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AP: Dolphins in the Mix for Brees, Culpepper


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Dolphins in the Mix for Brees, Culpepper


Mar 11, 9:52 PM (ET) Email this Story

By The Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins stepped up their search for a new quarterback on the opening day of free agency Saturday, meeting with Drew Brees in Birmingham, Ala., while also considering a trade for Daunte Culpepper.

There's competition with the Dolphins for both quarterbacks, said a person involved in negotiations who didn't want to be identified because the team has been tightlipped about its personnel plans.

But the Dolphins clearly are interested in a replacement for Gus Frerotte, even though Brees and Culpepper are coming off significant injuries.

Brees tore the labrum and damaged the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder in the Chargers' final game last season and underwent surgery Jan. 5. Culpepper was a three-time Pro Bowl selection for Minnesota but played poorly last season before tearing three ligaments in his right knee in a game Oct. 30.

While the Dolphins were trying to figure out what direction to take, the many other teams were busy signing players. Among the biggest deals:

-Denver re-signed defensive end Gerard Warren to a six-year deal, and also kept running back Ron Dayne and long snapper Mike Leach.

-DeShaun Foster agreed to a three-year, $14.5 million contract with the Carolina Panthers that finally makes him their star running back.

-The Browns were busy revamping their offense, signing center LeCharles Bentley, left tackle Kevin Shaffer and receiver Joe Jurevicius.

-The San Francisco 49ers traded leading receiver Brandon Lloyd to Washington for the Redskins' third-round pick this year and their fourth-round selection in 2007. They also re-signed K Joe Nedney.

-The Vikings signed running back Chester Taylor, kicker Ryan Longwell and linebacker Ben Leber after retaining receiver Koren Robinson and safety Willie Offord.

But where Brees and Culpepper land are two of the biggest question marks of the early free agency period.

Miami coach Nick Saban and general manager Randy Mueller flew to Birmingham, where Brees has been rehabilitating his surgically repaired right shoulder. He went 20-11 the past two seasons for San Diego, but when contract talks with the Chargers stalled, they agreed to let him test the market. New Orleans also was believed to be pursuing Brees.

Culpepper has been at odds with the Vikings over his 10-year, $102 million contract and wants to be traded. There has been speculation that Oakland, Baltimore, St. Louis and Arizona also are interested.

Vikings coach Brad Childress said they are in talks to trade Culpepper.

"We're dealing with the other situation," Childress said. "It will play itself out."

The Dolphins declined to comment, but it's clear their top priority is to upgrade the quarterback position, where Frerotte started last season. He's still on the roster but may be released or return as a backup in 2006.

Warren joined the Broncos last season and had 44 tackles, three sacks and three pass breakups. His play was a marked improvement from his stint in Cleveland, where he never lived up to high expectations after being taken third overall in 2001.

Foster spent most of the last three seasons playing in the shadow of Stephen Davis.

"Bringing DeShaun back was always very important to us," Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said. "He's a playmaker, he is a guy that defenses have to account for, and he's our kind of person. There was no doubt we wanted him back."

The Panthers also agreed to terms with defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu, who spent the past four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. Kemoeatu agreed to a five-year deal worth $23 million, including $8 million in bonus money.

Bentley and Jurevicius grew up in Cleveland, rooting for the city's beleaguered NFL team.

"I can die happy now," said Bentley, who wore a Browns jersey under his sports coat. "This has been my dream."

Bentley, who played the past four seasons for New Orleans, brings toughness, size and experience to the Browns' offensive line, which has been both inept and ignored by the team in recent years. His six-year deal is reportedly worth $36 million and includes $12.5 million in guarantees.

Jurevicius, who got a four-year deal, has played in three Super Bowls, including last season's for the Seattle Seahawks. The 31-year-old gives the Browns a dependable receiver to complement Braylon Edwards.

Lloyd was a restricted free agent for the 49ers, who drafted him in the third round three years ago. He was San Francisco's top receiver last season, catching 48 passes for 733 yards and five touchdowns for the NFL's worst offense, but alienated teammates and clashed with Mike Nolan's new coaching staff.

In other moves Saturday:

-The St. Louis Rams inked free-agent safety Corey Chavous to a five-year contract, hoping to strengthen a defense that ranked 30th in the NFL last season. Chavous, an eight-year veteran, spent the last four seasons with Minnesota.

-Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett and tight end Robert Royal signed with the Buffalo Bills as the team wasted no time addressing its numerous needs. Also, Eric Moulds' future could be determined by early next week after the veteran star receiver had a series of discussions with the team.

-The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy to a four-year contract. Clancy played in all 16 games last season for the New York Giants, making 39 tackles, two sacks, forcing tw

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