NFL Notebook: Eagles to pay Vick roster bonus

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick is getting one more big check from the Philadelphia Eagles. The one after that still could be from a new team.

A person with knowledge of the contract said the Eagles will pay Vick a $1.5 million roster bonus due today.

Paying Vick the bonus doesn’t preclude Philadelphia from trading the former Pro Bowl quarterback. Vick is under contract for $5.2 million this year.

The Eagles are buying themselves more time — and possibly a draft pick — by giving Vick the bonus. The alternative was to release him and not get anything in return.

The Eagles already have Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb, and Vick has stated he’d prefer to go somewhere he can be a starter. Coach Andy Reid has repeatedly said he isn’t opposed to keeping all three QBs.

Williams slaying defendant won’t testify

DENVER — Gang threats against the life of a man accused of shooting and killing Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams were specific and credible enough that authorities changed security measures and advised attorneys to be aware for their safety, a defense attorney said.

The threats reported to Denver authorities last March detailed plans for vehicles full of “Crip gang members” armed with AK-47s with orders to make Willie Clark “Swiss cheese” if he said anything in court, Clark’s attorney, Darren Cantor, said Monday in explaining why his client won’t testify on his own behalf.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Timothy Twining told District Judge Christina Habas that the threats were made in a case unrelated to Williams’ slaying. Clark and two other men face murder charges in the December 2006 slaying of a key witness who was scheduled to testify in another case.

Clark’s refusal to testify came on the 11th day of testimony in which witnesses have been jailed for refusing to testify, with some saying they’re too afraid. During the trial, two jurors have also been excused by Habas for unspecified reasons, leaving four alternates on the panel. Closing arguments could be heard as early as this afternoon.

Panthers release FB Hoover

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Panthers added to their purge of veterans with the release of longtime fullback Brad Hoover, leaving Carolina with just three players on the roster older than 30. Letting 33-year-old Hoover go saves the Panthers close to $1 million in payroll for the 2010 season and ends his 10-year stay in Carolina. Hoover’s release comes in a one-week stretch where the Panthers let defensive end Julius Peppers leave in free agency, then cut quarterback Jake Delhomme, defensive tackles Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu, and linebackers Na’il Diggs and Landon Johnson.

Pennington re-signs with Dolphins

MIAMI — Chad Pennington will be back with the Miami Dolphins for at least one more season. The quarterback signed a one-year deal with the team Monday. He’s expected to back up Chad Henne, who replaced him when Pennington injured his right shoulder in the third game last season.

Green agrees to deal with Bills

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Offensive tackle Cornell Green’s agent says his client has agreed to a three-year contract with the Buffalo Bills. Green spent the past three seasons playing for the Oakland Raiders.

Atlanta gets Robinson

ATLANTA — Dunta Robinson, considered by many as the most sought-after cornerback in free agency, left the Houston Texans to sign a six-year, $57 million contract with Atlanta. Approximately $22.5 million is guaranteed, though Robinson suggested the Falcons offered more than a big payday.

Raiders release Walker, Ellis

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders have released wide receiver Javon Walker and defensive end Greg Ellis. Walker was a big disappointment after signing a $55 million free-agent contract with an $11 million signing bonus before the 2008 season. He caught 15 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown in two injury-plagued seasons in Oakland. Walker restructured the deal last year and will be paid $2.6 million this season despite his release.

Trial over NFL drug policy begins

MINNEAPOLIS — The attorney for two Minnesota Vikings challenging the NFL’s anti-doping policy opened their closely watched trial Monday by accusing the league of failing to follow state law when it tested them for drugs two years ago and then decided to suspend them.

The attorney, Peter Ginsberg, also said the NFL is at least a partial employer of defensive linemen Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. Just who employs the two players when it comes to drug testing is considered a key issue in their lawsuit against the NFL.

NFL attorney Dan Nash countered that the league complied with all Minnesota laws in suspending the Williamses, a decision that was later put on hold pending the legal fight. And Nash argued that the NFL’s drug testing rules are a product of collective bargaining with the players’ union.

The first day of the trial ended without either player taking the stand and it wasn’t clear whether they would do so during a scheduled half-day of testimony Tuesday. The trial is expected to last about a week.

Steelers sign Battle, Allen

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers bolstered their special teams, a weakness last season, by signing wide receiver Arnaz Battle and safety Will Allen. Battle spent seven seasons with San Francisco and played in 88 games as a receiver, kick returner and punt returner. Allen has played all six of his NFL seasons with Tampa Bay.

Rams sign Robbins

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams have made their second free-agent signing of the offseason, reaching a deal with veteran defensive tackle Fred Robbins. Robbins is 32 and has played 10 seasons with 116 starts for the Vikings and Giants. He has 28.5 career sacks and was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2008.

Texans sign Walter and Turk

HOUSTON — Receiver Kevin Walter and punter Matt Turk, both unrestricted free agents, have been re-signed by the Houston Texans. Walter had 53 receptions last season for 611 yards and two touchdowns. Turk averaged a franchise-best 42.8 yards per punt last season and landed 24 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.

Lions sign Heller, Clark

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions have re-signed tight end Will Heller to a three-year deal and signed free agent wide receiver Brian Clark to a one-year deal. The 6-foot-6-inch, 275-pound Heller had 29 receptions, 296 yards and three touchdowns for Detroit. The Lions also released defensive end Dewayne White.

Lions acquire Houston from Falcons

DETROIT — The Detroit Lions have traded two late-round draft picks to acquire cornerback Chris Houston from the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will receive an additional sixth-round pick from Detroit and move up from the 18th spot to second in the fifth round. Houston has three interceptions and one forced fumble in 44 career games, 37 starts.

Bucs acquire Brown from Eagles

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have acquired wide receiver Reggie Brown from the Philadelphia Eagles for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. The 29-year-old Brown has 177 career receptions and 17 touchdowns.

Eagles, Avant agree on deal

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles and wide receiver Jason Avant have agreed on a five-year contract. Avant had a career-best 41 receptions for 587 yards and three touchdowns last season as Philadelphia’s slot receiver.

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