide receiver" and said he was looking forward to lining up next to him. "I didn't come here to catch 100 balls," Johnson said. "I came here because I feel Carolina is the team with the best chance to get to the Super Bowl." Released last week by the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson rejected a bid from the New York Giants and also planned to meet with the Seahawks. But after coming to Charlotte on Thursday, he never made it to Seattle because the Panthers convinced him to stay.
Falcons: Despite a second-half collapse that ruined a shot at the playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons gave coach Jim Mora a three-year contract extension that runs through 2009. Mora guided the Falcons to the NFC South championship and within one win of the Super Bowl in his first season. Atlanta was 6-2 at the midway point of his second year but won only two games the rest of the way, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Even so, Falcons owner Arthur Blank decided to give the coach a new deal. Mora initially signed a five-year, $7.5 million deal for his first head-coaching job, but the last two years were at the team's option. The new contract guarantees those final two years and adds another year to the deal.
Patriots: After losing three key players from its championship teams in recent days, New England re-signed receiver and fan favorite Troy Brown. The team also re-signed offensive lineman Stephen Neal. Terms of the deals weren't disclosed. Brown, 34, has spent his entire career with the Patriots, who drafted him in 1993. His 514 career receptions rank second for the Patriots, 21 behind Stanley Morgan. Brown had 39 catches for 466 yards and two touchdowns last season.