As free agency nears, McFarland, Morris, Givens among cuts

On the eve of NFL free agency, which begins Friday, teams are cleaning up their rosters.

The Colts cleared close to $8 million in cap room Wednesday by releasing defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland and middle linebacker Rob Morris.

Both players, who entered last year's training camp as starters, spent much of the season on injured reserve. Morris participated in only 57 plays on the Colts defense last year. McFarland missed the entire season.

They were released after they both failed physicals.

Morris is a former No. 1 choice of the Colts who was an excellent run-stopper. During the Colts Super Bowl year in 2006, he moved to strong-side linebacker late in the year and helped improve the team's run defense with his tackling ability and toughness.

McFarland came to the Colts in a trade with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2006 after
Corey Simon was hurt. The Colts gave up a 2007 second-round choice to acquire him. He missed last season with a torn patella tendon.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Titans cut Givens

The Titans released wide receiver David Givens Wednesday after two seasons in which he was bothered by injuries.

Givens, 27, signed a five-year, $24 million contract with the Titans after leaving the New England Patriots in free agency. He started 10 games in 2006, catching 59 passes for 738 yards. His season was cut short by a torn ACL, and he wasn't the same in 2007. He caught eight passes in five games.

The Titans saved $1.6 million of cap room by releasing him.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Thomas among Bills cuts

Veteran running back Anthony Thomas was one of three Bills players to have their contracts terminated by the team on Wednesday.

A seven-year NFL veteran and the league's rookie of the year in 2001, Thomas' numbers dwindled this season. Used mostly as a backup behind rookie first-round draft pick Marshawn Lynch, Thomas finished with career-lows in carries (36) and yards rushing (89).

Linebacker Coy Wire and cornerback Jerametrius Butler also had their contracts terminated. The Bills also waived offensive guard Aaron Merz, a 2006 second-round draft pick, who missed the entire season because of a shoulder injury.
-- The Associated Press

Vikings' QB Holcomb out

Quarterback Kelly Holcomb was released Wednesday by the Vikings, clearing room on the roster for another veteran to push starter Tarvaris Jackson.

Holcomb was 0-3 as a starter last season while Jackson was hurt. In his 11th year in the NFL, Holcomb completed only 50.6 percent of his passes (42-for-83) for 515 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

After spot duty for Indianapolis, Cleveland and Buffalo, Holcomb was traded to Philadelphia last March and then dealt to Minnesota during the last week of training camp when the Vikings were concerned about their depth at the position.

Jackson showed clear improvement down the stretch, but his erratic performances were a big reason why Minnesota missed the playoffs at 8-8. Coach Brad Childress has maintained that Jackson is still the starter, but has also left open the possibility of competition for the job.
-- The Associated Press

Browns release Roye

The Browns terminated the contract of defensive lineman Orpheus Roye on Wednesday, cutting loose one of their most productive players ahead of free agency.

A 12-year veteran, Roye battled knee injuries the past two seasons. The 35-year-old was scheduled to make $3 million in 2008.

Roye had a career-high 95 tackles for the Browns in 2005. He made five starts last season, appeared in 13 games and finished with 34 tackles.

Roye was drafted by Pittsburgh in 1996 and spent four seasons with the Steelers before joining the Browns as a free agent.
-- The Associated Press

Bucs going younger

The Buccaneers had a mini youth movement along their offensive line Wednesday by releasing veterans Kevin Carter and Greg Spires.

Carter, 34, came to the Bucs last year from Miami after he was released and signed a four-year, $25 million contract. He started 14 of the 16 games he played and had 43 tackles and three sacks. He has played for the Rams, Titans and Dolphins before joining the Bucs.

Spires, 33, played the past six seasons with the Bucs and was a full time starter until last year when he started eight games. He's a 10-year vet with experience with the Browns and Patriots. The Bucs saved $9.2 million with their releases.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Saints boot Mare

The Saints, who re-signed kicker Martin Grammatica, released kicker Olindo Mare Wednesday after he failed a physical. He came to the Saints in a trade from the Dolphins last year. He is a veteran of 11 NFL seasons.
-- John Clayton, ESPN.com

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com.