Archive for Thursday, February 27, 2003

Veterans ditched in NFL salary-cap cuts

Former Kansas University standout Stubblefield, Steelers’ Stewart among big names released

February 27, 2003


Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis and Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart were cut Wednesday, adding two attractive players to what is otherwise a lackluster free-agent class.

The Denver Broncos gave quarterback Brian Griese permission to seek a trade, and Buffalo wide receiver Peerless Price is set to accept the team's franchise-player contract offer, then seek a trade.

The release of Davis, one of the NFL's top running backs for the last half-decade, had been expected. If he didn't renegotiate his contract, he would have counted $11.4 million against the Skins' cap this season.

So was the release of Stewart, who had an up-and-down career in Pittsburgh after becoming its starter in 1997. After leading the Steelers to the AFC title game in 2001, he lost his job to Tommy Maddox early last season.

Yet another big-time player, Emmitt Smith, continued to dangle as the free-agent deadline approached. All teams must be at or below the $74.8 million salary cap by midnight today.

Kurt Warner received a $6 million roster bonus Wednesday after attempts to restructure the quarterback's contract fell through.

Among other veterans released Wednesday were quarterback Jim Miller and offensive tackle James "Big Cat" Williams by Chicago; tight end Wesley Walls by Carolina; linebacker Dwayne Rudd by Cleveland; and defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, a Kansas University product, by San Francisco.

Terrell Davis, hoping his knees will be healthy enough to make a comeback, agreed in principle to a restructured contract that would allow him to return to the Broncos, a source told The Associated Press. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee on Sept. 9, his fifth surgery in three years.

Tim McGee, the agent for Price, said his client would accept the one-year, $5.01 million tender offer rather than try to negotiate a long-term contract with the Bills, for whom he had 94 receptions last season.

"We're going to pursue what's in Peerless' best interest," McGee said. "And if there's nothing out there that could afford him an opportunity to be a free agent, we're going to take the tender and play for the Buffalo Bills next year."

Dallas owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday he would decide by the end of the week whether Smith, who passed Walter Payton for the NFL career rushing lead last October, would return next season. If he stays, Smith would count $9.8 million against the cap.

"We know he's NFL royalty, he's Dallas Cowboys royalty," Jones said. "But this is about the future of the team. It's not about Emmitt's ability to play. We know he can play."

The Cowboys also released oft-injured veteran wide receiver Raghib Ismail.

Stewart's release makes him one of the more attractive quarterbacks available in free agency, along with Arizona's Jake Plummer. Arizona, New Orleans, Baltimore, Carolina and Chicago might be among the teams interested in signing him.

Griese also could attract some interest, although he is not a free agent. The Broncos were expected to release Griese on June 1 in a cost-cutting move.

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