Steelers pare veterans QB Maddox, CB Williams

Updated: March 3, 2006, 3:43 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Nine-year veteran quarterback Tommy Maddox, who resurrected his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers but lost his starting job to then-rookie Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, was released on Friday, as the Super Bowl XL champions continued to make moves to get under the 2006 salary cap.

Quarterback
Pittsburgh Steelers

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Att Comp Yds TD Int Rat
71 34 363 2 4 51.7

The Steelers also released 13-year veteran cornerback Willie Williams. The two transactions, which created $1.585 million in additional cap space, had been anticipated since the end of the season.

Out of the game for five seasons (1996-2000), Maddox signed with the Steelers in 2001 as a free agent, following stints in the Arena Football League and the short-lived XFL. He won the starting job a year later and between 2002-2003, started 27 games, including all contests in '03. In those two seasons, he completed 532 of 896 passes for 6,250 yards, with 38 touchdown passes and 33 interceptions.

Maddox, 34, established franchise records for attempts (519), completions (298) and 300-yard games (six) in 2003, and his 3,414 yards were the second most in club history for a single season.

But in the second game of the 2004 season, Maddox suffered an elbow injury against the Baltimore Ravens and was replaced by Roethlisberger, who then put a vise grip on the No. 1 job. Maddox played in just eight games, with five starts, after that. Last year, he dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart behind Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch. He was due a $100,000 roster bonus and a $900,000 base salary for 2006.

The first-round choice of the Denver Broncos in 1992, Maddox, who starred at UCLA, was projected as the eventual successor to John Elway. But he departed Denver long before Elway ever did, as he was released after the 1993 season. Maddox subsequently played for the Rams (1994) and the Giants (1995) before his career spiraled and he was out of the league for five seasons.

While selling insurance, he attempted to revive his career and, after playing in the Arena League and the XFL, winning most valuable player honors in the latter, the Steelers responded to a letter Maddox wrote to all 32 NFL franchises, seeking a tryout.

For his NFL career, Maddox has appeared in 93 games and started 36 of them, completing 686 of 1,200 passes for 8,087 yards, with 48 touchdown passes, 54 interceptions and a 72.4 efficiency rating.

Williams, 35, began his career with the Steelers in 1996, then signed with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent in 1997. After seven seasons with the Seahawks, he returned to Pittsburgh in 2004.

The former Western Carolina standout started 10 games in 2004, and played well, but was beaten out for the starting job in 2005 by emerging young cornerback Ike Taylor. Williams appeared in just four games in 2005 and was inactive for the final two months of the season. In 188 appearances, he posted 646 tackles, 26 interceptions and 103 passes defensed.

Williams was due a base salary of $1.235 million for 2006.

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

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