The next 30-odd hours will be eventful ones around the NFL as teams cut ties to players in an effort to clear the maximum amount of cap room in advance of the start of free agency. That said, it's not often you'll find a team cutting a player and getting no immediate cap relief in return. That's just what the Jets did on Wednesday, though, when they released wide receiver Laveranues Coles.
Coles has been making noise about a long-term extension to his contract, the second time in two years that he's agitated for a new deal. Last year the Jets compromised and guaranteed his salaries for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, $5 million and $6 million respectively, but this time they decided to move in a different direction. Coles said there were no hard feelings as a result of the move.
"We didn't leave on bad terms,'' Coles said. "It's not out of the question that I could come back."
Don't count on it. Coles has given the Jets some strong play over his two tours of duty and he's a tough player, but he's also provided more than his fair share of problems. His first stint ended when he jumped to the Redskins for more money and he's been a constant complainer about his contract since returning in 2005. His production hasn't justified the moaning, though, and the Jets could use a more dynamic wideout to team with Jerricho Cotchery next season.
None of which would have cost him his spot on the team unless Rex Ryan wanted him gone, though. Ryan's sending a message that he won't put up with petty distractions and melodrama, something that went on far too often during Eric Mangini's tenure as head coach. There are always going to be players who want new contracts, many of whom are entitled, but Coles crossed a line with his constant bellyaching and it means he'll be playing somewhere else, perhaps in Miami with old running mate Chad Pennington, next year.
As for his replacement, don't expect the Jets to spend money on a big free agent signing. There will be some kind of cap adjustment when Coles signs somewhere else, but it won't be the team's first priority in free agency. It could change their focus on draft day, however. There are a handful of possibilities at the 17th spot, including Kenny Britt of Rutgers and Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland.