Tagged in: release

New York Giants release James Bradberry after failing to find trade partner for CB

The New York Giants released cornerback James Bradberry on Monday to save about $10.1 million against the salary cap this season.

New general manager Joe Schoen was seeking to trade Bradberry since before free agency in March but couldn’t find anything that worked for all parties involved. Schoen acknowledged last week he was surprised there wasn’t more interest in the team’s No. 1 cornerback.

“Yeah, I was,” he stated Wednesday on WFAN Sports Radio. “I thought there would be more interest. There were some teams that showed interest pre-draft, and we had a couple different times there were compensation in place and the contract never worked out. Being the fact that we did have good talks with the other teams and their agents had good talks with teams, sometimes if you’re going to renegotiate a contract and couldn’t come to an agreement, it is what it is.”

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The move for the Giants was more about the money than an indictment on the player.

Bradberry, 28, was set to make $13.5 million this season and would have counted as $21.9 million on the team’s salary cap. His release leaves the Giants thin at cornerback, where the oft-injured Adoree’ Jackson is the only veteran with significant starting experience.

The Giants needed the savings to sign their draft class and operate throughout the season. They were just $6 million under the cap as of last week, according to the Roster Management System.

Bradberry had $2 million of his $13.4 million base salary guaranteed at the start of the league year.

“Listen, he’s a starting corner in the league,” Schoen told WFAN last week. “It’s just where we are financially. We still got to sign our draft picks, be able to sign our practice squad and have replacement costs for during the season.”

Despite the move, the Giants still have to eat almost $10 million in dead money against the cap. That leaves them with close to $30 million in dead money for this upcoming season, fifth-most in the NFL.

The Giants also lost one of their most productive players. Bradberry was one of just five players on the roster to make a Pro Bowl in their career. He was their top cornerback last season and made the Pro Bowl in his first year with the Giants in 2020, when he had a career-best 79.8 Pro Football Focus grade.

He has been in the 60s in every other year of his career. The veteran cornerback had a career high with four interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles this past campaign.

Bradberry, who went to Samford, spent the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers. The Giants signed him as a free agent in the 2020 offseason to a deal worth $43.5 million over three years.

He was entering the final year of that deal, which made it more difficult to trade him as a one-year rental, unless there was a new deal worked out. He has played in 92 career games (91 starts) for the Giants and Panthers.

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Arizona Cardinals release starting inside linebacker Jordan Hicks

The Arizona Cardinals released veteran linebacker Jordan Hicks on Wednesday.

Hicks, 29, played at a high level last season, registering 116 tackles and four sacks, but the Cardinals are making the move to give fellow inside linebacker Zaven Collins, drafted in the first round last year, more playing time.

The Cardinals had told Collins he would be the starter last season after selecting him 16th overall. Hicks said last year he was “pissed off” when initially told he had lost his starting job to Collins.

He requested a trade, which never happened, and the seven-year veteran ended up starting all 17 matches.

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By getting released now, Hicks will be able to sign with another team before free agency officially starts next week.

The move will save the Cardinals $6.5 million on their salary cap but also will leave $3 million in dead money on their books.

Hicks signed with the Cardinals in 2019 and posted more than 100 tackles in all three seasons with Arizona, including a career-best 150 his first year there.

He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 draft. He missed 21 regular-season games due to a variety of injuries during his time with the Eagles but didn’t miss a game (all starts) in three seasons with the Cardinals.

Hicks has career numbers of 638 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions.

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New York Giants release tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Devontae Booker

The New York Giants have releasing veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Devontae Booker, the team revealed Wednesday.

“Certainly not the year any of us expected, but a year we will never forget,” Rudolph wrote earlier Wednesday in social media posts. “… Thanks to everyone in the building who took in and helped this old guy who needed to relearn everything about a new organization.”

Rudolph texted ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he is not retiring and intends to play next season. Rudolph, 32, had just 26 catches for 257 yards with a touchdown in his only year with the Giants.

It was one of the least productive seasons of an accomplished career in which he made two Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings in 2012 and ’17.

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His release was a rather easy decision for the Giants and a new regime led by general manager Joe Schoen, who stated Tuesday the team would have to make “tough” decisions to reach his goal of cutting $40 million off the salary cap.

Rudolph was arranged to count $7.4 million against the cap this year. The Giants save $5 million with the move, even if it includes $2.4 million in dead money.

