Patriots cut Lawyer Milloy
Patriots cut Pro Bowl S Milloy
September 2, 2003
FOXBORO, Massachusetts (Ticker) - Bill Belichick made what he called "the hardest cut" of his career, releasing four-time Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy for salary cap purposes.
A team captain for the last four seasons, Milloy was to earn $4.4 million in 2003 - the fourth year of a seven-year, $35 million deal.
"Of all the players I have released in my career, this easily would be the hardest," Belichick said. "It's an unfortunate situation all the way around but one that we've made and we will have to move forward with it."
With his original signing bonus, Milloy was to count for $5.8 million against the salary cap this season. The Patriots were hoping to soften the salary cap hit, but could not reach an agreement with Milloy and waived him.
"It is just unfortunate that this was kind of a casualty of the way the system is right now," Belichick said. "Both sides tried all the way to, truly, the 11th hour, to try to find a way to make it work but in the end we just weren't able to get it to that point."
Milloy, 29, played his entire seven-year career with the Patriots and has started 106 consecutive games at strong safety. He was selected to three straight Pro Bowls from 1998-2000 and again last year and has served as team captain since 1999.
Known for his ability to play the run, Milloy led the team in tackles from 1998-2001. He played a major role in intimidating St. Louis' receivers in the Patriots Super Bowl XXXVI in January 2002.
But the Patriots signed veteran strong safety Rodney Harrison in the offseason, perhaps indicating that Milloy could be on the way out. However, the Patriots moved Milloy to free safety after trading Tebucky Jones to New Orleans for three draft picks.
Aric Morris, Chris Akins and Antwan Harris are candidates to start at free safety for Sunday's opener at Buffalo.
"They have big shoes to fill," Belichick said. "Chris, Antwan and Aric have all worked there (free safety) and we will go with what we have and those players will get an opportunity to step in and play that position."
But the shock of losing Milloy may have an effect on the Patriots, who open the regular season Sunday in Buffalo.
"Today is a day that nobody is happy about," Belichick said. "This isn't the way we wanted this story to end."
Updated on Tuesday, Sep 2, 2003 2:03 pm EDT