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saintz08 06-02-2004 09:22 AM

Warner, Couch big names still in spotlight
Warner, Couch big names still in spotlight

Jeff Duncan

June 1 isn't what it used to be.

Time was teams could count on the date as a sort of secondary free-agent market if they were looking to fill a key hole on the depth chart before training camp.

But those days are history as teams become more proficient at managing their cap dollars and avoiding costly veteran roster cuts.

This looks like an extremely lean year for post-June 1 cuts, which basically are accounting moves made by teams seeking to defer significant salary cap hits until next year.

The biggest names are St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George.

Warner's days have been numbered since April, when Marc Bulger signed a four-year contract worth about $19.1 million with the Rams and St. Louis drafted Jeff Smoker in the sixth round.

Warner, who will turn 33 on June 22, is most likely bound for the New York Giants. He met with new Giants coach Tom Coughlin on May 11.

"I still think he's got it," Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi told reporters in New York of the league MVP in 1999 and 2001.

The Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys also are possibilities.

Wherever Warner ends up, agent Mark Bartelstein expects him to emerge as the starter.

"You're talking about one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history," Bartlestein told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I think he'll go in and compete and win a starting job."

Couch was told not to come to minicamp or quarterback school and had his nameplate removed from his twin lockers and one of them was assigned to Jeff Garcia. The 1999 No. 1 overall draft pick is due a $7.6 million base salary this season.

Still, the Browns might wait until July to release Couch because team officials want to see backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb throw after labrum surgery.

The Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers have shown interest in Couch.

George also might have to wait later for his release. The Titans traditionally blow off June 1 and cut their veterans later, usually just before they begin to sign their draft picks in July.

George turned down an offer of about $2.3 million in base salary earlier this offseason. He is scheduled to make $4.25 million in base salary in 2004

Other possibilities are Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Gildon, Green Bay defensive ends Joe Johnson and Jamal Reynolds, Washington Redskins linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Atlanta Falcons cornerback Tyrone Williams, Chicago wide receiver David Terrell and defensive tackle Bryan Robinson, Cincinnati Bengals safety Marquand Manuel, running back Kenny Watson and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Johnson, the Saints' 1994 first-round draft pick, had surgery Oct. 21 to repair a torn right quadriceps. He reportedly has enjoyed a good rehabilitation, so some team likely will take a chance on him.

Halo 06-02-2004 11:33 AM

Warner, Couch big names still in spotlight
ESPN reports this morning that Eddie George may be playing for the Raiders, Warner will backup Manning in New York, and Couch will be backing up you know who at Green Bay. Well that\'s at least the way it looks today- it all could change. George could still sign with Tennessee.

saintz08 06-02-2004 10:50 PM

Warner, Couch big names still in spotlight

ESPN reports this morning that Eddie George may be playing for the Raiders,
Mora II to pass on him too......

ALex who ???..... :P

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