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LODISH DEPARTS BILLS FOR BRONCOS PACT

Mike Lodish, who has been with the Buffalo Bills since 1990, agreed to a two-year contract with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday.

The deal is worth $700,000 and gives him an average yearly increase of approximately $40,000. Lodish becomes the seventh unrestricted free agent to leave the Bills this year.

He started the first five games of last season while former Bills nose tackle Jeff Wright was recovering from shoulder surgery. He joined the Bills as a 10th-round draft pick from UCLA.

Lodish started 12 games in his career and is credited with 17 tackles, including nine initial hits and three quarterback pressures. He also had a touchdown on a fumble recovery against New England in 1992.

Dolphins trade Jackson to Pack

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Keith Jackson, the five-time Pro Bowler, has been traded by the Miami Dolphins to the Green Bay Packers for an undisclosed draft choice.

Jackson, 29, has caught 388 passes for 4,636 yards and 38 touchdowns in his nine-year career. But he was deemed expendable by the Dolphins after they signed free agent tight end Eric Green.

He is also coming off a down year. He had 59 receptions for 673 yards and seven touchdown but also was criticized by coach Don Shula and teammates for a number of drops.

Jackson is the second Miami player acquired by Green Bay recently. Wide receiver Mark Ingram was obtained March 21 in exchange for a fourth-round selection in next month's college draft.

Ex-Saint Stonebreaker dead

RIVER RIDGE, La. -- Steve Stonebreaker, an NFL linebacker who played in the 1960s with the Baltimore Colts and New Orleans Saints, died of an apparent suicide in his suburban New Orleans home, authorities said. He was 56.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is the suspected cause, said Maj. John Fortunato of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department. He said Stonebreaker was found lying on the floor of his garage near a motor vehicle, inches from the exhaust pipe. The ignition was on but the engine had stopped.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Stonebreaker played with the Colts from 1964 to 1966 before joining the Saints for their inaugural 1967 season. He retired in 1968.

Stonebreaker is credited with establishing the Saints' feisty reputation in their first NFL season. After losing, 27-21, to the New York Giants in Yankee Stadium, Stonebreaker started a fight that led to a free-for-all.

Stonebreaker was fined, but the penalty was paid by a group of fans who became the nucleus of what is now the city's Touchdown Club.

Rams' Henley convicted

SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Rams cornerback Darryl Henley and four other men were convicted of running a cocaine ring.

Henley, 28, who played with the Rams last year while free on bond, was accused of financing an operation that packed cocaine at his home in Brea, Calif., for sale in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta.

Henley is an unrestricted free agent in the NFL.

The U.S. District Court jury returned guilty verdicts for Henley, his uncle Rex Henley, Rafael Bustamante, Willie McGowan and Gary West.

The charges of conspiracy and possession for sale were filed in 1993 after a Rams cheerleader, Tracy Ann Donaho, was arrested at an Atlanta airport with about 25 pounds of cocaine in a suitcase.

Donaho testified that Henley used her as a courier after making love to her. Former Rams coach Chuck Knox testified on Henley's behalf. Neither Henley nor the other defendants testified.

The jury returned on its fifth day of deliberations after the judge admonished one juror who read a newspaper article. The juror believed Henley faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted and said the possibility troubled him.

U.S. District Judge Gary Taylor told the juror that a life sentence was not mandatory.

Henley faces a mandatory 10-year minimum, with a possible life sentence, said Deirdre Eliot, an assistant U.S. attorney.

Stark joins Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers added more leg to their kicking game, bypassing punter Mark Royals to sign 13-year veteran Rohn Stark from the Indianapolis Colts.

By signing the fifth-leading punter in NFL history, the Steelers appear to be switching from an extremely accurate punter to one with more downfield strength.

Royals placed a league-high 35 punts inside the 20-yard line last season, but his 39.7 gross average ranked next to last in the AFC. By comparison, Stark, 35, a three-time NFL punting leader, ranked sixth with a 42.4 average. Royals, an unrestricted free agent, is free to sign with any NFL team.

Stark, who has spent his entire NFL career with the Colts, also gives the Steelers a reliable holder for their still-unsigned kicker.

The Ex-Florida State punter's 43.8 career average is the fifth-best in NFL history.

Cowher signed privately

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher privately renegotiated a contract extension last year without the club announcing the deal.

Cowher, whose original four-year contract ran through the end of the 1995 season, signed a two-year extension for an undisclosed raise, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. The deal was made sometime during the past year with neither side making it public.

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