Tank for sale ... cheap 

June, 26, 2007
The phones initially will be quiet for former Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, but he may be able to land some kind of a job by the time training camp starts. For that to happen, Johnson would have to find a team confident enough to think it will be in the playoff race.

After being stopped by police in Phoenix at 3:30 in the morning last week for having the appearance of being impaired, Johnson will have to sit out eight games, figuring commissioner Roger Goodell won't let him back after six.

Still, Johnson is a valuable player at an important position and will come cheap. He was only scheduled to make $510,000, so the team willing to take the chance on him will get him for around $240,000 for a playoff run. Buffalo and New Orleans could be candidates.

Jackson settles down: After months of battling the Falcons' front office, defensive tackle Grady Jackson finally reached a settlement that will keep him with the team. Jackson restructured his contract and extended it through 2009. He'll still make the same $1.5 million he was scheduled to make, but he'll now have huge roster bonuses in each of the next two seasons. Those bonuses will give Jackson and the team the chance to review their relationship each March. The Falcons can now count on Jackson to be their main run-stopper this season.

Vasher key for Bears: Don't minimize the importance of the Bears re-signing of cornerback Nathan Vasher. His signing to a five-year, $28 million extension gives them a great chance to keep their core group together on defense. While they figure to lose linebacker Lance Briggs after the season, they faced the possibility of also losing Vasher and cornerback Charles Tillman. The team is optimistic it can sign Tillman before the start of training camp. At the very worst, the Bears now have the flexibility of placing the franchise tag on him in order to keep him. Vasher has been to the Pro Bowl and is a perfect corner for Lovie Smith's Cover 2 defense. There will also be a big effort to extend wide receiver Bernard Berrian. The Bears will wait until the end of the season to decide about quarterback Rex Grossman.

Samuel wants more: Vasher's deal shouldn't have an impact on Patriots franchise cornerback Asante Samuel. He would be trying to get Nate Clements-type money instead of Vasher's $5.8 million, although it will be impossible to get $7 million or $8 million a year out of the Patriots. Vasher and Samuel were both fourth-round choices who outperformed their rookie contracts. Samuel is on pace to hold out the entire Patriots training camp.



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