NFL Cuts Roundup

Monday, August 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The final NFL cutdown day was a mixed bag for Cris Dishman.

While other veterans such as Anthony Johnson, Billy Joe Tolliver and Orlando Brown didn't make their team's roster Sunday, Dishman wasn't unemployed for long.

The 12-year veteran was cut by Kansas City after being beaten out by Eric Warfield. But he landed on his feet in Minnesota, agreeing to a contract with the Vikings and likely will become a starter at left cornerback.

Johnson, the only back to rush for 1,000 yards in Panthers history, was released. New Orleans did the same to Tolliver, who started seven games last year. The unfortunate Brown, still suffering sight problems after being hit in the eye by an official's penalty flag last December, was placed on the physically unable to perform list by Cleveland.

Other veterans finding themselves unemployed: quarterback Doug Pederson (Eagles), placekicker Todd Peterson (Seahawks), safety Omar Stoutmire (Jets), center Mike Devlin (Cardinals), tight end Ryan Wetnight (Bears), cornerback Michael Booker (Falcons), guard Brian DeMarco (Bengals), safety Leomond Evans (Lions), running back Raymont Harris (Patriots), placekicker Joe Nedney (Raiders), linebacker Gabe Northern (Steelers), and receiver Charlie Jones (Chargers).

Overall, there were few surprises as all 31 NFL teams got down to the 53-player limit.

The Falcons traded tight end O.J. Santiago, a key player on their NFC championship team two years ago, to Dallas for two draft picks.

``I feel very comfortable he'll be able to walk in and contribute immediately,'' Cowboys coach Dave Campo said.

Denver sent cornerback Chris Watson, who sparkled on returns as a rookie last year, to Buffalo for an undisclosed draft choice. He is expected to fill the return spot Kevin Williams held last year. Williams was released for salary-cap reasons last spring.

Tolliver lost his spot to Jake Delhomme and Aaron Brooks as a backup to Jeff Blake.

``It was not so much what Billy didn't do as what Jake and Aaron did do,'' coach Jim Haslett said. ``They're young guys that you hate to let go. We think they're going to be pretty good players in the future.''

Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham feels the same way about Warfield.

``I think Cris has had a great career in the NFL, but we're going in another direction,'' Cunningham said. ``The ball is in Eric Warfield's court and we'll see what he does with it.''

Brown has been unable to play since being hit in the right eye by the referee's flag, and his career is in jeopardy. Brown cannot practice or play for the first six weeks of the season. After that time, Brown could remain on the PUP list or be placed on the non-football injured reserve list.

Brown is considering filing a lawsuit against the NFL and has retained lawyer Johnny Cochran.

Eight-year veteran Pederson, who began last season as Philadelphia's starting quarterback, was released by the Eagles, leaving Koy Detmer as Donovan McNabb's backup. Pederson or Tolliver could be headed to Cleveland, where Tim Couch needs a veteran backup after a season-ending injury to his sub, Koy Detmer's brother Ty.

Harris sat out last season with a stress fracture in his left leg. The Patriots need a veteran runner, but he wasn't the answer.

``I don't think it was so much about him (playing poorly) as the promise of younger players,'' coach Bill Belichick said, referring to Kevin Faulk and J.R. Redmond, their only remaining runners. ``It ends abruptly for a lot of these players.''

Including Booker. He was Dan Reeves' first-ever draft pick (11th overall) as Falcons coach and general manager in 1997.

``Definitely, anybody is tough (to release) when you draft them,'' Reeves said. ``When you get a high draft choice your expectations of them and their expectations of themselves are extremely high.''

Reeves blamed some of Booker's problems on injuries, but when he was beaten last week for a 68-yard touchdown by Jacksonville's Alvis Whitted, it convinced Reeves to turn elsewhere.

Another recent first-rounder, wide receiver Marcus Nash, was released after reaching an injury settlement with Baltimore. He broke his jaw early in training camp. Nash was Denver's first-round pick in 1998.

Tampa Bay hoped Jason Odom would be its starting left tackle, but he will miss the season after being placed on injured reserve with a back problem.

Carolina's Johnson, who in 10 NFL seasons had 2,854 yards rushing, 1,120 of them in 1996, when he filled in for the injured Tshimanga Biakubutuka and helped lead the second-year Panthers to the NFC title game.

``That was probably particularly painful,'' coach George Seifert said, ``because he's meant an awful lot to the club over the years.''