Sacramento Bee

Stubblefield cut in salary move
February 27, 2003
The former All-Pro defensive tackle is among four players let go to fit under the league's salary cap.

By Matthew Barrows -- Bee Staff Writer

SANTA CLARA -- Defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield joined a list of prominent NFL veterans Wednesday who are suddenly looking for new jobs.

The 49ers released the three-time Pro Bowl player as well as guard Dave Fiore, cornerback Anthony Parker and linebacker Alex Lincoln to get under the league's salary cap. The 49ers were believed to be about $6.5 million over the projected $75 million cap before Wednesday's moves.

General manager Terry Donahue said Stubblefield, a first-round draft pick in 1993 and the league's top defensive player in 1997, played well early in the season. But Donahue said Stubblefield's weight increased and his effectiveness diminished.

Stubblefield finished the season with 37 tackles and three sacks on a defensive line that had difficulty pressuring quarterbacks.

His salary was expected to be $3 million for the upcoming season, with an additional $500,000 roster bonus due to kick in this week.

For Fiore, it was concern over his ailing knees that made him a salary-cap victim. Fiore was due to earn $2.5 million next season, plus an additional $500,000 roster bonus. Parker was a fourth-round draft pick in 1999 who played sparingly over his 49ers career. Lincoln was drafted in 2001 but never played a down for the team.

Donahue said there was a possibility any of the four players released Wednesday could rejoin the team after the NFL's free-agency period begins Friday.

"We certainly don't want to close the door on the future," he said. "It's never easy when you say goodbye to players that have contributed to your success."

Though the 49ers' salary-cap woes were not as serious as in years past, the team also had to restructure the contracts of seven players, including quarterback Jeff Garcia, to create room under the cap. Contracts for defensive end Andre Carter, tackle Scott Gragg, center Jeremy Newberry, safeties Tony Parrish and Zack Bronson, and fullback Fred Beasley also were reworked.

Donahue said the team saved about $8 million in all, but the 49ers will not be big spenders.

"We're not going to be real active in the free-agent market," Donahue said. "Our objective has always been hanging onto our own players."

Donahue said the team would also attempt to hammer out a contract extension with receiver Terrell Owens, who is set to become a free agent next year. Donahue said those negotiations would likely begin after the April draft.

Camp quandary -- Team officials will meet with representatives from the University of the Pacific today to discuss whether the 49ers will hold summer training camp at the Stockton university.

Donahue said it was "50-50" that the team could hold its camp at its facility in Santa Clara, citing financial issues and the Stockton heat as drawbacks at UOP.

He said no other locations are being considered.

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