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Six Cavaliers sign as NFL free agents

After watching four of their former teammates get selected in the 2000 NFL draft, six of the other seven available Virginia players signed with NFL teams as free agents.

Defensive lineman Maurice Anderson and offensive lineman Noel LaMontagne signed yesterday, while tight end Casey Crawford signed Sunday night. Punter Donnie Scott and cornerback Dwayne Stukes also signed Sunday night, said Cavalier fullback Anthony Southern, the sixth free agent to sign.

"I think all of them are generally happy," said Southern, who signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. "They got to choose their own teams."

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    The Carolina Panthers picked up Crawford and Scott, the New England Patriots signed Anderson, the Atlanta Falcons signed Stukes and the Cleveland Browns signed LaMontagne.

    As free agents, the players were able to choose situations where they felt they could make the largest contribution and get the most playing time.

    "I chose Philadelphia because I thought that I fit best in their system and their depth chart," Southern said, noting that other teams contacted him as well.

    Southern said he worked out a two-year contract with the Eagles and will start mini-camp next Thursday.

    Crawford worked out a two-year contract with an option for a third year with the Panthers. His mother, Susan Crawford, said the signing was based in part on the recommendation of former Virginia wide receiver Patrick Jeffers, a four-year pro who had a breakout 1999 season in Carolina.

    "I was deciding between the Panthers, Redskins, Cardinals and Browns," Casey Crawford said. "I chose the Panthers because they only have two tight ends, one who is having surgery right now. They throw the ball a lot to the tight ends."

    Scott will join Crawford on the Panthers' roster and will compete with veteran Ken Walter for playing time.

    Anderson will not be the only youngster on the defensive line in New England, as the Pats took three defensive linemen in the draft this weekend.

    "I signed [yesterday] morning," Anderson said. "It's a one-year deal. After looking and evaluating, I thought [joining the Patriots] was the best opportunity for me to get playing time. Their defense is similar to ours. I felt more comfortable with their team. I wish I had been drafted, but this gives me the best opportunity."

    Stukes will compete for playing time in the defensive backfield in Atlanta, where he joins former Cav defensive end Patrick Kerney.

    LaMontagne, who is recovering from knee surgery after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the MicronPC.com bowl in December, said he will be placed on the physically unable to perform list by the Browns.

    "It's a similar contract to the one that was reached with Anthony Poindexter," LaMontagne said. "But being on the physically unable to perform list puts me about as close as an injured player can be to playing. It's a good opportunity for me and they're a young franchise. They're one of the teams that I really wanted to play for."

    Stukes and Scott could not be reached for comment.

    (Staff writers Nikki Gross and Claudia Hickey contributed to this report.)

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