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NFL roundup: News from across the league

| Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Browns sign free agent defensive tackle

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Free agent defensive tackle Ja'Waren Blair signed with the Cleveland Browns on Monday.

The 6-foot-6, 288-pounder played this spring with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe. He made 24 tackles and one sack.

Blair, 26, played college ball for East Carolina and was signed by the Cinicinnati Bengals as a free agent in 2003 before being waived during training camp. In 2004, he recorded 26 tackles and two sacks for the Amsterdam Admirals.

A two-year starter at East Carolina, Blair finished with 132 career tackles and 5.5 sacks.


Titans not expecting McNair this week while coaches away

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Steve McNair won the right to work out on Tennessee's property. When, or if, that will happen is still unknown.

The Titans are in the second week of a two-week sabbatical for their coaches, so few people are around the team's headquarters. But McNair's agent said Monday that the team sent a letter, saying the quarterback will have to pass a physical before he can come back.

Tennessee general manager Floyd Reese says McNair is welcome to return, and he wants to arrange a meeting with the quarterback's agent. Bus Cook says he's busy this week, but the Titans can call.

For now, it's a stalemate.

Reese said Monday the ideal situation would be to at least make some progress on a deal with McNair or establish that they can't. He knows time is beginning to run out with training camp due to start July 28.

"You would certainly like to get some sort of indication this week as to the main focus of what you're going to do. I don't know that we'll end up with that. ... It's time to see if we can't find something solid out one way or another," Reese said.

McNair already has a contract due to pay him $9 million in 2006, the final year on his contract. But the 33-year-old quarterback is due to count $23.46 million against the team's salary cap, which is why the Titans told McNair on April 3 he couldn't work out on their property without a cheaper deal.

Cook said the market for McNair essentially has been set by an offer from the Baltimore Ravens that he negotiated during the NFL draft with permission from Tennessee.

That included an approximately $11 million signing bonus and a $1 million salary for 2006 in a five-year deal that Cook called a pretty good offer. But the trade fell through when the Titans called Baltimore's offer "insignificant."

The Titans' last offer was a $3 million signing bonus and a $2.5 million salary for 2006, creating $6.5 million of salary cap space.

"I think that we don't necessarily have to match or duplicate what it is that they've done and can still maybe accomplish the goal that we want," Reese said. "Until we sit down and start looking each other in the eye, throwing around numbers and contract things we can and can't do, we don't know that."

Reese said he hadn't talked with the Ravens in at least a week and doubted he would hear from them within the next couple of days. Baltimore's final minicamp starts Tuesday and concludes June 15. The Titans' next on-field practice as a team is June 13.

McNair is welcome to return to the team's headquarters and work out on his own, Reese said.

Numbers and welcome aside, the bigger problem may be whether McNair even wants to return to the Titans again. McNair has declined to discuss his feelings about being turned away, promising to talk in the future.

"Would you want to return to work if your boss told you weren't welcome• I don't know," Cook said. "I wouldn't if my boss told me I wasn't welcome. I don't think I'd want to return to work. On the other hand, he's under contract, and he's obligated to what he has to do by virtue of the contract."

McNair would be the Titans' best option this season at quarterback even though they drafted Vince Young of Texas with the No. 3 pick overall.

"In this business, it's difficult to survive a long time without being thick-skinned," Reese said. "And most people that have been in this business any length of time realize you can't always believe or you can't always base everything on what you read in the paper or you hear through rumor or receive through innuendoes or whatever."


Giants WR Jamaar Taylor retires after two seasons

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- New York Giants receiver Jamaar Taylor retired Monday after two injury-plagued seasons in the NFL.

"We respect Jamaar's decision, but we are really sorry to see this," general manager Ernie Accorsi said. "I thought he was an outstanding prospect and played very well for us when he was healthy."

A sixth-round draft choice in 2004, Taylor played in 13 games in his two seasons with the Giants. But several knee injuries, including one that limited him to five games in the 2005 season, led to his decision to retire.

Taylor caught six passes for 146 yards, all in 2004. His most memorable game was on Nov. 28 against the Philadelphia Eagles, when he caught two passes for 102 yards.

Taylor's senior season at Texas A&M was cut short after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

Accorsi said Taylor was placed on the reserve-retired list so the team retains his rights in case he changes his mind.


Bills sign QB Kingsbury

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Quarterback Kliff Kingsbury was claimed off waivers by the Buffalo Bills on Monday after Craig Ochs was injured playing in NFL Europe.

Kingsbury is a Texas Tech product, who spent the final 13 weeks of last season as a backup with the New York Jets. He made one appearance for the Jets, completing two passes for 17 yards against Denver on Nov. 20.

Kingsbury spent this spring playing for NFL Europe Cologne.

Ochs sustained an undisclosed injury playing in Frankfurt's season finale last month. He has been placed on the Bills NFL Europe injury list.

Kingsbury broke into the NFL as New England's sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft, but spent his rookie season on injured reserve. He also spent time on New Orleans and Denver's practice squads.


New England deals WR Johnson for DL Sullivan

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- The New England Patriots traded wide receiver Bethel Johnson to the New Orleans Saints for defensive lineman Johnathan Sullivan on Monday as both teams gave up on high draft picks who fell short of expectations.

The deal was contingent upon approval by the NFL, Patriots executive director of media relations Stacey James said.

In the three seasons since both players were drafted in 2003, Johnson, the 45th player picked, had just 30 catches while Sullivan, the sixth player chosen, had 77 tackles.

Johnson is a speedster from Texas A&M who did well as a kickoff returner but never developed into a productive receiver. Last season, he caught only four passes in 11 games and the Patriots traded him, even after losing free agent wide receivers David Givens, Tim Dwight and Andre Davis.

The Patriots did add two key wide receivers -- Reche Caldwell as a free agent from San Diego and wide receiver Chad Jackson as their second-round draft choice from Florida.

Johnson began last season with a 26.2-yard average kickoff return, best in the NFL, but averaged just 22.4 yards per return in 2005, the only season he failed to score a touchdown on a kickoff return. He had scored one in each of his first two seasons and also totaled four touchdown receptions in his three years.

He joins a deep wide receiver corps in New Orleans with Donte Stallworth, Joe Horn and Az-Zahir Hakim. The quarterback is Drew Brees, signed as a free agent from San Diego.

Sullivan had 1.5 sacks in 36 games with the Saints after leaving Georgia following his junior year. Last season, he had 29 tackles and no sacks. He joins a young defensive line that includes three other first-round picks -- Richard Seymour, with whom he played at Georgia; Ty Warren, and Vince Wilfork.

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