Archive for Saturday, March 3, 2001

NFL roundup: Steelers sign Bettis; Sehorn stays put

March 3, 2001


The Pittsburgh Steelers signed unrestricted free agent running back Jerome Bettis to a six-year, $30 million contract Friday.

"It's an opportunity to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler," Bettis said. "That's a great feeling to know that you've done a lot for a franchise and the franchise respects you and wants you to finish wearing their uniform."

Steelers vice president Art Rooney II and Bettis' agent, Lamont Smith, reached a tentative agreement late Thursday night before the free agency deadline came into effect.

The deal includes a $6 million signing bonus and incentives that could make the contract worth $35 million.

Bettis, 29, will receive about $9 million in the first two years, including the signing bonus, $484,000 in base salary this year and about $2.5 million next year.

"I was very clear in letting (Smith) know that I wanted to stay here. The best way for us to stay here was to do a deal, get a contract before free agency began because I didn't want to be put in a position where I had to make a hard decision," he said.

Also on Friday, free agent Jason Sehorn of the New York Giants was happy to stay.

In other moves Friday, Tampa Bay claimed bad-boy quarterback Ryan Leaf off waivers; Seattle acquired Packers backup Matt Hasselbeck for undisclosed draft picks; and Miami defensive tackle Tim Bowens agreed to restructure his contract rather than be released.

Sehorn, a seven-year veteran who helped the Giants reach the Super Bowl with several key postseason plays, staked his claim as the highest-paid cornerback when he re-signed for a reported $36 million over six years, including a $10 million signing bonus.

By midnight Thursday, the 31 NFL teams were required get under the $67.4 million salary cap, and many teams ended up cutting big-name players with big-time contracts to prepare for free agent signings. The Colts cut Cornelius Bennett, the Titans waived Al Del Greco, the Bills cut Doug Flutie and the Redskins parted with Dana Stubblefield.

The NFL listed 469 players as free agents Friday. The signing period for free agents ends on July 22 or the first day of the first NFL training camp whichever is later. The restricted free-agent period ends April 16.


The Bucs will take what amounts to a "free look" at Leaf, the second pick in the '98 draft behind Peyton Manning.

Hasselbeck will be reunited with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who was the Packers coach when Green Bay picked the quarterback in the sixth round of the '98 draft.

The Denver Broncos signed two of their own linebacker John Mobley and offensive lineman Dan Neil.

The St. Louis Rams kept Jeff Wilkins, signing the kicker to a five-year deal.

Wide receiver-kick returner Derrick Mason, who set an NFL record with 2,690 all-purpose yards last season, is staying with Tennessee.

Defensive end Marcellus Wiley visited the San Diego Chargers.

The Cleveland Browns signed free agent quarterback Kelly Holcomb, a backup with the Colts the past five seasons.

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