The Latest: Falcons sign Cowboys defensive end Crawford

March 9, 2017
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The Latest on NFL free agency (all times Eastern):

5:35 p.m.

The Chicago Bears have closed the book on the Jay Cutler era as their franchise quarterback, after an unfulfilling eight years that included only one postseason appearance.

The Bears made cutting Cutler their first official move as the NFL free agent market opened, while they were reportedly working toward an agreement to replace him with former Tampa Bay quarterback Mike Glennon.

Cutler’s final year with the Bears ended with a 3-13 record. Thumb and shoulder injuries limited him to five games. There was no guaranteed money left on the contract extension he signed a few days after the 2013 season, making the move to cut the 33-year-old widely expected.

5:25 p.m.

Tampa Bay added a deep threat for Jameis Winston when it agreed to terms with wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a three-year contract.

Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowler known for making big plays, spent the past three seasons with Washington. Before that, he was with the Eagles for six years.

He will fit in a passing game that already has the prolific Mike Evans.

Jackson is one of five players since the 1970 merger with 26 or more career touchdowns of 50-plus yards, joining Jerry Rice (36), Randy Moss (29), Terrell Owens (26) and Steve Smith (26). Only Rice (23) has more than Jackson’s 22 touchdowns of 60-plus yards.

”Desean is exactly the type of dynamic playmaker we have been targeting for our offense,” said Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter. ”Desean brings a veteran presence and a big-play mentality that fits in perfectly with our offensive philosophy. He is a tough-minded competitor who has the game-breaking speed and pass-catching ability that stretches the defense and creates matchup problems.”

5:25 p.m.

Free-agent middle linebacker A.J. Klein, who has been Luke Kuechly’s backup for the past four seasons in Carolina, announced on social media that he is signing with the NFC South Division rival New Orleans Saints.

Klein wrote on his verified Twitter account: ”Excited to be a Saint! Looking forward to 2017 season! (hash)whodat”

The 25-year-old Klein has appeared in 60 career NFL games, starting 23, since beginning his career in Carolina in 2013. The former Iowa State player has with 146 tackles, four sacks and four forced fumbles in his NFL career.

He could become a full-time starter in New Orleans if Saints defensive coaches decide he’s a better option that veteran Craig Robertson, who started most of last season.

– Brett Martel reporting from New Orleans

5:20 p.m.

A person with knowledge of the deals says the Los Angeles Rams have addressed their two biggest needs by agreeing to terms with offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and receiver Robert Woods.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the free-agent contracts hadn’t been announced yet. Whitworth got a three-year deal to leave the Cincinnati Bengals, and Woods got a five-year deal to return home to LA from Buffalo.

Whitworth has spent his entire 11-year career in Cincinnati, making three Pro Bowls. He is likely to replace Greg Robinson as Los Angeles’ starting left tackle on the NFL’s worst offense last season.

Woods was drafted by the Bills in 2013 after a record-setting career at Southern California. He will become Jared Goff’s top target in new coach Sean McVay’s offense.

– Greg Beacham reporting from Los Angeles

5:18 p.m.

Miami Dolphins safety Reshad Jones has received a $60 million, five-year contract extension.

The deal confirmed Thursday includes $35 million guaranteed and a base salary of $7 million this year. Jones was heading into the final season of a $28 million, four-year contract.

He suffered a season-ending rotator cuff injury last year and played in only six games. He held out briefly during Miami’s 2016 offseason program seeking a new contract.

– Steven Wine reporting from Miami.

5:15 p.m.

The Atlanta Falcons have bolstered their defensive line by signing Dallas defensive end Jack Crawford to a three-year deal.

The contract was announced by Crawford’s agents on Twitter. Crawford has 7 1/2 sacks the last two seasons and will give Atlanta a needed complement to All-Pro edge rusher Vic Beasley.

The 28-year-old Crawford had 3 1/2 sacks for Dallas in 2016.

– Charles Odum reporting from Atlanta.

5:07 p.m.

The Houston Texans have re-signed unrestricted free agents punter Shane Lechler and kicker Nick Novak to one-year deals.

Lechler, who joined the Texans in 2013, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and 17-year NFL veteran. The 40-year-old ranks first in NFL history in career punting average (47.5), second in punting yards (64,171) and third in punts inside the 20-yard line (437).

He averaged 40.1 yards a punt last season.

Novak made a career-high 35 field goals last season, which tied for second-most in the NFL and set a franchise record. He has made 53 of 62 field goals and 51 of 56 extra points in two seasons with the Texans.

Terms of the deals were not released.

– Kristie Rieken reporting from Houston.

5:06 p.m.

The Baltimore Ravens have reached agreement with free agent safety Tony Jefferson and running back Danny Woodhead.

Jefferson made 96 tackles for the Arizona Cardinals last season. The 25-year-old has two interceptions over four seasons but is known primarily as a sure tackler and should form a solid 1-2 punch with safety Eric Weddle.

Woodhead played the past four seasons with San Diego after a successful three-year run with the New England Patriots.

The 32-year-old has 267 catches and 15 touchdowns over his career, which began with the New York Jets.

5:05 p.m.

The Bengals kept free agent receiver Brandon LaFell on Thursday, agreeing to a two-year deal that satisfied one of their priorities in the offseason.

