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Giants cut Collins in salary cap move

Quarterback Kerry Collins was released by the New York Giants yesterday, less than a week after the team traded for rookie Eli Manning.

Collins, who led the Giants to the 2001 Super Bowl, guaranteed the move by refusing to renegotiate his contract. He was to earn $7 million this season and count $8.95 million against the salary cap.

The release gives Collins time to find a new team for next season.

The Giants have said they will sign a veteran quarterback who might start the season to pave the way for Manning.

The Mississippi quarterback was taken by the San Diego Chargers with the first overall pick in the draft and traded to New York.

Maddox plans to start

Tommy Maddox expects to remain the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting quarterback now that he has had a clear-the-air meeting with coach Bill Cowher. Maddox insisted he isn't upset the Steelers drafted Ben Roethlisberger in the first round of last weekend's draft, though his agent has suggested otherwise. He said he is ready to help the rookie become an NFL starter -- just not right away. Maddox was assured during the 45-minute meeting Tuesday that the Steelers won't hand the job to Roethlisberger . . . The Browns gave the Chicago Bears permission to talk to Tim Couch and his agent, Tom Condon, about redoing Couch's contract, the first step in a possible trade for the Cleveland quarterback . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Atlanta backup quarterback Doug Johnson. Johnson started eight games for the Falcons last year after Michael Vick got hurt . . . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Denver Broncos free agent linebacker Ian Gold. He was with the Broncos for four seasons, playing in 54 games, including 22 starts, and made the Pro Bowl in 2001 as a special teams player.

Little still a Ram

Leonard Little will remain a full-fledged member of the St. Louis Rams until his legal problems are resolved in court. Little, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a 1998 drunk driving accident that killed a St. Louis woman, was arrested early Saturday in the St. Louis suburb of Laud on suspicion of drunk driving. He was charged Monday as a persistent offender with felony driving while intoxicated and speeding, and freed on $7,500 bond. The Rams and the NFL do not condone drinking and driving "under any circumstances," coach Mike Martz said in a statement. But he added that because he is innocent until proven guilty, Little will for now continue to participate in team events. . . . ESPN hired former coach Mike Ditka as a studio analyst.

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