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Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Out with old players, in with new

Woodson, Mobley cut; Redskins, Jets, Eagles sign top picks

July 28, 2004

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Rod Woodson, one of the top defensive backs of the last two decades, was released by the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, the day that NFL training camps officially began to open.

Denver released former All-Pro linebacker John Mobley for the same reason -- he flunked a physical.

At the same time the old were leaving, the new were arriving.

Safety Sean Taylor signed with Washington, at fifth overall the highest draft pick under contract so far. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the 12th choice overall, signed with the New York Jets.

They were teammates at Miami last season.

The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a six-year contract with first-round pick Shawn Andrews on Tuesday, shortly before rookies were due to report for their first meeting of training camp.

He became the seventh first-round pick signed in a week when all 32 teams open training camps.

Taylor's path from draft day to signing day was anything but orthodox, so it's not surprising he'd rather not talk about it.

After a series of adventures involving agents, the No. 5 overall pick out of Miami finally settled in Tuesday with a seven-year, $18 million contract from the Redskins.

"I'm real happy to have all the business stuff out of the way and all the agent issues out of the way and get back to football," said Taylor, expected to be the opening-day starter at free safety.

He became the highest draft pick to sign so far this season, even though he fired his agent shortly after the draft and didn't hire new ones until last week.

The details of the contract were confirmed by a Redskins official and a person involved in the negotiations, who each spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The sources said Taylor would receive a $7.2 million signing bonus, and that the total bonus money in the deal -- including option and roster bonuses -- exceeded $13 million.

Taylor will join coach Joe Gibbs and the team on the practice field today for the final day of a three-day passing camp. The first standard training camp practices -- in full pads with mandatory attendance for all players under contract -- begin Saturday.

Vilma signed a five-year deal worth about $10 million Tuesday, two days before players report for the start of camp.

Though his agent, Mitch Frankel, declined to give specific figures, the deal is in the same ballpark as the one given to Dunta Robinson, who signed a $10.7 million deal with the Houston Texans as the No. 10 pick in the draft.

Andrews, the 16th overall pick from Arkansas, will compete for the starting spot at right guard. Terms of his contract weren't immediately known. His agent, Rich Moran, said it was voidable after five years.

"We feel comfortable with where we're at," Moran said. "The Eagles were very fair."

Andrews was the last of Philadelphia's 10 draft picks to agree to a contract, and was expected to arrive at Lehigh University on Tuesday night. Rookies, free agents and selected veterans will practice for the first time this morning.

Raiders

The 39-year-old Woodson, who would have been entering his 18th season in the NFL, made the Pro Bowl 11 times at three different positions -- cornerback, safety and kick returner. He had a chronic left knee injury, finished last season on injured reserve and underwent surgery last December.

He began his career with Pittsburgh in 1987, played 11 seasons with the Steelers, one with San Francisco, four more with Baltimore and the last two with the Raiders. He was voted both to the NFL's 75th anniversary team and to the all-decade team for the 1990s.

"Rod Woodson is one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play the game," Raiders coach Norv Turner said. "He has been a leader on and off the field."

Broncos

The 31-year-old Mobley, an All-Pro in 1997, was cut by the Broncos because of a neck injury sustained last season. He and the team each held out hope he might return once the injury healed.

"You have to release him to get down to the maximum number of players you can have on the team," coach Mike Shanahan said as the Broncos opened training camp, one of three teams to do so on Tuesday. "It doesn't mean we don't want John Mobley back on our football team. If six months to a year from now he feels like he is ready to go, then we will assess him then."

Rams

Quarterback Jeff Smoker and defensive end Anthony Hargrove have signed three-year deals with St. Louis, making them the last of the defending NFC West champion's picks from April's draft to be under contract.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The Rams begin training camp today at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill.

Cowboys

Dallas waived Chad Hutchinson, ending their attempt to turn the former major-league pitcher into a starting quarterback.

The team also said back surgery on safety Darren Woodson went well. Woodson had a herniated disc removed from his lower back. He's expected to be out up to eight weeks, which would run through the second game of the season, although the team is optimistic he could return sooner.

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