FOXBORO, Mass. -- Cornerback Ty Law, who helped the New England Patriots win two Super Bowls but watched with a broken foot when they won their third, was released Friday so the Patriots wouldn't have to pay him a salary-cap-busting $12.5 million next season.
A 10-year veteran with four Pro Bowl appearances, Law holds franchise records with 36 interceptions and six regular-season touchdowns on interceptions. He also scored on an interception when the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams in 2002 for their first NFL title.
Law took the news of his release by the Patriots with mixed emotions.
"This is bittersweet," he told ESPN.com's John Clayton. "I always wanted to retire a Patriot. I've been around here for a lot of years. But unfortunately, a lot of players don't get a chance to finish their careers with their teams. I'm looking forward to what's ahead."
What's ahead is free agency and a chance to score a rich contract. The Patriots released Law, 31, because he was in the final year of a seven-year, $51 million contract and his cap number was huge. There was no wiggle room.
"Ty Law had a tremendous career as a New England Patriot,"
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We wish him well in the
Even before he broke his foot and missed the Patriots' last 12 games, the cap-conscious team was not expected to bring him back at his full salary; Law had said he wasn't inclined to restructure his deal. To restructure his contract, Law would have had to take a significant pay cut because New England's philosophy is more geared toward players having contracts in the $2 million and $3 million range.
To give the Patriots cap relief, Law couldn't add years and subtract dollars.
Law is in the supposed prime of one of the best cornerback careers of his era. Like Drew Bledsoe, Lawyer Milloy and some others who were Patriots before their three Super Bowl seasons, Law knew it was time for him to go.
"I enjoyed my years here," he said. "I'll look forward to my next stop."
One of the potential early landing spots for Law is the Cleveland Browns, who hired former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as their head coach.
Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.