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Jets part ways with Marvin Jones

New York Jets: The Jets cut starting middle
linebacker Marvin Jones on Wednesday in an expected move to help
revamp the position.

Jones, the fourth overall pick in the 1993 draft, spent his
entire 11-year career with the Jets. He played in 142 games and
started 129, including all 80 over the last five seasons.

He ranks third in Jets history with 1,200 tackles (811 solo),
notching eight 100-plus tackle seasons. Jones also tallied nine
sacks, five interceptions, 29 passes defensed, 11 forced fumbles
and eight fumble recoveries in his Jets career.

The Jets also cut outside linebacker Mo Lewis on Monday. The
31-year-old Jones and 34-year-old Lewis became expendable because
they have lost a step in the last few seasons.

Jones' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said earlier this week Jones would
not retire and several teams are interested in the player. To make
up for losing Jones, the Jets will move outside linebacker Sam
Cowart to the middle.

Houston Texans: The Texans have reworked the contract for
two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Gary Walker to make it more
salary-cap friendly.

Walker would have counted $12.6 million against the cap this
season under the contract the Texans inherited when they plucked
him from the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2002 expansion draft. His
new six-year deal -- for $36 million including an upfront sum of $11 million -- will soften the blow.

"I expressed from day one, this is where I started my career in
1995 with the Oilers, and to have it end here is a blessing to
me," Walker, who turned 31 last week, said Wednesday.

Walker played in just four games last
year because of shoulder and toe injuries. In the Texans' inaugural
year, he registered 115 tackles and 6½ sacks and made the Pro Bowl.

Drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1995, Walker signed with the
Jaguars in 1999 and came to the Texans in the expansion draft.

New Orleans Saints: Having struggled the past two years to locate a viable backup to starting tailback Deuce McAllister, the New Orleans Saints hope they finally solved the problem Wednesday, as ESPN.com has learned the team reached an agreement with unrestricted free agent Aaron Stecker, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The four-year veteran will sign a four-year, $4.4 million contract that includes a $650,000 signing bonus.

Stecker, 28, was one of the more hotly pursued middle-level free agents on the opening day of the market. In four seasons with the Bucs, he played in 55 games and started two of them. He has 101 carries for 402 yards and one touchdown. Stecker has also averaged 23.8 yards on kickoff returns.

--Len Pasquarelli

The Saints signed veteran cornerback and special teams player Fakhir Brown to a two-year
contract Wednesday.

They also agreed to terms on a three-year contract with
linebacker Derrick Rodgers, one of the Saints' leading tacklers
last season.

Brown, entering his fifth NFL season, joined New Orleans in
2002. He had 24 tackles and eight passes defensed while playing in
every 2003 game.

Rodgers, an unrestricted free agent before agreeing to a new
contract, had 107 tackles in his first season with the Saints. He
also returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown against the
Houston Texans. He was acquired from the Miami Dolphins last May
for a 2004 seventh-round draft pick.

Terms of the contracts were not announced.

Cincinnati Bengals: It appears that the Bengals have a new starting middle linebacker. The team on Wednesday evening reached contract agreement with unrestricted free agent Nate Webster, who played the first four seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ESPN.com has learned

Webster, 26, will sign a five-year, $11.3 million contract. It includes a signing bonus of $2.5 million and base salaries of $1.4 million (2004), $1.5 million (2005), $1.6 million (2006), $1.8 million (2007) and $2 million (2008). There are annual workout bonuses of $100,000 and Webster can also earn more than $2 million in "escalators" based on play time benchmarks.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was seeking a middle linebacker so that he could move his 2003 starter at the position, Kevin Hardy, back to an outside spot.

Although he has started just six games, Webster is a quick and athletic player who should be a very good fit for Lewis' defensive style. The former University of Miami star was a third-round choice in the 2000 draft. He has appeared in 63 games and has started six of them, and has 130 tackles, one sack and eight passes defensed.

--Len Pasquarelli

Detroit Lions: The Lions signed defensive end James Hall to a five-year deal and restructured the contract of
Robert Porcher on Wednesday.

They also released safety Corey Harris.

Porcher decided he wanted to play next season -- his 13th in the
NFL. The defensive end has a franchise-best 91 sacks.

"We have to give a lot of credit to Robert Porcher," Lions
chief operating officer Tom Lewand said. "Literally as we were on
the phone discussing this, he said to Steve (Mariucci), Matt
(Millen) and myself, 'Don't waste time on me. Go do things to make
this team better. I'll be fine. I want to play one more year and
help the young guys. I want to do this and win some more games
before I bow out.'

"(Robert) was great and helped us with the cap as he has done
before."

Porcher had 4.5 sacks and started 14 games last season for the
Lions, who won just five games -- matching their total from the two
previous years.

Hall started 16 games last season, his second as a starter, and
made a career-high 4.5 sacks and 78 tackles in his fourth year with
the Lions.

Harris started 29 straight games in Detroit before missing the
final three games of last season because of a hamstring injury. The
12-year veteran made two interceptions and 169 tackles with the
Lions.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Dan Kreider passed up free agency and signed a four-year contract that will pay
him a little more than $4 million.

Under the contract, 27-year-old Kreider received an $840,000
signing bonus and will earn $535,000 next season.

Kreider, who joined the Steelers as an undrafted rookie from New
Hampshire in 2000, carried seven times for 29 yards and a touchdown
last season. In his four seasons with the Steelers, he has 98
rushing yards and two touchdowns, but his main job is blocking.

Kreider also has 34 career receptions for 276 yards and one
touchdown.

Meanwhile, free agent outside linebacker Clark Haggans visited
with the New York Giants and defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, who
coached Haggans as the Steelers' defensive coordinator the last
four seasons. The Steelers are scheduled to talk to Indianapolis
Colts linebacker Marcus Washington on Thursday. They have scheduled
visits with free-agent cornerbacks Fernando Bryant of Jacksonville,
Reggie Howard of Carolina and David Barrett of Arizona.

Final passes
The Buffalo Bills signed free agent
offensive lineman Chris Villarrial on Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Villarrial, 30, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Chicago Bears, starting 109 of the 116 games that he has appeared in. ... Center Todd McClure signed a
three-year, $3.5 million contract Wednesday to stay with the
Atlanta Falcons. McClure, a seventh-round draft pick in 1999, has started 34
consecutive games for the Falcons and 54 of 57 in his career. ... Long snapper David Binn signed a five-year contract Wednesday to remain with the San Diego Chargers. Binn, an unrestricted free agent, has been with the Chargers since their Super Bowl season of 1994, when he signed as a rookie free agent from California. He has missed just one game in his career.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.