New England signs prize free agent Colvin

Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2003

For once, the Washington Redskins didn't make the biggest news in free agency.

Of course, the Redskins did make a move Tuesday, acquiring safety Matt Bowen after Green Bay refused to match an offer sheet from Washington.

This time, it was New England that grabbed the spotlight and perhaps the best player available in free agency when outside linebacker Rosevelt Colvin left Chicago for the Patriots.

This process has been very extensive and tiresome. My thoughts the last couple of days have circled so many different ways,'' Colvin said. It just felt like a better situation here than in Chicago.''

One of the NFL's best pass rushers at linebacker, Colvin had 10 1/2 sacks last season to lead the Bears. New England managed only 34 sacks last season; just 11 teams were worse.

So bringing in the league's No. 2 linebacker in sacks last season trailing only the 11 by LaVar Arrington of Washington makes plenty of sense.

I've been in Chicago for four years, playing in a defense that's pretty good,'' Colvin said. We took a step backwards in 2002. I wish them the best of luck.

It's tough, but being a professional you have to be able to do your job at any given place.''

The 25-year-old Colvin spent four seasons with the Bears. In each of the last two years, he had 10 1/2 sacks. He's also younger than New England's incumbents at the position: 35-year-old Roman Phifer, 30-year-old Ted Johnson, 29-year-old Tedy Bruschi and 27-year-old Mike Vrabel.

New England also lost a player when wide receiver Donald Hayes signed a one-year contract with Jacksonville. Hayes comes off a disappointing season in which he caught only 12 passes after signing a deal worth a $1.2 million signing bonus.

He played for Carolina from 1998-2001, where he caught 132 passes. In 2000, he had 66 receptions for 929 yards.

Seattle signed six-year veteran free safety Damien Robinson to a four-year contract to replace Marcus Robertson, who was released last month. The 29-year-old Robinson joins the Seahawks after two troubled seasons with the New York Jets. He also played in Tampa Bay from 1997-2000.

Seeing what they had to offer, I felt good about it,'' Robinson said. I told them it was like when I went to the University of Iowa, a very similar feeling. It felt good.''

In 2001, Robinson was stopped amid high post Sept. 11-security at Giants Stadium after an assault rifle and ammunition were found in his car trunk. The Jets fined him one game check, about $30,000.

Later in the 2001 season, he was fined $20,000 by the NFL for twisting the facemask of New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks and sparking a fight near the end of a game.

Falcons fullback Bob Christian, whose 2002 season ended with a concussion, is retiring. Christian, a 12-year veteran, had two concussions last year, one in Game 6 against Carolina, then in Game 15 against Detroit.

Christian ran 31 times for 119 yards and three TDs, and caught 13 passes for 174 yards last season. Primarily a blocker, he ran for 831 yards in his career with Chicago, Carolina and the Falcons, but had 230 receptions for 2,049 yards.

Bowen got a four-year, $6 million contract with Washington, and the Packers will receive a sixth-round draft pick. He gets a $1.6 million signing bonus.

Bowen started six games for injured starters Darren Sharper and Marques Anderson in 2002. He had 42 tackles last season, forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.

Miami backup safety Shawn Wooden was released. Wooden played in all 16 games last season, making two starts.

Safety Bracey Walker re-signed with Detroit. He played in 14 games with one start in his first season with the Lions in 2002 and had 31 special teams tackles.

Walker has played in 119 games, with 32 starts, during his nine-year NFL career. He also played for Kansas City, Miami and Cincinnati.

Fullback Jim Finn, who spent the past three years with Indianapolis, signed with the New York Giants. He was the final player selected in the 1999 draft, by Chicago.

Houston re-signed defensive end Corey Sears and safety Kevin Williams, both reserves for the team last year. Sears played in all 16 games; Williams, signed in Dec. 2001 as one of the team's initial players, played in 13 games in 2002.

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