Comcast Corp. said Thursday that it will continue carrying the NFL Network even after their contract was to expire at midnight, as negotiations continue.

Without an agreement, the nation's largest cable television operator had said it would be required to pull the plug on the football network starting today.

"Comcast and the NFL are engaged in productive discussions toward a new agreement for NFL Network carriage on Comcast," Comcast said in a statement.

Comcast and the NFL are in a court battle over Comcast's decision to put the league-owned channel in a premium sports tier rather than in a lesser-priced service package that has more viewers.

Seahawks: Seattle and linebacker Leroy Hill have reached agreement on six-year contract worth a guaranteed $15.5 million. The deal could potentially be worth $38 million. Hill became a free agent last weekend after the team dropped its franchise tag on him and Hill refused to sign an $8.3 million tender offer. The deal was held up for days over contract language provisions related to any possible league discipline Hill may face from an offseason arrest in January for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Patriots: New England obtained tight end Alex Smith from Tampa Bay. The Patriots gave up an undisclosed pick in next year's draft for the four-year NFL veteran from Stanford. Smith had 21 catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns last season.


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Broncos: Denver's crowded backfield became a bit clearer with the release of Selvin Young. The Broncos used the 12th overall pick in last weekend's draft to take Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno. The Broncos also have holdovers Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torian and free agents J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan. Young was beset by back and groin injuries last season.

Dolphins: Miami signed former Stanford running back Anthony Kimble, an undrafted free agent.

Bengals: Cincinnati signed franchised kicker Shayne Graham to a one-year contract. The Bengals said Graham exercised his option to sign for one year at a salary equal to the average of the top five place-kickers in the NFL in 2008.

Chiefs: Kansas City signed unrestricted free- agent center Eric Ghiaciuc, who made 42 starts for Cincinnati from 2005-08.

Jets: Brett Favre's agent Bus Cook reaffirmed to ESPN.com that the quarterback has no plans to end his retirement now that New York has released him. "He's retired, he doesn't have any desire to come back," Cook said.

Phillips update: Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips will go to trial on charges that he attacked his girlfriend in 2005. A San Diego judge ruled Phillips, 33, must stand trial on eight felony charges for two alleged assaults. Phillips already is serving a 10-year sentence for hitting three teenagers with his car in Los Angeles. Phillips was once one of the nation's top college players at Nebraska. St. Louis released him in 1997 and he went on to play for a number of teams, including the 49ers.

Obituary: Bob Oates, a sportswriter who covered 39 straight Super Bowls (1967-2005) and was the last surviving member of the original Pro Football Hall of Fame selection panel, died in Baldwin Hills. He was 93.