Two star quarterbacks found new homes on Tuesday and two talented but troublesome receivers went on the open market. Daunte Culpepper landed in Miami and Drew Brees in New Orleans, a few hours before Terrell Owens was released by Philadelphia and Keyshawn Johnson was cut by Dallas.
For the Eagles, parting ways with Owens was inevitable. But the Cowboys’ move was unexpected and is sure to fuel speculation that Owens could be headed to the Cowboys. The quarterbacks played off each other. Brees, who had been considering Miami and New Orleans, agreed to a sixyear deal with the Saints shortly after the Vikings traded Culpepper to the Dolphins for what was reported as a second round pick. However, Brees’ agent, Tom Condon, said his client had been leaning toward the Saints in the past two days. Those moves not only took two coveted quarterbacks off the market, they raised another question: Does New Orleans dangle the second pick in the draft for teams seeking Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart? Aaron Brooks, the Saints quarterback for the past five years, is likely to be released, adding another quarterback who still has some value to the market. Both Culpepper and Brees are coming off major injuries. Brees, a standout for the Chargers the past two seasons (51 touchdowns, 22 interceptions), injured his throwing shoulder in the team’s final game last season and underwent surgery. He has said that he expects four or five months of recovery but doesn’t anticipate any long-term effects. The Saints will pay him $60 million over six years, $10 million guaranteed. Culpepper threw six touchdowns and had 12 interceptions last season, playing just seven games before he tore three ligaments in his knee. The Dolphins declined to confirm the deal although the Vikings announced it. “Anything we do is contingent on a player passing a medical exam,” Miami spokesman Harvey Greene said. Then there were the receivers. Owens and Johnson were partly responsible for a clause in the new labor agreement that prevents teams from benching players by deactivating them. It first happened with Johnson in Tampa Bay in 2003, when coach Jon Gruden deactivated him for the final six games for disciplinary reasons. The Eagles, who benefited from 16 Owens touchdowns in 2004, did the same last season with Owens, suspending him for four games, then deactivating — or “Keyshawning” — him. Owens’ release was timed so that the Eagles could avoid paying him a $5 million roster bonus due today. In addition to Dallas, Denver, Kansas City and Miami are said to be interested.