As expected, Steussie jettisoned by Tampa Bay

Updated: July 29, 2005, 2:08 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Needing salary cap space to sign their remaining draft choices, including first-round tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, the Bucs on Thursday night released veteran offensive tackle Todd Steussie.

The jettisoning of Steussie, an 11-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowl performer, had been anticipated for more than a month. The team excused Steussie from its mandatory minicamp last month, all but conceding he would not be back in 2005.

Steussie, 34, has missed only one regular-season game in his career, in 1998, with a knee injury. But he started a career-low five contests in 2004, after never having started fewer than 15 contests in a season, losing his right tackle job to Kenyatta Walker.

Tampa Bay signed Steussie to a six-year, $20 million contract last March, after he was released by Carolina for salary-cap considerations. The contract included a $4 million signing bonus. By waiting until after June 1 to release Steussie, the Bucs have to count only the prorated share of the signing bonus, roughly $667,000 against the 2005 cap. The team will take cap hit of about $2.67 million in 2006.

A former University of California star, Steussie entered the league with Minnesota in 1994 as a first-round draft choice. He played seven seasons with the Vikings before his release, then signed with the Panthers in 2001. Stuessie is among three former or current Carolina players cited in a broadcast report alleged to have purchased steroids from a Columbia, S.C., doctor.

-- Len Pasquarelli

Miami Dolphins: A stomach virus that may have helped send guard Jeno James to the hospital has now affected other Dolphins players, including quarterback A.J. Feeley.

Feeley missed Thursday's practice to see a doctor, and coach Nick Saban said a couple of other players were affected by the virus -- though no other player missed practice because of it. Saban was unsure if Feeley would be back at practice Friday.

"We've got a little virus going around on the team," Saban said. "A.J. went to the doctor today, Jeno was sick. That was part of the problem with him and we had three or four other guys have this kind of stomach virus kind of a thing that's going around.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to get that contained and kind of go from there."

James was in stable condition Thursday after the 320-pound lineman became woozy Wednesday night after taking part in a two-hour workout in muggy, 80-degree weather. The practice was the second of the day on the third day of training camp.

"All his body functions have returned to normal," team physician Dr. Gerald Kuykendall said. "He was suffering from gastroenteritis, which contributed to his dehydration."

Saban said James probably would remain in the hospital for "another day or so."

James started 14 games for Miami last year after signing as an unrestricted free agent. He spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers.

St. Louis Rams: For the first time in three seasons, Orlando Pace was on the field for the start of training camp.

The St. Louis Rams' standout offensive tackle, who signed a multiyear deal earlier this year after two years as the franchise player, appeared pleased to be getting a fast start for a change as the team began two-a-day workouts.

"Training camp is always a grind, I know that," Pace said. "But I haven't done this in a couple of years and I'm happy to be out here playing.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I really am."

Pace, a six-time Pro Bowler, signed a seven-year, $52.9 million contract in March after firing his agents, Carl and Kevin Poston. That deal was done in time for him to participate in a minicamp, also.

Now, instead of acrimony, he has a chance to finish his career in St. Louis, where it began after he was the first overall pick in the 1997 draft.

Though holdouts haven't kept him from piling up Pro Bowls appearances, Pace believes he could have done even better given a full slate of preseason practices instead of working out on his own. Last year he had only four practices to get ready for the regular season.

"I think it's going to help me a lot just working on the techniques and getting in shape," Pace said. "When the season rolls around, you don't have to rush and try to catch up or rush and try to get in shape and learn the plays and things like that.

"So, it's a big deal."

Cornerback Ron Bartell, the Rams' second-round pick, agreed to a four-year contract Thursday night.

Bartell, the 50th overall pick of the draft, is the ninth of the Rams' 11th draft picks to come to terms. The only unsigned players are first-round pick Alex Barron and third-rounder Richie Incognito, both offensive tackles.

