DENVER (AP) – Unable to practice much or play at all during the preseason, Maurice Clarett will be released by the Denver Broncos later this week, his agent said Sunday.

Agent Steven Feldman said Clarett, the troubled running back who the Broncos surprisingly chose in the third round of this year’s draft, will be released when the Broncos make their first round of cuts.

“They didn’t contact me, per se,” Feldman said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “The kid called me and let me know they’re going to let him go.”

Clarett’s pending release also was reported by on Sunday.

Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano said the team didn’t plan to release anybody until Tuesday.

The pending release marks a disappointing start to the NFL career of the former Ohio State running back, who missed two years of football after leading the Buckeyes to the national title.

Most thought he was a low draft pick, if a draft pick at all, and the Broncos surprised many by making him the final selection on the first day of the draft.

Clarett made the unusual move of agreeing to a contract that included no signing bonus. He relinquished what would have been about a $400,000 bonus in exchange for incentives that could have earned him up to $7 million over four years.

If a team claims him off waivers, it will assume the terms of the contract. More likely is that Clarett will clear waivers, become a free agent and sign a new deal.

“I’d love to see someone pick up the contract,” Feldman said. “The way the incentives in the contract are, he won’t get them with another team.”

Clarett came in and said he simply wanted to start over and blend in. He talked a good game, but his chances of making the team were hurt early in training camp when he injured his groin and missed nearly two weeks of practice.

Some teammates questioned Clarett’s commitment to rehabilitating the groin and as the missed practices piled up, coach Mike Shanahan stopped defending Clarett to the media.

Clarett stopped talking to reporters. In one of his last interviews, he told the Denver Post he wanted to be with the Broncos, but “if I get cut, if I don’t have a place here, it won’t be my first setback.”

Clarett was listed fifth on the depth chart behind Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, Quentin Griffin and Ron Dayne, who is having a good camp. Shanahan did not play Clarett in any of Denver’s three preseason games.

“I think at this point, I’m sure the Broncos did what they thought they needed to do,” Feldman said.

Asked if his client was completely healthy, the agent said, “I’m certain he is.”

As for Clarett’s mood Sunday: “I’d really rather not comment,” Feldman said.

AP-ES-08-28-05 1830EDT

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