LaFell was second to A.J. Green last season with 64 catches for 862 yards and six touchdowns. The Bengals need a receiver to complement Green, who missed the end of last season with a hamstring injury.

The eight-year veteran spent four years with Carolina and New England before getting what amounted to a one-year tryout with the Bengals. LaFell was an unrestricted free agent.

The offense is a focus in free agency, with starting tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler free to leave along with versatile running back Rex Burkhead.

– Joe Kay reporting from Cincinnati

5:05 p.m.

The Denver Broncos have signed a former Dallas Cowboys player in free agency. It wasn’t Tony Romo as so many fans were anticipating, but guard Ronald Leary.

Although the Broncos have been mentioned as a prime landing spot should the Cowboys part ways with Romo, Denver GM John Elway is happy with the two young QBs he has in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.

What he’s trying to do is fortify his offensive line, the primary culprit in Denver’s slide from Super Bowl champ to missing the playoffs last season.

Leary will fly to Denver on Friday to sign his four-year, $35 million deal that includes $20 million guaranteed. He’s expected to slide in at left guard with Max Garcia moving over to battle it out with Michael Schofield on the right side.

With the emergence of La’el Collins and several big contracts along one of the top lines in the NFL, the Cowboys couldn’t afford to keep Leary, who turns 28 next month.

– Arnie Stapleton reporting from Denver.

4:55 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills began addressing their needs at safety by signing free agents Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer.

Hyde is the key addition and agreed to sign a five-year deal worth about $30 million, with about $14 million in guarantees, a person with direct knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press. The person spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity because the Bills have not announced the contract’s details.

The Bills also filled their place-kicking vacancy by signing Steven Hauschka and confirmed previously reported agreed to deals to sign fullback Patrick DiMarco and offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse.

Safety was a key need entering free-agency signing period on Wednesday, and especially after Buffalo released veteran starter Aaron Williams earlier in the day.

Hyde has been a four-year starter at Green Bay since being selected in the fifth-round of the 2013 draft. Poyer has four years of NFL experience, and spent the past three-plus seasons in Cleveland.

Hauschka fills the spot left open after veteran Dan Carpenter was released.

– John Wawrow reporting from Orchard Park, New York.

4:55 p.m.

A person familiar with the situation says the Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent left tackle Matt Kalil from the Minnesota Vikings on a five-year deal worth $55.5 million.

Of that, $25 million is guaranteed.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because the move can’t officially be announced until later in the day.

Kalil, who spent five seasons in Minnesota after being selected fourth overall in 2012, will play with older brother Ryan Kalil, Carolina’s two-time All-Pro center.

The 27-year-old Kalil played in all 64 games his first four seasons in Minnesota, but missed 14 in 2016 due to a hip injury that required surgery.

Carolina needed a left tackle with Michael Oher’s career uncertain due to a concussion.

– Steve Reed reporting from Charlotte, North Carolina.

4:35 p.m.

According to a person familiar with the deal, the Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms on a five-year, $67.5 million contract with Houston cornerback A.J. Bouye.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the Jaguars won’t announce any deals until players formally sign Friday.

Bouye, whose deal includes $26 million guaranteed, was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. Paired opposite budding star Jalen Ramsey, Bouye should give the Jaguars one of the best cover tandems in the league.

– Mark Long reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.

4:37 p.m.

The Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to terms with Chicago wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on a one-year contract.

Jeffery was considered the top receiver available in free agency, but he couldn’t secure a long-term deal to remain in Chicago or from another team. The Eagles agreed to a three-year deal with wideout Torrey Smith earlier Thursday.

Jeffery is coming off two down seasons, and he missed 11 games due to injury and suspension. His last standout season came in 2014, when he had 1,133 yards receiving and 10 TDs. Jeffery went to the Pro Bowl in 2013 after catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven TDs.

– Rob Maaddi reporting from Philadelphia.

4:20 p.m.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sounds ready for a change.

He tweeted a video from what looked like his workout room at home not long after news of the Brock Osweiler trade to Cleveland broke.

”Hey everyone. I just wanted to come to tell you it’s been a crazy 48 hours here. Me and my family felt the outpouring of support and love from all of you. It’s been overwhelming and it doesn’t go unnoticed. I want to say thank you and we have a lot of think about going forward but we’ll see what happens. Until then I’m just going to keep listening to Bob Dylan.”

He was listening to ”Times They are a Changing.”

Romo could land in Houston, Denver or elsewhere as a free agent, or be dealt in a trade.

4:15 p.m.

A person familiar with the trade says the Cleveland Browns have acquired quarterback Brock Osweiler from the Houston Texans.

Cleveland sent a fourth-round selection to Houston for Osweiler, a 2018 second-round pick and a sixth rounder, said the person who spoke Thursday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the deal.

Osweiler’s massive contract this season made him difficult to move without adding the draft picks.

Cleveland has been searching for a franchise quarterback, but Osweiler failed to fill that role for the Texans. The Browns do have a roster decision to make in the next few days on Robert Griffin III, and Osweiler gives them a temporary option.

The Browns own the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft after going 1-15 last season.

Osweiler went 8-6 in 14 starts for Houston last season. The Texans are in the market to upgrade the position in free agency and through a trade or a free agent, including possibly Tony Romo.

– Tom Withers reporting from Cleveland.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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