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Cuts made now that teams can defer salary cap hits

The second wave of NFL free agency opened Wednesday, as teams began to take advantage of being able to defer salary cap hits when releasing players.

After June 1,
teams are allowed to spread the bulk of salary cap penalties over two seasons. Many clubs use the opportunity to scuttle veterans to make salary cap room for signing draft picks.

While executives around the league expect a less-active free agent market this month due to teams' improved handling of the salary cap over the past few years, several teams were expected to act.

The New Orleans Saints were among the first to announce moves Wednesday, when coach Jim Haslett said the club would release linebacker Orlando Ruff.

Ruff, a six-year veteran, would have earned $1.1 million in the
final year of his three-year contract this season. After he is
released, he will count $125,000 against the Saints' salary cap --
one-third of the signing bonus he received in 2003, the
Times-Picayune reported on Wednesday.

Ruff started 17 games in the past two seasons but did not win
the job outright. He became expendable when the Saints drafted
middle linebackers Courtney Watson and Alfred Fincher in the past
two drafts.


The New England Patriots waived quarterback Chris Redman. Redman was signed by the Patriots in January after missing the entire 2004 season while recovering from back surgery.

His chances of making the team took a major hit when the
Patriots signed veteran quarterback Doug Flutie in April to back
up Tom Brady. The other quarterback spot will likely go to Rohan Davey, a
backup for the last three years.

Rookie quarterback Matt Cassel, a seventh-round pick out of
Southern California, might spend the year on the practice squad.

Redman, 27, played for the Baltimore Ravens from 2000 to 2003. He
started six of 10 games and completed 106 of 198 passes for
1,111 yards and seven touchdowns with five interceptions.

The Redskins are also expected to be one of the teams that take advantage.
Receiver Rod Gardner, linebacker Mike Barrow and returner Chad
Morton most likely will be released to make room under the cap.
Washington needs to sign two first-round picks -- cornerback
Carlos Rogers and quarterback Jason Campbell.

Gardner, a 2001 first-round pick, was given permission to seek a
trade after expressing unhappiness with his role in the
offense. He caught 51 passes for 650 yards and five touchdowns
last season.

Unable to work out a deal, the Redskins now may just release
Gardner. In the offseason, Washington acquired receiver-returner Santana Moss from the New York Jets for
receiver Laveranues Coles and signed receiver David Patten as a
free agent. The acquisition of Moss also made expendable
Morton, a veteran returner.

Barrow, a middle linebacker who is rehabilitating from a knee
injury, may also be cut.

Releasing Gardner, Morton and Barrow would free up about $3
million in cap space for the Redskins.

Tackle Kyle Turley of the St. Louis Rams, receiver Johnnie
Morton of the Kansas City Chiefs, cornerback Bobby Taylor of the
Seattle Seahawks and safety Lance Schulters of the Tennessee
Titans are some of the other veterans that could be cut after June 1.

Turley missed all of last season with a back injury, then
criticized Rams coach Mike Martz. St. Louis used its
first-round pick on tackle Alex Barron of Florida State.

Johnnie Morton is due to make $3 million in 2005, and the Chiefs
are hoping he will accept a pay cut. He caught 55 passes for
795 yards and three scores last season.

Taylor was a bust after signing with Seattle as a free agent
last season. The Seahawks added cornerbacks Andre Dyson and
Kelly Herndon in the offseason, likely signaling the end for
Taylor.

The Titans cut numerous players in March, including receiver
Derrick Mason, cornerback Samari Rolle and tackle Fred Miller
for salary cap purposes. Schulters may be the next to go since
he has a $4.2 million cap figure in 2005 and lost his starting
job to Lamont Thompson last season.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.