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Saints Cut Quarterback Tolliver

August 27, 2000

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver, a 10-year veteran who had been with the New Orleans Saints since 1998, was one of 17 players cut Sunday.

Tolliver, one of the few holdovers from the Mike Ditka years, was competing with Aaron Brooks and Jake Delhomme to back up starter 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.″

The Saints traded a third-round draft pick and linebacker K.D. Williams to Green Bay on July 31 for Brooks and tight end Lamont Hall. Delhomme signed as a free agent out of Southwestern Louisiana and started the final two games last year.

``I think Billy’s good for a football team,″ Haslett said. ``He’d be good to have around here. He’s a true professional. He’s a great teacher. I think he’ll be a good coach someday.″

Tolliver can still play in the league, Haslett said, and he did not rule out his return to the Saints. There was discussion about keeping all four quarterbacks, he said. Because of injuries and other needs, however, they decided to go with three.

A decision on who is the No. 2 quarterback has not been made.

Also cut were veteran fullback Aaron Craver, running back Wilmont Perry, fullback Michael Blair, defensive ends D.J. Cooper and Bobby Setzer, cornerback Shannon Garrett, guard Robert Hunt, safety Eric Johnson, centers Jason McEndoo and Tom Schau, linebackers Ron Merkerson, Joe Tuipala and Philip Ward, tackle Chase Raynock, tight end Dave Stachelski and wide receiver L.C. Stevens.

The Saints were expected to keep either Perry, a fifth-round draft pick in 1998, or Craver, who started 10 games last year.

``We decided we were going to keep one or the other based on how they performed in the last game,″ Haslett said. ``Neither one did a great job when they were in.″

The decision was to keep six receivers, including free agent Ryan Thelwell, who has played impressively, and only four running backs.

The release of Perry, Craver and Blair left the Saints with only four running backs: starters Ricky Williams and Terrelle Smith and backups Chad Morton and Brian Milne. Smith and Morton are rookies.

``You try not to be too emotional about it,″ said Craver. ``I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me, so I wished everybody good luck and left.″

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