Bengals sign DE Carlos Dunlap to rookie deal

Former Florida Gators defensive end Carlos Dunlap, a 2010 NFL Draft second-round pick, came to terms Wednesday on a four-year, $3.01 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal includes a $1.22 million signing bonus, $1.779 million in guaranteed cash and an additional $649,000 available through incentives.

Dunlap, who the team had hoped to successfully sign before training camp, was selected by the Bengals 54th overall, just one slot after the New England Patriots picked defensive end/linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.

The Gators now have six of nine draft selections under contract with cornerback Joe Haden (Cleveland), center/guard Maurkice Pouncey (Pittsburgh) and quarterback Tim Tebow (Denver) still awaiting deals. Wide receiver David Nelson and running back/kick returner Brandon James have already agreed to undrafted free agent contracts with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts, respectively.

Photo Credit: CNATI.com

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New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

With eight years of professional football under his belt, former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown is moving on from the Chicago Bears to the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. In a brand new city with an upbeat and positive mindset, Brown landed in Louisiana on Wednesday to start preparing for training camp. The first thing he did after touching down? Provide OGGOA with an exclusive half-hour interview covering everything from his recruitment and time with the Gators to the Bears’ Super Bowl run and why grits are his favorite thing about the city of New Orleans, LA (so far).

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Growing up in a small town, was it difficult to get noticed by the University of Florida and make an impression on head coach Steve Spurrier?
ALEX BROWN: “Yeah, it was. I just wanted to go and play football – that’s all I did. I was nervous because I didn’t know if people would see me. My dad was really good just staying on me about it. ‘If you go play, if you’re good enough, they’ll find you.’ That was his big thing. All I did was go play – and they found me.”

AS: What made you decide to attend Florida rather than going to Georgia or another school? Were you always a Gators fan?
AB: “I actually was not a Florida fan at all. I really wasn’t even going to take a visit to Florida. University of Miami – that year – my last visit I was going to take was going to be to the University of Miami. And I was going to choose between Miami, Florida State, North Carolina and Auburn. There was a kid that got killed at Miami – I want to say it was like on a Monday or Tuesday – and I was supposed to go on a visit that coming weekend. And my mom was like, ‘No way, you can’t go. You can’t do it.’ I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I will not take another visit.’ I talked to [Buffalo Bills linebacker] Andra Davis, who I’ve known since like fifth grade, and he had just taken his visit to Florida and that was the celebration of the National Championship – that was that week. He had a great time. So I talked to him and he said he was going to Florida. He’s like, ‘Just take your visit there, you’re not going to go to Miami, so take your visit to Florida.’ Early in the week, I called coach [Jimmy Ray] Stephens, he was the offensive line coach at the time and the guy that recruited me. He said, ‘OK.’ I was in Gainesville for a day. [Atlanta Falcons LB] Mike Peterson was my host and, by the time I left, they could have left me there. I was going for sure. As soon as I got back, I started calling all the other coaches and letting them know that this is what I want. It wasn’t too far from home but far enough away, I guess. And they were good. I played linebacker, and they had [former DE] Jevon Kearse, Mike Peterson and [former LB] Johnny Rutledge – and I thought I fit right in. It was a great match for me and took me all of a day-and-a-half to figure that out.

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Alex Brown…after the break!
Continue Reading » New Orleans Saints DE Alex Brown: “The Florida Gators will never change for me.”

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TWO BITS: Haden ready to sign, Nelson helps

1 » Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants to get paid, but he refuses to hold out through the start of training camp. According to Haden and his agent, Malik Shareef, the former Florida Gators star will be practicing with Cleveland right way. “We’ve been in contact with the Browns and expect to begin negotiating next week,” Shareef told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “Our main objective is to get Joe in camp on time so he can perform to the best of his abilities. A holdout would not be in anyone’s best interests.” Picked No. 7 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, Haden points out that he could not agree now even if he wanted to. “I can’t sign yet,” he said via Twitter. “[Cleveland] hasn’t even sent an offer. It goes in order of [where you are picked].”

Other former Gators still awaiting NFL contracts include: Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and New England Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes.

2 » One former Florida player who is already under contract is Buffalo Bills WR David Nelson, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent back in April. Nelson, who is making strides with Buffalo and may impact the team as soon as the 2010 season, participated in a Christmas in July celebration at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Wednesday. “I have a favorite ornament that my grandma made me,” Nelson said. “She made one for all her grandkids. It’s a small figurine of me when I was about 6 years old. The figurine was how she viewed us. Mine has me with curly hair and holding a football. Making ornaments today with all the kids at the hospital was so much fun and really reminded me of my grandma making her ornaments by hand.”

