NFL cuts: Cardinals release Dockett; several WRs cut – USA TODAY
With NFL free agency set to officially kick off March 10, teams continue to cut players in bids to clear space under their salary caps, which must also be in compliance once players can officially begin switching teams.
Last week the Arizona Cardinals ensured veteran leader Larry Fitzgerald was staying in the desert. The same can’t be said of Darnell Dockett.
The veteran defensive lineman, who was drafted alongside Fitzgerald in 2004, was released Friday after he and the team failed to reach agreement on a restructured contract.
Dockett, a three-time Pro Bowler, didn’t play in 2014 due to a preseason knee injury and was set to count nearly $10 million against Arizona’s cap in 2015.
“We have been very clear about our feelings for Darnell and our desire to have him back,” said general manager Steve Keim in a statement.
“After speaking with him and his representatives, we decided that this move today makes the most sense for both the team and the player and allows each to keep all of its options open.”
Fitzgerald accepted something of a pay cut but will still make $22 million over the next two seasons.
Ravens release Canty
On Friday, the Baltimore Ravens cut veteran defensive lineman Chris Canty, who’d spent the last two seasons of his 10-year career with the team.
Canty proved to be just as important to the Ravens’ locker room as he was on the field.
“We are a better franchise for having Chris Canty with us the last two years,” head coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “He added maturity and leadership. Chris played well and played a lot of snaps for us, especially last season. He was an outstanding contributor to our playoff season in 2014. “When we were handling serious off-the-field issues last season, Chris stood out internally with our team and represented us externally in the only way you expect from Chris – with intelligence and in a first-class manner.”
Canty plans to continue his career, which began in 2005 when the Dallas Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round.
He had been due a base salary of $2.7 million in 2015.
“I am very proud to be a Raven. They are a great franchise, and I was privileged to be a contributor to that outstanding tradition of defense that is part of the team’s lore,” said Canty.
Dolphins cut Hartline, Gibson
The Miami Dolphins released two receivers Friday, and neither was Mike Wallace.
While the team continued to weigh its options regarding the disgruntled Wallace, they parted with Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson, who combined for 21 starts last year.
Neither move was a surprise. Hartline was due to make $5.9 million in 2015, the third year of a $30.8 million, five-year deal he signed in 2013. Gibson was to make $3.2 million in the final year of a $9.8 million, three-year deal he signed in 2013.
Hartline’s salary cap hit this year was $7.4 million, and Gibson’s hit was $4.3 million. More payroll purging to clear cap space is expected as the Dolphins prepare for free agency beginning March 10.
It’s uncertain whether the Dolphins will keep Wallace, their highest-paid player with three years left on a $60 million, five-year contract. He had 67 catches with a team-high 10 touchdowns last year, but he rarely clicked with Ryan Tannehill on deep passes and was unhappy not to be targeted more.
Coach Joe Philbin benched Wallace in the second half of the final game after an argument between the star receiver and coaching staff. The Dolphins might release or trade him rather than pay his $9.9 million salary this season.
Hartline started every game last season, but his productivity fell dramatically, and he had only 39 catches for 474 yards and two scores. He has spent his entire six-year career with Miami and was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2012 and 2013.
Gibson, also a six-year pro, played in 14 games in 2014 and started five times. He had 29 catches for 295 yards and one score.
Falcons part with two former starters
The Atlanta Falcons have released wide receiver Harry Douglas, who was third on the team with 51 catches in 2014, and starting offensive guard Justin Blalock.
The moves follow Thursday’s release of running back Steven Jackson.
Douglas, a third-round pick in 2008, had career-high totals of 85 receptions for 1,067 yards in 2013, when he started in 11 of 16 games. Douglas, a third-round draft pick from Louisville in 2008, usually was the No. 3 receiver behind Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Blalock, a second-round pick from Texas in 2007, started all 125 games in which he played, including 15 in 2014.
On his Twitter feed on Friday, Douglas said “Thanking @AtlantaFalcons for my 7 years in ATL & the opportunity to play in the city I grew up. First class organization. Much luv 2 fans.”
Eagles cut Herremans
As expected, the Philadelphia Eagles released longtime offensive lineman Todd Herrmans on Friday.
“Todd has been the ultimate professional during my two years in Philadelphia with him,” said head coach Chip Kelly in a statemetn.
“He is a tough player and I wish him all of the best as he moves forward in his NFL career. I spoke to him earlier today and one of the things I told him was that by releasing him now, he will have a full opportunity to explore all of his options around the league.”
During his 10 years with the Eagles, Herremans played every O-line spot with the exception of center. He was scheduled to make $5 million in 2015.
Bengals let two go
The Bengals released defensive end Robert Geathers — one of Cincinnati’s most tenured players — and receiver Greg Little on Friday.
Geathers played 11 seasons with Cincinnati, a span of 152 career games that ranks third in franchise history for a defensive lineman. Only Tim Krumrie (188) and Eddie Edwards (170) have played in more games for the Bengals. Geathers, a fourth-round pick in 2004, had 21 tackles, one sack and one interception last season.
The Bengals signed Little as a free agent from Cleveland in October, when injuries depleted the group of receivers. He played in six games for Cincinnati, getting six catches for 69 yards. He didn’t have a reception during the Bengals’ playoff loss at Indianapolis.
Vikings cut lineman
Guard Charlie Johnson was released by the Minnesota Vikings on Friday. He was due $2.5 million in 2015.
Johnson played the last four years in Minnesota after previously blocking for Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts.
Redskins shuffle D-line
The Washington Redskins played musical chairs with their defensive line Friday.
Ricky Jean Francois, who was released by the Indianapolis Colts earlier this week, agreed to a new deal in Washington.
Meanwhile, defensive end Stephen Bowen and defensive tackle Barry Cofield were both released.
Contributing: Nate Davis, USA TODAY Sports; the Associated Press
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NFL cuts: Cardinals release Dockett; several WRs cut – USA TODAY