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Monday, May 20
Updated: May 21, 1:36 PM ET
Cowboys decided to go with younger talent at QB

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Ryan Leaf is without a job again after the Dallas Cowboys cut him Monday, the third team in 15 months to release the former No. 2 overall draft choice.

Leaf might have been a model citizen in the Cowboys' locker room, but his play was still erratic. Plus, he was expendable with the emergence of Quincy Carter and the recent acquisition of former Stanford quarterback Chad Hutchinson, who spent the past four seasons playing pro baseball.

"This is a decision that came down to numbers on our depth chart at the quarterback position, and we wanted to dedicate the practice repetitions to the younger players," team owner Jerry Jones said.

Leaf's agent, David Dunn, didn't return a phone message. Dunn's secretary said he was traveling and not available.

The Seattle Times reported in Tuesday's editions that sources say the Seahawks are interested in signing Leaf, but team officials did not confirm whether negotiations have begun.

Leaf wasn't at the team's practice facility Monday when the Cowboys started a three-day quarterback school, but his locker was still intact.

When asked about Leaf's absence, both Jones and coach Dave Campo said there would be an announcement later in the day. And that came in a faxed release.

Leaf, the No. 2 overall choice by San Diego in 1998, is 4-17 as an NFL starter, with 36 interceptions and just 14 touchdowns.

The Chargers released Leaf on Feb. 28, 2001, ending a three-season run after they took him following Peyton Manning's selection as the No. 1 choice by the Indianapolis Colts. Leaf went to training camp with Tampa Bay last summer, but the Buccaneers cut him before the season.

Even though Jones showed interest in the quarterback at that point, Leaf wasn't signed until Oct. 12 after Carter tore his hamstring.

Leaf got a three-year, $2 million contract, earning $500,000 last season. He was supposed to get $500,000 again in 2002 before a $1 million salary in 2003.

After taking a couple of weeks to learn the offense, Leaf lost all three of his starts and didn't play again. In four games overall, he was 45-for-88 (51.1 percent) for 494 yards with three interceptions and one touchdown before Carter returned to finish his rookie season with five consecutive starts.

In his last game, Leaf almost led the Cowboys to their biggest comeback ever, guiding two fourth-quarter touchdown drives in a 26-24 defeat against Denver on Thanksgiving Day. He was 16-for-32 for 193 yards, but also had three fumbles and made several poor decisions throwing the ball.

Hutchinson got a $3.1 million bonus when he signed a seven-year contract in January. He hasn't played in a game since starting 23 games for Stanford in 1996 and 1997.

With Carter excused from the two-hour practice session Monday to tend to personal business, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Hutchinson got most of the snaps.

"Chad's doing well, he's making progress. We want to give him as much work as he can to give him a chance to understand the offense and get rid of some of the rust," Campo said. "He throws the ball well. He's in pretty good shape right now. He has a better grasp than we anticipated because he used this offense at Stanford. So even those it's four years ago, he's starting to pick up things."

Carter was a surprise second-round choice by the Cowboys in 2001, and was made the starter after Tony Banks was cut midway through training camp.

Because of the hamstring injury and a thumb injury earlier in the season, Carter played in just eight games. He completed 90 of 176 passes (51.1 percent) for 1,072 yards with seven interceptions and five touchdowns.

The Cowboys also released defensive tackle Maurice Gordon on Monday. Gordon, a rookie free agent from Texas, signed with Dallas last month.

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