Bengals terminate Jones' contract

Updated: May 6, 2009, 2:01 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

The Cincinnati Bengals terminated the contract of oft-injured left tackle Levi Jones, the team announced Wednesday.

The move was anticipated for weeks after the Bengals used their No. 6 overall pick on former Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith.

Jones, who was scheduled to make $3 million in 2009, was retained on the roster as insurance in case the team could not find a suitable replacement in the NFL draft.

Team officials had apprised Jones that they would attempt to trade him after selecting Smith. But the club found no viable suitors and, not surprisingly given his contract status, Jones was released, which makes him a free agent.

A former first-round pick in 2002, Jones was one of the top tackles in the NFL until knee and leg injuries hurt his production the past few seasons. He played in just 10 games last season as the Bengals finished 4-11-1.

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The former Arizona State star signed a six-year, $40 million contract extension in 2006. That extension ran through the 2012 season. The economics of the situation, with Cincinnati poised to pay out a major contract for Smith, was a factor in Jones' release. Jones was reportedly guaranteed $16.3 million as part of the extension.

Jones is still regarded as a very good pass-protection tackle.

"Levi is looking forward to the next phase of his professional career," his agent, Kenny Zuckerman said. "We will evaluate all of our options and find a good landing spot for Levi."

According to the Bengals, five teams has expressed interest in Jones.

James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com senior writers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter