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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Teams Eye Well-Paid For Final Roster Cuts

NEW YORK -- In the American National Football League, being well paid sometimes doesn't pay.


As NFL teams got down to the 53-man roster limit Sunday, many used the most common method of the salary-cap era -- when in doubt, cut the guy with the higher salary.


Indianapolis, for example, released Craig Erickson, obtained last year in a trade to be their long-term quarterback. But he was beaten out early last season by Jim Harbaugh, who signed a new four-year, $13 million deal this year, making Erickson's $2 million too much to carry.


Only the Cincinnati Bengals, traditionally one of the league's lowest paying teams, deviated markedly, keeping Garrison Hearst despite his $2.1 million salary after picking him up off waivers last week from Arizona. Hearst, slated to play behind Ki-Jana Carter at running back, has so far refused to renegotiate his contract to take less.


Even Hearst was surprised, suggesting on one hand that he expects to stay in Cincinnati and on the other that he might be cut again or traded. The Baltimore Ravens, among others, were set to try and sign him as a free agent -- for a lot less money -- when the Bengals jumped in and claimed him.


"It's hard thinking about what's going on,'' said the third overall pick in the 1993 NFL draft.


Another cut by the Bengals was 32-year-old cornerback Rod Jones, in the fourth year of a contract averaging $756,000. Jones had started 37 straight games until he was injured last season but was slated to be a reserve.


The New York Jets cut Brad Baxter, their starting fullback the last five seasons. Baxter led the team in rushing in 1992, was seventh overall in team history and had 35 touchdowns.


But he also would have cost the Jets about $650,000 under the cap.


For most teams, Sunday's cuts were only a step along the way to establishing a final 53-man roster for the start of the season next week.


Some players may be brought back at reduced salaries. Others may be claimed off waivers, and many of the rookies cut could turn up on the five-man practice squads.


Erickson, for example, is likely to be signed by someone needing a veteran reserve but not at anywhere near what he was due to make in Indianapolis. And the cuts also give teams salary cap room to renegotiate with current players whose contracts they want to extend and sign players cut by other teams. For example, Jerry Evans, a fourth-year tight end cut by Denver, said he had already been contacted by Philadelphia, and Ronnie Bradford, a fourth-year cornerback let go by the Broncos, had been contacted by Arizona.


Not every team announced its cuts. Some will wait until after the 24-hour waiver period to make their cuts public.


?Curtis Enis ran for 241 yards and scored three touchdowns Sunday as No. 11 Penn State cruised to a 24-7 victory over No. 7 Southern California in the Kickoff Classic.


Enis, a 6-foot-1, 231-pound sophomore who was rarely allowed to be interviewed last season, dazzled a Kickoff Classic record crowd of 77,716 at Giants Stadium with scoring runs of 24, nine and four yards.


His 24-yarder, with 1:57 left in the first half, displayed Enis' power and speed. He ran directly into safety Rashard Cook at the 15-yard-line, bounced off and sped into the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 10-0 lead.