The next round of cuts

June 1 is a popular date around the NFL. However, it's actually June 2 when you can release players and put a portion of their salary cap number on next year's cap. Teams often make it known beforehand who will be released - such as the 49ers have done with veteran offensive tackle Scott Gragg - but the moves don't become official until after the close of business on June 1. Here, we take a look at the list of players who might be released starting early next month and the reasons why.

What these moves which will officially be made next month symbolize is that the team basically admits that the player is no longer in their plans, was overpaid, or they made a mistake in signing the player to begin with.

Likely to be Released

Rod Gardner/Wide Receiver/Washington - At one time, Gardner looked like he was a rising star during the 2002 season. However, he followed what looked to be a breakout season the year before with over 400 less yards, 12 less catches, and three less touchdowns.

During last year's return of head coach Joe Gibbs, Gardner didn't improve on the previous year's numbers much and those close to the Redskins say Gardner wanted out because he didn't think he was being used correctly. Gardner's best attribute is that he's physical receiver who can get down field but he wasn't used enough in that capacity.

Both parties felt it was best to move on without each other after last season ended and the Redskins attempted to deal him earlier this year for a middle round selection. After striking out in potential deals with Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Seattle, and Baltimore, the team eventually gave Gardner permission to work out a trade with another team. That didn't work either so the team, knowing there is almost no market for Gardner in a deal, decided not to have Gardner at their off-season workouts which is a sure sign the player is set to be released. Considering the team is on the hook for close to $2.1 million for Gardner this season, a release makes a lot of sense.

Scott Gragg/Offensive Tackle/San Francisco - Gragg was once a very good right tackle who earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2001, but his play has waned in recent seasons so much so that the team has decided to part ways with the 10-year veteran.

Gragg was asked not to attend the 49ers' off-season workout program which makes his release a certainty, and he was given permission to speak with other teams months ago. Third-year tackle Kwame Harris, who started on the left side last season, is expected to take over Gragg's right tackle spot with former Bills' tackle Jonas Jennings taking over the left tackle position.

R.W. McQuarters/Cornerback/Chicago - After struggling with the 49ers in the first two years of his seven-year career - and then finding himself in former Niners coach Steve Mariucci's doghouse - McQuarters moved on to the Bears where he started to flourish. In fact, the former first-round pick was one of the big components of their defense during their great season in 2001. However, he lost his starting job two years later to then second-round pick Charles Tillman and McQuarters has been mostly a backup ever since except when Tillman was out with a knee injury last season.

The Bears haven't been able to get even a seventh-round selection back in return for McQuarters and since they can't move him, they decided not to have him participate in their minicamp later this month which is a clear indication that he'll be released.

Bobby Taylor/Cornerback/Seattle - It was first thought that the 10-year veteran would come in and start after the team signed him last off-season. However, that never happened. Taylor was clearly beaten out by Ken Lucas and he also struggled through a knee injury almost all season. Although Lucas left via free agency, the team signed former Titans' cornerback Andre Dyson and former Broncos' cornerback Kelly Herndon to compete for the starting job. The loser will be the nickel back which means Taylor is seemingly out of a job. Whether it's in early June or in July or August, there is almost no way Taylor will be a Seahawk this fall.

50-50 to be Released

Stephen Davis/Running Back/Carolina - His agent, David Cantor, is under the impression that Davis will be on the team this season. However, the team selected running back Eric Shelton in the second round in this year's draft and has fourth-year back DeShaun Foster as well as veteran back Nick Goings on the depth chart. With that being the case and Davis still coming back from microfracture knee surgery (might not be ready to run until July), his days as a Panther could be numbered.

Johnnie Morton/Wide Receiver/Kansas City - Morton has been asked for a pay cut for the second straight season but hasn't agreed to do so. Should he continue his refusal to do so, Morton will be a likely candidate for release after June 1.

The problem there is the team is woefully thin on depth. Third receiver Marc Boerigter is still coming back from ACL surgery and they have next to no experience other wise.

Micheal Barrow/Linebacker/Washington - While the team has been making some overtures that the veteran will be on the team this season, it was apparent in their off-season workouts that Barrow's not a candidate to be the starter. In fact, it looks like backup linebacker Lemar Marshall is the leading contender for the job.

What the team found out last year was that they didn't need to spend a high round selection to fill the starting middle linebacker job. In fact, last year's replacement Antonio Pierce was signed as an undrafted free agent and had a great season and Marshall was also signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent.

The chances of Barrow of playing as a backup at his current salary of $1.74 million is a very hefty price to pay a backup.

If Barrow's willing to take a pay cut, the 35-year old, 12-year pro could return but his status really is up in the air as he continues to rehab from a bad knee which curtailed his entire 2004 season.

Lance Schulters/Safety/Tennessee - The team would like the seven-year pro back but at a well reduced price. Schulters is on the books for $2.75 million in base salary this season and the team would like him to return for around half that number.

For now, they've asked him to stay away from participating in their minicamp practices until his contract gets worked out one way or the other. The team also wants to be cautious as he's still coming back from a broken foot which sidelined him for much of last season.

25% Chance to be Released

Mark Roman/Safety/Green Bay - The veteran defensive back didn't set the world on fire last season after signing through free agency. Some close to the situation say Roman probably will stay on the roster for now but if he doesn't show improvement during their off-season program, he could be let go before training camp starts.

Reggie Tongue/Safety/New York Jets - There was speculation that he was going to be released at the start of free agency this part March but that didn't take place. What has kept him on the roster as of now is his very palatable base salary of $665,000.

Tongue didn't play well last season and the team has former second-round pick Jon McGraw behind him so it's not like they don't have other options.


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