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Chargers cut loose former starting safety Wilson

Ten-year veteran Jerry Wilson, who started all 32 games for the San Diego Chargers in 2003-2004 but lost his job in 2005, has been released.

Jerry Wilson Wilson

The move makes Wilson, who has played with four different teams in a career that dates back to 1995, an unrestricted free agent.

Wilson, 32, was a career backup with only two starts until 2003, then moved into the Chargers' lineup and provided solid play and veteran leadership for two seasons. In his two years as the starting free safety, Wilson totaled 157 tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes defensed.

But the Chargers signed Bhawoh Jue as an unrestricted free agent last spring and the former Green Bay third-rounder bumped Wilson from the lineup and ended up starting 14 games. Wilson appeared in only nine games, his lowest total since 2001 in New Orleans, and his lone start of the year came in the season finale.

The former Southern University standout, who originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995, finished with 15 tackles and two passes defensed.

Since the Chargers are expected to be about $20 million-$25 million under the projected salary cap for 2006, Wilson's release was not financially motivated, but rather a case of him no longer fitting into the team's plans for the future. He was entering the final season of his contract and was scheduled to have a base salary of $670,000. He could get some interest in free agency as a nickel defender and special teams player.

In stints with Tampa Bay (1995), Miami (1996-2000), New Orleans (2001) and San Diego (2002-2005), Wilson appeared in 120 games and started 35 of them. He registered 285 tackles, 6½ sacks, seven interceptions and 33 passes defensed.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.