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Published: Jul 28, 2011
NY Jets Retain Free Agent Santonio Holmes, Panthers Keep DeAngelo Williams
by Larry Fine

Two of the most coveted free agents were locked up by their own teams on Wednesday as the Jets reached agreement with wide receiver Santonio Holmes and the Panthers moved to keep running back DeAngelo Williams .

Holmes, a former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player while with Pittsburgh, agreed to a five-year deal worth nearly $50 million with $24 million guaranteed, the NFL Network reported, citing a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Acquired last offseason from Pittsburgh, the 27-year-old Holmes had 52 catches for 746 yards and six touchdowns despite missing four games due to a suspension, and became a go-to guy for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez in clutch situations.

The sizable deal put a question mark on the future of his team mate and fellow wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who along with big-play receivers Randy Moss and former Super Bowl MVP Plaxico Burress, are available on the free agent market.

Burress is hoping to return to the National Football League after being released from jail in June after serving time for illegal possession of a gun that he accidentally shot himself with at a New York City nightclub in 2008.


The Panthers, who announced Tuesday they were retaining defensive end Charles Johnson with a six-year deal worth up to $72 million, opened their purse again Wednesday in agreeing on a five-year, $43 million deal for Williams, the network said.

Williams, 28, played only six games last year because of injury, gaining 361 yards on 87 carries. His best season came in 2008 when he ran for 1,515 yards and 18 touchdowns as he averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

That still left available Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, regarded as the top overall free agent. The Jets are one of numerous teams believed to be in pursuit of Asomugha.

Another talented defensive back was secured by his own team on Wednesday.

Eric Weddle will become the highest paid safety in the NFL after agreeing on a five-year, $40 million deal to remain with the San Diego Chargers.

The 2010 Pro Bowl selection will receive $19 million guaranteed and a $13 million signing bonus, the network said.

"I'm on cloud nine," Weddle, who had 96 tackles and two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown, told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"This is the team I love. I feel we have unfinished business. I want to prove I was worth this deal."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

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