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Lions match offer, will retain Beverly

The Lions matched the Dolphins' offer to free-agent center Eric Beverly, signing him to a three-year contract, the team said.

Because Beverly was a restricted free agent, the Lions had until the end of today, seven days after the Dolphins signed him to an offer sheet, to match the offer.

Financial terms of the contract weren't disclosed.

Beverly, who played tight end at Miami of Ohio, probably would have reverted to that position with the Dolphins, who use their tight end mostly as a blocker, agent Vern Sharbaugh said. The Dolphins waived starting tight end Hunter Goodwin on Wednesday.

Beverly, 26, could become the Lions' starting center, having started seven games last season and played in all 16. Mike Compton, who started nine games, is an unrestricted free agent.

Beverly, 6 feet 3, 294 pounds, has started nine of 48 games since signing with Detroit in 1997 as an undrafted rookie.

Miami bolstered its depth at cornerback by signing veterans Terry Cousins and Daryl Porter.

Cousins, who played last year for the Falcons, signed a one-year deal. Porter, a reserve for the Bills the past three seasons, signed a two-year, $1-million contract.

Cousins 26, has started 21 games in his four-year career. He played for Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt when both were with the Bears.

Porter, 27, a native of nearby Fort Lauderdale, and Cousins will back up All-Pro Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain.

Miami re-signed tight end Alonzo Mayes to a one-year contract.

Bonus for Leaf?

IRVING, Texas _ The Cowboys continue their interest in trading with the Bucs for Ryan Leaf, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, although the 24-year-old quarterback isn't going to come as cheaply as had been reported.

According to the Star-Telegram, the Cowboys are forced to consider a clause in Leaf's contract that inflates his 2001 cap burden from $1.5- to $2.8-million. The bonus is one-third of a $4-million bonus he received from the Chargers partway through his original contract.

This would be a big deal to a team as salary-cap strapped as the Cowboys, with an NFL $67.4-million cap potential slashed by roughly one-third because of more than $23-million in "dead money."

BENGALS: Rodney Holman, a former tight end with the team, was hired as assistant coach for strength and conditioning.

CHIEFS: Center Casey Wiegmann, 25 and an unrestricted free agent from the Bears, signed a six-year contract. Terms were not immediately available. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Wiegmann started 24 of 49 games in four seasons with Chicago, including 10 of its 16 games in 2000. Tim Grunhard, Kansas City's center the past 11 seasons, is a free agent and considered likely to retire.

REDSKINS: Kicker Brett Conway signed a three-year deal worth about $2-million. He kicked for the team last year but was released after an injury. Washington said it won't match Cleveland's offer to fullback Mike Sellers, allowing the restricted free agent to sign with the Browns.

SAINTS: Within two weeks, the state of Louisiana will give the club a proposal it hopes will solve stadium concerns.

VIKINGS: Free-agent tight end Byron Chamberlain, 29, signed. Last season, he had 22 catches for 283 yards and one touchdown.

_ Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

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