BLUES INCREASE OFFER FOR HULL: The St. Louis Blues have increased their offer to right wing Brett Hull, who can become an unrestricted free agent after the season, by about $500,000 a season.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Hull's agent, Mike Barnett, received a new proposal late last month. The newspaper says the new offer calls for Hull to receive $3.8 million a year for three seasons.

The Blues' previous offer was a three-year deal worth $3.3 million per year.

Hull, 33, is making $4.2 million this season. He has said he wants a five-year deal worth about $5 million a year, but is willing to compromise.

Hull declined to discuss the specifics of the new offer. The subject came up over the weekend in Nagano, Japan, when he was asked why he preferred to play for Team USA instead of Canada in international play.

"Team USA gave me an opportunity, and I was a nobody and I appreciated that," Hull said. "And I've remained loyal to somebody who did that. That's what I've tried to do in St. Louis, but that whole thing is working the opposite way right now."


JAGUARS SIGN PAUP: Linebacker Bryce Paup, the 1995 NFL defensive player of the year with Buffalo, has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to reports Sunday.

Paup's agent, Jack Wirth, told Jacksonville's WJXT-TV that the deal was done. Earlier, newspaper reports said Paup was close to signing a $22 million, five-year contract.

NINERS, TUBBS AGREE: Linebacker Winfred Tubbs, who set a New Orleans record last season with 160 tackles, agreed to a five-year contract with San Francisco on Sunday. A league source told the San Jose Mercury News the contract was for $14.25 million.

GIANTS JUNK BROWN: The New York Giants told quarterback Dave Brown to start looking for work Sunday, less than 24 hours after free-agent Kent Graham signed a reported three-year contract.


SPREWELL'S ARBITRATION: Latrell Sprewell's arbitration case will come to an official close Monday, starting the 30-day window for arbitrator John Feerick to issue his decision.

Sprewell, who hopes Feerick reduces his one-year suspension to time served, has filed a grievance against Golden State for terminating the remaining three years of his contract for two attacks - one of which is in dispute - on coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice Dec. 1.