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Free agency notes

There were a number of big free agency signings over the weekend, including John Thornton's deal to the Bengals.

Thornton chooses Bengals

After visiting a number of teams, including a visit to Gillette Stadium last week, free agent defensive tackle John Thornton signed with the Cincinnati Bengals over the weekend. The 6-2, 292-pounder started all 16 games for the Tennessee Titans last season and had become one of the hotter commodities on the free-agent market. Thornton reportedly signed a six-year, $22 million deal with a $5 million singing bonus to join the Bengals.

Hayes catches on in Jacksonville

Former Patriots wide receiver Donald Hayes has reportedly found a new home. Pro Football Weekly is reporting that the 6-4, 220-pound receiver has reached a two-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Patriots released Hayes on Feb. 21 after a season in which the receiver caught just 12 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and admitted in the middle of the year that he was having trouble with the New England offensive system. The five-year NFL veteran reportedly had interest from a handful of teams including the Bengals, but chose Jacksonville.


The Atlanta Falcons acquired wide receiver Peerless Price from the Buffalo Bills late last week and subsequently agreed to terms on a seven-year contract with him. The Bills picked up Atlanta's first round pick in this year's draft, number 23 overall, for Price. … On top of signing Thornton, the Bengals also signed linebacker Kevin Hardy to a four-year contract. … The Giants released cornerback Jason Sehorn on Friday. The team will have to absorb an $8 million dead-money cap hit for him this season. … Former Raiders fullback Jon Ritchie extended the flurry of fullbacks leaving the free agent market by signing a two-year deal with the Eagles. … The Redskins continue with an aggressive and expensive approach to free agency. Washington reportedly signed Jets restricted free agent wide receiver Laveranues Coles to a seven-year, $35 million offer sheet on Sunday that includes a $13 million signing bonus. Coles had his best season in 2002, his third year in the NFL. He caught 89 passes for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns. The Jets now have a week to decide whether to match the Redskins offer. If they do not, the will receive Washington's first pick in this year's draft, number 13 overall. Washington has been busy to date plucking players from the Jets roster. The Redskins signed guard Randy Thomas earlier in free agency and also have a restricted offer sheet on the table for kick returner Chad Morton. … Monday the Bengals declined to match the Bills contract offer to linebacker Takeo Spikes, making Spikes a Bill. Spikes deal in Buffalo is reportedly worth $32 million over six years.

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