Archive for Friday, March 2, 2001

Bennett, Del Greco among cuts

NFL teams race the clock to meet salary cap deadline

March 2, 2001

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Cornelius Bennett, one of just 11 players to appear in at least five Super Bowls, and kicker Al Del Greco were among the casualties Thursday as teams raced to get under the $67.4 million salary cap by the midnight deadline.

Bennett was cut by Indianapolis. He played in each of Buffalo's four Super Bowls from 1991-94 and returned to the title game with Atlanta in 1999.

Bennett was paid $1.9 million last season and was to receive a base salary of $1.6 million this year.

Del Greco, the NFL's seventh-leading scorer with 1,584 points in 17 seasons, took the hit for Tennessee's 24-10 loss to Baltimore in the AFC playoffs. He bounced one field goal off an upright and had two others blocked, including one returned for a touchdown.

Last season, Del Greco made 27 of 33 field goal attempts and kicked game-winning field goals against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Kansas City. The kicker had one year left on his contract.

Thursday's cuts continued the trend of high-priced veterans who have been dropped in cap decisions. Others who went earlier were Doug Flutie, Ryan Leaf, John Randle, Tre Johnson, Bryan Cox, Elvis Grbac and Ken Norton, Jr.

The Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens cut Tony Banks, who had been their starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, and Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell agreed to restructure his contract, saving the Jaguars $2 million in cap room.

Jacksonville, $35 million over the cap, still had to cut 10 players including offensive linemen Leon Searcy and Brenden Stai. Free safety Robert Griffith and receiver Cris Carter agreed to restructured contracts to help the Minnesota Vikings meet the cap.

Also gone Thursday was Reggie White, who retired for the third time.

White, who came out of retirement last season to play with the Carolina Panthers, decided to end his comeback at age 39. Perhaps the best defensive end in history, he ends his 15-year career with 198 sacks, more than any other NFL player. He had a career low 5.5 this season. His retirement frees up an additional $2.15 million under the cap.

Besides cutting Bennett, the Colts signed defensive end Shawn King, who was suspended by the league last season, and said they would not pursue defensive back Jason Belser, linebacker Dwight Hollier and defensive end Bernard Whittington who will become unrestricted free agents Friday.

The moves left Indianapolis almost $2 million under the salary cap.

Green Bay signed running back Dorsey Levens to a renegotiated three-year contract. Levens, who missed most of last season with knee injuries, was in the fourth season of a five-year, $25 million contract. He was to earn $6 million in 2001 and would have counted $7.4 million against the team's cap next season.

Had he not accepted their offer, the Packers would have released Levens to gain $4.6 million in salary cap relief.

The Packers also renegotiated Brett Favre's contract to gain significant salary cap relief next season with an announcement expected Friday. The deal is expected to be for six years and include a partially deferred signing bonus of about $15 million.

The cap claimed Doug Brien, the second-leading scorer and most accurate kicker in New Orleans Saints history. The team also terminated tight end Andrew Glover, tackle Mike Halapin and wide receiver Jake Reed and extended qualifying offers to three restricted free agents tight end Cam Cleeland, cornerback Fred Weary and defensive tackle Martin Chase.

Cutting Brien saved $670,000 in cap space for the Saints, who were scheduled to pay him $570,000 on a $2.72 million four-year contract extension he signed in 1997. He also was due a $100,000 roster bonus on March 15.

Cincinnati which managed an NFL-low nine interceptions, cut cornerback Tom Carter, who had two of them. He was scheduled to make $2.4 million next season.

The Bengals signed running back Michael Basnight, who missed all last season with a broken wrist, for $389,000. Cincinnati is well below the salary cap, saving room to match any offer for transition free agent Corey Dillon.

Philadelphia cut wide receiver Torrance Small, who caught 89 passes for 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns in two seasons with the Eagles.

Buffalo, which earlier cut Flutie and Pro Bowl nose tackle Ted Washington, released linebacker Sam Rogers and long-snapper Ethan Albright.

The Bills failed to re-sign two high-profile unrestricted free agents: defensive end Marcellus Wiley and kicker Steve Christie.

Arizona declined to exercise the option for the final three years of defensive end Andre Wadsworth's contract. The Cardinals offered Wadsworth $512,000 as a restricted free agent.

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