Bledsoe, Horn among major names cut loose

Associated Press • Mar 12, 2007 at 3:33 AM

As expected, the Dallas Cowboys cut Drew Bledsoe on Thursday.

Bledsoe, who lost his quarterback job to Tony Romo after six turnover- and sack-plagued starts last season, was one of a number of aging players cut Thursday as teams adjusted their rosters to get more salary cap room for the free agent period that begins today.

Also cut was Joe Horn, one of the leaders of the New Orleans Saints during their 2005 season in Hurricane Katrina-enforced exile.

The 35-year-old wide receiver, whose image did a 180-degree turn after Katrina forced the team from its home and left it to spend that year in Texas, was let go at his own request after he declined to take a pay cut.

He could come back.

"Joe really wanted to see where his value is around the league for his services," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "With as much as Joe has meant to the Saints and to New Orleans, we don't want to impede his desire to do so, and we have kept the door open for him to return to our team."

Among the other transactions on Thursday:

- Wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who turned 37 in January, was released by San Diego. He had 36 catches last year, his 15th in the NFL. San Diego also let go two troubled players: linebacker Steve Foley, who missed the season after being shot by a policeman, and safety Terrence Kiel, who pleaded guilty last month to felony and misdemeanor drug charges for shipping codeine-based cough syrup to Texas.

- Pittsburgh cut linebacker Joey Porter, an outspoken sack specialist whose trash-talking was one of the subplots leading up to the 2006 Super Bowl, won by the Steelers.

- Minnesota released three former starters: cornerback Fred Smoot, tight end Jermaine Wiggins and tackle Mike Rosenthal.

- The New York Jets locked up receiver Jerrico Cotchery on a long-term deal.

The release of Horn was notable because he had been such a symbol of his team.

First it was as a showboat - he was fined by the NFL in 2003 for pulling a cell phone from a goal post and making a call after catching a touchdown pass. Then it was as a spokesman for the players in their exile in Texas after they were forced to flee their homes and spent 2005 on the road.

Last season, Horn had 37 catches for 679 yards and four touchdowns but missed the Saints' last four regular-season games and both playoff games because of a groin injury.

Bledsoe, who turned 35 on Valentine's day, was the No. 1 overall pick by New England in 1993. He was invited back by owner Jerry Jones, although he is sure to be a backup at a reduced salary.

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