Staying or Leaving?

Lewis signs extension with Carolina; Miller testing NFL free agency

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

March 6, 2008 - One of Sulphur Springs' two NFL players will stay put next season, while the other could be on the move.

Both seven-year pro Damione Lewis and four-year veteran Caleb Miller were in free agent offseasons this year, but Lewis and the Carolina Panthers agreed on a contract extension that will keep the defensive tackle with the Panthers for the next three seasons.

Lewis was set to become an unrestricted free agent before he signed the deal on Feb. 14. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Lewis (6-2, 301 pounds) signed with the Panthers in 2006 after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams as the 12th pick in the 2001 draft and playing there for five years. Last season, he recorded 32 tackles, 4.5 sacks and seven quarterback pressures.

Miller, meanwhile, may be leaving the Cincinnati Bengals after becoming an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 29. The linebacker out of the University of Arkansas now has until July 22 to sign with any team in the NFL.

Miller's rights can revert back to Cincinnati if he doesn't sign with another team and the Bengals make a tender offer (110 percent of his last contract) before June 1. That seems unlikely because the Bengals are reportedly making a switch from a 4-3scheme to a 3-4 defense which employs larger linebackers than Miller (6-3, 225).

Miller played in three games last year before a back injury sidelined him and eventually led to a stint on the injured reserve list. In 2006, he had 100 tackles as a part-time starter.

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