Bledsoe, released by Cowboys, was due $1 mil bonus

IRVING, Texas -- Quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who was benched
during the season by Dallas, was released Thursday by the Cowboys
in a move that had been expected.

Bledsoe, the first overall pick in the 1993 draft by New
England, started 193 games in the NFL, including the first six in
2006 before he was replaced by Tony Romo, who then earned a spot on
the NFC Pro Bowl team. Bledsoe was due a $1 million roster bonus
Friday and would have made $4.5 million next season.

The Cowboys also released tight end Ryan Hannam and guard E.J. Whitley.

Bledsoe was 3,839-of-6,717 passing for 44,611 yards and 251
touchdowns for the New England Patriots (1993-2001), Buffalo
(2002-04) and Dallas (2005-06). He is fifth on the NFL career lists
in attempts and completions and seventh in yards.

"I spoke with Drew today and told him that this was primarily a
cap decision and that the door was very much open for him being a
part of our future," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones
said. "Drew has been a solid leader for our team and a true
professional both on and off the field."

Hannam joined the Cowboys as an unrestricted free agent last
spring from Seattle. He saw action in two games, mainly on special
teams, before he was placed on injured reserve Oct. 11 with a
degenerative condition in his right knee.

Whitley was a seventh-round pick last year, but tore the ACL in
his left knee in rookie minicamp and spent the season injured