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AP: Pricey NFL vets to hit market soon as June 1 cuts loom


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Pricey NFL vets to hit market soon as June 1 cuts loom


NEW YORK -- Now the bargain hunting starts.

Beginning Tuesday, Kurt Warner, Eddie George, Rich Gannon and Larry Allen and other aging, high-priced stars are likely to become available simply because they're aging and high-priced.

On June 1, teams can cut veterans who are under contract and spread the salary cap hit over two years. This offseason already has been incredibly active, and now the bargain shopping starts.

Yes, a pair of league MVPs, Warner and Gannon, might come far more cheaply than anyone would have imagined a year ago. Warner lost his quarterback job in St. Louis to Marc Bulger and the Rams have made it clear he no longer is in their plans. Gannon comes off shoulder surgery, and with the Raiders signing Kerry Collins last week, there might not be a place for him in Oakland -- even with all the supportive quotes coming out of Raiders camp.

George no longer is at his peak and the Titans would like to give Chris Brown a bigger role, so Tennessee could release its longtime offensive force. George's production has declined recently and he refused to rework his contract in February, although he got a $1 million roster bonus in March.

"If it's obvious to me I can't accept it, I can't accept it," he says. "If it's workable and we can work something out over a long-term period, that's fine.

"I'll be happy and move on, come back here and help this team win."

Allen, one of the best offensive linemen of the last decade, is not a favorite of Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. Parcells even told Allen to skip the team's offseason conditioning program, although he also said he expects Allen to be in training camp.

That easily could be another team's training camp.

Others expected to be seeking employment in new environs include Browns quarterback Tim Couch; Steelers linebacker Jason Gildon; Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie; Redskins linebacker Jeremiah Trotter; and 49ers safety Zach Bronson.

In recent years, the Patriots have been especially adept at mining the second wave of free agency for help. They picked up Antowain Smith and Roman Phifer, among others, and, by the way, have won two of the last three Super Bowls.

"It's as important an element as any other in developing a roster," Patriots player personnel director Scott Pioli says. "As an organization, you look for every avenue to improve your team, and we've spent a great deal of time and energy on it."

Much energy has been spent trading, releasing and signing players since free agency opened three months ago. The frenzy began even before free agency opened when Washington and Denver agreed on a rare trade involving Pro Bowl players. The Redskins sent cornerback Champ Bailey to the Broncos for running back Clinton Portis.

As usually happens in such a copycat league, more trades followed, with such big names as Keyshawn Johnson, Corey Dillon, Joey Galloway, Mark Brunell and David Boston changing teams.

Add that to the normal plethora of free-agent signings and few days have gone by without some notable personnel move.

Consider that the following players have changed addresses through free agency or after being released: Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Jeff Garcia, Troy Vincent, Jevon Kearse, Charlie Garner, Antoine Winfield, Marcellus Wiley, Damien Woody, Tai Streets and Collins.

Plus Shawn Springs, Ted Washington, Duce Staley, Deon Grant, Carlos Emmons, Ron Stone, Ruben Brown, Todd Wade, Robaire Smith, Ian Gold, Eric Barton, Grant Wistrom and John Tait.

That doesn't even take into account the strange case of Terrell Owens, San Francisco's star wideout who was so disgruntled with the 49ers he made it clear he would not return after last season.

Then his agent failed to file the proper papers and Owens still belonged to the 49ers -- for another three years at far less than he would have earned on the open market.

The 49ers eventually traded him to Baltimore after a deal with Philadelphia, Owens' preferred destination, fell through. It was not until a compromise was reached that Owens wound up with the Eagles.

But that was typical of this outrageous offseason in which one team, the Bears, has shed itself of half its starting lineup, and seven new coaching staffs were hired.

And training camps don't open for nearly two more months.

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