NFL Notebook: Bears land biggest prize
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Julius Peppers is no longer a Carolina Panthers defensive end.
Peppers, a five-time Pro Bowler and top free-agent prize, agreed Friday to a six-year deal with the Chicago Bears, the biggest move on a day the team showed it's intent on contending again after missing the playoffs the past three seasons following a trip to Super Bowl XLI.
Peppers agreed to a six-year deal worth potentially $91.5 million. Agent Carl Carey said a record $42 million is guaranteed, with Peppers earning $20 million in the first year.
"It's one thing to play football in this league and make a living, but it's a totally different thing to come to a place with a rich tradition like the Bears," Peppers said.
Besides Peppers, the Bears lured running back Chester Taylor from NFC North Division champion Minnesota with a four-year contract and blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna from San Diego with a five-year deal. Taylor's contract reportedly is worth $12.5 million with $7 million guaranteed,.
By landing one of the league's top pass rushers and a running back who could challenge incumbent Matt Forte, Chicago showed just how serious it is about contending against in the NFC.
General manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith are operating on a win-or-else mandate from above after a 7-9 season that left many in Chicago calling for sweeping changes.
A coaching staff shake-up that left the Bears with new offensive and defensive coordinators in Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli was just a start.
The signings Friday do not guarantee a turnaround, as Bears fans learned last season after the trade with Denver for quarterback Jay Cutler. Even so, the Bears did address some big needs, particularly on the defensive line.
Baltimore bolstered its wide receiving corps by obtaining Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals for two draft picks.
Boldin, 29, caught 84 passes for 1,024 yards and two touchdowns last season. He is a welcome addition to a team that set a priority this offseason of getting quarterback Joe Flacco a few high-profile targets.
A month again, the Ravens added free agent Donte' Stallworth.
Although Boldin has had difficulty staying healthy throughout his pro career, he has amassed at least 1,000 yards receiving in five of his seven seasons.
General manager Marty Hurney called it the toughest decision he ever made. Coach John Fox couldn't fight off tears while answering questions.
Carolina officially parted ways with Jake Delhomme and declared that Matt Moore will be the starting quarterback going into training camp.
At an emotional news conference where Hurney and Fox choked up, the Panthers announced that Delhomme, who also was emotional later, was one of five veterans released.
The move comes after Delhomme threw a career-high 18 interceptions last season. The Panthers still owe him more than $12.5 million in guaranteed money.
The Panthers also released defensive tackles Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu, and linebackers Na'il Diggs and Landon Johnson in the start of a youth movement.
New York officially released running back Thomas Jones, as expected, but didn't rule out a return of the leader of the NFL's top rushing offense.
Pro Bowl return specialist Josh Cribbs finally has a new three-year contract with Cleveland. After two seasons of threats, broken promises and back-and-forth negotiations, the Browns restructured the final three years of the six-year deal Cribbs signed in 2006. The total value of the contract has been reported at more than $18 million.
The Patriots e-signed linebacker Tully Banta-Cain to a three-year deal. ... The Lions acquired defensive tackle Corey Williams from the Browns in a move that also involved two late-round draft picks. ... The Eagles agreed to a three-year contract with All-Pro fullback Leonard Weaver. ... The Colts signed linebacker Gary Brackett a five-year deal hours after he officially became an unrestricted agent. The new deal is likely to keep their defensive captain in a Colts uniform the rest of his career. ... The Falcons agreed to terms with free-agent cornerback Dunta Robinson, who had 13 interceptions in the past six seasons with the Texans. ... Free-agent linebacker Larry Foote, who started every game for the Steelers from 2004-08, said he has visits scheduled next week with the Redskins and Cardinals.
First Published March 6, 2010 12:00 am