NFL free agency updates

News and notes from around the league as NFL free agency began on Friday:

• Berrian negotiating with Vikings: The six-year, $30 million pact between Jerry Porter and the Jacksonville Jaguars is already creating waves in the world of free-agent wideouts, bumping up the asking price of Chicago’s Bernard Berrian and New England’s Donte Stallworth. Porter’s deal included about $10 million in guaranteed money, and a league source told Yahoo! Sports that Berrian is now negotiating a deal with the Minnesota Vikings at or exceeding the six-year, $39 million deal signed by Seattle’s Deion Branch in 2006. Porter’s deal also is being used as a starting point in negotiations with Stallworth, who is visiting the Cleveland Browns.

• Duckett deal coming: T.J. Duckett is actively negotiating with four teams and expects to have a deal done by Monday afternoon.

• Johnson visits Buffalo: Bryant Johnson is currently visiting the Buffalo Bills.

• Carter to visit Raiders, Browns: Drew Carter has now scheduled visits with the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns.

• Justin Smith to San Francisco: Defensive end Justin Smith agreed to a six-year, $45 million contract with San Francisco on Saturday morning, a day after arriving there for a free agent visit. Smith is a seven-year veteran and former No. 4 overall pick in the 2001 draft. He received $20 million guaranteed as part of the deal.

Smith had been scheduled to meet with Minnesota after the 49ers, but San Francisco was intent on signing one of the top pass rushers available in free agency to bolster the pass in its 3-4 defense. Although Smith had only two sacks last season, he has 43½ sacks in his career.

• Lions consider Darby, Wyms: In anticipation of finalizing a trade of defensive tackle Shaun Rogers this weekend, the Detroit Lions have begun scheduling visits for his potential replacement. A league source said the Lions are slated to bring two Seattle defensive tackles – Chuck Darby and Ellis Wyms – in for visits next week. Darby will be in Detroit on Tuesday, while Wyms will visit Thursday. And in light of the deal signed by Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Tommy Kelly, the source said both Wyms and Darby are expected to seek contracts that average between $3.5 million to $5 million per season.

• Troupe’s two visits: Titans tight end Ben Troupe will visit with Tampa Bay on Saturday and Buffalo on Sunday.

• Carter looks at Cleveland: Panthers wide receiver Drew Carter will visit with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

• Johnson, Duckett drawing interest: Cardinals wide receiver Bryant Johnson and Lions running back T.J. Duckett are drawing heavy interest in the early stages of free agency. A source told Yahoo! Sports that Johnson is expected to line up visits with as many as six teams, while Duckett is looking at a field of four, although the teams have not yet been revealed.

• No deal for Harris: It appears San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris will be leaving Oakland without a deal after visiting with the Raiders on Friday. A source told Yahoo! Sports that Harris is drawing interest from four other teams beyond the Raiders and 49ers but that he wasn’t going to be scheduling other visits until later Friday.

• Gay to visit Saints: New England Patriots cornerback Randall Gay is scheduled to visit with the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, and he also is drawing interest from Atlanta, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Kansas City and New England. A source said Gay is likely to take around three visits, and is hoping to command a five-year deal in the range of $15 million to $25 million in total money.

• Webster to visit Pats: Buffalo Bills cornerback Jason Webster is scheduled to visit with the New England Patriots on Monday. He also is receiving interest from Seattle, the New York Giants and the Bills.

• Kalu draws Giant interest: Houston Texans defensive end N.D. Kalu is still talking with the Texans and is receiving interest from the New York Giants.

• Williams to Vikings: Madieu Williams has entered the ranks of the league’s highest-paid safeties, signing a six-year pact with the Minnesota Vikings that will pay him $33 million over the term of the contract. A source told Yahoo! Sports the deal includes $13 million guaranteed and $17 million over the contract’s first three years.

Williams will fill a hefty void at safety in Minnesota’s secondary after the Vikings cut Dwight Smith earlier this week. Williams, who is widely considered the top safety on the market this year, is a four-year veteran and was a Bengals second-round pick in 2004. Cincinnati considered placing the franchise tag on Williams but chose to use the tag on offensive lineman Stacy Andrews instead.

Williams had at least 90 tackles in each of his two full seasons, though last season and 2005 were cut short by injury.

• Faine signs with Tampa Bay: Center Jeff Faine, who once was discarded by Cleveland when the Browns signed free-agent center LeCharles Bentley, surpassed Bentley as the highest-paid center in NFL history when he agreed to a six-year, $37.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, agent Ben Dogra confirmed.

Faine receives $15 million in guaranteed money as part of the deal and will get $20 million in the first three years of the contract. Faine, who has spent the past two seasons with New Orleans, was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2003.

In 2006, Faine was traded to New Orleans after the Browns signed Bentley, who coincidentally had started his career with the Saints. Bentley hasn’t played a down with Cleveland since signing after tearing the patellar tendon in his right knee.

Faine has played in all but two games the past two seasons, drastically improving his durability after missing 12 games in his first three seasons with Cleveland.

• Ryan signs with Dolphins: The Miami Dolphins reached an agreement with tight end Sean Ryan on a one-year contract. Ryan is a former fifth-round pick by Dallas in 2004 who spent the past two seasons with the Jets. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Ryan has caught a total of nine passes for 90 yards in his career.

• Smith talking to 49ers: Defensive end Justin Smith was scheduled to fly to San Francisco on Friday in the first of what is expected to be two visits for him in free agency. Smith also is scheduled to meet with Minnesota over the weekend and agent Ben Dogra said he expected Smith to make a decision “within 48 hours.”

Smith is considered the top pass rusher available in free agency. The seven-year veteran had a career-low two sacks last season, but he was playing with Cincinnati’s severely depleted front seven. Smith had a career-high 8½ sacks as a rookie in 2001. He was tagged as the Bengals’ franchise player last season.

The 49ers are expected to be of strong interest for Smith because they play a 3-4 defense, which would allow Smith to be a standup pass rusher in most situations. Minnesota is a traditional 4-3 team, meaning Smith would play purely as a defensive end.


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Updated Friday, Feb 29, 2008