Four-time Pro Bowl strong safety Lawyer Milloy was released by the Patriots on Tuesday after refusing to take a paycut.
Milloy, 29, was in the fourth year of a seven-year, $35 million contract and was scheduled to make $4.5 million this year. He had a $5.856 million cap number, which New England was trying to reduce. The Patriots will lose $4.05 million off of next year's salary cap because of the remaining proration of his contract.
"This is a player and person I have immense respect for, and he meant a lot to this team and organization," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Unfortunately he's a casualty of the system. The timing is not good. We tried to find a way to make it work. In the end, we weren't able to get to that point."
Belichick said the negotiations for a revised deal have been ongoing since April. Belichick said this is not the way he wanted the relationship to end, adding that a player of Milloy's caliber can't be replaced.
"Has it ever been this quiet in here? I don't think it has,"
linebacker Tedy Bruschi, Milloy's rookie roommate in 1996, said. "I think 'shocked' is the word. ... You sort of
just shake your head and ask yourself, 'Why?' "
"It is scary in the timing," cornerback Ty Law said. "There's
such a thing as good business and bad business. I don't know what
category this one falls under. But to my eyes, and being selfish,
at this late in the game and in regard to him and his family, I'm
quite sure this is something that could have been done a long time
Milloy played 106 consecutive games and has been the Patriots' captain the past three seasons. The Patriots signed strong safety Rodney Harrison to work with him during the offseason; Harrison has been working at free safety.
"I feel like I'm
ready," Harris said. "I'm ready to go out there and show what I can do. I'm not
any Lawyer Milloy. I'm Antwan. I have to take my abilities and put
them on the field.''
John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.