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Wednesday Roundup

Agent says RB Thomas wants to retire in Buffalo

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Posted: Wednesday February 14, 2001 12:04 PM
Updated: Thursday February 15, 2001 1:23 AM


DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- Thurman Thomas is retiring and wants to leave as a member of the Buffalo Bills, the team he helped lead to four consecutive Super Bowls.

The Miami Dolphins are expected to waive Thomas, allowing the running back to sign with the Bills, remain with them for a day, and then retire. He spent 12 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Bills, who played in the 1991-94 Super Bowls.

"He's really decided that it's best to go out on top, that he's had a long and great career, and it probably makes sense to hang 'em up," said Leigh Steinberg, Thomas' agent.

Because of league rules, the Dolphins cannot release Thomas until after Feb. 22.

Thomas, who will turn 35 in May, had 136 yards rushing and 117 yards receiving last season as the Dolphins' third-down back before sustaining a season-ending knee injury against San Diego on Nov. 12.

Thomas will finish his career with 12,074 yards rushing, ninth on the all-time list and just 46 yards behind Franco Harris. Thomas also is sixth in all-purpose yards.

"His desire is to retire as a Buffalo Bill, after the long and successful career that he had there," Steinberg said. "That seems right to him."

Dallas to decide on Aikman's future by March 15

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys' decision on quarterback Troy Aikman's future could be extended an extra week without costing the team $7 million. Aikman said Wednesday he has made it clear he wants to keep playing.

The deadline by which the Cowboys have to make a decision or pay the money has been pushed back a week to March 15. That extension was prompted by the NFL's recent decision to delay the start of its league year from Feb. 15 to March 2.

Originally, Aikman was due the $7 million if he was still on the roster on March 8. The team doesn't have to pay Aikman that bonus if they cut him or he decides to retire before the new deadline.

Despite suffering four concussions in his last 20 starts and missing all or part of eight games last season, Aikman says he wants to continue to play.

"I've made it clear that I want to keep playing," he told reporters Wednesday while playing in the Bob Hope Classic golf tournament. "We're still kind of working through some issues and I'd like to play. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as a question and answer. We'll work something out that will be in the best interest of everybody involved."

He said his health and his new family both would factor in his decision. He and his wife are expecting a child.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said that he expects to make a decision before the due date. Jones said earlier it was not in the team's best interest to delay a decision because the makeup of the roster and the Cowboys' philosophy in 2001 hinge on whether Aikman returns.

Aikman, 34, missed the final two games last season. He suffered his second concussion of the season, and the 10th of his 12-year NFL career, when he was tackled by Washington linebacker Lavar Arrington on Dec. 10.

The team doesn't have to pay Aikman his bonus if they cut him or if he decides to retire before the due date.

Although Aikman has given no indication publicly if he plans to continue his career or retire, Steinberg says the player wants to keep playing.

Because of that, a decision could come quickly, Steinberg said Tuesday. He said that when the Cowboys decide what they want to do, both sides can hammer out a new or restructured deal.

Cowboys officials did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press to the Valley Ranch headquarters early Wednesday.

Steinberg told the newspaper he didn't want to speculate whether Aikman might play for another team if the Cowboys decide they don't want him back.

"I don't want to complicate things," the agent said.

Steinberg, citing former 49ers quarterback Steve Young's retirement in June 2000, said he believes it would be better if Aikman had more time to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Steinberg said he has held no discussions with the Cowboys about acquiring San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf as a possible replacement for Aikman. The Chargers were expected to put Leaf, another Steinberg client, on the trading block.

Dolphins' Bowens won't test free agency

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -- Defensive tackle Tim Bowens is staying with the Dolphins.

Bowens decided not to test the free-agent market and told the team he won't void the final two years of his contract.

"We did not void the deal because Tim wants to be a Dolphin and is happy here," Bowens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Wednesday. "He wants to honor his contract."

The 6-foot-4, 320-pound run stopper will play the 2001 season for $6.5 million and is slated to make $8 million in 2002, the final year of his current deal.

