Packers part ways with Diggs

Linebacker slowed by knee injuries last season

The Green Bay Packers Thursday released linebacker Na'il Diggs and punter Ryan Dutton.

Releasing Diggs, who recently finished his sixth season, will give the Packers even more salary cap room. Diggs signed a four-year, $10.5 million contract in March of 2003. He was due a $600,000 roster bonus next week and a scheduled $2.3 million base salary in 2006.

The Packers are a reported $19 million to $22 million under the anticipated salary cap of about $95 million.

Diggs, selected by Green Bay in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL draft, played in 84 games, 80 as a starter, recording 541 tackles (390 solo).

Diggs tore the medial collateral ligament in both of his knees last season. He injured his left knee early in training camp, which forced him to miss the first two games. He injured his right knee Oct. 3 against Carolina and was out until late November.

Many felt Diggs was on his way out, anyway. Former defensive coordinator Jim Bates gave rookies Roy Manning and Brady Poppinga extensive playing time in Diggs' spot while the veteran was recovering from his injury, and even when he returned. Poppinga sustained a major knee injury in his only start Dec. 11 and could miss the early part of next season. Manning played mainly as a reserve but got a few starts in Diggs' place and will be in the running to start at strong-side linebacker next season.

Dutton, an Oshkosh, WI, native, was signed as a free agent in February. The former Minnesota State-Mankato punter was in Seattle's training camp in 2005 before getting released. He was in Cleveland's training camp in 2004, was released, and spent a week on the Browns' practice squad that season in mid-November. He played for the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe in the spring of 2005 and averaged 41.7 yards per punt.

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