July 1, 2002

Where Are They Now? The 1999 Saints - Part Two

The second half of the Saints' 1999 roster is as follows.

Part One - Part Two

*- still with the Saints as of today

55. Mark Fields, Linebacker - Fields remained with the team in 2000 and started at weak side linebacker, earning a spot on the Pro Bowl roster when NFC coach Dennis Green chose him as a "need" player. Green was obviously impressed when Fields nearly chased down Randy Moss in the divisional playoff game weeks earlier. But in the offseason of 2001 the Saints were forced to cut Fields and his massive salary cap number. Fields refused to renegotiate his deal. Often praised as one of the most physically gifted linebackers, but criticized as too slow mentally, Fields was thought of by the Saints as a liability in passing situations. Fields signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the St. Louis Rams, but rookie Tommy Polley outplayed Fields and started ahead of him at outside linebacker, and the Rams released him after one season on March 8, 2002. When both the Cowboys and Panthers pursued him in free agency, Fields couldn't resist the chance to play his old team twice a season. Fields signed a three-year contract with the Panthers on March 20, 2002, and is expected to start at weak side linebacker.

56. Chris Bordano, Linebacker - Was under contract after the 1999 season, and the Saints traded him to Dallas in one of the most lopsided deals in recent history. Bordano, a slow but powerful run-stuffing middle linebacker, had started for the Saints, but was traded straight-up for Cowboys reserve cornerback Kevin Mathis. Mathis beat out incumbent starter Alex Molden and has been a solid starter ever since. Three months later in the thick of training camp, the Cowboys found themselves thin at cornerback and signed Phillipi Sparks. Who did they cut to create a place on the 53-man roster? Bordano. He was quickly signed by Atlanta, where he suffered a career-ending neck injury (fractured vertebrae) and was placed on injured reserve two weeks later. In Spring 2001, the Falcons cut Bordano, who then retired from football when doctors told him that another hit on the neck in football could be life-threatening.

58. Marc Lillibridge, Linebacker - Spent the 1999 season on injured reserve after suffering what turned out to be a career-ending back injury in preseason action in August 1999. After recovering, Lillibridge joined the Green Bay Packers in December 2000 as a scout, directing evaluation of the Arena Football league, the CFL, and while it was in existence, the XFL.

58. Joe Tuipala, Linebacker - Signed to the Saints' practice squad and promoted to the roster for the final two games of the 1999 season. Allocated to the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe in the spring of 2000, and released in the first cut of the 2000 training camp by the Saints. Unemployed during that season, and got back into the NFL after a successful stint in the XFL with the Las Vegas Outlaws. Played in 12 games for the Jaguars in 2001, mostly on special teams, and is currently on their roster now as a backup middle linebacker.

59. Keith Mitchell, Linebacker - Started through 2001 but was released early June 2002. Partly salary cap, partly because of his sour attitude after a diminished playmaking role in the defense. Has visited several teams, has not signed at this time.

60. Robert Hunt, Guard - The Saints added Hunt to their practice squad in late 1999 after he spent training camp with them. Spent the spring of 2000 in NFL Europe, and the Saints released him in training camp 2000. Had a stint in the XFL with the San Francisco Demons and was picked up by the Raiders and Chiefs. The Chiefs released him in training camp of 2001. Hunt signed a two-year contract with the Buffalo Bills on March 26, 2002.

61. Justin Burroughs, Center - Burroughs spent the 1999 season year as a rookie on injured reserve. After a good season in NFL Europe with the Frankfurt Galaxy, Burroughs went to camp with the Saints. In the middle of training camp he decided to retire from the game, despite getting good reviews so far from the Saints. Joined the XFL only to spend the entire season on injured reserve with the Birmingham Bolts with a back injury.

62. Jerry Fontenot, Center* - Is still with the team and is slated to start at center.

63. Wally Williams, Guard* - Is still with the team and is slated to start at left guard.

64. Robert Newkirk, Defensive Tackle - Went to training camp with the Saints in 2000 but was cut and ended up with the Chicago Bears in 2000 and 2001. Due to injury and development, he had only been active in nine games over two seasons, including only six in 2001. Was on the Houston Texans expansion draft list with the Bears. Is now fighting up the depth chart with the Bears.

65. Chris Naeole, Guard - Never lived up to his high selection in the 1997 draft after a serious ankle injury as a rookie. Voided the final year of his contract after the 2001 season and signed a seven-year, $16.2 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Is expected to start for the Jags' depleted offensive line.

67. Tom Schau, Center - Spent the 1999 season on the practice squad. Allocated to NFL Europe by the Saints in 2000 and went to training camp in August, but was released in the first cuts on August 27, 2000. Spent the 2000 season on the practice squad of the Green Bay Packers, and was re-signed by the Packers in 2001. Was released in training camp 2001 by the Packers. Schau was unemployed in the 2001 season but signed a one-year deal with the Bills in February of 2002 and is currently deep on the Bills' depth chart.

68. Kyle Turley, Tackle* - Is still with the team and is slated to start at left tackle.

69. Tom Ackerman, Guard - Restructured his deal with the Saints in training camp 2001. The Saints placed him on the Houston Texans expansion list and when he wasn't selected, the Saints waived him in March 12. Ackerman signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on May 11.