Had Bowens opted out of the contract and became an unrestricted free agent, the Dolphins could have designated him their franchise player. Now, Miami probably will use that tag on defensive end Jason Taylor.

Teams have until Feb. 22 to designate franchise players.

Derrick Thomas elected to Chiefs Hall of Fame

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) -- The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Wednesday that the late Derrick Thomas will be enshrined in the team's Hall of Fame.

A three-year waiting period following a player's retirement is customary before an individual is considered for this honor, but that requirement was waived in the case of Thomas.

'We thought it would be a little more meaningful while there are still a lot of guys on the team who played with Derrick,' said Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. "He was a great player and a great personality who will always be missed.'"

Thomas died of cardio-respiratory arrest caused by a massive blood clot last February 8, more than two weeks after a car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. He was 33.

Thomas played his entire 11-year career with the Chiefs and made a team-record nine Pro Bowl appearances. He is Kansas City's all-time leader in sacks, safeties and fumble recoveries. Thomas' total of 126 1/2 sacks ranks ninth on the NFL's all-time list.

A community-minded person, Thomas was one of the NFL's most active players off the field. He has been honored with numerous humanitarian awards, most notably taking NFL Man of the Year in 1993.

"Both Lamar and I felt it was appropriate that Derrick be considered for induction into the Chiefs Hall of Fame at this time," said Chiefs president Carl Peterson. "I know I speak for the countless individuals whose lives he touched when I say that Derrick Thomas will always be a Kansas City Chief and will always hold a very special place in our hearts."

Former Dolphins WR Ingram gets counterfeit charge

MIAMI (AP) -- Former Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Ingram was charged Wednesday with possession of counterfeit money, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Ingram, who won a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants in 1991, was arrested Jan. 23. Wednesday's action by the U.S. Attorney's Office upgrades a lesser charge handed down against him after the arrest.

The former football player is charged with carrying $3,290 in fake bills when he was arrested for auto theft. Ingram was released on $75,000 bond on Jan 26.

"No one is above the law," U.S. Attorney Guy A. Lewis said in a statement. "When you violate federal law, you will be held accountable for your actions."

A call left at the office of Ingram's lawyer, Abe Bailey, was not immediately returned.

Alain Noel, Ingram's co-defendant in the theft case, has signed a statement for Secret Service agents saying Ingram brought $11,000 in counterfeit bills from New York recently.

The counterfeit-cash charge carries a possible 15-year sentence. No trial date has been set.

The first-round pick by the Giants in 1987 played on four NFL teams in nine years. He made a key catch in the Super Bowl win over Buffalo and is best remembered in Miami for a 1995 touchdown pass against the Jets. Ingram also played in Green Bay and Philadelphia.

Report: Packers could cut Williams, Dotson

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Linebacker Brian Williams and offensive tackle Earl Dotson will soon be cut by the Green Bay Packers if agreements cannot be reached on reworking their contracts, a newspaper said Wednesday.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the Packers are not close to reducing Williams' deal and they have not even spoken to Dotson about lowering the salary cap value of his contract.

The Packers are trying to shave their payroll to fit below the 2001 salary cap limit of $67.4 million, which goes into effect March 2.

Williams, 28, tore the patellar tendon in his right knee on Nov., 1, 1999, and has played in just four games since.

Dotson, 30, in 1999, underwent surgery twice last year to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. He played in just one game.

The newspaper said that, by releasing Dotson and Williams, the Packers would trim a combined total of $4.65 million from their books.

Benson, Foster aides open talks

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Representatives from Gov. Mike Foster's administration and the New Orleans Saints were holding the first of several planned meetings Wednesday to discuss the team's future in New Orleans.

Trey Williams, Gov. Foster's deputy press secretary, wouldn't disclose when or where the session would take place. "It's a private meeting," he said Tuesday. "We aren't going to negotiate this in the media."

In an official response to the Saints' Jan. 10 notice of default letter alleging that state and Superdome officials violated the Saints' lease at the Dome, Foster's office and Dome officials have dismissed the Saints position as without legal merit.

