Sunday, March 16, 2003

Douglas will make impact on Jaguars


NFL notebook: Sack specialist leaves Eagles for $27 million

Enquirer news services

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Hugh Douglas was looking for a team, and Jacksonville was seeking impact players.

The result was the somewhat unexpected five-year, $27 million contract the former Eagles pass rusher signed Saturday with the Jaguars, who have their salary cap back in order and are suddenly one of the most active teams in free agency.

Douglas will join former Colts linebacker Mike Peterson, who signed a $20 million deal on Thursday. The team also signed Texans linebacker Keith Mitchell, as new coach Jack Del Rio attempts to make Jacksonville competitive again.

The Jaguars also signed free-agent fullback Marc Edwards, the Norwood High School grad who had been mentioned as a possible candidate to join the Bengals.

"I'm excited. This is a young up-and-coming defense," Douglas said. "It reminds me of when Andy Reid came to Philadelphia - the concept of building a good, young team and making a run for the playoffs."

Douglas has 73 1/2 career sacks in eight seasons. Last year, his 12 1/2 sacks allowed him, by terms of his contract, to test the free-agent market.

It looked as though he wanted to stay in Philadelphia. But after negotiations with the Eagles, and then the Seahawks, Chiefs and Giants, never took off, the Jaguars became major players.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus, also negotiating a contract extension for Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, said that Douglas' negotiations heated up suddenly.

"It wasn't something we expected to happen. But when the Jaguars approached Hugh, he was impressed, and they made the best offer," Rosenhaus said.

The deal got done within 48 hours of the Jaguars' showing strong interest.

"Hugh is one of the premier defensive ends in the league," Del Rio said.

RAMS: The agent for Orlando Pace has asked St. Louis for a trade, saying the team refuses to negotiate with the Pro Bowl offensive tackle.

"We'd like to see a trade happen," agent Carl Poston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "And the only reason we're doing that is that the Rams are not negotiating.

"They refuse to. I don't know why. If they're not going to pay him, then we'd just like him to be able to go somewhere else, where he can be paid."

Because Pace was not signed by the end of the day Friday, the Rams lost the right to use the franchise tag again for the length of any contract signed by him before July 15.

Rams president John Shaw, meanwhile, called Poston's accusation "crazy."

"The spirit of their offer to us suggested to us that they were the ones that didn't want to negotiate."

Poston sought an $85 million contract, with a signing bonus of $23.8 million, for Pace. That's roughly twice what the Rams are willing to pay over seven years.

"The system allows him to go out and get a deal somewhere else," Shaw said. "If Orlando is worth what (Poston) represents his value to be, he should be able to get somebody to pay that."

LIONS: Detroit loves the size of All-America wide receiver Charles Rogers. They love his speed and playmaking ability. New coach Steve Mariucci also likes his mailing address.

Rogers, the best pass-catcher in the NFL draft, played at Michigan State and lives in Saginaw, 100 miles north of Detroit.

The Lions have the second pick of the draft and covet this home-state product.

"He's a Michigan guy, and that's a good thing," Mariucci said. "I like that. My experience with local players is a good one. When we had guys like a Jeff Garcia, Jeremy Newberry, Andre Carter, Jeff Ulbrich (at San Francisco) - these kids would train there year-round. They were always around. They had a fan base, a lot of friends. They were good in the community and stayed home."

The Lions have a franchise quarterback, Joey Harrington, in place but are in dire need of a playmaker to ease his burden.

The Lions ranked 25th in passing and have a squadron of secondary targets on the flank. What Detroit needs is a go-to guy - and Rogers, a former state of Michigan prep sprint champion, has some Randy Moss-like qualities (speed and jumping ability).

The 6-2, 205-pound Rogers averaged 19.9 yards per catch last season on his way to the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best receiver. He averaged 20.9 yards in his two-year career, with 27 touchdowns.

BILLS: Speaking of receivers, the field shrinks in Buffalo for quarterback Drew Bledsoe, wide receiver Eric Moulds and running back Travis Henry now that Peerless Price has been traded to Atlanta. The Bills were fifth in the NFL in passing in 2002, with everyone benefiting from Price's big-play ability.

Price caught a 48-yard touchdown pass in overtime to beat Minnesota last season. He also caught a 26-yard TD pass in the closing minutes to beat the Houston Texans and a 73-yarder that put the Bills in front for good in their upset of the Dolphins at Miami late in the year.

Without Price and his quick-strike capability, defenses can rotate coverages toward Moulds. Safeties can creep to the line to defend against Henry and the run. Defenses also can blitz Bledsoe more because he'll have fewer quality options under duress.

The Bills received a first-round pick from the Falcons for Price - but in a draft with few playmakers, it will be difficult for the Bills to replace a weapon like Price. He caught a career-best 94 passes last season and shared the team lead with five 100-yard games.

FALCONS: The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to a five-year contract with free-agent cornerback Tyrone Williams.

Williams, who has spent his seven-year career with the Green Bay Packers, fills a void created when the Falcons released Ashley Ambrose last month for salary cap reasons.

Williams' agent, Richard Davis, said his client's deal includes a signing bonus worth about $2.2 million.

The Falcons have been active during free agency. Last week, they acquired Peerless Price in a trade with Buffalo in exchange for a first-round draft pick in this year's draft.

Strong safety Cory Hall left Cincinnati to sign a five-year contract with a $2.1 million signing bonus.

Williams, Green Bay's third-round selection in 1996, has 445 tackles, 19 interceptions and 92 passes defended in 111 career games.

NFL Calendar

March 23-26 - NFL annual meeting, Phoenix.

April 18 - Signing period ends for restricted free agents.

April 25 - Deadline for old club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.

April 26-27 - NFL draft, New York.

May 20-21 - NFL spring meeting, Philadelphia.

June 1 - Deadline for old clubs to send offer to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season if player is not signed by another club by July 22.

June 1 - Deadline for old clubs to send offer to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.

June 15 - Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting offer of 110 percent of previous year's salary.

July 22 - Signing period ends at 4 p.m. EDT for unrestricted free agents who received June 1 offer.

Aug. 4 - Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.




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