Big Names Sent Packing as Free Agency Begins

Joey PorterIn the ever changing world of the National Football League, its all about – “what have you done for me lately.” In the minds of quite a few teams on Thursday, a number of high profile players had not done enough to keep them around with rather large salaries. The number of cuts shows a trend that players had better make the money while they can, because you never can tell what lies ahead.

In a somewhat expected move, the Cowboys said good-bye to quarterback Drew Bledsoe. The former Patriots and Bills QB lost his job mid-season to Tony Romo, and never got it back. He was due a $1 mil roster bonus on Friday, and with a new coaching staff in Wade Phillips and company in the mix, they are committed to Romo being the future under center for Dallas. Jerry Jones did state that he told Bledsoe that the door was open for his return.

The 49’ers cut WR Antonio Bryant, one year after giving him a big four-year deal. Bryant did have a solid season for the 49’ers with 40 catches for 733 yards, but ran into way too much trouble off the field, including an arrest in November for reckless driving and resisting arrest. He also angered coach Mike Nolan for being late to a team meeting. The deal that Bryant signed with the 49’ers before last season was worth about $14 mil with a $4 mil signing bonus.

Speaking of wide outs without a place to play – the Saints cut fan favorite Joe Horn Thursday. Horn, who was the face of the franchise during the emotional season following the hurricanes in New Orleans, was distraught that the team released him. “I just don’t think Sean Payton wanted me back,” Horn said. “I asked to be released because I felt betrayed by a head coach who wanted to prove he could win without Joe Horn.” Horn signed a six-year deal back in 2005 worth about $42 mil for the life of the deal.

Steelers linebacker Joey Porter also was cut on Thursday, one day before he was due a huge roster bonus. Unlike Horn, Porter did not seem to hold a grudge against his now former team that is undergoing changes with a new head coach. “The organization has always been good to me,” Porter said. “It was a great run in Pittsburgh. I have no problem with them at all. I think it was a tough decision that they had to make, and it was one they had to make and they did it the right way.” Pittsburgh’s arch-rival – the Cleveland Browns, expressed interest in Porter last evening and may even talk to him over the weekend.

The last semi-big name to be let go Thursday was Chargers WR Keenan McCardell, who last year had 36 catches, and is 15th all-time with 861 grabs. McCardell will catch on somewhere else, but at 37 years old is for sure in the twilight of his solid NFL career.


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