Several National Football League teams made moves to improve their respective teams for the 2009 season either by making swaps with other teams, signing some of the better players from the free agent marketplace or designating players having contract squabbles as franchise players.

The results after a hectic weekend find several players donning different uniforms for the upcoming 2009 NFL season, including our two Lone Star State franchises, while other teams obtained some high picks for next month’s 2009 NFL draft.

Tennessee Titans’ All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, one of the most highly coveted free agents, agreed  to terms Friday on a seven-year, $100 million deal with the Washington Redskins.
Earlier Friday, the Redskins bolstered their defense by re-signing cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a six-year, $54 million contract.

Our Dallas Cowboys released 17-year veteran backup quarterback Brad Johnson on Thursday and then acquired quarterback Jon Kitna Saturday from the Detroit Lions to back up starter Tony Romo in a trade for Cowboys’ starting right cornerback Anthony Henry.

Kitna appeared in only four games for the Lions last season before going on injured reserve with a back injury. The 36-year-old Kitna was due a $1 million roster bonus next week and is scheduled to make $1.95 million this season.

Henry started in all 16 games for Dallas last season and will probably be replaced by Orlando Scandrick or Mike Jenkins, who were both rookies in 2008.

The Cowboys also signed Atlanta five-time Pro Bowl free agent linebacker Keith Brooking to a three-year contract. Brooking was the Falcons’ leading tackler in each of the last eight seasons but became a free agent after failing to work out a new contract with Atlanta. He was the last remaining player from the Falcons’ Super Bowl team a decade ago.

A free agent deal that has yet to materialize for the Cowboys is one involving All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens. According to USA Today Sports Weekly, Lewis told Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware that it’s been a dream of his to play for the Cowboys and asked Ware for owner Jerry Jones phone number. 

When Ware saw Lewis at the Pro Bowl last month he came over and pointed at the star on Ware’s helmet and said, “I want to wear this star on my helmet. That’s my dream.”  The Ravens’ general manager Ozzie Newsome said that the team does not want to lose Lewis, who became a free agent Friday.

Also last weekend the Minnesota Vikings acquired Houston Texans’ 31-year-old backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels and signed him to a two-year, $9 million contract. Houston received a fourth-round draft pick from the Vikings for Rosenfels, who will compete for the first time in his nine-year pro career for the starting quarterback job against incumbent Tarvaris Jackson. Rosenfels went 2-3 in five starts for injured Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub.
After New England Patriots’ long-time personnel director Scott Pioli was hired as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs recently, he cleaned house there and fired head coach Herm Edwards and hired Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley to take Edwards’ place.

Pioli raided his former franchise and was able to obtain quarterback Mike Cassel and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel from the Patriots both for only a second-round draft pick from Kansas City, which would be the 34th overall pick in the April draft based on the Chiefs’ 2-14 record in 2008.

Cassel, who hadn’t started a game since high school, stepped in when Pats’ starting quarterback Tom Brady got hurt in less than eight minutes into the season opener last September against Kansas City, and went on to throw for 3.693 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 starts. Cassel led the Pats to an 11-5 record, but it was not good enough to make the NFL playoffs.

Young Tyler Thigpen, from tiny Coastal Carolina, took over at quarterback last year when Kansas City’s No. 1 and No. 2 went down with season-ending injuries and went 1-10 as the Chiefs’ starter. Cassel will be competing with Thigpen for the starting job this fall.

The 33-year old Vrabel played on three Super Bowl winning teams for New England in eight years, primarily as an outside linebacker. He joins a team whose linebackers were devastated by injuries and poor play.

The New York Jets got help for their shaky secondary by trading for the Philadelphia Eagles’ two-time All-Pro cornerback Lito Sheppard. The Eagles received two undisclosed draft picks.
And the New York Giants assisted their defense Saturday by signing former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Michael Boley to a five-year, $25 million contract.

Other NFL teams having trouble coming to terms with players they feel they can’t lose tagged them as “franchise players,” which means they will be offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at their respective positions or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.

Some of these players tagged as franchise players include Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, Houston Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson, Tampa Bay wide receiver Antonio Bryant and NY Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. 

KWICKIES…The Lamar Cardinal baseball team set a school record by winning its first nine games of the season before falling to Columbia of the Ivy League 15-9 Sunday afternoon at Vincent-Beck field in Beaumont. The pitching staff of longtime Lamar Head Coach Jim Gilligan compiled an impressive 1.75 earned run average for its first 10 games and a healthy .988 fielding percentage before committing five errors Sunday against Columbia.

The Cards hosted Houston Baptist Tuesday before opening the Southland Conference this weekend with a three-game series beginning Friday night at home against the Nicholls State Colonels.

And while on the subject of college baseball, Texas Longhorns sophomore right-hander Brandon Workman twirled a no-hitter Sunday, blanking Penn State 9-0 in Austin. It was the 21st no-hitter in University of Texas history.

We ran into a couple of former high school athletes we covered back in the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s Saturday night at the Orange Community Players dinner theater production of “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” at Sunset Grove Country Club. Johnny Sargent, who starred for the West Orange Chiefs in football and basketball, and Gary Knight, who starred at Deweyville in basketball and baseball, were taking in the hilarious three-act comedy written by Neil Simon.

High school baseball is going full blast with two local tournaments scheduled at the end of this week. The West Orange-Stark Mustangs will host the annual Certa-Bearden Tournament Thursday through Saturday at Ronnie Anderson Field while the Orangefield Tournament will be played at both Orangefield and Deweyville high schools. Bridge City will compete in the Nederland Tournament while the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Bears travel to compete in the Brenham Tournament.

We bet the folks who worked for the Beaumont NBC-TV affiliate and switched to KBTV-Fox (Channel 2 on Time Warner cable) aren’t very happy campers about the blackout that occurs 90 per cent of the time. The same could be said for the many NASCAR fans that saw nothing but a blank screen Sunday afternoon. There are a lot of good shows and sporting events we were unable to see for reasons unknown to this Korner. 

JUST BETWEEN US…This Korner was saddened to hear about the death of 90-year old radio icon Paul Harvey, whose phrase “Stand by for news” was something we remember listening for on the radio since we were a kid growing up in upstate New York. Harvey worked last week before dying Saturday after nearly 70 years in front of the radio microphone. He began his “News and Comment” for ABC Radio Networks in 1951 and added his “Rest of the Story” in 1976. He was born Paul Harvey Aurandt and like many radio and TV personalities used only his first two names for his broadcasts.