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Friday, May 6, 2016

NFL free agent market opens up

Friday, February 27, 2009

By DAVE GOLDBERG

AP Football Writer

After a rare year in which they refrained from an early leap into the free agent market, the Washington Redskins reverted to form Friday, signing defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a $100 million contract that includes a record $41 million signing bonus.

The Haynesworth signing on the first day of the free agent period came shortly after Washington re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a six-year, $54 million deal

In other major moves, talented but troubled tight end Kellen Winslow was traded from Cleveland to Tampa Bay. The Titans re-signed 36-year-old quarterback Kerry Collins, and New England signed 33-year-old Fred Taylor, who is 16th on the NFL's career rushing list and was cut last week by Jacksonville after 11 seasons.

But Washington made the biggest splash after being quiet last season.

For the decade that Daniel Snyder has owned the team, the Redskins have usually been the first team in the free-agent market. Yet after winning the NFC East at 10-6 in 1999, the first year Snyder owned the team, they've gone 66-78 without another title in the NFL's most competitive division.

Last season, the Redskins finished 8-8 and last in the division, apparently prompting Snyder to move quickly on the most sought-after player from this year's crop. Agent Chad Speck drove up Haynesworth's price tag by suggesting that teams such as the Bucs and Giants were interested along with the Titans, who attempted to re-sign him.

But the Redskins, seemingly with little cap room, managed to find $41 million up front for Haynesworth and a reported $22.5 million in guarantees for Hall, who was cut after eight games with Oakland last season.

Haynesworth's money eclipsed the previous mark of $37 million in guarantees that Atlanta paid Michael Vick in December 2004. All told, the Redskins -- who laid off 23 employees recently -- are spending nearly $63 million on two players.

Tampa Bay didn't bid anywhere near the nine-figure mark, even though the Bucs are nearly $60 million under the $127 million salary cap after cutting five veterans Wednesday.

Instead of signing Haynesworth, the Bucs obtained Winslow from the Browns, where his five years were marked by injuries and controversy. He missed most of his first two seasons with injuries, but made the Pro Bowl in 2007 after making 82 catches for 1,106 yards. He demanded a new contract after that season and last year was suspended briefly after being hospitalized with a staph infection.

Winslow was the sixth overall pick in 2004. The son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr., he had 219 receptions for 2,459 yards and 11 touchdowns in 44 games with the Browns.

Collins took over for Vince Young at quarterback and led the Titans to the NFL's best regular-season record at 13-3. There was never much chance that he would leave and never much doubt that the Titans wanted him back.

Taylor, who has 11,271 yards rushing in his career, made his first Pro Bowl in 2007 after running for 1,202 yards and a career-best 5.4 yards per carry. Last season, he finished with 556 yards on the ground and averaged a career-low 3.9 yards a carry behind an injury-riddled offensive line, as Maurice Jones-Drew took over more of the load.

In other moves Friday:

-- The New Orleans Saints agreed to a five-year deal with linebacker Jonathan Vilma, bringing back the team's leading tackler from last season. A knee injury cost Vilma the last nine weeks of 2007, but he played all 16 games for the Saints in 2008.

-- Pittsburgh re-signed left guard Chris Kemoeatu after he turned down an offer from the New York Jets. The deal is worth $20 million over five seasons and pays him a signing bonus of nearly $4 million, which is believed to be less than the Jets were offering.

-- The New York Jets bolstered their defense in a big way, signing former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott to a six-year, $48 million deal. Scott will make $27 million over the first three years of the contract.

-- Denver signed running back Correll Buckhalter to a four-year deal and were putting the finishes touches on a four-year contract for J.J. Arrington, said J.R. Rickert, the agent for both players.

-- The Chicago Bears agreed to a four-year contract with free agent Frank Omiyale, who can play tackle or guard, hoping to stabilize their offensive line.

-- Cincinnati re-signed safety Chris Crocker and halfback DeDe Dorsey. Crocker, who joined the Bengals at midseason in 2008, had 48 tackles the rest of the way.

-- Baltimore signed cornerback Dominique Foxworth, who played last season for Atlanta, is a Baltimore native who played his college ball at Maryland.



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