NFL Free Agents 2011: 7 Most Shocking Cuts and Rumors
NFL cuts are coming fast and furious today as teams attempt to make moves to gain money under the new salary cap of $120 million and to open up space for new free-agent signings.
As the news of whom teams will cut came in last night and this morning, quite a few times I threw my hands in the air with a "WTF" expression.
The good news is the releases will only strengthen an already impressive free-agent class.
Which have been the most surprising? We break down the seven most surprising.
Kelly Gregg, Baltimore Ravens
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The Baltimore Ravens announced last night that they will release nose tackle Kelly Gregg, opening a huge hole in the middle of their defense.
At 34 years old, Gregg has some gas left in the tank, especially if you watch the way he dominated in 2010. Gregg is a Pro Bowl-caliber player at a priority position, which makes his release all the more surprising.
Baltimore must feel good about Terrence Cody to allow Gregg to walk.
Nick Barnett, Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers will attempt to trade linebacker Nick Barnett, who became disposable after the emergence of Desmond Bishop at linebacker last year.
Barnett comes with a $5.5 million cap hit to any team that trades for him. However, don't rule out a team like the San Diego Chargers making a play for Barnett. San Diego lost four inside linebackers to free agency.
Making a play for Barnett would be an upgrade.
Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos
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Perhaps the only surprise surrounding Kyle Orton leaving Denver is that the team will insist on trading him instead of simply cutting the veteran quarterback.
Orton was expected, as of last week, to simply be cut. It looks like Denver thinks they can get some value out of him in return.
Tully Banta-Cain, New England Patriots
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In a surprise move, hence the title, the New England Patriots will cut linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.
Surprising on a few levels, actually.
The Patriots are thin at outside linebacker—bad news for a team that employs a 3-4 defense. If the season started tomorrow, they would have Jermaine Cunningham as the lone experienced returner at the position. The Pats also ignored the OLB position in the draft.
This makes us think they have to be targeting Mathias Kiwanuka, Matt Roth and other top free-agent outside linebackers.
The second reason this shocks us is that Banta-Cain just underwent surgery for a football-related injury. The Patriots may owe him an injury settlement if that report is true.
Leonard Davis, Dallas Cowboys
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Pro Bowl offensive guards do not hit the open market very often.
In the case of Leonard Davis, who will be released by the Dallas Cowboys, it's pretty damn shocking.
Davis is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the best power blocking guards in the league. Teams looking for a quick fix and possible five-year solution at guard will be quick to call Davis.
The New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders would all make sense for Davis.
Rich Seubert, New York Giants
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Seubert started all 16 games for New York last year, playing both guard and center. Even at 32 years old, Seubert will be one of the top interior offensive lineman available on the free-agent market this summer.
The Giants may plan to re-sign Seubert this weekend at a lower salary, but until then, he's available on the open market.
Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys
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The move to cut Roy Williams in Dallas should not be met as a huge surprise, especially considering Dallas was paying Williams $5.1 million in 2011, $6.8 million in 2012 and an incredible $8.9 million in 2013.
Williams never lived up to his hype, or cost, once Dallas traded first, third and sixth round picks in the 2009 NFL draft for him. The combination of Williams failures and the rise of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant made Williams expendable.
The next step for Williams will most likely be a short-term, incentive based contract where he can prove himself without costing a team millions in guaranteed money.