The New Orleans Saints cleared $3.2 million of cap room with the release of defensive tackle Brian Young.
Young, 31, joined the Saints in 2004 after playing for four years with the St. Louis Rams. Young signed a four-year, $10 million contract with the Saints, who were looking for his playmaking ability to improve the interior of the defensive line. Young did well enough to receive a three-year, $12 million extension in 2008.
Young started 47 of 48 games during his first three years. In 2006, the last season the Saints went to the playoffs, Young started all 16 regular-season games, finishing with 46 tackles, including 5.5 sacks.
However, injuries bothered him the past two seasons. Young missed 15 games in 2007 and 2008 and had only 11 starts during those two seasons.
He had minor arthroscopic surgery to address swelling in his left knee at the midpoint of the 2007 season. As he was trying to come back from that, he came down with pneumonia and was placed on injured reserve.
Last season, recurring trouble with his left knee caused him to finish out a second straight season on injured reserve and coach Sean Payton said during the NFL draft on Sunday that Young had another surgical procedure on the knee three weeks ago.
The Saints released him by indicating he had failed his physical.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Tuesday the decision to cut Young was difficult, calling Young "one of the hardest-working individuals I have ever met."
"He has been a key contributor to our defense for a number of years and has also brought a lot to our organization as a high-character individual," Loomis said. "He has not received as much recognition and credit as he deserves for what he has brought to our team and this community. He will always be welcome in our building."
John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.