Bartell was a second-team all-Mid Eastern Athletic Conference selection as a senior at Howard with 39 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He transferred to Howard from Central Michigan, where he played his first two college seasons.

New York Jets: Star defensive end John Abraham has been designated the team's franchise player but has not signed their tender offer. As a result, he was a no-show to Jets camp Thursday.

Abraham refused to sign his $6.7 million franchise tender because he wants a long-term deal. The Jets are reluctant to make a commitment to him because of his history with injuries. Though general manager Terry Bradway has spoken with Abraham's agents, Rich Rosa and Tony Agnone, nothing has changed and the Jets don't know when he will report.

"We've had discussions with Terry Bradway the last couple of days," Rosa said. "We're going to continue to keep the lines of communication open."

Abraham might be willing to sign his deal if he gets the same guarantees as Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, who signed his tender after Seattle agreed not to slap the franchise tag on him next season. Alexander also must approve any possible trade. When asked about the provision for Abraham, Bradway refused comment.

  • The Jets signed second-round pick Mike Nugent on Thursday, just in time for the start of training camp.

    Nugent, an All-American out of Ohio State, goes into the season as the starting kicker after the Jets cut Doug Brien in the offseason. Nugent was the last Jets draft pick to sign, making it eight straight years the organization has signed each rookie in time for training camp.

    The Jets drafted Nugent No. 47 overall in April. Nugent converted 87.8 percent (65-of-74) of his field goal attempts with the Buckeyes.

    Houston Texans: The Texans signed Vernand Morency and Jerome Mathis on Thursday, leaving first-rounder Travis Johnson as their only unsigned draft pick with training camp two days away.

    Morency, a running back, was chosen in the third round with the 73rd pick and Mathis, a receiver, with the 114th choice in the fourth round.

    Houston has conditioning tests Friday and opens camp Saturday morning. Defensive tackle Johnson, the 16th pick in the first round, cannot participate in training camp until he is under contract.

    Morency rushed for almost 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior at Oklahoma State in 2004.

    Morency, 5-foot-9 and 212 pounds, signed a three-year contract with a $567,000 signing bonus, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus. Morency will make $230,000 this season, $310,000 in 2006 and $385,000 in his third season.

    Mathis, a former track star, has impressed the Texans with his speed and should see work as a kick returner. Mathis caught 30 passes for 884 yards and nine touchdowns for Hampton last season.

    Terms of Mathis' contract were not available. His agent didn't return a phone call Thursday.

    Cleveland Browns: Free agent linebacker Orlando Ruff, who spent the last two seasons with New Orleans, signed with Cleveland.

    The club also placed tight end Keith Heinrich on injured reserve and waived defensive tackle Doug Sims.

    Ruff started 18 games for the Saints. Last season, he recorded 70 tackles and had one interception. Ruff also played four seasons with San Diego, making the Chargers' roster as an undrafted rookie in 1999.

    Heinrich, who made one reception in seven games last season after missing the first nine weeks with an ankle injury, tore a knee ligament during a spring workout.

    The Browns open training camp on Friday.

    Denver Broncos: The Broncos signed second-round pick Darrent Williams to a four-year contract Thursday, hours before players were due to report for camp.

    Williams, a cornerback from Oklahoma State, was the first pick the Broncos made in this year's draft. He is expected to compete for playing time on defense and is the favorite to return kicks and punts this season.

    Troy David, who works for the firm representing Williams, said the deal included a signing bonus worth $1.275 million.

    Third-round pick Maurice Clarett, the team's third-round draft pick, signed late in the day, keeping good on his promise that he would not be a holdout.

    Sixth-round pick Chris Myers, an offensive lineman, also signed in the afternoon.

    Cincinnati Bengals: Wide receiver Chris Henry, the Bengals' third-round pick, signed a five-year deal.

    Henry, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, scored a school-record 12 touchdowns last season and had a single-game record 209 yards receiving against Syracuse the previous year.

    Other problems, however, dropped him in the draft.

