FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Cornerback Leigh Bodden agreed to a one-year contract with the New England Patriots on Tuesday for the veteran’s minimum of $750,000.

Bodden told Sirius NFL Radio he settled for the one-year deal after seeking a long-term contract because he wanted to be a Patriot.

“I am just excited I finally got something done with them,” Bodden said. “We just got the one-year deal done and I am excited to go play with Bill (Belichick) and the Patriots and have a great year.

“The Patriots always are destined to make the playoffs and hopefully I can shoot for that, make the playoffs, play good in the playoffs and hit free agency again. I’d rather not, New England is a great team and I would rather re-sign with them, and hopefully we can come to terms during the season. If not, then after the season.”

Bodden was traded from Cleveland to Detroit last year for defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and had one interception for the Lions, who were the first NFL team to finish a season 0-16. The Lions cut Bodden after the season.

Bodden spent his first five NFL seasons with the Browns, who signed him as an undrafted rookie out of Duquesne. He became a starter in 2005 and had his best year in 2007 with 92 tackles and six interceptions. He said the Patriots weren’t the only bidder for his services.

“There were other teams interested, but the market was just kind of crazy,” he said. “So I decided to just go with the one-year deal instead of maybe then signing a long-term deal I probably wouldn’t be happy with next year or in two years.”

Pats sign long snapper to replace Paxton

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Long snapper Nathan Hodel has signed with the New England Patriots.

Tuesday’s move fills a vacancy created when Lonie Paxton signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos after spending the past nine seasons as the Patriots long snapper.

The 31-year-old Hodel has spent the past seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

Rams release Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace

ST. LOUIS – Orlando Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle dogged by injuries in recent seasons, was released Tuesday by the St. Louis Rams.

The 33-year-old Pace was the first overall pick of the 1997 draft. The move cleared $6 million in cap space for the Rams, who were 2-14 last season.

Owner Chip Rosenbloom said in a statement that Pace would be remembered as “one of the finest Rams of all time.” Pace started 14 games last year, but missed half of 2007 and virtually all of 2006 due to injuries.

“I can’t begin to thank Orlando for all he has meant to the Rams organization,” Rosenbloom added. “It is never easy to end a relationship that has had as much success as ours, but in the interest of Orlando and the Rams, we feel now is the right time.”

Niners keep Smith with restructured contract

Quarterback Alex Smith easily could have started over with another team. Instead, he’s determined to finish what he started in San Francisco.

The former No. 1 pick is staying with the 49ers after agreeing Tuesday to a restructured contract sharply reducing his base salary.

Smith was due to make nearly $10 million in the upcoming season under the deal he signed in 2005. The 49ers now have Smith under contract for the next two years at a salary more commensurate with his four up-and-down years with the club.

“I don’t measure myself in my contract in terms of what I’m making,” said Smith, who missed most of the past two seasons with arm injuries. “Having gone through what I’ve gone through the last couple of years, and being on the sideline, I guess I’ve got a different perspective on this game. When it came time to restructure the contract, it wasn’t anything to do with ego. I just wanted the chance to compete.”

Tomlinson staying with Chargers

SAN DIEGO – LaDainian Tomlinson is staying with the San Diego Chargers.

L.T. and the Chargers agreed Tuesday to a renegotiated deal that gives the team salary cap relief, according to two people familiar with the talks, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been announced.

The deal ends a two-month saga during which it looked like Tomlinson, the 2006 NFL MVP, could be finished with the Chargers.

Financial terms weren’t immediately available. Tomlinson had been due $24 over the next three seasons, including $6,725,000 in 2009.

His salary cap number would have been $8.8 million in 2009, including a prorated share of the signing bonus from his 2004 contract.

Tomlinson was slowed during the regular season with a toe injury, then hurt his groin in the season finale. He was forced out of an overtime playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts and sat out against the Steelers, the first game he’d missed due to injury in his brilliant eight-year career.


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