Rick Mirer, once considered one of the NFL's future stars, has ended up on the unemployment line.

Mirer, the second overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1993 draft, was released by the Chicago Bears on Sunday as teams scrambled to get down to the league-required 53-player roster limit.Mirer was the biggest name among players cut, who included former Super Bowl MVP Larry Brown, kicker Cary Blanchard, wide receiver Horace Copeland, linebacker Seth Joyner and kicker Brett Conway.

Cincinnati unexpectedly decided to keep quarterback Jeff Blake. The Bengals reportedly tried to trade Blake after Neil O'Donnell won the starting job in the third preseason game. They also asked him to restructure his contract and take less than the $1.95 million he'll get in base salary this year, but he declined.

The Bengals chose to keep him anyway after Paul Justin, another quarterback brought in to compete for the starting job, struggled against the Falcons.

"I don't expect Jeff to be satisfied being No. 2," Bengals coach Bruce Coslet said. "Nobody should be satisfied at being No. 2. But I do expect him to prepare like he's the starter, help Neil in any way he can and be ready to go at a moment's notice."

The Bears were unable to find a taker for Mirer and his $10 million contract. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, any team that signed Mirer would have had to pay him at least $1.425 million.

"I hope everything goes good for Rick, wherever he ends up," Mark Hatley, Chicago's vice president of player personnel said. "I hope he has a successful career. It just didn't work out here."

The Bears, who gave Seattle a first-round draft pick for Mirer last year, expected him to be their starter. But Erik Kramer beat him out and Mirer, at one point, sank to third-string.

New England selected Drew Bledsoe with the first pick in the '93 draft, and Seattle followed by taking Mirer. At the time, many debated about who the better quarterback would be. A similar debate has begun concerning the top two picks in this year's draft - Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) and Ryan Leaf (San Diego), who became the first quarterbacks to go 1-2 in a draft since Bledsoe and Mirer.

Minnesota released Brown, the Super Bowl MVP in 1996 with Dallas, but agreed to pay the cornerback three games worth of his 1998 base salary - $48,000 - as an injury settlement.

Brown sprained his left ankle Aug. 22 and struggled throughout the preseason with several minor injuries. The eight-year veteran has been trying to re-start his career after two discouraging seasons with Oakland.

Brown signed with the Vikings on June 16, agreeing to a two-year contract worth just less than $1 million.The New York Jets settled their kicking competition by releasing Conway, a former Green Bay draft pick, in favor of incumbent John Hall, who set a modern league record last year with 29 touchbacks on kickoffs.

Cary Blanchard, a Pro Bowl kicker for Indianapolis 1996, was cut by coach Jim Mora for the third time in his career.

Blanchard, who is third in field goals in Colts history and eighth in scoring (334 points), lost out to rookie Mike Vanderjagt, a star in the CFL the past two years.

Copeland, unable to beat out free agent acquisition Bert Emanuel or second-year pro Reidel Anthony for a starting job, slipped out of the team's plans entirely.

Copeland is two years removed from major knee surgery and coming off a season in which he had 33 receptions for 431 yards and one touchdown.

Linebacker Andre Royal, who told NFL investigators that he participated with some of his New Orleans Saints teammates in the hazing of rookies, was traded to Indianapolis for tight end Scott Slutzker on Sunday.

The hazing left a few Saints rookies injured. Royal, acquired from Carolina this summer, admitted to striking players with his elbows and shoulders as they ran through a gantlet of about 25 to 30 players.

Green Bay traded 33-year-old linebacker Seth Joyner to Denver for past considerations.

Joyner signed with the Packers last summer, but was hampered by knee surgery and a switch from middle linebacker to the outside.

Other veteran pickups who failed to make the Packers' roster were defensive back Terry McDaniel and defensive end Eric Curry.