NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New Orleans Saints released running back Deuce McAllister, their all-time leading rusher, on Tuesday.
Selected in the first round of the 2001 draft, McAllister spent his eight-year professional career in New Orleans and established franchise records for touchdowns (55), rushing yards (6,096) and rushing attempts (1,429).
The twice Pro Bowler is also the only Saints running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season four times.
“Deuce has meant so much to our organization since we selected him in the 2001 draft,” owner Tom Benson told the team’s website (www.neworleanssaints.com).
“He has represented our club with dignity and class and obviously been a great player, one of our best all-time.
“He’s earned the respect of everyone in our community, not only for what he’s done on the field but for what he’s done for those who are less fortunate.”
McAllister’s production had dropped off in recent seasons due to injuries, including surgery to repair torn ligaments in both knees.
Last season he battled back from surgery on his left knee to rush for 418 yards and five scores, breaking the team’s all-time touchdown record with his 54th in a win over the Green Bay Packers in November.
“Deuce McAllister epitomizes what you look for in a football player,” said head coach Sean Payton. “He has suffered setbacks with his injuries and that has been unfortunate for him and for us as he has played a critical role in our offense.
“Today we start the process of trying to replace him and find that player that embodies what Deuce McAllister has meant to this team.”
Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Tony Jimenez
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