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NFL Indsider - Mark Maske

Giants Have an Eye on Burress

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 7, 2005; 4:03 PM

The New York Giants might make a push to try to sign Plaxico Burress today, when the free-agent wide receiver is scheduled to visit the team.

Burress, 27, was one of the most recognizable names among an underwhelming class of unrestricted free agents when the market opened last week. But he had the misfortune of going on the market after an injury-filled season in which he had only 35 catches, and there has been surprisingly little interest in him.

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The Giants, in fact, might be the only serious bidder at this point for Burress, who has spent his entire five-year NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has averaged 52 receptions per season. He had a pair of 1,000-yard receiving seasons for the Steelers, who selected him with the eighth overall choice in the 2000 draft out of Michigan State, but has gone two years without reaching that mark.

The Giants are looking for a wideout after releasing Ike Hilliard. Burress clearly is the best receiver still available, with Muhsin Muhammad, Derrick Mason and even T.J. Houshmandzadeh off the market. But Burress apparently was seeking a signing bonus of about $10 million as part of a multi-year contract when the market opened, and he and agent Michael Harrison probably will have to lower those demands considerably if they're going to strike a deal with the Giants in the next day or two.

The Giants already have made two expensive free-agent acquisitions, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce and right tackle Kareem McKenzie.

The Minnesota Vikings also could be in the running to sign Burress if they don't trade for Washington Redskins wideout Rod Gardner instead. . . .

The Giants reached a contract agreement today with kicker Jay Feely, an unrestricted free agent from Atlanta. The Falcons signed another free-agent kicker, Todd Peterson, on Friday to replace Feely. . . . The Giants also re-signed reserve running back Mike Cloud, an unrestricted free agent.

Carter, Dolphins Agree

The Miami Dolphins continued to rework their defensive line by agreeing to a five-year, $30 million contract today with free agent Kevin Carter. The deal includes about $8 million in bonus money. Miami added another free-agent defensive lineman, Vonnie Holliday, over the weekend.

Carter was released by the Tennessee Titans as part of their salary-cap purge. The Titans had been attempting to re-sign him to a cheaper contract, but the Dolphins emerged in recent days as the strong favorite to sign him. Carter, 31, can play end or tackle and never has missed a game in his 10-year NFL career with St. Louis and Tennessee. He has been selected to two Pro Bowls, one as a member of the Rams and one while with the Titans. . . .

New Orleans agreed to a five-year contract today with safety Dwight Smith, an unrestricted free agent from Tampa Bay. The deal apparently is worth about $3 million per season. . . .

Pittsburgh re-signed free-agent cornerback Willie Williams.

QB Carousel Spinning

Now that Kurt Warner has picked a team -- agreeing Sunday to a one-year, $4 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals -- the other prominent veteran quarterbacks on the free-agent market probably will be settling on their next jobs in the coming days.

Several of the clubs looking for a quarterback were waiting for Warner to decide before pressing forward with other candidates. Warner took what appeared to be the best remaining shot league-wide at a starting job, leaving the other big-name quarterbacks on the market -- Jeff Garcia, Brad Johnson and Jay Fiedler -- staring at the likelihood of entering training camp as backups.

The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears were in pursuit of Warner, and each remains in the quarterback market.

The Lions, looking for a quarterback to back up Joey Harrington or perhaps compete with him for the starting job, seem like a natural fit for Garcia, since Coach Steve Mariucci formerly coached the three-time Pro Bowler in San Francisco. But Garcia, who was released by the Browns after one season in Cleveland, also is being pursued by Denver, which is looking for a backup for Jake Plummer, and Tampa Bay, seeking a third quarterback to go with Brian Griese and Chris Simms. Garcia is scheduled to be in Denver today to have a second meeting with the Broncos in recent weeks.

The Lions are scheduled to host Johnson, the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Buccaneers released by Tampa Bay, on a visit Wednesday. The Lions had been scheduled to host Warner on Sunday, but he canceled the visit to sign with the Cardinals instead.

The Bears are scheduled to host Fiedler on Tuesday and Johnson on Thursday. They are looking for a veteran to back up Rex Grossman, who is slated to reclaim Chicago's starting job if he can make a successful return from last season's knee injury.

The Giants are pursuing Fiedler to back up and mentor Eli Manning. But they might sign another free-agent quarterback, Jim Miller, first. Miller began a visit with the team Sunday night and is scheduled to undergo a physical today. . . .

Kenoy Kennedy, widely regarded as the best safety available in unrestricted free agency, is scheduled to wrap up a two-day visit to Detroit today, and the Lions probably will attempt to sign him before he leaves town. . . .

Atlanta is attempting to sign free-agent linebacker Ike Reese, who has spent his entire seven-year career with Philadelphia and reached his first Pro Bowl this past season as the NFC's special-teams selection. The Eagles already have re-signed one free-agent linebacker, Jeremiah Trotter, and are working to re-sign another, Keith Adams, pushing Reese down their list of priorities. The Bears also are interested in Reese.

The Eagles put little or no effort into re-signing guard Jermane Mayberry, whose nine-year tenure with the club ended over the weekend when he signed with New Orleans via free agency. The Eagles are counting on Shawn Andrews, their first-round draft pick last year who had his rookie season ended by a broken leg suffered in the opening game, to return to be a starter at guard next season.

The Saints plan to play Mayberry at right tackle. . . .

New England and Tampa Bay are among the teams that have expressed interest in Hilliard. . . .

The Steelers are attempting to complete a five-year contract to retain kicker Jeff Reed, a restricted free agent. . . .

Houston gave linebacker Jay Foreman permission to seek a trade. He is the second linebacker, along with Jamie Sharper, granted permission by the Texans to seek a trade since they signed linebacker Morlon Greenwood as a free agent last week. . . .

Free-agent cornerback Andre Dyson, formerly of the Titans, is scheduled to visit Seattle today. The Seahawks are looking for a replacement for Ken Lucas, the cornerback who signed with Carolina as a free agent. The Seahawks are among the teams to have inquired about Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain, who is on the trading block. . . .

Browns General Manager Phil Savage is drawing on his Baltimore Ravens roots in his early moves in Cleveland, including the signing of cornerback Gary Baxter and the trade for quarterback Trent Dilfer. Savage was in the Ravens' front office when Dilfer led the club to a Super Bowl title in the 2000 season, and when the team drafted Baxter in 2001.

The Browns signed Baxter to a six-year, $30 million contract, including a $10.5 million signing bonus, on Friday after a tentative deal between the Ravens and Baxter earlier in the week unraveled. Cleveland traded a fourth-round draft pick to Seattle over the weekend for Dilfer after quarterback Kelly Holcomb spurned the Browns to sign with Buffalo via free agency Friday. Dilfer is one of the league's class acts, and the Seahawks were accommodating in working out a trade to a team where Dilfer could be the starter. . . .

Pro Bowl kick returner Allen Rossum re-signed with the Falcons over the weekend after San Diego tried but failed to sign him. . . .

The Ravens and Falcons lead a list of about a half-dozen teams interested in Broncos cornerback Kelly Herndon, a restricted free agent. Denver already has had one restricted free agent, tight end Jeb Putzier, sign an offer sheet with another club. The Broncos have until Friday to decide whether to retain Putzier by matching the New York Jets' five-year, $12.5 million agreement with him. The Broncos would receive a sixth-round draft pick from the Jets as compensation if they decline to match the offer.

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