INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 25 -- A busy day of salary-cap maneuvering by NFL teams resulted in New England Patriots cornerback Ty Law and wide receivers Muhsin Muhammad of the Carolina Panthers and Jerry Rice of the Seattle Seahawks being released.
Law, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, would have counted a cumbersome $12.5 million against next season's $85.5 million salary cap if he had remained with the Patriots. He was entering the final season of his contract, and it was clear that the Patriots would not retain him unless they could rework the deal. But that was unlikely, since the team and Law had a bitter set of negotiations when the club attempted to restructure the contract last year, and the Patriots just won their third Super Bowl title in four years even with Law missing the second half of the season and the playoffs because of a foot injury.
Legendary receiver Jerry Rice may retire after being released by the Seattle Seahawks.
(John Froschauer - AP)
Now he becomes one of the highest-profile players on the free agent market. So does Muhammad, who led the NFL this past season with 1,405 receiving yards and 16 touchdown catches. But he was scheduled to receive a $10 million roster bonus on Wednesday if he'd remained with the Panthers, and he would have counted $12.5 million against Carolina's salary cap next season if he'd stayed with the team. Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney tried but failed to negotiate a new contract with Muhammad's agent, Joel Segal, to keep him with the club.
The Seahawks, who obtained Rice in a trade with the Oakland Raiders during the season, might have ended Rice's NFL career by cutting him.
The league's career receiving leader turns 43 in October. He has said that he would like to play next season if a team wants him. He reiterated those sentiments during a radio interview Friday, but acknowledged that he could be forced into retirement. If so, he would join NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith, who announced his retirement during Super Bowl week, and the two likely would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame together in 2010.
Also Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers released cornerback Chad Scott and tight end Jay Riemersma.