By releasing Booker, who averaged 4.1 yards per carry last season, the Giants will save an additional $2 million.

New York will need to address the tight end position in free agency and/or the draft. Starter Evan Engram also is scheduled to be a free agent.

The signing of Rudolph was questionable from the start by former general manager Dave Gettleman. After agreeing to terms on a two-year deal worth $12 million last offseason, it was discovered that Rudolph would need surgery on a foot injury that limited him the previous season.

The Giants, however, decided to honor the contract and Rudolph missed the entire spring and most of the summer. He never really hit his stride in New York as it appeared he lost a step while struggling to create separation — averaging just 2.9 yards per separation, per NextGen Stats. He averaged 4.0 yards and 3.4 yards of separation in the two previous seasons.

Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame, had spent the previous 10 seasons with the Vikings. Only his rookie season and 2014 — when he missed almost half the year with injuries — was he less productive than this past season.

He has 479 catches for 4,745 yards and 49 touchdowns in his professional career.

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Kansas City Chiefs release linebacker Anthony Hitchens

The Kansas City Chiefs have released linebacker Anthony Hitchens, it was revealed Tuesday.

Hitchens had 80 tackles and an interception in 15 matches last season. Hitchens, 29, joined the Chiefs as a free agent in 2018, and he registered a career-best 135 tackles that season.

In four seasons with the Chiefs, Hitchens played in 70 games in the regular season and playoffs with two sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.

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The Chiefs will save about $8.4 million against their salary cap in 2022.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to coach Anthony over the last four years,” coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “He’s as tough as they come in this league and is a team-first player. I appreciate the way he came to work, ready to do his part, but also his willingness to teach the younger guys around him.”

The Chiefs drafted one linebacker, Willie Gay, in the second round in 2020 and another, Nick Bolton, in the second round last year.

Before joining the Chiefs, Hitchens played four seasons for the Dallas Cowboys. In 63 regular-season and playoff games for the Cowboys, Hitchens had 3.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles.

“He has all the intangibles and was an integral piece in our franchise winning a Super Bowl title,” general manager Brett Veach said in a statement.

“We appreciate everything he’s done for the organization and wish him the best as he continues his career.”

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Detroit Lions release veteran LB Jamie Collins after exploring trade

After attempting to trade linebacker Jamie Collins, the Detroit Lions revealed Tuesday that he has been released.

Collins, a nine-year veteran, stopped reporting to practice ahead of Week 3 as the Lions explored options for his future. Coach Dan Campbell stated last week that he met with Collins to communicate the team’s plans to seek a trade, but the Lions ultimately couldn’t reach a deal for him.

Collins can sign with another team immediately. He is making a fully guaranteed $8.8 million from Detroit this year ($5 million bonus, $3.8 million salary).

A one-time Pro Bowler, Collins racked up 10 total tackles, with one for a loss, and a fumble recovery in back-to-back defeats to San Francisco and Green Bay this season.

Campbell stated last week that he felt it was “time for a reduced role” for Collins and decided to play the younger members of the roster.

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“We’ve been through two games now and you make your assessment and your judgement after two games and that’s where we’re at,” Campbell said of Collins last Thursday.

“There again, we felt like it was, if you’re going to grow and you’re going to try to get better as a team, as a unit, everything, you better do it now.

“There again, I think this is best for Jamie as well. He gets a chance to go somewhere and do what he does and we’re just in a different place.”

The Lions have turned to rookie Derrick Barnes to fill the role vacated by Collins. Barnes made his first start of the season Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens, and made four stops while playing about half the team’s defensive snaps.

Collins made 101 tackles for the Lions in 2020 under former Lions coach Matt Patricia, for whom Collins played in New England. But he had struggled this season, particularly in a Week 2 loss to the Green Bay Packers that spurred Campbell to suggest a move could be in the works.

It proved to be Collins’ last game in Detroit, as he was not at the Lions practice facility Thursday and was designated inactive Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens.

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Los Angeles Lakers again trade Marc Gasol to Memphis Grizzlies, who plan to waive veteran

The Los Angeles Lakers traded Marc Gasol, a 2024 second-round pick and cash ($250,000) to Memphis on Friday.

The Grizzlies plan to work on a waiver and release to let Gasol to stay in Spain with his family, sources told ESPN.

