Giants release LB Green after two lackluster years

Updated: February 25, 2006, 2:26 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Six-year veteran Barrett Green, who at one time was believed to be a key component in the rebuilding of the New York Giants' linebackers corps, was released Saturday after two disappointing seasons.

 Barrett Green
Green

The move was not unexpected, as Green appeared in only 11 games with the Giants because of knee injuries, and because the former Detroit Lions starter had fallen out of favor with head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff. In terminating Green's contract, which makes him a free agent, the Giants will save approximately $1.1 million in 2006 salary cap charges. Green was scheduled to have a base salary of $2.475 million for 2006.

Green, 28, was signed by the Giants as an unrestricted free agent in 2004, netting a five-year deal worth $13.75 million. The Giants also signed outside linebacker Carlos Emmons that same spring, and the two were projected as being starters in a refashioned defensive backline.

But the versatile Green, who has played both the strongside and weakside spots during his career, suffered through a series of knee problems. He appeared in just 10 games in 2004 and played in only one contest in 2005, when he often feuded with Coughlin. He was one of several linebackers whose injuries in '05 forced the Giants to scramble for available bodies late in the season.

It is expected that New York will address its linebacker needs in the draft and could also make a move in the free agent market to strength the position with a veteran presence. The team will try to rebuild the position around standout middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who missed the final month of the season with an injury.

A onetime West Virginia University star, Green will have to demonstrate to potential suitors that he is recovered from the injuries that have stalled his career. If he is healthy, Green certainly is a starting caliber linebacker.

In six seasons, Green has appeared in 65 games and has 283 tackles, five sacks and 13 passes defensed. He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Lions, who chose him in the second round in 2000.

The Giants also announced the retirement of safety Brent Alexander and released eight-year veteran offensive lineman Jason Whittle, who played in 14 games as a backup last season. Whittle, 30, began his career with the Giants in 1998, signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent in 2003, then was reacquired by the Giants in a 2004 trade. He has appeared in 109 games, with 40 starts, in his career.

Alexander, a starter last season, led the Giants with four interceptions and finished seventh on the team with 61 tackles. He came into the league as an undrafted free agent in 1994 with the Arizona Cardinals and also played with Carolina and Pittsburgh before signing with the Giants as a free agent in 2004.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.