    Henry was ejected from a game against Rutgers for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, prompting Mountaineers coach Rich Rodriguez to bench him for the first half of the next game. Henry also was suspended for the final regular-season game against Pittsburgh for violating team rules.

    Buffalo Bills: Cornerback Eric King, the Bills' fifth-round draft pick, agreed to terms on a contract.

    King, a two-time ACC first team selection, started 42 of 46 games during a four-year career at Wake Forest.

    The deal comes a day before Bills players are scheduled to report for training camp in Rochester. Buffalo has two draft picks still to sign -- receiver Roscoe Parrish, a second-round pick, and tight end Kevin Everett, a third-rounder.

    San Diego Chargers: Wide receiver Vincent Jackson ended his holdout and agreed to a five-year contract with the Chargers on Thursday, leaving first-round pick Shawne Merriman as their only unsigned draft pick.

    Jackson was drafted in the second round out of Northern Colorado. He missed the first four practices of training camp.

    Merriman, an outside linebacker from Maryland who was taken with the 12th pick overall, remains unsigned.

    Charger veterans reported Thursday, and the first full-squad practice is Friday morning.

    San Francisco 49ers: Running back Frank Gore was signed to a three-year contract Thursday, meaning all 11 draft picks are under contract two days before the first training camp practice.

    The team agreed to terms Wednesday night with its second- and third-round picks, offensive linemen David Baas and Adam Snyder, ending a flurry of deals that began with a six-year, $49.5 million contract with No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith. Baas' deal is for five years and Snyder's is for three.

    This is the first time since the salary cap began in 1994 that San Francisco has had 11 picks signed before training camp.

    "That's ahead of schedule, and we're certainly excited about that," first-year coach Mike Nolan said Thursday. "They'll all be at the start of camp, and we'll let the competition begin for them."

    All players report to team headquarters in Santa Clara on Friday, with the first practice session scheduled the following afternoon.

    Carolina Panthers - Washington Redskins: Rod Gardner passed his physical with the Panthers on Thursday, completing his trade from the Redskins for a sixth-round draft pick.

    The move clears $2.1 million of salary cap space for the Redskins, who need the money to sign first-round draft picks Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell.

    Unhappy with his role in Washington's offense, Gardner was given permission to seek a trade in January. It appeared Washington would have to release him until the deal was struck with the Panthers, who have been looking for a replacement for Muhsin Muhammad. Muhammad left as a free agent for the Chicago Bears earlier this offseason.

    Gardner was a first-round draft pick in 2001, but he was inconsistent during his time in Washington. His best season came in 2002 when he caught 71 passes for 1,006 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 51 receptions for 650 yards and five touchdowns last year.

    Tennessee Titans: The Titans agreed Thursday to contract terms with second-round draft pick Michael Roos and third-round selection Brandon Jones.

    Roos is an offensive tackle from Eastern Washington, Jones a wide receiver from Oklahoma.

    First-round pick Adam "Pacman" Jones, a cornerback from West Virginia, is the only Titans draft selection this year who has not agreed to terms. He was the No. 6 pick overall.

    The Titans open training camp Friday.

    Ex-NFL QB Gannon goes to broadcast booth

    MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Vikings quarterback Rich Gannon will again be a regular at the Metrodome when football season resumes this fall, but he won't be playing football.

    Gannon, who is retiring from the Oakland Raiders because of a broken neck sustained last season, has agreed to a one-year contract as an analyst on CBS' NFL telecasts and a one-year contract with KSTP-TV.

    He will be part of the station's pregame show when it airs three of the Vikings' preseason games, and will appear on Sunday night's "Sports Wrap" with coach Mike Tice and host Rod Simons during the regular season.

    Gannon played for the Vikings from 1987 to 1992. He then played with Washington and Kansas City before spending the past six seasons with the Oakland Raiders.

    Gannon lives with his wife and two daughters in Excelsior. In 2002 he earned league MVP honors and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl.

    Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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