Rob Johnson, once considered the Buffalo Bills' long-term quarterback, was released by the team Thursday, proving too expensive, inconsistent and injury-prone.
Along with saving more than $6 million in salary-cap money, the Bills released a player who failed to live up to his strong-armed, athletic potential during four seasons.
Johnson, a former USC standout, had one year left on his contract, and was due a $2.5-million bonus today if he remained on the team's roster.
The Bills also announced that they released veteran cornerback Ken Irvin, saving another $1.9 million in salary-cap money.
Bill President and General Manager Tom Donahoe said Johnson's salary-cap figure proved too expensive, and the two sides were unable to negotiate a new contract.
"We wish him the best," Donahoe said. "We stated from the beginning that we would have liked to have Rob remain with our club, but we could not afford the salary-cap figure of his current contract."
The New York Giants cut out the longtime heart and soul of their defense, releasing five-time all-pro linebacker Jessie Armstead in a salary-cap move.
Two other starters, safety Sam Garnes and offensive tackle Lomas Brown, and two backups, quarterback Jason Garrett and cornerback Dave Thomas, also were released.
Tight end Howard Cross, the last player link to New York's Super Bowl win over Buffalo in 1991, announced his retirement after 13 years with the Giants.
The Giants also restructured the contracts of cornerback Jason Sehorn, receiver Amani Toomer, running back Tiki Barber and defensive tackle Keith Hamilton in cutting $10 million in salary to get under the NFL's $71.1-million salary cap.
The Tennessee Titans released four-time all-pro safety Blaine Bishop, linebacker Eddie Robinson, receiver Chris Sanders and cornerback DeRon Jenkins and restructured three more contracts to get below the salary cap.
Bishop was due to count $5.8 million against the salary cap, with Robinson scheduled for $2.25 million in the final year on each of their contracts.
The Titans restructured several contracts over the last week to clear more cap space, including a new deal for offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, who is expected to retire in June.
The Miami Dolphins cut defensive tackle Tim Bowens then re-signed him an hour later to a five-year, $15-million contract.
As negotiations progressed, the Dolphins had to release Bowens. But one hour later, Bowens signed a new contract with Miami rather than test the free-agent market.
"We thought about going into the open market but felt good about the Dolphins' contract, and Tim did not want to leave," said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "We're happy with the way things are going for him there and just want to keep it going."
The Green Bay Packers waived running back Dorsey Levens, allowing him to test his value on the free-agent market but leaving the door open for his return.
Levens, 31, an eight-year veteran, wants to be a starter again.
He also wants to play on grass to save his legs after battling injuries for much of his career. Levens' departure saves the Packers more than $2 million in cap room.
Ray Mickens had his contract extended by the New York Jets, who lost both starting cornerbacks to Houston in the expansion draft.
The team also released starting strong safety Victor Green and signed punter Daniel Pope.
Mickens, a seven-year veteran, was primarily the nickel back last season and started three games when Aaron Glenn injured a knee.
Glenn and Marcus Coleman, the other starter, were taken by the Texans as the Jets attempted to free up money under the salary cap.
The Jacksonville Jaguars released cornerback Aaron Beasley and voided the contracts of linebacker Kevin Hardy and defensive end Renaldo Wynn.
The moves save the Jaguars about $15 million.
The Dallas Cowboys cut center Mark Stepnoski, safety George Teague and tight end Jackie Harris.
Stepnoski and Teague were exposed in last week's expansion draft but weren't chosen by the Houston Texans.
"This is a difficult decision involving three players who played a big part in helping us get things headed in a positive direction last year," Cowboy owner Jerry Jones said.
Stepnoski, whose contract was through 2003, would have counted more than $4 million against the Cowboys' salary cap next season when his actual salary would have been $2.75 million.
He was due a $250,000 roster bonus today.
Bobby Engram, the wide receiver who caught 29 passes for 400 yards for Seattle last season, signed a one-year contract with the Seahawks.
The seven-year veteran was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent today.