Two Colts Defensive Players Released Just Before New League Year
INDIANAPOLIS - A little more than a year ago, Anthony "Booger" McFarland and Rob Morris were Super Bowl heroes, keys in the Colts' run to their first World Championship in 36 years.
On Wednesday, they were released by the team.
McFarland, a veteran defensive tackle, and Morris - a linebacker who was the team's first-round selection in the 2000 NFL Draft – each have been released, the team announced early Wednesday evening. Each missed significant time last season with knee injuries.
The moves came less than two days before the start of the new league year, the deadline for teams to be under the NFL's salary cap.
The new league year and the unrestricted free agency period begins Friday at 12:01 a.m.
McFarland, a first-round selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1999 NFL Draft, was acquired from the Bucs in October of 2006 in exchange for the Colts' second-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. He started 11 regular-season games for the Colts that season, and was a key to the team's defensive postseason resurgence.
He started all four postseason games, including the Colts' 29-17 victory over Chicago in Super Bowl XLI, and had 12 tackles, nine solos, and two sacks.
He entered training camp this past season as a starter, but sustained a knee injury early in camp and was placed on injured reserve shortly thereafter. He did not play a snap this past season.
Rookie defensive tackle Ed Johnson started all 16 games in place of McFarland, whose absence leaves Johnson, veteran Raheem Brock, second-year veteran Keyunta Dawson, second-year veteran Quinn Pitcok and veteran Darrell Reid as defensive tackles currently signed by the Colts with NFL experience.
Veteran defensive tackle Dan Klecko is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Friday and has not been re-signed.
Morris, the 28th overall selection by the Colts in 2000, started at middle linebacker from 2001-2004, then played a key role on special teams and as a backup linebacker in 2005. He played the same role for the first three months of the 2006 season, then moved to outside linebacker to replace Gilbert Gardner for the last three games of the regular season.
He also started all four games in the postseason following the 2006 season, recording 21 tackles and 17 solos.
In eight seasons with the Colts, Morris recorded 544 tackles, 322 solos, and also recorded 48 special teams tackles. He was among the team's top special teams players in 2005 and 2006, registering 21 tackles on special teams each season.
He had seven sacks and one interception, and over eight seasons, started 67 games. He had 100 or more tackles each season from 2001-2003.
Morris began this past season as a starter at outside linebacker, starting two games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury against Denver on September 30.
Morris' release leaves the Colts with six signed linebackers with NFL playing experience – outside linebackers Freddy Keiaho and Tyjuan Hagler, middle linebacker Gary Brackett and second-year veteran outside backers Ramon Guzman, Clint Session and Victor Worsley.
Veteran outside linebacker Rocky Boiman is scheduled to become a free agent Friday and has not been re-signed.