Vikings get McMahon; Pats keep Scott

The Minnesota Vikings filled their need for an experienced backup to starting quarterback Brad Johnson on Thursday, signing free agent Mike McMahon to a two-year contract.

A five-year veteran, McMahon will be joining his third different franchise in three seasons. He played for Philadelphia in 2005, but was released last week after the Eagles signed Jeff Garcia as the primary backup to Donovan McNabb.

The Vikings also signed safety Tank Williams, who spent the last four seasons with Tennessee, and defensive end DeQuincy Scott, who played the past four seasons with San Diego.

The two-year contract for McMahon is worth $2 million and includes about $400,000 in upfront money. Minnesota typically prefers paying a roster bonus or reporting bonus in lieu of a signing bonus. There is a roster bonus of $300,000 due next spring.

McMahon was also being ardently pursued by the Broncos and was scheduled to fly to Denver this week. But the Vikings quickly began negotiations with him and struck a deal.

The only other backup on the Minnesota roster is J.T. O'Sullivan, who has always been regarded as possessing excellent potential, but whose resume includes just one regular-season appearance. McMahon has appeared in 29 games and is familiar with the offense that first-year head coach Brad Childress will install.

Childress was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles and worked with McMahon last season. McMahon, 27, started seven games for Philadelphia in 2005 after McNabb was sidelined by a sports hernia injury for the second half of the season. He completed 94 of 207 passes for 1,158 yards, with five touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He is well-schooled in the West Coast offense, though, and should be a dependable insurance policy for Childress and the Vikings.

Minnesota officials have not totally ruled out using a high-round draft choice, perhaps even the team's first-round pick, on a quarterback for the long term. Johnson, who played well in replacing the injured Daunte Culpepper last season, will turn 38 just after the start of the regular season.

A former Rutgers standout, McMahon was a fifth-round pick by Detroit in the 2001 draft and played the first four seasons of his career with the Lions before signing with the Eagles last spring. He has started 14 games and completed 229 of 515 passes for 2,867 yards, with 15 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions.

-- Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press

Patriots sign Scott
Cornerback Chad Scott is staying with New England, one of the first signings by the Patriots in an offseason in which stalwarts like Willie McGinest and Adam Vinatieri left the team.

Scott is a former first-round draft pick who spent most of last
season on injured reserve.

He re-signed on Wednesday, a day after Vinatieri, who kicked the
game-winning field goals in two of the Patriots' three Super Bowl
victories, signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Last Friday, the Patriots signed wide receiver Reche Caldwell,
an unrestricted free agent who spent his first four seasons with
San Diego.

-- Associated Press

Dolphins sign Beasley
Unrestricted free agent fullback Fred Beasley, who had spent his previous eight seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, has signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins, ESPN.com has learned.

One of the best lead-blockers in the league, Beasley, 31, was named to the Pro Bowl squad in 2004. The former Auburn standout is a solid receiver, an excellent pass protector, and should provide the Dolphins a strong presence in the locker room as well.

Beasley has carried 183 times for 610 yards and eight touchdowns in his career. He also has 133 catches for 1,017 yards and five touchdowns. Although still a productive player, Beasley fell out of favor last year with the staff of first-year coach Mike Nolan.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Redskins sign Pucillo
Four-year veteran guard Mike Pucillo, whose resume includes 18 regular-season starts, has reached a one-year contract agreement with the Washington Redskins.

Pucillo, 26, is expected to be a backup at all three interior line spots. He played his first three seasons for the Buffalo Bills, then signed with Cleveland last summer. Pucillo appeared in 10 games last season, and started in six of them, all at guard. In 2003, he logged 12 starts for the Bills.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Patriots sign Evans
The New England Patriots on Thursday re-signed running back Heath Evans to a one-year contract, ESPN.com has learned. Evans is a combination back, a runner with the physique of a fullback but the skill of a tailback, and he is most effective playing in a one-back formation.

Evans, 27, was a third-round choice of Seattle in 2001, and spent the first four seasons of his career with the Seahawks, before signing with Miami last spring. He was released by the Dolphins and signed with the Patriots, at a point when New England's backfield was decimated by injuries.

In 73 games, including four starts, Evans has rushed for 300 yards on 85 carries. With the Patriots in '05, he carried 52 times for 192 yards, appearing in 12 games and starting three of them.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Raiders add Starks
The Oakland Raiders signed veteran
cornerback Duane Starks on Thursday, the second former New England
defensive back they've acquired this week to bolster the secondary. Oakland added Tyrone Poole on Monday.

Starks was released by the Patriots on Feb. 25 after his lone
season with New England ended in injury. He was placed on injured
reserve Nov. 10 with a shoulder injury.

The Patriots acquired the 31-year-old Starks in an offseason
trade with Arizona last year. He intercepted 25 passes in his first
seven seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and Cardinals, but had no
interceptions in seven games with the Patriots.

--The Associated Press

Texans re-sign four
The Houston Texans re-signed free agents Shantee Orr, DaShon Polk, Ramon Walker and Frank Chamberlin on Thursday.

Orr, an outside linebacker who spent most of his first two NFL
seasons on the practice squad, had a breakout year in 2005, leading
the team with seven sacks.

He appeared in 16 games, starting 12 and had 47 tackles and four
forced fumbles.

Polk, also a linebacker, gained a starting job last season when
Kailee Wong sustained a season-ending knee injury. He made the most
of his opportunity, recording 135 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three
forced fumbles.

Chamberlin, also a linebacker, played in nine games last season,
primarily on special teams. He had five tackles and has 44 tackles
in his six-year career.

Walker, a safety, played in each game last season and had 18
special teams tackles. His punt block at San Francisco was
Houston's only one of the season.

Meanwhile, former Green Bay Packer center Mike Flanagan has
agreed to a three-year contract with the Texans valued at $9
million, his agent told Houston television station KRIV Thursday

"You have to attribute Mike Sherman's relationship with Mike Flanagan as having significant impact," agent Jim Steiner told the
station. Sherman, a Texan assistant coach, formerly coached at
Green Bay.

Tony Wyllie, spokesman for the Texans, did not immediately
return a call from The Associated Press Thursday night.

--The Associated Press

Seahawks re-sign Tafoya
The Seattle Seahawks re-signed defensive
end Joe Tafoya on Thursday.

He will earn $585,000 in base salary in 2006.

The five-year veteran, acquired off waivers from Tampa Bay last
March, played in 15 regular-season games and all three of the
team's postseason games as a backup end and special teams player.
He finished fourth on the NFC champions with 15 tackles on special
teams, including one fumble recovery.

Tafoya will continue to back up starters Bryce Fisher and Grant Wistrom.

--The Associated Press

Cooper re-signs with Chargers

Restricted free-agent linebacker Stephen Cooper
re-signed with the San Diego Chargers on Thursday, agreeing to a
one-year deal.

Cooper started two games and played in all 16 last season,
finishing with 30 tackles and 1½ sacks.

--The Associated Press