74. Steve Scifres, Tackle - The Saints briefly added Scifres to their practice squad late in the 1999 season. After the 1999 season, Scifres played his second season in NFL Europe, sent to the Scottish Claymores by the St. Louis Rams and released by the Rams during the NFL-E season. Returned to the Cowboys, who originally drafted him, for training camp 2000 but was released in the first cut. Played with the San Francisco Demons of the XFL. Scifres signed with the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League in May of 2002.

76. Keno Hills, Tackle/Tight End - Despite a drug-related arrest at the end of the 1998 season, Hills returned to the Saints in 1999. The Saints released Hills in November of 1999 after he found his way into Ditka's doghouse, and signed with the Bears a month later just for the end of the season. Signed with the Dolphins in June 2000 and went to training camp but was released in the first cut.

77. Willie Roaf, Tackle - Traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 4th-round draft pick that could become a 3rd round pick in 2003. Roaf, if he successfully recovers from a torn ligament suffered midseason 2001.

78. Daryl Terrell, Tackle/Guard - The Saints tendered Terrell, a restricted free agent, but then withdrew their tender later in the offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent. Terrell joined Chris Naeole in Jacksonville by signing a two-year contract on June 7.

79. Mike Halapin, Tackle - Spent the most of the 2000 season with the Saints but on the physically unable to perform list and didn't play at all. A former defensive tackle that Mike Ditka converted to an offensive lineman. Was cut on March 1, 2001. Halapin got a workout visit from the Miami Dolphins shortly after being released but never returned to the NFL.

81. Lawrence Dawsey, Wide Receiver - Came out of retirement to play for Mike Ditka in 2000, and returned to retirement after the season.

82. Eddie Kennison, Wide Receiver - One of the first moves of the Mueller era in New Orleans was Kennison to Chicago for a 5th round pick. Kennision had a mildly reviving year in Chicago and turned the success into a contract with the Broncos, who were looking for a speedy slot compliment to Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey. He had a lousy season (15 catches for 169 yards and one touchdown) before shocking the Broncos with news that he was retiring on November 11, 2001. Kennison was inactive for one game, then after the weekend decided to reverse his decision and stated that he wanted to rejoin the team. The Broncos would have nothing of it, and released Kennison three days later. Kennison agreed to a two-year contract with the Chiefs on December 3, 2001, but never played. He is now listed as the starter across from Johnnie Morton with the Chiefs.

83. Keith Poole, Wide Receiver - Stayed with the team in 2000 but after refusing to renegotiate his contract, Poole was released after June 1 in 2001. Poole signed with the Broncos on June 11, but three days later suffered what was thought to be a minor hamstring injury. Turns out, Poole tore his hamstring, and instead of 2-3 weeks, Poole missed all of training camp and preseason and Poole was released in the final weeks of training camp. Poole rejoined the Broncos 11 days later, and ended up playing in a handful of games through the season, finishing with five catches for 38 yards. Poole missed more time with a rib injury and played through the persistent hamstring injury. After the season, Poole received a one-year deal from the Buccaneers in March 2002, but is still being held back by the same hamstring problem. Poole is now reportedly considering retirement because of the injury and his inability to get onto the practice field.

84. Scott Slutzker, Tight End - Slutzker finished the 1999 on injured reserve with a serious knee injury, missed the 2000 season and resurfaced in 2001 to compete for a spot with the Jets in training camp, but failed to make the final roster and was released on September 2, 2001.

85. Cam Cleeland, Tight End - Missed the 2000 season with an Achilles' tendon tear in the first game of preseason, and re-tore it during rehab. Returned in 2001 as one of the most impressive players in training camp. Unfortunately, he played little during the 2001 season with ankle injuries and finally another Achilles' tendon tear against Tampa Bay. Cleeland faces a long road of rehab, but has a one-year incentive-laden contract with the Patriots to help him out.

86. Kendall Gammon, Long Snapper - One of the most reliable long snappers in recent memory, the Saints replaced the veteran Gammon with 7th round pick Kevin Houser out of Ohio State. Gammon moved on to the Kansas City Chiefs, and is still with them as their long snapper. Houser has played flawlessly after inheriting the job.

86. Tony Johnson, Tight End - The Saints cut Johnson in November of 1999 after he spent most of the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list with a torn abdominal muscle in training camp . Signed for a short while with the Lions after the 1999 season but was released in one of the first cuts of the 2000 training camp. Has not resurfaced in the NFL.

87. John Farquhar, Tight End - Spent the 1999 season on injured reserve and never was picked up by another team after becoming an unrestricted free agent.

88. Andre Hastings, Wide Receiver - The Saints released Hastings in April of 2000 after he refused to take a pay cut. Hastings remained unemployed until training camp of 2000, when he was signed by the Buccaneers. He appeared in only three games as a Buccaneer, losing one fumble on a punt return. Hastings was released in November and didn't return to the league. He still is tied for second all time in Super Bowl history when he caught 10 balls in Super Bowl 30 against Dallas when he was with Pittsburgh.

