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Packers sign up Woodson

The Green Bay Packers made their first major splash in the free agent market this offseason, agreeing to terms with defensive back Charles Woodson yesterday.

Woodson's agent, Kevin Poston, said the Packers agreed to a seven-year deal for $52.7 million, including $10.5 million in the first year of the contract.

Woodson's signing comes a day after Brett Favre told the team he would return to play the 2006 season. Favre previously urged the team to make a ''statement" in free agency, similar to the signing of Reggie White in 1993.

The team lost out on its pursuit of kicker Adam Vinatieri and linebacker LaVar Arrington before finally landing Woodson.

Woodson, a four-time Pro Bowler, has played eight seasons for the Oakland Raiders, intercepting 17 passes in 106 games.

Woodson hasn't played a full season since 2001, and broke his right leg Oct. 23 against Buffalo. The Raiders declined to use their franchise tag on Woodson, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Meanwhile, Favre, who turns 37 Oct. 10, will return to quarterback the Packers for his 16th NFL season. He took several weeks to make the decision, and the team extended a deadline to pay him a $3 million bonus three times while he considered his future.

The Packers went 4-12 last season, their worst record since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Favre started all 16 games and extended his NFL record for consecutive starts to 221 games.

Texans pass on Young
The Houston Texans will take Southern Cal running back Reggie Bush or North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams with the first pick in Saturday's draft, general manager Charley Casserly said.

The Texans dashed the hopes of Texas fans who have been clamoring for the team to pick Vince Young, a Houston native who led the Longhorns to a Rose Bowl win and the national championship over Bush and USC.

''We came to the conclusion that to draft a quarterback, whether it be Vince Young, Matt Leinart, or Jay Cutler, was not the best thing for this football team," Casserly said.

Vikings cut Smith
The Vikings released running back Onterrio Smith after he was suspended by the NFL for the entire 2005 season for a substance abuse violation. Smith played for the Vikings during the 2003 and 2004 seasons before he was suspended. The one-year suspension, which expires June 7, came weeks after he was caught at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with several vials of dried urine and The Original Whizzinator, which is marketed as a way to beat drug tests. It was his third violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy . . . The Lions signed unrestricted free agent Tyoka Jackson, a defensive lineman, to a two-year deal and re-signed restricted free agents Casey FitzSimmons (tight end) and Cory Redding (defensive end) to one-year deals . . . Safety Mike Logan, wide receiver Sean Morey of Marshfield, and linebacker Arnold Harrison signed one-year deals with the Steelers.

Gumbel back in booth
Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth were hired as the broadcast team for the NFL Network's first year of regular-season games. Gumbel will handle football play-by-play for the first time in more than 30 years . . . An assistant state attorney accused of using his prosecution of an assault case against Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor to promote his work as a nightclub disc jockey resigned yesterday. The Miami-Dade state attorney's office confirmed that Michael Grieco, who stepped aside as the lead prosecutor in the case in early April because of the accusations, had resigned . . . Seahawks team president Tim Ruskell said talks with Mike Holmgren about the coach's future with the team beyond this season are ongoing. Holmgren is in the final year of a $32 million, eight-year contract.

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