Walker comes to terms with Falcons

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Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker has signed his $1.26 million tender as a restricted free agent.

The former Georgia Tech star had 25 tackles with two sacks in his third season with the Falcons in 2011. He also had a forced fumble and fumble recovery while playing in all 16 games as a backup last season. The Falcons would have received a seventh-round draft pick if another team signed Walker and Atlanta did not match the offer.

The Falcons also announced that long snapper Joe Zelenka has signed to return for his fourth season. Terms were not disclosed.

Zelenka spent eight seasons in Jacksonville before signing with the Falcons on Dec. 1, 2009.

Walker has played in 42 games, including two starts.

SAINTS: Sean Payton apologized Friday for the bounty system under which New Orleans players were offered payouts for big hits on opponents, saying he takes “full responsibility” for the program that operated for three years under his watch.

“I share and fully support the league’s concerns and goals on player safety,” the New Orleans coach said in a written statement released by the team. “It is, and should be paramount.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday suspended Payton for the 2012 season, effective April 1, one of several unprecedented penalties he issued against the Saints.

Payton will lose more than $5.8 million as a result of his suspension by the NFL, sources told ESPN.

A league official said Payton’s suspension will end after the Super Bowl, Feb. 3, 2013 in New Orleans.

BEARS: Running back Marion Barber has told the team’s Web site he plans to retire.

His decision comes one day after Michael Bush signed a four-year, $14 million contract to be part of a backfield that includes disgruntled Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte.

PACKERS: Made a rare reach into unrestricted free agency to find a new anchor for their offensive line, agreeing to a two-year deal with veteran free agent center Jeff Saturday.

The 36-year-old has started 188 regular season games in 13 NFL seasons.

JETS: Traded backup quarterback Drew Stanton to the Indianapolis Colts for an undisclosed draft pick.

Stanton signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal last week to back up Mark Sanchez, but he became expendable when the Jets acquired Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos on Wednesday.

After that trade, general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Tebow would be the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

The Jets’ trade for Tebow becomes official today after a contract technicality required him to sign a rewritten deal.

Tebow will be introduced by the team on Monday.

BRONCOS: Keep adding offensive personnel for Peyton Manning, agreeing to terms with tight ends Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen.

Tamme will be reuniting with Manning in Denver after spending four seasons with the Colts.

He has 92 career receptions for 855 yards and five touchdowns.

Dreessen has hauled in 110 passes for 1,364 yards and 13 TDs in six seasons with the Jets and Houston Texans.

BENGALS: Re-signed cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones and offensive tackle Anthony Collins.

Cincinnati also signed defensive end Derrick Harvey, a free agent who played for the Broncos last season.

PATRIOTS: Signed wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth and quarterback Brian Hoyer.


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