In Vero Beach, Fla., free agent Ken Stabler agreed to become the backup quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, a day after the National Football League said he would not be disciplined for what published reports have called his association with known gambling figures. The NFL said he was free to sign with any team and he would not be punished unless he associates with "undesirables" in the future.

Terms of the contract were not announced, but United Press International said he had to sign for either the league minimum or $450,000, his reported last salary at Houston, which cut him last season.

The Saints sought Stabler after Dave Wilson was injured in the club's exhibition opener against the Houston Oilers.

In Owings Mills, Md., wide receiver-punt returner David Shula, son of the Miami Dolphins coach, was among 21 players cut by the Baltimore Colts. When informed of the release of his son, a second-year player from Dartmouth, Don Shula said:

"It's tough as a parent. It makes you realize all the more what these young people go through. No matter how you slice it, it's tough when it happens after the effort and the really hard work."