The Giants also re-signed defensive end Keith Washington, who
like Mitchell and Levens, was signed as a free agent last spring.
Mitchell and Levens were supposed to be two of the final
ingredients that led the Giants to a Super Bowl run last season. Instead, they struggled in a season in which the team finished with a 4-12 record.
Coach Jim Fassel was fired and Tom Coughlin was hired to replace
The release of Mitchell and Levens will save the Giants about
$1.7 million on their $80.6 million salary cap.
Mitchell, who will turn 36 in August, had one of the worst
seasons of his 14-year career. His 20.3-yard average on kickoff
returns was 19th in the NFC, and his 5.3-yard average on punt
returns was 14th in the conference.
Mitchell, who also played as a third-down specialist, caught
four passes for 38 yards and had four rushing attempts for 20
yards, including a one-yard touchdown in the season-opening victory
over St. Louis.
He is the NFL's career leader in return yardage and also in
total yards with 23,330, 213 more yards than Jerry Rice. Mitchell
holds 10 NFL records and has played in 209 consecutive games, the
league's longest active streak.
Levens, who was supposed to solve the Giants' short-yardage
problems after being signed in April, gained 197 yards and scored
three touchdowns on 68 carries. He also caught five passes for 39
yards in 11 games.
Washington, who will be entering his 10th season, had 27 tackles
in 14 games. He scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the
season finale against the NFC champion Carolina Panthers.
Washington received a three-year, $3.5 million contract that included a $350,000