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We'll get things rolling in New England. ... That's right boys and girls. Day 4 of the "Randy Moss Watch; Fantasy Nation Held Hostage" will be most notable as the last.
Moss is returning to the Patriots.
The team re-signed their All-Pro receiver to a three-year deal on Monday that's reportedly worth $27 million. According to Boston Globe beat writer Mike Reiss, the contract includes a $12 million signing bonus.
Moss received $15 million in total guaranteed money.
In case you somehow missed it. ... Moss, 30, became an unrestricted free agent last Friday after the Patriots elected not to designate the 10-year veteran as their franchise player. The four days since featured a massive wave of Moss-related rumor, speculation, spin and some downright buffoonery.
Indeed, some of the discussion was so far off base I'm still a little embarrassed for those dispensing it (I'll spare you the rehash while advising those who haven't been following along to check here, here, here and here for some of the more creative takes).
Turns out much of that reporting was rather misguided (I kindly said).
The real story, according to Reiss, is the two sides had been close to a new deal since the start of free agency, having agreed on the overall value of the pact. The main sticking point was in the amount of guaranteed money included in the deal.
Then, when the receiver market exploded early in free agency, Moss began listening to other offers.
The Eagles were apparently in the thick of it.
According to Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio, Philadelphia offered a higher annual average than the Patriots. The Eagles also offered more guaranteed money than did the Pats.
The process went back and forth between the Eagles and the Patriots. At one point, the Eagles thought they had him. Then, it looked like the Pats had him. Then the Eagles again.
One source told Florio that the Pats won Moss "at the wire."
The problem for those covering the story, it would appear, was a dearth of actual information.
Nobody involved was talking. Not the Patriots. Not Moss. Not his agent. While they weren't the responsible parties, their collective silence played a major role in the silliness.
The silence ended, however, once the deal was consummated.
"What Randy did for our team last year was outstanding," head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement released this afternoon. "He is one of our most consistent, competitive and team-oriented players and it is undoubtedly a relationship we are excited to continue."
The contract includes a $12 million signing bonus and $15 million in guarantees, according to.
"Randy is grateful to (owner Bob) Kraft, Belichick and (vice president of personnel) Scott Pioli for agreeing to the terms of this contract," Moss' agent, Tim DiPiero wrote in an email to reporters. "Randy was serious about wanting to stay. Because of Randy's record-breaking year, the interest in him was very high.
"Randy took less than he could have to rejoin his teammates."
Moss addressed the signing on his personal web site, therealrandymoss.com.
"I want to take the time out to thank all of the fans for their support and for wishing me well in my return to New England," Moss wrote. "I'm ready to get back.
"We have some unfinished business to take care of."
While Moss obviously views the Patriots' failure to cap off a perfect regular season with a win in Super Bowl XLII, Fantasy owners couldn't have been happier with his effort and his impact on the team's passing attack.
Moss caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns. His 23 touchdown receptions set an all-time single-season NFL record, surpassing the old mark of 22 set by Jerry Rice in 1987. Moss's 1,493 receiving yards set a Patriots single-season franchise record.
The addition of Moss and fellow receiver Wes Welker helped the Patriots post the most productive offensive seasons in NFL history, setting the all-time record with 589 points.
Quarterback Tom Brady also set the NFL single-season record with 50 touchdown passes.
While nobody should expect record-setting totals again this season, one would be equally foolish to rule them out despite Donte' Stallworth's move to Cleveland.
With a full season of working together under their belt, there's no reason to believe core group of skill players (Brady, Moss, Welker, Laurence Maroney and Ben Watson) in New England can't or won't come up big again in 2008.
For now, we can say this for sure: The "Randy Moss Watch; Fantasy Nation Held Hostage" is over.
And according to fellow FootballDiehards staffer Joe Hebert, that can only mean one thing:
"Brett Favre Retirement Watch; Fantasy Nation Held Hostage" on!
Also in New England, the Patriots agreed to a two-year contract with former Bills receiver Sam Aiken. The Patriots are familiar with Aiken from having competed against him the last five seasons in Buffalo. The Bills selected Aiken in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.
According to Reiss, Aiken will view to become a core member of the Patriots' special teams units. ...
In Pittsburgh. ... When FOXSports.com insider Jay Glazer first reported the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger had agreed to terms on a multi-year contract this morning, the details weren't immediately available.
When they were revealed a short time later, we all realized how dramatic the brief pause between the initial report and the details turned out to be.
