Divisional Outlook

Even after signing DE Keith McKenzie last week the Bears are one of the few teams in the league who are well under the $71.7 million salary cap. However, both Detroit and Green Bay had to make moves to improve their flexibility to sign players.

As expected, the Packers released veteran wide receiver Antonio Freeman in a cost-cutting move. By waiving Freeman, the Packers were able to create $4.3 million is salary cap space for this season. But they have to count about $4.3 million against their cap in 2003.

Without Freeman in the mix this season, the Packers will enter the upcoming season with a totally new look at wide receiver. Bill Schroeder (Detroit) and Corey Bradford (Houston) left Green Bay via free agency. Schroeder started opposite Freeman and Bradford was the team's No. 3 receiver.

Terry Glenn, who came to Green Bay in a trade from New England in March, is projected as the No. 1 receiver with second-year pro Robert Ferguson as the other starter. First-round pick Javon Walker has the inside track on the No. 3 spot but will be challenged for playing time by fourth-year pro Donald Driver and third-year pro Charles Lee.

The Lions officially cut two veterans in the franchise's all-time leading receiver Herman Moore and fifth-year quarterback Charlie Batch.

The release of Moore signifies the end of an era for the Detroit franchise. Moore, who holds the NFL single-season reception record with 123 catches in 1995, is the team's all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Moore finishes his 11-year stay in the Motor City with 670 career receptions for 9,174 yards and 62 touchdowns, all franchise bests.

Moore topped the 100 reception mark three-straight seasons from 1995 to 1997. Moore and Jerry Rice are the only two players to accomplish that feat. In 1998, Moore became the fastest player in NFL history to record 600 receptions. He did so in 118 career games.

Batch was drafted in the second-round out of Eastern Michigan University in 1998. He replaced Scott Mitchell that season as the team's No. 1 quarterback and started 12 games. He completed 57.1 percent of his passes during that campaign for 2,178 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Batch started the first eight games of the 1999 season and helped the Lions to a conference-best 6-2 mark. He would miss the next six games with a fracture to his right thumb before returning for the final two contests. He missed the first game of the 2000 season with a injury to his right knee and was limited with bruised ribs later in the season.

Batch assumed the starting role in 2001 and set a franchise mark with 436 passing yards in a 45-38 loss to Arizona on Nov. 18, but then missed the team's final five games with a separated shoulder suffered in a 13-10 loss to Chicago on Dec. 2.

According to published reports Batch was slated to $2 million in base salary during for 2002 and $3.5 million in 2003. By releasing Batch, the Lions will take a $1.67 million hit to this season's salary cap.


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