Lions pry Bly from Rams; Bears sign TE ClarkPosted: Saturday March 01, 2003 11:06 AM
Updated: Saturday March 01, 2003 8:50 PM
DETROIT (AP) -- Free-agent cornerback Dre' Bly signed a five-year contract with Detroit on Saturday, helping the Lions fill a pressing need in the secondary.
A source within the league, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the deal was worth $24.5 million, including a signing bonus of just over $6 million.
The 25-year-old Bly leaves after four seasons with the St. Louis Rams, who picked him in the 1999 draft. In 64 games with the Rams, Bly had 193 tackles and 14 interceptions.
He had 79 tackles (61 solo), two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a sack last season.
Bly also has filled in as a punt returner, running back 15 kicks for 209 yards and one touchdown in his pro career.
"We planned on being active and swift," Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said. "In looking for the best corner available, certainly Dre' Bly fits that description. He was our No. 1 targeted guy in free agency."
Detroit needed a solid cornerback after 12-year NFL veteran Todd Lyght retired.
The Lions hope to turn things around under Mariucci after going a combined 5-27 the past two seasons.
Bly said he had opportunities to visit other teams before making a decision, but Mariucci's presence made him comfortable with turning away other suitors.
"He turned things around in San Francisco a few years ago when they were in the hole," Bly said. "He got them to the playoffs and basically rebuilt the team. He didn't have the ability to bring in free agents but still, he rebuilt that team and got them to the playoffs. I just looked at it as a perfect opportunity for me to help this team. Coach Mariucci -- guys want to come in and play for him."
Bears sign TE Clark away from Miami
Clark, a converted wide receiver, caught 51 passes in 2001 with Denver.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound former Wake Forest star suffered a dislocated left arm last preseason and the Broncos cut him before the regular season. He signed with Miami in October and became an unrestricted free agent on Friday.
"We feel he made a transition from a receiver to a tight end in a very good system in Denver with some exceptional tight ends," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "I felt that he had to earn his stripes. What he did in one year, to me, was extraordinary.
"We feel that we've seen enough to buy into the person, really a great kid, strong work ethic, highly intelligent."
Clark will compete at tight end with Dustin Lyman, John Gilmore and John Davis in training camp. The Bears retained Davis, along with fullback Stanley Pritchett, by giving them new one-year contracts on Saturday.
Clark acknowledges he's more of a receiver than a blocker. At Wake Forest, he became the Atlantic Coast Conference's all-time leading receiver with 216 receptions for 2,834 yards.
"To win football games, we've got to run the ball so I think first of all that will be my job," Clark said of run blocking. "But I think they brought me in here to stretch the defense and create mismatches in the passing game. I think my calling card will be in the passing game."
The Bears haven't had a tight end with more than 40 catches since Ryan Wetnight had 46 in 1997. Last year they used four different tight end starters.
On the quarterback front, Angelo said former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart will make free agent visits to Halas Hall next week as the team attempts to replace former starter Jim Miller, who was cut Wednesday.
Angelo also confirmed a Denver Post report that the Bears conducted trade talks to acquire Broncos quarterback Brian Griese.
"We haven't made any decisions -- nor have they," Angelo said. "But as I said before, we're going to explore every avenue. That's one of them. It's too premature to project what that's going to turn into."
Dolphins re-sign FB KonradDAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- The Miami Dolphins re-signed fullback Rob Konrad to a four-year, $4 million contract on Saturday.
"We felt he was the best fullback who was an unrestricted free agent," Dolphins personnel director Rick Spielman said. "It allows us to continue our philosophy of signing our own."
Konrad, a 6-foot-3, 255 pound fullback, was Miami's second round draft pick out of Syracuse in 1999. After considering other opportunities, the four-year veteran decided to remain in Miami.
"Being a northeastern guy, part of me loves it up there and would sometimes like to play football up there," he said. "But this organization has been fantastic. I feel like we really have a chance to do something here."
Konrad wanted to make a decision on his future early in the free agency period, which began Friday.
"It's good to get this behind me," he said. "It's a weight off my shoulders."
Last season, under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, Konrad had 233 yards and 3 touchdowns on a career-high 34 catches. He also blocked for the AFC's leading rusher, Ricky Williams.
"He's probably one of the main reasons Ricky Williams was able to rush for 1,800 yards last year," Spielman said.
Jets, Chargers pitch new stadiumsNEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Jets unveiled their plan for a $1.2 billion stadium on Manhattan's West Side, complete with a retractable dome and seating for 85,000 fans.
The proposed facility is a key part of the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics.
According to Jets president Jay Cross, the new facility would host four major rock concerts per year, along with 10 football games and more than 150 other events. The stadium would also allow the city to compete as a possible host for the NCAA Final Four.
As he showed off the plans Friday, Cross said the new stadium would not cause traffic jams in the already-crowded streets around the Lincoln Tunnel. The stadium would not come with any parking facilities, meaning no tailgating for the Jets fans who currently arrive early at Giants Stadium. Cross estimated that 70 percent of fans would take mass transit to the team's dream dome.
The proposal was quickly criticized by neighborhood residents, who questioned the validity of the team's claims.
The Jets' current lease at Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in New Jersey expires in 2008.
On the West Coast, the San Diego Chargers say they are willing to discuss paying for a new $400 million stadium in exchange for development rights to the 166-acre site of the current Qualcomm Stadium.
"We think this proposal deserves careful study and that, under the right conditions, it may work," team spokesman Mark Fabiani said.
On Thursday, a city task force recommended that public funds should not be used to build a new stadium. It suggested that the team could recoup its construction costs by developing portions of the Qualcomm site for housing and commercial use.
The Citizens Task Force on Chargers Issues was asked to find a fiscally responsible way to keep the Chargers in San Diego and address the team's desire for a new stadium.
The City Council is to hold a public hearing on the task force report on March 18.
Texans sign OL WeigertHOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Texans signed free agent offensive lineman Zach Wiegert on Saturday.
The 6-foot-5, 309-pound Wiegert has played the last four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He started 43 of 47 games with the team before he went on injured reserve last season with a knee injury.
Wiegert, entering his ninth NFL season, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 1995.
The Texans also claimed linebacker Patrick Chukwurah off waivers
from Minnesota on Saturday. Chukwurah played in 11 games and had
two starts for the Vikings last season, finishing with 14 tackles.