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, Haslem, Nelson, Dorsey

1 » On Tuesday, OGGOA tweeted a picture of former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow handing a football off to a kid that got some of our female followers pretty riled up. It appears that picture was taken from a Broncos Bunch kids club event that Tebow participated in over the weekend. The Denver Broncos rookie threw passes to and took pictures with a bunch of children – not all of whom were Broncos fans. “Gator nation really is everywhere,” Tebow told CBS4 in Denver, CO. “It’s great to be out here and to play with these kids, to meet the parents and just be here in the stadium. It really is humbling to have people supporting me and to have fans. It really does mean a lot. […] It’s just an opportunity to come out here, throw balls, take some pictures, hang out with people, get a chance to make a kid smile or a family smile and – it’s more important than winning games, when you really look at it.”

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Three more BITS on the futures of Udonis Haslem, David Nelson and Demar Dorsey.
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Tebow, Haslem, Nelson, Dorsey

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FOUR BITS: Rosario, Andrews, softball, NFL

1 » ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that Rutgers transfer guard Mike Rosario, who was hoping to enroll at the University of Florida for its Summer A session, will instead join the Florida Gators for Summer B as he is stuck in New Jersey finishing classes. “Rosario might end up being one of the most important transfers Donovan has had in his career,” Katz wrote. “[He] will push Kenny Boynton in practice every day.”

2 » Former Gators dazzler and ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews finished third in her quest to win ABC‘s Dancing with the Stars competition. Andrews got further than many expected on the program and is rumored to have begun a relationship with her dance partner on the show. She is currently in the process of finalizing a new contract (including a significant raise) with the Worldwide Leader in Sports and hopes to expand her horizons beyond college sports and baseball.

3 » Two Florida softball players – juniors pitcher Stephanie Brombacher and outfielder Kelsey Bruder – have been named 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-Americans by the College of Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Named to the third- and second-teams, respectively, each earned at least a 3.30 GPA.

4 » Former Gators inside linebackers Channing Crowder and Andra Davis were both in the news Wednesday. A report from the Sun-Sentinel states that Crowder may begin the season on the Miami Dolphins’ physically unable to perform list if his foot does not heal properly, while another from the Buffalo News infers that Davis is set to start for the Buffalo Bills alongside Paul Posluszny.

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KR James, WR Nelson, LB Stamper find homes

Though they were not fortunate enough to be selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, three former Florida Gators players have already signed professional contracts as undrafted free agents.

Kick returner Brandon James was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts, wide receiver David Nelson found a home with the Buffalo Bills and linebacker Ryan Stamper agreed to a deal with the Detroit Lions.

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Spikes, Cunningham, James, DBs at Pro Day

Former Florida Gators defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, kick returner Brandon James and defensive backs Wondy Pierre-Louis and Markihe Anderson all participated in the team’s second Pro Day on Wednesday as linebacker Brandon Spikes looked on and showed his support. The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu caught up with each player after their workout was completed though, as per usual, Spikes declined an interview request. Check out some notes and quotes (after the jump):
Continue Reading » Spikes, Cunningham, James, DBs at Pro Day

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Kelly impressed with, would recommend Tebow

Speaking for the first time directly after dining with former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow in upstate New York, former Buffalo Bills QB and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly spoke glowingly about the experience, saying he would feel comfortable recommending the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion to those on the team’s staff.

“Just because I’m a former quarterback, people think I can just tell from being around a guy [if he has what it takes],” Kelly told NFL.com‘s Vic Carucci. “But I need to watch him go through a drill and make all the throws. I need to really study him before I could say whether he should be a first-round pick. Now, a second-rounder, I’d be OK with that, but I don’t have enough information on [Tebow] to say they should use the No. 9 pick on him. Maybe they could also trade down, if someone wants that No. 9 pick, and get him with a lower pick in the first round.”

Kelly, the team’s “official ambassador,” said Tebow came off as a “yes-sir-no-sir kind of guy” who “looks like he can take a hit.” What is interesting is Kelly’s proclamation that he would be more comfortable with the team taking Tebow later in the draft as opposed to No. 9 overall, simply because of his constant praise of the signal caller.

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