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Saints to release DE Grant

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Charles Grant, a starting defensive end for most of the New Orleans Saints' first championship season, will be released by the only club for which he's played in his eight-year career.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis announced on Thursday that Grant would be released when free agency begins on Friday.

Loomis also announced that the Saints had released reserve offensive lineman Jamar Nesbit and linebacker Mark Simoneau. Simoneau, 33, has missed the past two seasons with injuries.

Grant, 31, was drafted out of Georgia in 2002, one of New Orleans' two first-round choices that year.

He is eighth on the Saints' career sack list with 47 and has started 106 games. He's also had one interception, 14 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

He started all 16 regular season games in 2009 and was credited with 53 tackles and 5½ sacks. However, he tore his triceps in the last game of the regular season, a game with no playoff implications. He then sat out the playoffs as the Saints advanced and won their first Super Bowl.

It marked the second straight season Grant had ended a season on injured reserve for a torn triceps.

Grant would have been due about $4 million in base salary for the 2010 season. Also still looming is the four-game suspension he received in 2008 for testing positive for the banned diuretic bumetanide. That suspension has yet to be enforced because an appeal in Minnesota state court involving Vikings players Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, who are not related.

Bumetanide is banned because it can be used to mask steroid use.

In between the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Grant was stabbed in the neck during a melee outside a bar in Blakely, Ga., during which a 23-year-old pregnant woman was fatally shot.

Releasing Grant could make the Saints a player in the free-agent market for another defensive end. During the playoffs, Will Smith and Bobby McCray were the Saints' starting defensive ends.

Simoneau spent four seasons with the Saints, starting 30 of 32 games in which he played. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, he made 170 tackles with three sacks and an interception. A back injury sidelined the veteran for 2008 and a torn triceps during training camp ended his 2009 season.

Nesbit, an 11-year veteran, joined the Saints as a free agent in 2004 and started 35 consecutive regular-season games at left guard from 2006-08, plus two playoff games after the 2006 season. He lost his starting job to Carl Nicks in 2008 when he chose to serve a four-game suspension for the same bumetanide-related violation that Grant, Smith and since-retired running back Deuce McAllister all appealed.

Nesbit, 33, played in 13 games this past season, mostly on special teams.