- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two All-Pro players got richer Wednesday, one by changing addresses, the other by staying put.

Guard Carl Nicks become the first 2011 All-Pro to switch teams in free agency, leaving New Orleans for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a five-year contract. Considered one of the NFL’s best pass blockers, Nicks is a two-time Pro Bowl player and was a key on the Saints’ record-setting offense.

Calvin Johnson, the sensational wide receiver for the Lions, agreed to stay in Detroit with a new eight-year contract through 2019. Johnson lived up to his “Megatron” nickname with his spectacular receptions in 2011, catching 96 passes for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns in leading the Lions back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

The total payoff of $132 million would make Johnson the league’s highest-paid receiver, and he will get $60 million guaranteed.

Tampa has been among the busiest teams in the early hours of free agency. Nicks joined cornerback Eric Wright, who also signed Wednesday. Wright got a five-year deal, too.

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers added star receiver Vincent Jackson for five years and $55.55 million.

Chicago agreed to a three-year deal with wide receiver Eric Weems, also a standout on special teams who could ease the kick returns burden on Devin Hester. The previous day, the Bears traded with Miami for wideout Brandon Marshall and signed quarterback Jason Campbell.

New St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher brought in one of his regulars when he was with the Titans, agreeing with cornerback Cortland Finnegan on a contract. Finnegan was an All-Pro in 2008 and is known for his physical style. He got into a punching match with Texans star receiver Andre Johnson during a game in 2010 and both were fined $25,000.

Another Tennessee player, defensive end Jason Jones, was visiting Rams Park on Wednesday.

Eagles defensive end Trent Cole, who had 11 sacks last season, agreed to a four-year extension with Philadelphia.

The Peyton Manning courtship continued, with the Titans taking their turn at wooing the four-time MVP quarterback who was released earlier this month by Indianapolis. Coach Mike Munchak, general manager Ruston Webster and owner Bud Adams’ top executive in Tennessee took off in the team’s private plane headed for a meeting with Manning.

The quarterback’s suitors already include Denver, Arizona and Miami.


AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to this story.



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