Originally created 02/18/99

Broncos release safety Atwater



DENVER -- The Denver Broncos released safety Steve Atwater on Wednesday, one day after making Dale Carter the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.

The Broncos and Carter reached agreement Tuesday on a six-year, $38 million contract that includes an $8 million signing bonus.

Carter, 29, was one of the top prizes in this year's free-agent class, and by signing him the Broncos showed their commitment to trying to win a third straight Super Bowl.

"As you can see, we're very serious about a three-peat," Broncos owner Pat Bowlen said.

Carter, a No. 1 pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1992, was named to start in four straight Pro Bowls from 1994-97 and was an unrestricted free agent. The Chiefs could have matched Denver's offer but chose not to do so.

"It was too large," Kansas City general manager Carl Peterson said. "It's an amazing contract. I'm surprised at the numbers."

To free up space under the league's salary cap to sign Carter, the Broncos on Wednesday released Atwater, who was scheduled to count nearly $3.3 million against Denver's salary cap next season.

Atwater, 32, has played in eight Pro Bowls, but he has been bracing for his exit from Denver since being replaced on passing downs this past season.

The Broncos said that after Atwater has explored all options available to him, it is possible he may still return to the Broncos for the 1999 season.

"It's not like this is a big shock to me," he said. "When they were taking me out of games, that said something right there. They had needs to address. I have nothing but great things to say about my time in Denver. It was 10 great seasons."

GIANTS TERMINATE CALLOWAY:

Chris Calloway, who led the New York Giants in receptions the last four seasons, had his contract terminated in a salary cap move by the team after it signed linebacker Corey Widmer to an $11.2 million deal on Wednesday.

The release of Calloway will give the Giants an opportunity to see what young receivers Amani Toomer, Joe Jurevicius and Brian Alford can do when playing opposite Ike Hilliard.

"In my two years here, this was the toughest move I've had to make," Giants coach Jim Fassel said. "We've improved the quality and the depth at the receiving position. That, along with the salary cap, forced us to go in this direction. Chris is a true professional, and I wish him nothing but the best."

Calloway, 30, was to earn a little more than $1 million this season, including a $500,000 roster bonus due on March 1.

EAGLES SIGN PEDERSON:

The Philadelphia Eagles signed free agent Doug Pederson to a $4.5 million, three-year contract on Wednesday to be the starting quarterback for the NFL's worst offense.

Pederson, 31, has never started an NFL game and had thrown just 32 regular-season passes in the league during a career that began in 1992 on the Dolphins' practice squad. He has been Brett Favre's backup the last four seasons.

"He's a very smart individual who has size and that helps," said Eagles coach Andy Reid, who was Green Bay's quarterbacks coach before being hired by the Eagles. "He also has the physical ability to run and throw the ball. He's been able to study the West Coast offense for the last three years, so he knows the system."

Pederson will be called upon to resuscitate an offense that scored only 161 points last season, 80 fewer than the next worst team. The Eagles went through three quarterbacks -- Bobby Hoying, Rodney Peete and Koy Detmer.

BUSH GOES TO RAMS:

The St. Louis Rams signed free agent safety Devin Bush to a four-year contract Wednesday.

Bush, 25, appeared in 13 games for NFC champion Atlanta in 1998. He had 24 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Bush was a first-round selection by the Falcons out of Florida State in the 1995 draft. He has started 36 games in his NFL career.

Bush is expected to compete for a starting job at safety, where veteran Toby Wright has been bothered by knee injuries.

The Rams have signed three free agents this off-season, agreeing to deals with former Packers offensive guard Adam Timmerman and former Redskins quarterback Trent Green.

VIKINGS FAN SENTENCED:

A Minnesota Vikings fan who calls himself "the Grand Viking" was placed on two years' probation and fined $200 Wednesday after pleading guilty to setting on fire the clothing and hair of two Green Bay Packers fans.

Brian E. Siegmann, 23, of Eau Claire, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in return for more serious charges being dropped.

Eau Claire County Circuit Judge Thomas Barland also ordered Siegmann to spend 30 days in jail or perform 240 hours of community service and to get an assessment for drug and alcohol abuse, Assistant District Attorney Keri Singstock said.

"Is he a bad man who tried to set the entire Water Street on fire? Probably not," Singstock said Wednesday, referring to the street of taverns where the encounter took place last Oct. 4, the night before a Packers-Vikings game.

Siegmann was accused of lighting Casey Conners-Herm's left pants leg on fire and then setting Meagan Corcoran's left jacket sleeve and hair on fire after they identified themselves as Packers fans. Neither was seriously injured.