89. Brett Bech, Wide Receiver - Made the highlight reels with a tremendous one-handed catch against the Falcons in 1999 but was out of the NFL after the season. Had a stint with the XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws, where he was teammates with another ex-Saint Eric Guliford, but didn't play very well. Little brother Blain is a wide receiver and holder for LSU, Brett's alma mater as well. Is still hoping for a future chance in the NFL. Signed on with the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League on July 1, 2002.

90. Jared Tomich, Defensive End - Another Ditka draft pick who never panned out, Tomich was with the Saints in 2000 as a reserve lineman. Went to training camp with the Arizona Cardinals in 2001 but was cut and was unemployed for most of the 2001 season. The Packers signed him late in the season after John Theirry went down with an injury, and he is now on the Packers' roster fighting for a roster spot.

91. Brady Smith, Defensive End - After four seasons with the Saints, the Mueller administration decided not to get in a bidding war with the Atlanta Falcons for his services. Smith started 29 of 32 games for the Falcons in the past two seasons and will be fighting for a starting job in the Falcons' new 3-4 defense.

92. Troy Wilson, Defensive End - The Saints released Wilson in training camp of 2000. He spent the 2000 season with the Chicago Bears, playing in six games. Wilson was with the 49ers in the playoffs of 2001-2 but is out of the NFL and is now a lineman with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League.

93. Wayne Martin, Defensive Tackle - Martin started every game from the 1991-1999 season for the Saints, collecting 82.5 sacks and playing all eleven years of his NFL career with the Saints. After being used as an end and tackle by Ditka and seeing his performance trail off with age, the Mueller administration urged Martin to seek retirement after surgery on a pair of arthritic knees. Rather than taking a pay cut, Martin opted in February of 2000 to go on the reserve-retired list, giving the Saints at the time $3.23 million in cap space. Currently retired, Martin lives in Kenner, Louisiana.

94. Joe Johnson, Defensive End - Was a free agent after voiding the final year of his contract after the 2001 season. Johnson went through a long ordeal comparing competitive offers between the Saints and Packers. When Johnson, who despite being regarded as fiercely loyal, signed with the Packers instead, much of blame fell on then-GM Randy Mueller's shoulders. Johnson's defection to the Packers left the Saints in a spot and forced their hand in the first round of the 2002 draft, while solidifying an already potent Packers defense.

95. Austin Robbins, Defensive Tackle - Was unrestricted after the 1999 season and returned to his original NFL team, the Oakland Raiders. Played in three games for the Raiders in 2000, recording one tackle, but was released midseason in November 2000 when the Raiders needed an extra roster spot for a kicker when Sebastian Janikowski was injured. He signed with the Packers in December of 2000 as a backup, but the Packers did not re-sign him. Robbins didn't sign on with a team for the 2001 season.

96. Uhuru Hamiter, Defensive End - Left the Saints after the 1999 season to return to his original team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Played in seven games for the Eagles in 2000, collecting five tackles. Was cut in training camp by the Eagles in 2001, picked up by the Bears for a week and then released, spending most of the 2001 season unemployed before the Eagles picked him up again at the end of the season. An unrestricted free agent, Hamiter signed a one-year base contract with Houston on May 30, 2002. Currently at the bottom of the depth chart at defensive end for the Texans.

97. La'Roi Glover, Defensive Tackle - Exploded on the scene in 2000 next to the massive Norman Hand to capture the 2000 NFL sack record with 17. Was runner-up in Defensive MVP voting, second to Baltimore LB Ray Lewis. In 2001, his performance trailed off, due to Norman Hand's lack to impact and what many called Glover's own laziness. Glover was also termed as a liability against the run because of his lack of prototypical DT size, and in the 2001 offseason the Saints optioned not to buy the multi-million dollar option on Glover's final season, making him an unrestricted free agent. After being pursued by at least four teams, Glover signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys in March of 2002. Despite his troubles with stuffing the run, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says: "He's got Michael Irvin's motor, an elite skill level, he's smart, a student of the game and he takes care of business. In our mind, he's the entire package." He is slated to start in 2002.

98. Willie Whitehead, Defensive End* - Is still with the team and is slated to compete with rookie DE Charles Grant for the starting left defensive end position.

99. Darren Mickell, Defensive End - Mickell had his second stint with the Saints in 1999, his first coming in 1996 and 1997, after which he unexpectedly retired. He emerged from retirement with the Saints at the onset of the 1999 season. He played in one game for the Saints in 1999 before the team released him on November 10, 1999. He signed with the Chargers the next offseason, starting all 16 games for the 1-15 Chargers in 2000. Mickell went to camp with the Raiders in 2001, but was released in the final roster cuts. He was unemployed in 2001 except for a quick one-week stay with the Raiders in October of 2001 after DE Trace Armstrong tore his Achilles. Mickell is currently unemployed and may retire for the last time.

Bryan LaBelle, Tackle - Spent his only season in the NFL on injured reserve with the Saints as an undrafted rookie after tearing an ACL in training camp. He was later with the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL.

Part One - Part Two

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