The Lakers will save approximately $10 million in salary and luxury tax and acquire the draft rights to Memphis’ Wang Zhelin. The Lakers have 13 guaranteed contracts before the beginning of training camp this month.

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After the tumult of the Orlando bubble in 2020 and the COVID-19 restrictions of the 2020-21 season, Gasol made a decision to remain with his family in Spain for the start of the 2021-22 season, sources said.

His professional career started in 2003 with FC Barcelona in Spain, and his NBA career started with Memphis in 2008.

It was a Lakers-Grizzlies trade before his rookie season that included his older brother, Pau, that set the stage for a successful 11-year run with the Grizzlies.

Gasol, 36, has won an NBA championship, won two Olympic silver medals, made three All-Star teams and earned an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and All-NBA first-team honors.

After the Lakers signed two former All-Star centers this summer — Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan — it appeared Gasol’s role would be increasingly limited.

Gasol had a $2.7 million deal for the 2021-22 season. The Lakers signed him to a two-year free-agent deal in 2020 after he spent a season-plus in Toronto Raptors, where he was part of a 2019 NBA championship team.

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Cincinnati Bengals release RB Giovani Bernard after eight seasons

The Cincinnati Bengals have released veteran running back Giovani Bernard, the team revealed on Wednesday.

Bernard, 29, has played all of his eight NFL seasons with the franchise that drafted him in the second round in 2013. He has appeared in 115 matches and rushed for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had 342 receptions for 2,867 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The former North Carolina player was entering the final year of a two-year extension he signed in September of 2019. The Bengals will gain $4.1 million in salary-cap savings with Bernard’s release and incur only $666,667 in dead money versus the cap, according to Roster Management System.

Bernard started a career-high 10 games in 2020 because Joe Mixon was out with a foot injury. His best rushing performance was an 83-yard effort in a win over Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football, the Bengals’ first triumph over the Steelers since 2015. It was Bernard’s highest rushing total since Week 16 of the 2017 season.

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The Bengals have parted ways with several notable veterans who were part of the team’s playoff runs from 2011 to 2015.

The team released former All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins earlier this offseason and did not re-sign former Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green.

With his ability in the passing game and reliability as a runner in a committee, Bernard shouldn’t have difficulty landing a new gig. A club looking for a third-down back could find a bargain in the 29-year-old Bernard, who still has tread left on the tires.

Bernard is also one of the best pass-protecting backs in the entire NFL, a trait that many teams covet in their backup RBs. Cutting Bernard now makes running back depth a need for the Bengals. Joe Mixon remains one of the top-flight backs in the NFL, with game-breaking ability. 

Samaje Perine impressed coaches for stretches last season and should climb the depth chart. A pass-catching back is now a need for the Bengals, which could look to the draft to fill the new void.

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New Orleans Saints to release WR Emmanuel Sanders

The New Orleans Saints are releasing veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders after just one season as they keep trimming their massive salary-cap deficit, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sanders, who turns 34 next week, confirmed the move in an Instagram post, saying:

“New Orleans it’s been real. Sucks we didn’t bring a super bowl to the city which was the goal when I signed but it was a blessing to showcase my talents in front of you guys weekend and week out. #Blessingsoblessings #Imafreeagent #Wheretonext?”

Sanders was due to make $8 million this campaign, with $2 million guaranteed. The Saints will save at least $4 million against the salary cap by releasing him — and possibly $6 million if they designate it as a post-June 1 release.

Sanders caught 61 passes for 726 yards and five touchdowns in 14 regular-season games last season. He caught another eight passes for 51 yards in the playoffs.

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The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has a total of 662 catches for 8,619 yards and 47 touchdowns in an 11-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and the Saints. He has been selected to two Pro Bowls and has appeared in three Super Bowls — winning a title with the 2015 Broncos.

The Saints now have a big void for a No. 2 receiver alongside Michael Thomas again.

The position will rank as one of their top offseason needs, especially since fellow receiver Tre’Quan Smith is heading into the final year of his contract.

New Orleans has now released veterans Sanders, punter Thomas Morstead, tight end Josh Hill and offensive lineman Nick Easton while trimming cap space this offseason.

The Saints will possible release linebacker Kwon Alexander as well, since he is due $13.4 million after tearing his Achilles in December. The Saints started the offseason nearly $100 million over the salary cap and had decreased that number roughly in half as of Wednesday morning after they placed the franchise tag on free-agent safety Marcus Williams.

