Notebook: Giants release QB Freeman

The New York Giants released former Vikings QB Josh Freeman before he ever made it to training camp. Plus, the NFL suspended a couple of players for all or part of the 2014 season.

Josh Freeman's career keeps spiraling.

The New York Giants released the quarterback Freeman on Friday, five weeks after signing him.

Freeman's stock has plummeted since the beginning of last season, when he was Tampa Bay's starting quarterback. He was benched and then cut by the Buccaneers, signed with Minnesota and started one game. That was in a lopsided loss to the Giants when he appeared unprepared for the assignment, going 20 of 53 for 190 yards with an interception.

New York signed him as its 15th veteran free agent in the offseason, adding Freeman to the roster in part because starting quarterback Eli Manning and backup Curtis Painter had undergone surgery.

But Manning was back at practice this week, Painter is expected back before training camp, and second-year QB Ryan Nassib will get a long look for the second-string job behind Manning.

So Freeman was expendable, and his work in recent organized team activities was not impressive enough for the Giants to keep him.

Freeman's quarterbacks coach in Minnesota was Craig Johnson, now the Giants' running backs coach.

Freeman went 0-3 as a starter in 2013 with the Buccaneers before being cut on Oct. 3. He signed with the Vikings five days later, but other than his start against the Giants, he was a nonfactor in Minnesota.

He was the Buccaneers' first-round draft pick in 2009 out of Kansas State. He became a starter in November of that year and started 60 games for Tampa Bay.

The Giants also were awarded offensive lineman Rogers Gaines off waivers from the Bears.

Gaines, 6-foot-6 and 334 pounds, entered the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in May 2013. He played in all four preseason games for Baltimore last summer but was waived on Aug. 30. Gaines signed on with Chicago's practice squad on Sept. 24 and spent the rest of the season there.


The NFL has suspended Arizona Cardinals standout inside linebacker Daryl Washington for one year for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The punishment, announced Friday, was for substance abuse and did not mention his recent guilty plea to assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

Washington, in a statement released by his agent, said the penalty was for marijuana, and that he takes responsibility for the violation. He said he "is committed to making changes" in his life that will allow him to return to the NFL.

Considered among the best in the NFL at his position, Washington was suspended the first four games of last season for violating the substance abuse policy.

"It is completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said in a statement released by the team. "We all know what the consequences are and will deal with them."

Washington, the team leader in tackles in 2011 and 2012, will lose $2.9 million in salary due to the suspension.

In March, Arizona exercised a $10 million option to keep him on the roster. Washington received $5 million then and the deals calls for him to get the other $5 million next March.

Washington said the NFL "policy is very strict, and I have chosen to take responsibility."

"I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape," he said, "and will work equally hard to ensure that my life off the field meets the high level of maturity and responsibility to which I am committed."

With the loss of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to free agency, the Cardinals find themselves without the dynamic combination that was a big part of their strong defense last season.

Second-year player Kevin Minter is slotted to take Dansby's place. Just what the team will do to try to replace Washington is unclear.

"Our approach is the same as it's always been: next man up," Keim said. "We talk a lot about how critical depth is to a team because situations always arise whether by injury or other circumstances such as this one.

"One player's absence is another's opportunity. That approach has served us well in the past and we will rely on it now."

After leading the team with 111 tackles in his second NFL season, Washington signed a six-year contract, adding four years and $32 million to his existing deal.

In 2012, he led the team with career highs of 140 tackles and nine sacks and made the Pro Bowl. But in April of last year, the NFL suspended him four games for violating the substance abuse policy. A month later, he was arrested on accusations of assaulting his ex-girlfriend, the mother of the couple's child.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of assault earlier this year.

A suspension for the criminal conviction had been expected. The penalty for substance abuse came as a surprise to some, but apparently not to Washington's teammates.

"Old news to us, new news to y'all," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said in a tweet.

Keim said "our hope is that this suspension will give Daryl the opportunity to accept the necessary help and guidance to get his life back on track," Keim said, "and we will certainly support him however we can."

When OTAs resumed this week, coach Bruce Arians said he hoped the team could pick up another outside linebacker.

The Cardinals signed veteran Larry Foote in the offseason, and outside linebacker Lorenzo Washington also can play inside.

Minter, a second-round draft pick, played almost entirely on special teams as a rookie.

Another player Arizona has at inside linebacker is Kenny Demens, an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago who spent last season on the Cardinals' practice squad.

"I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals," Washington said. "I also apologize to Cardinals fans for the time I will miss. I will work diligently during this suspension to return as a better man and football player."

New York Giants safety Will Hill was also suspended Friday, getting six games off by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Hill has failed three drug tests since 2012, and he lost an appeal for the latest infraction. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 13.

Hill was suspended for violating the performance enhancers policy two years ago, missing four games. He then missed the first four matches last season because of a substance abuse violation.

The Giants are expected to release Hill when his latest suspension ends.

Hill has played in just 24 games since being signed in 2012 as an undrafted free agent. He had two interceptions, returning one for a TD, and played well late last season.

A New Jersey product, Hill had a solid college career at Florida, but was not drafted because of off-field concerns. Last December, he was arrested, and police said they detected an odor of marijuana, though no drug charges were brought against Hill.

New York seemed prepared for Hill not being available, signing and drafting several defensive backs this year.

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