As the NFL reduced its rosters to the maximum 53 players yesterday, some prominent veterans discovered they'll be looking for work elsewhere in the league.

The biggest name was former Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, a former first-round pick of the Cardinals. Others included Seahawks wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ravens quarterback Troy Smith, Buccaneers receiver Mark Clayton and Vikings receiver Javon Walker.

Leinart failed to hold on to the starting job for the second time in the last three years even before the first regular- season game was played. He lost out this time to journeyman Derek Anderson, who was signed as a free agent this year. Two years ago, he was anointed as the starter in the offseason, only to lose his job to veteran Kurt Warner in the preseason. Warner then guided the Cardinals to a Super Bowl appearance.

"In fairness to Matt, I think it would be a tough position for him to be in a backup role [in Arizona]," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "Maybe a fresh start for him would be good for all of us."

The Cardinals attempted to trade Leinart before his release, but no teams expressed sufficient interest to make a deal. Leinart was due to make $10 million in the next two seasons.

Leinart was a first-round pick of former Cardinals coach Dennis Green in 2006. After the selection, Green called Leinart "a gift from heaven."

Oh, well.

Houshmandzadeh was released only a year after signing as a free agent with the Seahawks. He was brought in by then-coach Jim Mora Jr. and then-general manager Tim Ruskell but was deemed expendable by new coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. The Seahawks attempted to trade Houshmandzadeh, a former Bengals star, but couldn't find any suitors.

Clayton, a former first-round pick who was the subject of trade talks during the offseason, was released after six mostly disappointing seasons in Tampa. He received a five-year, $26-million contract before the 2009 season but had only 16 catches for 230 yards and one touchdown. Clayton was the 15th overall pick in 2004 and led all rookies with 80 catches for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns. He has scored only three touchdowns ever since.

Walker, a former star with the Packers who was a favorite receiver of Brett Favre, signed with Favre's Vikings Aug. 24. Minnesota traded for Miami receiver Greg Camarillo to help make up for the loss of Sidney Rice, who will be out until midseason after undergoing hip surgery.

Another veteran receiver, former first-round pick Matt Jones, failed to earn a spot on the Bengals' roster. The former first-round pick had a disappointing preseason and was beaten out by, among others, third-round rookie Jordan Shipley.

The Steelers released veteran center Justin Hartwig, a starter on the team's 2008 Super Bowl championship team.

Other players released included Dolphins quarterback Pat White, Lions tackle Jon Jansen, Redskins running back Willie Parker, Texans kicker Kris Brown and Raiders quarterback Colt Brennan.

More football news