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Minnesota Vikings release TE Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons

The Minnesota Vikings have released veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph after 10 seasons, the team revealed on Tuesday.

The move saves Minnesota $5.1 million against the salary cap for 2021. Rudolph, 31, will become a free agent for the first time in his NFL career.

The former second-round draft pick of the Vikings in 2011 issued a heartfelt goodbye in a story published by The Players’ Tribune reflecting on his 10 seasons in Minnesota.

“I got so lucky, because — I didn’t just get drafted by some team who ‘had a need at tight end,’ Rudolph wrote. “I didn’t just get drafted as, like, the nameless, faceless ‘#1 tight end on the board.’ I got drafted by a team that was all set in terms of need … but then drafted me anyway.

“I’ll always remember that: how the Minnesota Vikings wanted me — and wanted to bet on my potential.” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman weighed in on Rudolph’s release in a statement, calling him “one of the premier tight ends in the NFL and most influential and positive leaders I’ve ever been around.”

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“Kyle and [his wife] Jordan have made such an immeasurable impact on our team and community that may never be matched,” Spielman said. “The energy they have invested in the community, most notably through the End Zone at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, is truly remarkable. I admire Kyle and we will miss him and his family. We sincerely wish them the best.”

Rudolph had three years left on the contract he signed in June 2019 after the Vikings approached him to restructure his deal via an extension.

He was in danger of being a cap casualty this offseason with a $9.45 million cap hit and a role that has decreased significantly in the Vikings’ offense over the past two seasons.

Rudolph spoke earlier this offseason about his desire for a bigger role in Minnesota’s offense or elsewhere and said he would not be open to a restructure if the team approached him about taking a pay cut.

“I think I’m worth every dime of my contract,” Rudolph said on the podcast “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” in January.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m used to my potential and I’m used to do what I do well, so it will be interesting over the next few months. Like I said, I have three years left on my contract. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve somehow become a pretty decent blocker because I’ve been forced to. It certainly wasn’t something that I ever did well at any point of my career. Maybe in high school because I was bigger than everyone else, but even then, I just wanted to run around and catch balls.”

Rudolph caught 28 passes on 35 targets in 2020, his lowest output since the 2014 season. He churned up 334 receiving yards and one touchdown, the latter of which was a career low for the former second-rounder.

At 31, Rudolph said he feels he has “a lot of good football left” and will have an opportunity to play for his second NFL team. Rudolph’s impact off the field was well documented throughout his time in Minnesota. The tight end’s work with the Masonic Children’s Hospital led to him being the Vikings’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee three consecutive times from 2017-19.

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Green Bay Packers claim Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison off waivers

Another run-stopper is on the way to the Green Bay Packers to perhaps help them evade getting run out of the playoffs like last campaign.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst claimed Damon “Snacks” Harrison off waivers on Wednesday, according to the NFL transaction wire.

The Packers did not informed the move.

The Seahawks waived the 32-year-old defensive tackle on Monday after Harrison requested his release. All players waived at this point in the season are subject to waivers, and Harrison said in a tweet after his release that he was not interested in getting claimed.

However, in response to a tweet that suggested he might actually play for the Packers given that they’re a Super Bowl team and one that was on his list of teams he planned to meet with before he signed with Seattle earlier this season, Harrison responded with a one-word tweet that read: “Bingo.”

A source told ESPN that Harrison assured the Packers he would report to and play for Green Bay.

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The Packers rank 14th in rushing yards permitted but 24th in yards per carry — a slight improvement over last season. But their run defense let them down in the NFC Championship Game, when the San Francisco 49ers rushed for 285 yards en route to the Super Bowl.

If the Packers (12-3) triumph Sunday’s regular-season finale versus the Chicago Bears, they would be the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have a first-round playoff bye. Even if they have to play on wild-card weekend, they could get Harrison through the COVID-19 protocols and ready for that weekend.

They were granted a roster exemption for Harrison.

The Seahawks signed Harrison to the practice squad Oct. 7 and he made his first appearance in a game on Nov. 15 versus the Los Angeles Rams. He played 138 total snaps in six games before he requested his release.

At the time, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was under the impression that Harrison no longer wanted to play. “He’s decided to stop playing,” Carroll said Monday during an appearance on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“He’s done playing. I talked to him this morning. He’s in good spirits and all of that. He’s really grateful for the opportunity in playing here, and he did really well by us, but he just … he’s done.”

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