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Packers release veteran fullback Henderson

Green Bay Packers: The Packers released veteran fullback William Henderson on Wednesday, leaving Brett Favre as the only member of the 1996 Super Bowl championship team still playing for the team.

Henderson, 36, spent much of last season on the bench behind blocking back Brandon Miree.

"We are releasing William at this point so he can pursue other opportunities within the National Football League," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. "It is difficult to part with a high-character individual like William. He has been an influential person on several outstanding Packers teams over his career. He always will be considered a Packer."

"It was an honor to be associated with the Packers," Henderson said in the statement. "It is humbling to leave such a great organization, but I will always be grateful for my time in Green Bay."

Henderson, a 6-foot-1, 252-pound veteran out of North Carolina, played in 188 Packers games, more than all but three players in team history -- Favre, Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke.

Used primarily as a lead blocker, he caught 320 passes for 2,409 yards and 14 touchdowns, and rushed for 426 yards on 112 carries with five touchdowns. He also played a significant role on special teams.

Henderson considered signing with the division rival Minnesota Vikings before last season, but chose to return for a 12th season in Green Bay. He spent much of last season on the bench after Miree, signed to the Packers' practice squad after being waived by the Broncos, was promoted to the active roster in Week 4 and began taking most of the offensive snaps at fullback.

-- The Associated Press

New Orleans Saints: A year ago, the Saints were a team that took gambles and came up a big winner.

In free agency, players are rolling the dice with the Saints and hoping to come up big. That's what 49ers tight end Eric Johnson did. For the chance to go into Sean Payton's offense with Drew Brees at quarterback, Johnson, 27, agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Saints that has a huge upside.

Johnson's signing with the Saints is a good fit. Johnson caught 82 passes for 825 yards and two scores in 2004, but he has been bothered by injuries. By signing the one-year deal and getting in with the Saints, he will have a chance to hit free agency next year in an increasingly lucrative market.

Not since 2003 has New Orleans had a tight end who posted more than 40 catches in a season. In 2006, despite the productivity of Brees and an offense that led the way to a division title, the New Orleans tight ends corps totaled only 32 receptions.

Johnson has posted 34 or more catches four times. Unfortunately, the former Yale standout also missed two full seasons with injuries. He sat out the 2003 campaign with a broken collarbone and was sidelined for all of 2005 by a severe foot injury.

Last season, he had 34 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns, appearing in 13 games with nine starts.

A seventh-round choice in the 2001 draft, Johnson has 192 career receptions for 1,800 yards and seven touchdowns. He is a clever receiver who knows how to find the soft spots in a zone and also possesses decent run-after-catch skills.

-- ESPN.com's John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli

Houston Texans: Linebacker Danny Clark, a former Jaguar, Raider and Saint, agreed to terms Wednesday with the Texans.

Clark led Oakland in tackles in 2004 and 2005, but he struggled last season in a reserve role after joining New Orleans. The seven-year veteran had 29 tackles while appearing in 16 games.

"We are excited about what Danny brings to our defense," Texans general manager Rick Smith said. "He is an experienced guy who has proven that he can be very productive, and he is a leader who will add a veteran presence in the locker room."

The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder was a seventh-round pick in the 2000 draft by Jacksonville, where he spent his first four seasons. He became a full-time starter in 2002 and had 91 tackles, two sacks and an interception.

-- The Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens: Edwin Mulitalo, who started at left guard for the Ravens for eight seasons, was released Wednesday.

Mulitalo, 32, was one of a handful of players remaining from the Ravens' Super Bowl championship squad of 2000. He was limited to a career-low four games in 2006 because of a torn triceps tendon that required surgery, and Jason Brown performed capably in his place.

Mulitalo said he hopes to keep playing. He was due $2 million in salary for 2007 and had a salary-cap figure of $2.85 million.

"When you release a player like Edwin, it gives you pause," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "This is the cold side of the business. All he did was everything we asked him to do and more."

-- The Associated Press

Seattle Seahawks: Defensive end Patrick Kerney made his first official
appearance in Seattle after signing a six-year, $39.5 million deal with the Seahawks.

"I feel like I have a full tank, and coming to a new team with a lot of guys who have a passion for football, that's going to re-energize me even more," said the 30-year-old former Falcon, who is guaranteed $19.5 million in the new deal. "I'm boiling over just thinking about that first game next year. I couldn't be more thrilled."

-- The Associated Press

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs signed long snapper Jean-Philippe Darche to a four-year contract Wednesday.

Darche, a native of Montreal, played in 97 games over seven seasons with Seattle. An unrestricted free agent, he had 18 tackles on special teams and played in five postseason games, including Super Bowl XL.

He likely replaces longtime long snapper Kendall Gammon, an unrestricted free agent.

-- The Associated Press

Detroit Lions: The Lions kept two of their backups Tuesday, re-signing defensive tackle Cleveland Pinkney and running back Aveion Cason to one-year deals. Terms were not disclosed.

-- The Associated Press