NFL ROUNDUP News and notes
Eagles: The biggest prize in free agency was Asante Samuel, the former Patriots cornerback who tied for the league lead in interceptions with 10 last season. Philadelphia had only had 11 interceptions all year. The Eagles paid a reported $57 million over six years with $20 million of it guaranteed, comparable to the $80 million that cornerback Nate Clements got for eight years from San Francisco last year. Samuel had been protected last season as the Patriots’ franchise player, but was allowed to go this year. He was one of the defensive keys last season to New England’s run to 18-0 before its Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants. He had an interception that sealed a three-point win over Philadelphia during that unbeaten run.
Jets: Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins was acquired from Carolina and linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the 2004 defensive rookie of the year, was traded to New Orleans. Vilma’s problem: a 4-3 middle linebacker, he didn’t fit in well to Eric Mangini’s 3-4 defense. Vilma, who missed the last nine games of the 2007 season with a knee injury, had 118 tackles as a rookie after being the No. 12 overall draft pick in 2004. He led the NFL the following season with 187 tackles and made the Pro Bowl. Jenkins, whose play fell off the past two years, was obtained for third- and fifth-round draft picks. The 349-pounder is expected to move to nose tackle after signing a new five-year contract worth $35 million, including $20 million in guaranteed money.
Buccaneers: Former Saints center Jeff Faine was signed Friday. The team also announced the signing of linebacker Antoine Cash, who spent last season on injured reserve after appearing in 16 games for the Bucs in 2006. Upgrading at center is one of coach Jon Gruden’s main objectives this offseason. The Bucs also are in the market for help at receiver, running back, cornerback and on the defensive line.
Redskins: Thirty-six-year-old Collins, who took the Redskins to the playoffs after taking over for an injured Jason Campbell agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract to stay put. Coach Jim Zorn already has said that he will remain Campbell’s backup next season.
—Linebacker Kawika Mitchell signed with Buffalo after having a career season in his only year with the Giants. He finished with 3 1/2 sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown and had two more sacks in the playoffs, including one in the Super Bowl.
Back to Candlestick: After two much-criticized naming rights agreements with corporate sponsors over the past 12 years, the San Francisco 49ers formally announced their aging stadium will be known as Candlestick Park for the rest of its days. The 48-year-old stadium was called Monster Park for the last 3 1/2 years, though it seemed only the 49ers and their contractually obligated broadcasters actually used the name. Shortly after the Bay Area maker of electronic cables bought naming rights in 2004 for an estimated $1.5 million annually, San Francisco voters passed a proposition severely restricting the team’s ability to resell the naming rights when the deal with Monster Cable expired. When none of the available deals worked out for a new naming deal, the 49ers elected to let the stadium revert to its original name.
More deals: Denver released discontented wide receiver Javon Walker and linebacker Ian Gold. … San Diego re-signed backup QB Billy Volek, who led the Chargers to a playoff win in Indianapolis in relief of the injured Philiip Rivers. … Oakland signed safety Gibril Wilson, who like Mitchell started for the Giants in the Super Bowl, to a $39 million, six-year deal. … Minnesota signed safety Madieu Williams and fullback Thomas Tapeh. Williams, who played his first four seasons in Cincinnati, replaces Dwight Smith, who was cut and signed with Detroit; Tapeh, a former Eagle, will replace free-agent Tony Richardson, a Pro Bowl player in 2007. … Jacksonville formally completed a trade with Minnesota for former first-round draft pick Troy Williamson and signed another wide receiver, former Raider Jerry Porter. They also signed former Dolphin Cleo Lemon as their backup quarterback. … Kick returner Allen Rossum signed with the San Francisco 49ers, his fifth NFL team. Rossum, who played by Pittsburgh last season also played for Philadelphia and Green Bay. … Miami signed former Jacksonville wide receiver Ernest Wilford and defensive end Sean Ryan from the Jets and traded for nose tackle Jason Ferguson from Dallas. They also added journeyman Josh McCown to compete for the quarterback job. … Atlanta re-signed quarterback Chris Redman. … Houston re-signed receiver and return man Andre’ Davis, who had returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season.