Tom Cousineau, the top pick in the NFL draft seven years ago, was waived by the Cleveland Browns Tuesday as teams continued the countdown to opening day by reshuffling their rosters.
The waiving of Cousineau followed unsuccessful efforts to trade him and his $500,000-a-year contract. Cousineau lost his starting job at inside linebacker to Anthony Griggs, obtained in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. Former USFL player Mike Johnson will be Griggs' backup.
"I have no doubt Tom will play in the NFL and probably start," Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We just had too many quality players at the position."
Cousineau was taken by the Buffalo Bills with the first choice in the 1979 draft, but he chose to play in Canada. He returned two years later and signed with Cleveland.
Cousineau's contract would have to be picked up by any team claiming him on waivers. As a vested veteran, however, he could also select free agency and work out his own deal.
Tuesday was a day when most NFL teams adjusted their rosters after getting down to the 45-player regular-season limit. Some players cut earlier were recalled by teams after other players were placed on the injured-reserve list.
New York Jets first-round draft pick Mike Haight was placed on injured reserve, leaving the team with none of its 11 choices from last April's draft on the active roster.
Haight, an offensive tackle from Iowa, is suffering from a hyperextended knee and had played in just one exhibition game. The Jets replaced him on the roster with guard Ron Sams, who was waived a week ago.
In Detroit, Coach Darryl Rogers announced that Eric Hipple had beaten out Joe Ferguson at quarterback for the second year in a row.
Rogers left the door open for Ferguson or rookie Chuck Long to move into the starting job later.
"Nothing is etched in stone," the second-year NFL coach said. "I didn't say that this is for a whole season. I'm just saying Eric is our starting quarterback."
The Minnesota Vikings acquired Wayne Wilson, who led the New Orleans Saints in rushing last year with 645 yards, for wide receiver Mike Jones. Jones was the Vikings' second-leading receiver last season with 46 catches.
Wilson ranks fourth all-time on the Saints' rushing chart, third in touchdowns scored and fifth in career receptions.
Philadelphia Coach Buddy Ryan confirmed that the starting running backs for the Eagles' opener with Washington will be Junior Tautalatasi and Mike Waters. That left Earnest Jackson, a 1,000-yard rusher the past two years, on the bench along with last year's fullback, Michael Haddix.
"They're the most productive guys we had in the exhibitions," Ryan said. "We gave everybody a good shot, I thought, and those guys were the most productive,"
First-round draft pick Keith Byars, who is working his way back from off-season foot surgery, may play some against the Redskins Sunday.
Kenneth Sims, the New England Patriots' most valuable defensive lineman, and first-round draft pick Reggie Dupard, a running back, were placed on injured reserve along with linebacker Clayton Weisuhn and cornerback Rod McSwain. Weisuhn had spent most of the previous two years on the injury list.
At Denver, former all-pro cornerback Mark Haynes, acquired from the New York Giants, was placed on injured reserve with a thigh injury and quarterback Steve Stankavage and punter Jack Weil were re-signed.
Veteran New York Giant placekicker Bob Thomas, cut last week, was signed to replace the injured Ali Haji-Shiekh, and center Brian Johnston, cut last week, was also recalled.