Two of Fosters top aides -- chief of staff Stephen Perry and executive counsel Bernie Boudreaux -- will represent the state at Wednesday's meeting. The Saints will be represented by director of administration Arnold Fielkow and chief financial officer Dennis Lauscha.

The meetings were set up when Foster and Saints owner Tom Benson held a closed door meeting last week and agreed to begin working on a deal aimed at making it financially feasible for the franchise to remain in New Orleans.

"Hopefully, within 60 days we'll be able to stand up here and tell you the Saints are staying," Foster said after that initial meeting.

Steelers hire Khan as chief negotiator

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired Omar Khan, who worked last season as a special assistant to New Orleans head coach Jim Haslett, as their chief negotiator.

Khan, 24, replaces Dan Ferens, who left nearly a year ago to join the International Management Group in Cleveland. His job was not filled last season, when various club officials and scouts negotiated contracts.

Khan previously worked in the Saints' front office on salary cap issues and contracts.

Redskins will pay Frostburg State $750,000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Redskins will pay $750,000 to Frostburg State University to settle a breach of contract claim for moving training camp last year.

The payment, announced Wednesday, will compensate the western Maryland university for lost rent and concessions and other "intangible benefits" gained by an association with the Redskins.

The Redskins signed a 10-year contract with the university in 1995 as part of a successful lobbying effort to get the Maryland Legislature to help pay for some of the costs of building the team's new stadium in Landover, Md.

The stadium opened in 1997, but the Redskins trained at Frostburg for only five summers. Last year, they moved camp to their headquarters in Northern Virginia and became the only NFL team to charge admission to training camp.

This year, the Redskins are planning to move camp again. Last year's experiment brought mixed results, and new coach Marty Schottenheimer is considering sites including William & Mary, Richmond and James Madison universities in Virginia and Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

The Redskins have ruled out returning to Frostburg, where former head coach Norv Turner felt hampered by unpredictable weather, subpar field conditions and its remote location.

Falcons QB coach Rhome announces his retirement

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Jerry Rhome, who served as the Atlanta Falcons quarterback coach last season, announced Wednesday he is retiring after 33 years as a player and coach.

During his coaching career -- all involving offenses -- included stints with the St. Louis Rams, Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Phooenix Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks.

"Jerry and I came into the NFL as rookies together in Dallas in 1965," Falcons head coach Dan Reeves said. "I respect his decision and wish him the best in his retirement."

Rhome was a quarterback at Southern Methodist and Tulsa in college and with the Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Oilers and Los Angeles Rams as a pro.

Packers sign four free agents to offseason roster

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers said Wednesday they had signed free agents Tom Schau, Chris Gall, Gana Joseph and Steve Vagedes to their 80-player offseason roster.

Schau was on the Packers' practice squad during the 2000 season after he was signed as a free agent in September 2000.

He was a three-year starter and two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection at the University of Illinois, the team said. Originally signed by the New Orleans Saints in April 1999, Schau spent the 1999 regular season on the Saints' practice squad.

Gall, a two-year starter at the University of Indiana, joined the Packers' 1999 training camp after being claimed on waivers from the Indianapolis Colts. He also was on the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad last season.

Joseph, who had been signed by the Packers as a free agent Jan. 7, 2000, was released from Green Bay's roster May 15. He was the University of Oklahoma's leading tackler in history with 297 career stops, and initially signed with New Orleans in April 1999.

Vagedes had 163 pass receptions when he finished his career at Ohio Northern, and led his division in punting with a 46.2-yard average in 1999.

Cards re-sign four former practice squad players

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals have re-signed four players who spent most of last season on the team's practice squad.

The four are wide receiver Bryan Gilmore, quarterback Sean Keenan, running back Clarence Williams and cornerback Jordan Younger.

Gilmore, Keenan and Younger were rookies last season. They spent the first 14 weeks of last season on the practice squad and were activated for the last two games.

Williams spent all of the 1999 season and the first 12 games of last season on the practice squad. He played in three games last season, mostly on special teams.

Giants RB coach Gillhamer leaving for Oregon

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- New York Giants running backs coach Mike Gillhamer is leaving the team to become defensive secondary coach at the University of Oregon.

