Rams running back Steven Jackson tries to get past Dolphins linebacker… (Chris Trotman / Getty Images )
The Atlanta Falcons found their replacement for Michael Turner on Thursday by agreeing to terms with Steven Jackson, considered the top free-agent running back, on a three-year, $12-million deal.
The 30-year-old Jackson had 1,042 yards rushing and four touchdowns with the Rams last season. It was his eighth straight season with more than 1,000 yards rushing.
Jackson would have earned $7 million with the Rams in 2013 before he opted out of his contract to become a free agent.
Jackson's 10,135 yards rushing are the most of any active player. He set career highs with 1,528 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns with St. Louis in 2006.
Matt Cassel's rocky career in Kansas City came to an abrupt ending when the Chiefs released their former starting quarterback with two years left on his contract.
The decision to cut ties with Cassel came one day after new General Manager John Dorsey and Coach Andy Reid held a news conference to introduce Alex Smith, whom they landed in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers to be their quarterback of the future.
Later Thursday, Cassel reached an agreement to join the Minnesota Vikings as the backup for Christian Ponder, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
The New England Patriots agreed to terms with receiver Danny Amendola on a deal that would reportedly pay him $31 million over five years, moving quickly after the loss of five-time Pro Bowl selection Wes Welker.
Also Thursday, the Patriots announced the signing of running back Leon Washington, who has played seven seasons with the New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks.
Amendola, 27, is a 5-foot-11, 188-pound former rookie free agent from Texas Tech — the same school as Welker. After signing with the St. Louis Rams in 2009, Amendola led the NFL with 1,618 kickoff return yards and 1,978 total return yards.
The following season, he led the NFL with 2,364 all-purpose yards, catching 85 passes for 689 yards and three touchdowns.
Miyazato (63) takes lead in Phoenix
Ai Miyazato took the LPGA Founders Cup lead on a hot afternoon in Phoenix, playing a late four-hole stretch in five under for a tournament-record nine-under-par 63.
Returning from a whiplash injury sustained in a five-vehicle crash after the tournament in Thailand, the Japanese star birdied the par-three 14th, holed a 20-foot eagle putt on the par-five 15th and added birdies on the par-four 16th and par-three 17th to open a two-stroke lead.
She was hurt three weeks ago on the way to the Bangkok airport and withdrew the following week in Singapore as a precaution because of stiffness in her neck, shoulder and back.
South Korea's Jee Young Lee was second. Candie KungBrittany LangGerina Piller Pornanong Phatlum
Shawn Stefani is the latest PGA Tour rookie to look comfortable on a big stage.
In breezy conditions on a tough course, Stefani never came close to making a bogey until his final hole in the Tampa Bay Championship at Palm Harbor, Fla. He rolled in a par putt from just inside five feet to complete a six-under 65 and take a two-shot lead over Brian Harman.
Denny Hamlin and NASCAR settled their censorship flap when he announced he would not appeal the $25,000 fine levied against him for criticizing the new Gen-6 car.
But Hamlin held his ground on refusing to pay the fine. NASCAR said the fine will be settled per the rule book, which allows the sanctioning body to garnish the money from a driver's race winnings.
Former WNBA player and Olympic gold medalist Chamique Holdsclaw pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from an argument and shooting in Atlanta in November.
Fulton County district attorney's spokeswoman Yvette Jones says Holdsclaw appeared in court Thursday for a pretrial conference. Holdsclaw's lawyer was given an opportunity to respond to a six-count indictment charging his client with aggravated assault, criminal damage and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.