CINCINNATI -- In an effort to clear a little cap space and to start making room on the roster for offseason additions, the Cincinnati Bengals released Friday veteran defensive end Robert Geathers and receiver Greg Little.
Combined, the two releases will give the Bengals roughly $3.2 million in cap savings.
The Bengals also released offensive guard Mike Pollak last Friday.
Geathers' release wasn't much of a surprise, as it had been expected that either he or tackle Domata Peko would be on the defensive line's chopping block this offseason. It also was expected that Little wouldn't be brought back to the club. The fourth-year receiver had a rather disappointing six-game run in Cincinnati this past season, and didn't do much to convince the Bengals he belonged in the Queen City for another year.
Signed last October to help the Bengals address a need at the injury-plagued receiver position, Little caught just six passes for 69 yards during his brief stay. He also dropped two passes.
Geathers' departure brings an end to one of the franchise's longest-standing tenures. An 11-year NFL vet -- all of them spent in Cincinnati after his fourth-round selection in 2004 -- Geathers ranks third in team history in games played by a defensive lineman. Tim Krumrie (188) and Eddie Edwards (170) outpace him. Geathers also was part of all five playoff appearances under head coach Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati is 0-5 in those games. Geathers is one of the few players in franchise history who has played in that many postseasons.
"Robert has been with us for all my seasons except the first one," Lewis said about the 31-year-old in a statement, "and he has been a team leader as well as a very productive player. He's an incredible teammate and a true professional, a big part of the winning seasons we've achieved. If Robert elects to pursue an opportunity with another NFL team, the timing of this move will allow him the best possible chance at that."
Geathers' younger brother, Kwame, joined the team late last season as a practice squad addition. He was signed to a future's contract in January, and is expected to be among the linemen competing for playing time when mini camp opens in May.
One of only 19 players to have spent 11 or more seasons with the Bengals, Geathers leaves behind some significant memories. He was a two-time team leader in sacks. He had a career-high 10.5 of his 34 sacks in 2006. He also scored two touchdowns off a fumble return and interception. The score off the fumble was a 75-yard return, the longest fumble return in team history.
An elbow injury ended Geathers' 2013 season after just two games. He didn't fully bounce back from it.
With Geathers and Little gone, the Bengals are expected to double their efforts to find players who can contribute at those positions. Cincinnati last season had the worst grade among NFL pass-rush units, according to Pro Football Focus.
Little's biggest claim to fame while in Cincinnati came about three weeks after his arrival when he was asked about his rocky departure from Cleveland. Days before the Bengals' Thursday night game against the Browns, he said "somebody has to pay" for the way he was released.
No one did. The Bengals lost the game 24-3, and Little caught just one eight-yard pass of three targets.