Pro Bowl linebacker Pepper Johnson of the New York Giants ended a more than four-week holdout yesterday the do-it-yourself way: He negotiated his own contract.
The deal reportedly will pay Johnson $3 million over the next three years and reportedly was more than he had sought from the Giants.
Johnson, 27, reportedly only wanted a two-year deal worth $1.8 million, hoping a shorter deal would reap dividends if free agency came to the NFL in the next two years.
After doing all his own talking during negotiations, Johnson chose not to talk about his new contract.
* COWBOYS: Dean Hamel, a starting defensive tackle for most of the past two seasons, agreed in principle to end his 32-day holdout. Hamel, who lost his starting job when the Cowboys used the first pick in the draft for Russell Maryland and later traded for Tony Casillas, said he expected to sign a one-year deal today and join the team for an afternoon workout.
* STEELERS: Running back Tim Worley, bothered earlier by back and shoulder problems, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be lost for the rest of the preseason.
The surgery was required to repair torn cartilage in Worley's right knee. It was not immediately determined if Worley would be ready for the season opener Sept. 1 against San Diego.
Worley, the seventh overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft, was demoted to third team before the Steelers' preseason opener.
* COLTS: Pat Tomberlin may be lost for the rest of the season as he recuperates from a broken leg, team officials said. The third-year offensive guard, who started 10 games last season, fractured his lower right fibula Tuesday afternoon in practice when a teammate rolled on it. The injury occurred just hours after Tomberlin was elevated into the starting left guard position.
* BUCCANEERS: Charles McRae, Tampa Bay's top draft pick and the seventh selection overall, ended a 26-day holdout and signed a 5-year contract for $4.7 million, making him one of the highest-paid offensive linemen in the NFL. McRae reportedly got a signing bonus of more than $2 million.
* VIKINGS: Trying to keep their sack-happy defensive linemen financially happy, the team tripled Al Noga's salary just one day after giving Keith Millard a four-year, $8 million deal and three weeks after Chris Doleman became the NFL's highest-paid lineman (about $1.75 million for each of the next five seasons).
Meanwhile, Reggie Rutland's agent said the unsigned cornerback was close to agreeing on a new contract with the club.
Noga's agent, Neal Allen, said his client's new base salary of more than three times the $190,000 his 1991 contract had called for makes him the second-highest paid fourth-year lineman in the league.
* CHIEFS: Quarterback Steve DeBerg, with a new contract in hand, will get his first start of the preseason Saturday when the Chiefs play host to the Detroit Lions. DeBerg missed the first 20 days of training camp while negotiating a new contract.
* Major Harris, who quit the Canadian Football League's British Columbia Lions a year ago because of a lack of playing time, will join the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a practice roster quarterback. "He [Harris] has just come out of Arena Football, and we're going to bring him in for a look-see," coach John Gregory said.