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Cardinals keep signing players

Posted: Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green dipped into the free agent market for the third time in five days, signing defensive end Chike Okeafor to go with quarterback Kurt Warner and offensive tackle Oliver Ross.

''I've been a big believer since the day I got here that Arizona has all the ingredients to attract the top NFL free agents, and our three signees are a great indication of that,'' said Green, in his second year with Arizona.

Okeafor provides a strong upgrade at his position. He had a career-high 8 1/2 sacks for Seattle last season after recording eight the previous season.

He also had two sacks and four tackles in the Seahawks' 27-20 loss to St. Louis in an NFC wild-card game Jan. 8.

Okeafor, who also visited Denver, said during his visit to Arizona's headquarters on Saturday that it was obvious Green is serious about shaking the Cardinals' doormat image.

''From playing against them and watching on film, there is some heart there,'' he said.

The Cardinals also re-signed running back Troy Hambrick to a two-year contract.

Detroit signed two players on Monday, landing hard-hitting safety Kenoy Kennedy and tight end Marcus Pollard.

Kennedy, who spent his entire five-year career with Denver, was about to board a flight to Miami to continue his free-agent tour, but had second thoughts and returned to the Lions' practice facility to sign a contract while the team was introducing Pollard.

''They were calling my name and saying that I had to get on the plane or I was going to get left behind,'' Kennedy said. ''I told them to go ahead and leave me. I decided I wanted to be a Lion.''

Kennedy was suspended for one game in 2002 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Miami's Chris Chambers, and has been fined for similar plays at least three other times.

''I think I bring a presence,'' he said. ''Receivers are looking for me, and they might develop alligator arms.''

Kennedy has four career interceptions.

''I think we got better today, and Kenoy is a big part of that,'' Lions coach Steve Mariucci said.

Pollard caught six of Peyton Manning's record 49 touchdown passes last season with Indianapolis.

''Until a couple weeks ago, we didn't even expect that Marcus would be available, so we feel very good about adding him to the roster,'' team president Matt Millen said. ''He brings experience, an understanding of how to win, and some great hands.''

Pollard spent his first 10 seasons with Indianapolis. Last season, he caught 29 passes for 309 yards and six touchdowns. He missed three games with leg injuries.

Record-setting running back Rudi Johnson signed a one-year contract to stay with the Cincinnati Bengals. Johnson, who set a team mark last season with 1,454 yards rushing, will get $6.3 million.

He became a free agent March 2, but the Bengals designated him their franchise player, meaning they had to pay him the average of the top five salaries at the position. Johnson is still free to negotiate a long-term contract with the team, and says he wants to do that. He was paid $1.8 million in 2004.

The deal allows the Bengals to keep Johnson while they see whether Chris Perry, their top draft choice last year, will develop. Perry was sidelined by injuries for much of his rookie season.

Johnson broke Corey Dillon's team mark of 1,435 yards, set in 2000. Johnson set another Bengals record with 361 carries, exceeding Dillon's 340 in 2001.

The Dolphins signed two-time Pro Bowl player Kevin Carter to a five-year deal. A 10-year NFL veteran, Carter spent the last four seasons with Tennessee, but was released by the Titans in a salary-cap move.

The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Carter never has missed a game, totaling 598 tackles, 86 sacks, nine fumble recoveries and 16 forced fumbles. He earned Pro Bowl trips in 1999 and 2002, and a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams in 2000.

The Dolphins also cut wide receiver David Boston, who failed his physical. Boston signed last year, but missed the season with a knee injury. In December, he was suspended by the NFL for four games for testing positive for steroids. Boston has denied using steroids.

Cornerback Samari Rolle agreed to a six-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

Rolle was a 2000 Pro Bowl selection with the Tennessee Titans. Like new Ravens receiver Derrick Mason and Carter, Rolle was a salary-cap casualty before the free-agent signing period in Tennessee.

In 2000, Rolle intercepted seven passes as the Titans went 13-3. He was limited to a career-low 12 games last season because of an injured left knee that required arthroscopic surgery.

The Bears signed another Tennessee cap cut, right tackle Fred Miller. The 32-year-old veteran, who hasn't missed a start since 1998, agreed to a five-year deal.

The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Miller was a cut by the Titans last month so he wouldn't count $9.32 million against this year's salary cap. Financial terms of his deal with the Bears weren't disclosed.

The Patriots re-signed fullback Patrick Pass, an unrestricted free agent.

Cornerback Willie Williams re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers for another two years. The unrestricted free agent started the final 10 regular-season games and both playoff contests after Chad Scott injured his knee Oct. 17 against Dallas.

Williams finished his 12th NFL season with 57 tackles, one sack and one interception.

The Redskins agreed to terms with Mike Sellers, a standout on special teams, where he made 29 tackles last season. He also is the backup to starting H-back Chris Cooley.

The Falcons signed safety Rich Coady, another low-key acquisition for the team that reached the NFC championship game last season.

Kicker Jay Feely, replaced by Todd Peterson after four years with the Falcons, signed with the Giants.



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