Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

NFL roundup: Patriots' Welker signs franchise tender

The SportsXchange

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker signed his $9.5 million franchise tender Tuesday, he announced on his Twitter feed.

"I signed my tender today. I love the game and I love my teammates! Hopefully doing the right thing gets the right results," he wrote.

Welker can still negotiate a long-term deal until July 16, the deadline to sign tagged players to multiyear deals. By signing the tender, the negotiating leverage shifts back to the Patriots. The team must decide whether to pay Welker $9.5 million for the coming season, or work out a longer-term agreement that lessens the salary cap impact.

---Maurice Jones-Drew wasn't in attendance as Jaguars organized team activities began Tuesday.

The Jaguars were not expecting the NFL leading rusher in 2011 to attend the voluntary portion of the offseason program, but first-year coach Mike Mularkey indicated a direct message was being sent to the organization.

"It's all voluntary," Mularkey said. "I wish he was here. He knows we wish he was here. He's talked about trying to get an extension for his contract."

With Mularkey and his coaching staff installing new schemes, the presence of the team's star player would be mutually beneficial.

But Jones-Drew, like veteran Fred Taylor before him, prefers to work out on his own and the franchise doesn't question his ability to prepare physically. He had 1,606 rushing yards, tops in the NFL, last season but his contract might be a sticking point even with a more well-rounded cast around him in 2012.

Jones-Drew signed a five-year, $31.5 million deal in 2009 and is vastly underpaid relative to two of the NFL's top-salaried running backs.

---The Louisiana State Senate voted to formally request the NFL reconsider penalties against the team as a result of the bounty program the Saints allegedly employed under defensive coordinator Gregg Wiliams.

Williams, who left to become defensive coordinator of the Rams in December, was suspended indefinitely and Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season, as was linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

The legislative resolution established first by a state senate panel in early April calls for the NFL to take a second look at the hefty punishment levied including a $500,000 fine to the Saints and an eight-game suspension for general manager Mickey Loomis.

---Offensive tackle Lamar Holmes, a third-round pick by Atlanta out of Southern Miss, signed with the Falcons. Terms were not disclosed.

He played two seasons at Southern Mississippi after transferring from Itawamba Community College following the 2009 campaign.

--Tight Andre Smith was claimed off waivers from Chicago by the Colts, who also waived cornerback Mike Holmes.

Signed as an undrafted rookie out of Virginia Tech in June 2011, Smith spent the first eight games on the Bears' practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster but did not appear in any games.

---Alex Barron made the most of his tryout during Seahawks rookie minicamp over the weekend.

Barron signed a deal with Seattle on Tuesday, the team announced, along with three other rookie tryout survivors -- offensive tackle Andrew Mitchell (Cincinnati), cornerback Donny Lisowski (Montana) and tight end Cooper Helfet (Duke).

---The 2012 season is likely over for 49ers rookie fifth-round pick Darius Fleming, who suffered a torn ACL at the team's rookie minicamp.

NFL.com reported Fleming was injured according to the former Notre Dame linebacker's agent, Andy Simms.

Fleming sat out midway through the team's first workout with what was believed to be a hamstring injury.

---Safety Brandon Taylor agreed to a four-year deal, completing the contracts for all of the Chargers' draft picks. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Taylor was selected in the third round out of Louisiana State, and is expected to compete for the starting strong safety job.

San Diego also signed defensive lineman Garrett Brown (one year) and rookie free agent cornerback Arthur Hobbs (three years) .

---More than 13,000 new helmets will be distributed to youth football programs in four markets as the pilot program in a player safety initiative launched by the NFL and several partners.

The NCAA and NFL Players' Association are vital in the joint commitment to educate thousands of youth football coaches and remove helmets that are 10 years or older at no cost to the program or league.

Introduced by U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman Inez Tenenbaum, distribution and education to communities in the California Bay Area, Northern Ohio, Gulf Coast and New York City tri-state region will begin in July.

Any coach in those regions will be required to complete USA Football's Level 1 coaching course, which details tackling safety, concussion awareness, fitting of helmets and evaluating equipment for replacement or reconditioning. One of the key topics is educated coaches that helmets do not prevent concussions.

---Kicker Connor Barth hasn't signed his franchise tender, but he did attend the Buccaneers organized team activities on Tuesday.

Barth was at the OTA session and planned to remain in Tampa through the mandatory minicamp concluding June 14.

But he wasn't an active participant at the drills and until his one-year, $2.654 million tender offer is signed or the two sides agree to a long-term extension, Barth is likely to remain a spectator for liability and injury reasons.

---The New England Patriots signed second-round draft pick Tavon Wilson and released first-year quarterback Mike Hartline on Tuesday.

Wilson, a defensive back, became the team's first draft choice from April to officially sign a contract. Terms were not disclosed.

---Safety Brandon Hardin signed a four-year deal, putting all of the Bears' 2012 draft picks under contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Hardin was a third-round pick out of Oregon State, who shot up draft boards with a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game in January after missing the 2011 season due to a broken shoulder that required surgery.
View Comments (1)