Longtime Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL on Wednesday. He walks away from football with a list of accomplishments that include an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, a five-time All-Pro and the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year award. clear."
The Bears released Urlacher after the 2012 season when they couldn't reach agreement on a new contract. Urlacher became a free agent and apparently was open to offers from other teams but decided to close the curtain on a career what many believe will ultimately win him election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
---Leading receiver Michael Crabtree became the second devastating loss for the San Francisco 49ers in 2013.
The Super Bowl runner-up in February, the 49ers could be without Crabtree for most or all of the 2013 season. He was injured during organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday and was likely to undergo surgery that could put him on the shelf late into the regular season, if not the entire season.
Estimates from doctors were that he'd miss at least six months, leaving open the possibility he could be placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the season with an eye on an improbable late-season return.
---The Carolina Panthers announced they have signed 2013 second-round draft pick Kawann Short.
Short, a defensive tackle from Purdue, was the 44th overall pick in the NFL Draft in April. He is the first 2013 pick to sign with the Panthers. He ranks third in Purdue history in tackles for Loss (49) and sacks (19 1/2) by a defensive tackle. He also excelled on special teams, blocking a school-record eight kicks (six field goal attempts).
---The San Francisco 49ers signed wide receiver Quinton Patton to a four-year deal and claimed tight end-long snapper Kyle Nelson off waivers. Patton, one of two fourth-round picks by the 49ers in the 2013 NFL Draft, played at Louisiana Tech and received All-Western Athletic Conference first-team honors.
Nelson, 26, was with the 49ers during training camp last season. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles but was waived after a week and hooked on with the San Diego Chargers in November 2012. The Chargers released Nelson on Monday. To clear space on the roster for Nelson, the 49ers waived punter Anthony Santella. He has signed with the Niners on May 3.
---New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has taken over the title as America's highest-paid coach.
Payton will make approximately $8 million per year for the next five seasons as part of a new contract. He replaces New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick atop the Forbes list.
Belichick is now tied for second with new Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Though Reid's salary figures were not officially announced, it's estimated that the former Philadelphia Eagles coach's annual compensation is in the $7.5 million-per-year range with the Chiefs.
NFL coaches hold eight of the top-10 spots in the rankings. The only coaches outside the NFL on the list are Boston's Doc Rivers ($7 million) and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich ($6 million).
Newcomers to the overall top 10 this year are Payton, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants and Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles. Coughlin is working with a three-year, $20 million extension and Kelly is in the first year of a five-year, $32.5 million contract after leaving the University of Oregon earlier this year. The average salary of coaches on the list is close to $7 million a year, an increase from $6.45 million in 2012.
---Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said head coach Jason Garrett isn't coaching for his job in 2013 and is in no imminent danger of being fired.
Jones ended the 2012 season promising to make things uncomfortable for everyone at Valley Ranch and focused on finding an offensive coordinator to alleviate Garrett of minding the most minor details and possibly play-calling.
Dallas finished 8-8 last season and the Cowboys haven't made the playoffs since 2009. The wild-card round win over the Eagles that year is the team's only postseason victory since 1996. There's pressure from the top to change that, considering Jones' expectations for the past several years -- beginning three years ago when the owner/GM said the Cowboys would be in the Super Bowl at new Cowboys Stadium -- to not just hit the postseason, but reach the NFL pinnacle.
Garrett is 21-19 since replacing Wade Phillips.
---Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam apologized to fellow owners during their spring meetings this week in Boston for any unwanted attention a federal investigation into his company has brought to the franchise and the NFL less than a year after he purchased the team.
Haslam's five-minute talk with fellow owners was unscheduled. He asked commissioner Roger Goodell for permission to explain the probe of Pilot Flying J, his family business, and the steps being taken to handle the situation.
Haslam's Flying J headquarters was raided in April as part of a federal fraud investigation, but Haslam has continued to say the company did nothing wrong, that he had no prior knowledge of any alleged improprieties and that steps are being taken determine what happened.
---New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith announced he has retained rapper Jay-Z's new Roc Nation Sports as his agent. Smith will be represented by Kimberly Miale as his contract agent.
Smith fired his former agency, Select Sports, after he was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft and interviewed several other agencies before settling on Roc Sports.
---The Kansas City Chiefs signed free agent safeties Malcolm Bronson and Quintin Demps and released safety Justin Glenn and cornerback James Rogers. Demps is a five-year veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Houston Texans. He was originally a fourth-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008. He has played in 48 career NFL games, recording 61 tackles and three interceptions.
---The Cincinnati Bengals announced they have signed defensive end Margus Hunt, who was one of the team's two second-round selections in the 2013 NFL Draft. The Bengals now have signed seven of their 10 picks in the draft.
---St. Louis Rams second-year guard Rokevious Watkins has been suspended for the first game of the 2013 season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the league announced.
Watkins is permitted to participate in all of the team's offseason activities as well as training camp and preseason games. The suspension takes effect at the cutdown to 53 players.
---Baltimore Ravens rookie linebacker Arthur Brown is likely to be out until training camp after undergoing sports hernia surgery.
Brown is a candidate to replace Ray Lewis at one of the inside linebacker positions in Baltimore's 3-4 defense. In addition to Lewis' retirement, the Ravens lost Dannell Ellerbe, who started seven games at the other starting inside linebacker position last season, when he signed a blockbuster deal with the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
Former Oakland Raiders first-round pick Rolando McClain signed with the Ravens as a potential replacement, but he abruptly retired last week without ever suiting up for the Ravens.
---Defensive back Demetrius McCray signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who now have two of their eight draft picks under contract. Terms were not disclosed.
McCray, a seventh-round pick, was the fifth player selected by the Jaguars in April who will play in the secondary, an area in which the team parted ways with four of its top six players from their 2012 unit. McCray is like the other four selections, a physical player who hits hard and has good coverage skills.