ESPN.com's Michael Smith was the first to report that Roethlisberger's new eight-year contract is worth $102 million. The contract, which includes more than $36 million in guarantees, is easily the largest in team history and places Big Ben among the game's highest-paid players.
In comparison, Peyton Manning received a $34.5 million signing bonus in his big deal and Michael Vick received $37 million in guarantees from the Falcons in his mega deal. Both Manning's and Vick's deals were signed in 2004.
Roethlisberger now joins Manning, Favre, Carson Palmer, Donovan McNabb and the suspended Vick in the $100 million quarterback club.
As Florio put it: "Ho. Lee. Crap. ..."
That's a lot of money. It certainly puts the kibosh on any QB controversies in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.
"This is about being a Pittsburgh Steeler for as long as I can be. I love Pittsburgh," Roethlisberger said. He said he "wanted to be like the Dan Marinos, like the John Elways, guys who played with one team their whole career."
Roethlisberger, who turned 26 on Sunday, is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he completed more than 65 percent of his passes with a team-record 32 touchdowns and an efficiency rating of 104.1, leading the Steelers to an AFC North title and the playoffs for the third time in his four seasons.
Roethlisberger, who two years ago became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, grew as a team leader last season and bounced back from a disappointing 2006 where his offseason was marred by a serious motorcycle accident.
In addition to a pay raise, the Steelers are also added another weapon to Roethlisberger's arsenal. Free agent running back Mewelde Moore signed a three-year contract with the Steelers on Monday.
According to Florio, Moore will receive a signing bonus of $1.35 million, along with base salaries of $650,000 in 2008, $1.475 million in 2009 and $1.475 million in 2010.
Moore will provide Pittsburgh's offense with the legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield it had lacked.
He also could give the team insurance behind Najeh Davenport if Pro Bowl running back Willie Parker doesn't come back strong from a broken right leg and help the team return kicks for the Steelers now that Allen Rossum is in San Francisco.
Moore spent the first four seasons of his career with the Vikings. He has played in 54 career games, including 11 starts, as a running back and kickoff and punt returner.
A fourth-round draft pick out of Tulane in 2004, Moore has 1,285 career rushing yards on 264 attempts with one rushing touchdown and 116 receptions for 1,093 yards with three touchdowns.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was the Vikings' defensive coordinator before coming to Pittsburgh a year ago. ...
In Tennessee. ... The Titans agreed to a two-year contract with former Atlanta tight end Alge Crumpler, one of many veterans released last month by the Falcons.
"The thing that stands out when you look at Alge as a player is his production and reliability," Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt said in a statement Monday. "He is a complete tight end: a dynamic receiver for the Falcons offense, who also contributed as a blocker to a run offense that ranked first in the league in three of the last four years."
Crumpler was released Feb. 15 after being plagued by knee problems in 2007, when he had 42 catches for 444 yards and five touchdowns. He was due to count $5.1 million against the salary cap in 2008.
If healthy, Crumpler is expected to bring an extra dimension to a Titans' offense that's so far made no other additions in free agency. It might be worth noting that rumors following Crumpler's visit to Seattle suggested the Seahawks had concerns about the knee.
Reinfeldt said last week that his team is satisfied with Crumpler's condition after giving him a physical on his visit.
Crumpler, meanwhile, will get to play with a quarterback in Vince Young whose mobility is similar to Vick. ...
In Atlanta. ... On the heels of signing free-agent running back Michael Turner Sunday, the Falcons released starter Warrick Dunn late Monday morning.
The move was anticipated, since the coaching staff desired a more power-type back, which turned out to be Turner.
As Atlanta Journal-Constitution staffer Steve Wyche notes, Dunn was one of Atlanta's most productive and popular players over the past six seasons and was widely known and recognized for his community service work. He led the team in rushing the last four seasons.
"Warrick Dunn holds himself to the highest standards of the National Football League," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement released by the team. "His contributions, not only to the Falcons but to the entire NFL both on and off the field, have been well documented. The legacy he leaves in Atlanta will be long-remembered and appreciated by his fellow players, fans and the community. ...
"I wish Warrick continued great success in his future endeavors."
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Dunn, who spent his first five seasons with the Buccaneers, twice rushing for 1,000 yards and earning two trips to the Pro Bowl, could return to Tampa Bay.
In fact, just hours after being released by the Falcons, Dunn began his official visit with the Bucs agent Jim Steiner told the Times. It remains to be seen if Dunn gets away from Tampa for a scheduled visit with the Texans.
