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Keyshawn agrees to deal with Panthers

By wire services
Published March 24, 2006


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - In their quest to assemble the right ingredients to win a Super Bowl, the Carolina Panthers might have found the Key.

That's wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who the Panthers believe might be enough to boost their offense to the next level. Johnson and the Panthers agreed to terms on a contract late Thursday night after meeting for much of the day. The deal is for four years and includes $5-million in signing bonus money.

A press conference to officially announce the signing is expected today.

Johnson seemingly would help solve one of last season's biggest problems. Wide receiver Steve Smith led the league in catches and receiving yards, but the Panthers had few other offensive weapons. Johnson could change that dramatically.

"I think the biggest thing is Keyshawn's a proven winner," quarterback Jake Delhomme said from his offseason home in Breaux Bridge, La. "I know (offensive coordinator Dan) Henning has some familiarity with him from when they were together in New York. Steve Smith and I talked (Thursday) for a little while and Smitty has no problem with this, he's all for whatever makes us better."

Vanderjagt joins Dallas

Mike Vanderjagt, the league's most accurate kicker, signed a three-year contract worth $5.4-million, including a $2.5-million signing bonus, with the Cowboys on Thursday.

Vanderjagt wasn't re-signed by the Colts, who instead signed Adam Vinatieri earlier this week.

Vanderjagt has the highest field goal accuracy rate in league history (217-of-245, 87.5 percent) and holds the record for making 42 in a row. But on his last attempt for the Colts, during the division playoffs against the Steelers, he missed a 46-yarder that would have forced overtime.

BEARS: Cornerback Jerry Azumah retired because of neck and hip pain the past two seasons, ending a seven-year career. Azumah, 28, had a career-high 92 tackles in 2002 and 90 tackles, team-high four interceptions and his lone Pro Bowl berth (as a kickoff returner) in 2003. He missed the first four games of 2004 after neck surgery and most of the last preseason after hip surgery.

CHARGERS: Linebacker Stephen Cooper re-signed. In 16 games, two starts, last season, he had 30 tackles and 11/2 sacks.

DOLPHINS: Center Seth McKinney re-signed for two years and $5-million. The third-round pick in 2002 has started all 29 games in which he has appeared during the past two seasons, missing three in 2005 with a lower leg injury.

TEXANS: Linebackers Shantee Orr, DaShon Polk and Ramon Walker and safety Frank Chamberlin re-signed. Orr, on the practice squad for most of his first two seasons, led Houston with seven sacks last season. Polk became a starter and had 135 tackles, 31/2 sacks and three forced fumbles. Chamberlin and Walker played primarily on special teams.

RAIDERS: Three days after 11-year veteran cornerback Tyrone Poole signed, eight-year veteran cornerback Duane Starks signed. After 25 interceptions in seven seasons with the Ravens and Cardinals, he had no interceptions in seven games with the Patriots last season before a season-ending shoulder injury.

VIKINGS: Quarterback Mike McMahon and safety Tank Williams signed. McMahon, who will back up Brad Johnson, went 2-5 as the Eagles starter after Donovan McNabb was hurt.

PRESEASON: The Colts, with Mississippi native Peyton Manning, and Saints, with former Ole Miss star Deuce McAllister, will meet Aug.26 in Jackson, Miss., the state's first game since 1996.

AGENT SUES UNION: Agent Carl Poston sued the players' union over a two-year suspension related to LaVar Arrington's contract extension with the Redskins in 2003. The dispute involves a $6.5-million bonus Arrington alleged was left out of the contract.

EX-KICKER INDICTED: Ray Wersching, who kicked for the 49ers and Chargers during a 15-year career, was indicted on federal charges of embezzling more than $8-million in insurance premiums.