The 44-year-old California native becomes the second former professional assistant to join the Ducks' coaching staff this winter, joining former Raiders assistant Robin Ross.

"It was really hard to leave because of my loyalty to the Giants and coach Fassel," Gillhamer said. "Oregon came after me and offered me a position on defense, where my specialty is. I think this is really a good opportunity for me."

49ers restructure Deese's contract, adds extension

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Offensive tackle Derrick Deese has agreed to a five-year, $16.6 million contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers.

Deese, a nine-year veteran who has been with San Francisco longer than any player except Jerry Rice, will receive a $2.8 million signing bonus and a $500,000 base salary this season, the team said.

While the extension was a reward for Deese's solid play on the 49ers' offensive line last season, the deal also was done to reduce Deese's base salary for next season. He was scheduled to make $1.5 million under his previous contract.

Last week, coach Steve Mariucci said the 49ers were approximately $15 million over the NFL's $67.4 million salary cap. Deese was among several veterans targeted for contract restructuring or release for the 49ers to fit under the salary cap by March 2.

Rice and linebackers Ken Norton Jr. and Winfred Tubbs are expected to be released. Receiver Terrell Owens, defensive lineman Bryant Young and tight end Greg Clark are among those who likely will have their contracts restructured.

Colts begin reworking contracts

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indianapolis Colts have reworked one contract and are beginning the task of redoing others in order to meet the NFL's salary cap by March 2.

This week, the Colts reached agreement with defensive tackle Ellis Johnson on a restructured deal that will save the Colts $2.2 million next season.

Johnson, who was scheduled to have a base salary of $3.4 million next season, agreed to a deal that will pay him a $500,000 base salary and a $2.9 million signing bonus that will be spread out. Johnson is signed through 2004.

"When they offer to give you $2.9 million today and it's guaranteed, it's a no-brainer," said Johnson's agent, David I. Levine.

"The sole reason for doing this is economics. It's the best thing for Ellis Johnson and at the same time, it helped the Colts."

Colts president Bill Polian said Monday the Colts intend to restructure the contracts of two or three players, and speculation has focused on those players with the highest base salaries - Peyton Manning at $4.452 million, Chad Bratzke at $3.75 million; Jeff Burris at $3.3 million and Chad Cota at $2.25 million.

The Colts also may look to two other veterans -- Cornelius Bennett and Tyrone Poole -- to trim costs. Bennett is scheduled for a $400,000 roster bonus on March 2, while Poole is due a $2 million bonus on March 16.

Poole's base salary is $2.5 million, while Bennett's base salary is $1.6 million.

Polian said no decisions have been made on either player.

"Everybody has to restructure," Polian said. "And we've got two or three that we need to restructure."

Poole, however, lost his starting job in the last month of the season and saw very little action in the Colts final three regular-season games and the playoff game at Miami.

Poole's agent, Hadley Engelhard, said Wednesday he has not yet met with Polian but hopes to meet with him in the next week. Engelhard refused comment on whether he expects Poole to return to the Colts.

Polian did make it clear, though, that the team's most immediate concern is signing tight end Marcus Pollard, who could become an unrestricted free agent March 2.

"I think to lose him would cause us to lose efficiency in our offense," Polian said. "I would rather not do that. Now do I not want to lose him? Yeah. But I don't want to slash my wrist to do it."

Pollard had a base salary of $700,000 last season and is regarded as one of the top free agents at his position.

Pollard's agent, Glenn Schwartzman, said Wednesday that he has had discussions with the Colts but no deal has been reached.

Polian also said the Colts would consider placing either a franchise or transition tag on Pollard, meaning the Colts could match any offer to him.

The Colts have four other unrestricted free agents and five restricted free agents, for which the Colts could be awarded compensation by the NFL.

But Polian said the Colts wanted to resolve the Pollard situation first.

"I suspect there will be a handful of players who we may lose," Polian said. "But we won't know till we get there."

Related information
SI's Banks: Cowboys' Aikman should retire
One-On-One: Last roundup for Dallas QB Aikman?
Aikman's rough season leads to $7 million question
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