The Seattle Seahawks lost Rod Stephens, their starting middle linebacker who led them in tackles last season, to the Washington Redskins on Wednesday.
The Seahawks announced they have signed Torrance Small, a wide receiver who caught 49 passes for the New Orleans Saints last season.
The Seahawks will not be able to match the Redskins’ offer to Stephens, who played six seasons in Seattle, because he’s an unrestricted free agent.
But the Saints would be able to match the Seahawks’ offer to Small because he’s a restricted free agent. The Saints will have one week to decide whether to match the offer or take the compensation, which would be the second of two Seahawks’ 1995 fourth-round draft choices - the 29th pick overall - on April 22.
The News Tribune of Tacoma reported the Seahawks signed Small to a four-year, $5.5 million offer sheet.
Stephens, 28, from Georgia Tech, agreed to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually, according to his Georgia-based agent, Phil Williams.
In order to sign Small, a three-year NFL veteran, the Seahawks waived tight end Ferrell Edmunds, who was sidelined for Seattle’s final nine games last season because of bulging discs in his back. Edmunds’ $857,000 salary increased the Seahawks’ pool of available salary cap money to about $2.5 million.
Alvin Harper, perhaps the most sought-after free-agent wide receiver, agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a four-year deal reportedly worth $10.6 million.
The deal also includes a $3 million signing bonus as the Bucs, losers of 10 or more games for 12 straight seasons, hope to atone for a series of poor personnel moves.
Harper, 27, spent his first four years with Dallas, starting opposite Michael Irvin on the Cowboys’ Super Bowl winners in 1993 and 1994. Last season, he led the NFL in yards per catch 24.9 yards on 33 receptions, with eight touchdowns.
Shortly after putting out word that reporters should be at Arrowhead Stadium at 10 a.m. today, the Chiefs were deluged with calls and faxes demanding to know what Joe Montana planned to announce.
“It has absolutely, positively nothing to do with Joe Montana,” public relations director Bob Moore said. “As hard as that is for some people out there to believe.”
Getting the OK for the Rams to move from Los Angeles to St. Louis at next week’s NFL owners meetings could be difficult.
In addition to the idea of abandoning the nation’s No. 2 TV market for the 18th, the league also has to deal with concerns from Los Angeles’ remaining team.
Raiders owner Al Davis has complained that the L.A. Coliseum is not a suitable venue, and the NFL is so determined not to leave Southern California altogether it has discussed building a new stadium.
The official word that realignment in the NFL is dead will come early next week, when the NFL owners vote to keep the current divisional setup, even though geographic inconsistencies cut across both conferences.
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