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Stewart signs 2-year deal with room to grow with Bears

Kordell Stewart needed a team, and the Bears needed a quarterback. On Thursday they agreed to terms on a two-year, $5-million contract.

"We wanted a shorter-term deal that gives him the opportunity to establish himself and come back and negotiate a long-term deal," Stewart's agent, Leigh Steinberg, said. "Kordell is ecstatic. He had a higher offer of more money which he turned down earlier in the week. My job is to get the right fit for him."

Stewart, who spent eight years with the Steelers before being released last month after losing his starting job to Tommy Maddox, was one of three free-agent quarterbacks to visit the Bears last week. Jake Plummer and Jeff Blake were the others.

Plummer signed with Denver and Blake with Arizona, another team that offered Stewart a deal.

The Bears created a quarterback vacancy when they released veteran Jim Miller last month.

Even though the Bears have the No. 4 pick in the April draft, Steinberg said he doesn't think they'll use it on a quarterback.

Stewart was 46-30 as a starter and twice led the Steelers to the AFC title game. But he struggled in those contests, throwing three interceptions in each loss.

Buckley back with Miami

DAVIE _ The Dolphins signed free-agent cornerback Terrell Buckley to a one-year contract.

The 31-year-old Buckley spent the past two seasons with the Patriots. He played for the Dolphins from 1995-99, intercepting 22 passes in those five seasons.

"What better way to finish up than to come back to a place where I think that the Super Bowl trophy is going to sit?" he said.

Buckley played for New England's Super Bowl championship team two seasons ago.

Buckley is expected to challenge for the third cornerback spot but has not discussed his role with the coaching staff. He also said New England offered him a longer contract than Miami. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 5-foot-9, 176-pound Buckley was Green Bay's first-round selection in 1992. He spent three seasons with the Packers before moving to Miami and played for Denver in 2000.

Also, a state appeals court in Miami threw out the 15-year sentence of former running back Cecil Collins, ruling that the judge in his burglary trial didn't give his relatives a chance to testify on his behalf. But the court upheld Collins' burglary conviction for sneaking into his neighbors' apartment on Dec. 16, 1999, and Collins may be resentenced for as many as 15 years.

CARDINALS: Emmitt Smith ended his two-day meeting with the team by praising the direction the long-suffering franchise is taking. "It's been a wonderful visit," he said. "It feels like I'm being recruited all over again." The NFL's leading career rusher, released Feb. 27 by Dallas, did nothing to discourage the idea that after 13 seasons and three Super Bowl titles he might sign with the Cardinals, a franchise that has one playoff victory in the past half-century.

GIANTS: Right cornerback Will Peterson said he likely will be unable to run until June after having toe surgery last week, but he expects to participate in training camp in late July.

JAGUARS: Linebacker Mike Peterson, the Colts' leading tackler last season, signed. Peterson had 173 tackles and three interceptions last season.

PANTHERS: Former Redskins running back Stephen Davis agreed to a five-year deal, giving Carolina the heavy-duty running back it has lacked. Davis, released last month, was the Redskins' No. 3 career rusher with 5,790 yards and the only player in franchise history to run for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. But his straight-ahead style wasn't a good fit in Steve Spurrier's offense.

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