Given his history in Tampa and head coach Jon Gruden's fondness for the veteran tailback, it seems like a natural fit. That said, the Bucs have reached out to the agent for Titans free agent Chris Brown -- perhaps a fallback option.
In addition to Tampa Bay and Houston, Dallas and Denver have been mentioned as teams with potential interest in Dunn. ...
Also in Tampa Bay. ... The Buccaneers offered the world further evidence there's no such thing as too many quarterbacks on Gruden's roster. The Buccaneers brought back Brian Griese on Monday, acquiring the veteran quarterback from the Bears for an undisclosed 2009 draft pick.
Tampa Bay already has five signal-callers under contract -- Jeff Garcia, Bruce Gradkowski, Chris Simms, Luke McCown and the retired Jake Plummer.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears were planning to release Griese, an 11-year veteran who posted a 3-3 record last season after starter Rex Grossman was benched in Week Four.
But by trading the 32-year-old Griese, the Bears avoid a $300,000 roster bonus that is due on Tuesday. That tab now will be picked up by the Buccaneers.
The Bears, who already have indicated that Grossman and Kyle Orton will battle for the starting quarterback job, signed the well-traveled Griese to a five-year contract two years ago.
Griese, who has been with four teams, was released by the Buccaneers in 2006 for salary-cap reasons. His contract calls for a salary of $1.4 million in 2008, $1.8 million in 2009 and $2.2 million in 2010.
Griese has played in 88 career games -- 78 starts -- with the Bears, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Broncos, passing for 18,367 yards, 114 touchdowns and 92 interceptions. ...
In New Orleans. ... The Saints brought back David Patten on Monday, re-signing the veteran wide receiver to a two-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Patten, 33, was a solid target for the Saints last season -- his first with the team. The 11-year veteran hauled in 54 receptions for 792 yards and three touchdowns.
"David stepped into our lineup immediately last season and provided immediate leadership, and he was a consistent and dependable target," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. "He is a consummate professional, and his work ethic and leadership skills, coupled with the things he can do on the field, made his re-signing a priority for us."
The 5-10 Patten has played 142 career games for five different teams, recording 313 catches for 4,553 yards and 23 TDs.
He'll be in the mix for a prominent role again this year -- although the team recently re-signed Devery Henderson and have high hopes for 2007 first-round pick Robert Meachem. ...
In Detroit. ... The Lions have added a new tight end and retained another on Monday.
This after Michael Gaines has agreed to a four-year contract worth $10 million with $3 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. He is a four-year NFL veteran who spent last season with Buffalo and the Lions hope his blocking ability will help with their new emphasis on the running game.
Meanwhile, Booth Newspapers beat writer Tom Kowalski reports the Lions re-signed John Owens which is going to make for an interesting battle in training camp with Casey FitzSimmons and Sean McHugh.
According to Kowalski, with Dan Campbell and Gaines on the roster, there's only room for one more tight end. McHugh can also play fullback so that'll help his cause, but that position just got crowded. ...
In Arizona. ... The Cardinals signed tight end Jerame Tuman, a nine-year veteran, to a two-year contract today, the team announced. Financial terms of the deal were not available. Tuman, 6-4, 253, recently was released by the Steelers after spending the second half of last season on injured reserve with a back injury.
He played nine years in Pittsburgh, where he worked with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former assistant with the Steelers.
Tuman, who will turn 32 later this month, is known mostly as a blocking tight end. He has played in 121 games (56 starts) with 43 receptions for 500 yards and seven touchdowns.
As Arizona Republic staffer Kent Somers noted, Tuman adds some experience to young tight end corps, led by starter Leonard Pope. Ben Patrick and Troy Bienemann, entering their second seasons, are returning backups.
In Kansas City. ... The Chiefs on Monday claimed fullback Oliver Hoyte off waivers from the Dallas Cowboys.
The 6-3, 252-pound Hoyte appeared in 22 games, including 15 starts in two seasons with Dallas. He was used primarily as a lead blocker for running backs Marion Barber and Julius Jones.
And finally. ... Following up on a note from Sunday night's Roundup, Bryant Johnson did indeed visit Buffalo and is interested in the Bills as a potential employer -- but he hasn't signed yet.
Advantages for the Bills, they have a No. 2 role open for the taking. And Bills receivers coach Tyke Tolbert was Johnson's receivers coach in Arizona his rookie year so there's some familiarity there.
The only negative is Johnson does have another visit scheduled and it's with the Redskins. There have also been reports he'll visit the Bears.
And as always, those looking for something a little more in-depth should keep an eye out here, in the Headline News section.