FOXBORO, Mass., Sept. 2 (UPI) -- In a surprise move Tuesday, the New England Patriots released four-time Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy.
He spent seven seasons with the team, and played in all of a possible 112 games, including 106 consecutive starts. According to the players' association, his salary jumped from $525,000 in 2002 to $4.4 million in 2003 in what was the fourth year of what was originally a seven-year, $35 million.
"Of all the players I have released in my career, this easily would be the hardest," said Coach Bill Belichick. "It's an unfortunate situation, but we will have to move forward."
Milloy has 846 tackles in his career, as well as seven sacks, 19 interceptions, 12 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. He went to his first Pro Bowl in 1998 starting a string of four all-star appearances in five years, including 2002, and was the first Patriots safety selected to the Pro Bowl since Fred Marion in 1985.
The Patriots were negotiating to reduce Milloy's cap hit for this season. His cap number for 2003 was scheduled to be in $5.8 million range, but since his release came after June 1, the Patriots can spread out his accelerated cap hit (around $5.6 million) over two seasons.