EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After finishing next to last in the league, the New York Giants began a defensive facelift by releasing veteran linebacker Michael Boley.
A key part of the Giants’ Super Bowl championship team a year ago, the 30-year-old Boley appeared in all 16 games last year with 11 starts but was hampered by hamstring, hip and shoulder injuries at various times. He finished third on the team with 84 tackles and had three interceptions, one in each of the first three games.
He had one year and about $4 million left on the five-year, $25 deal he signed when joining the Giants as a free agent in 2009 after four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
In his four seasons with New York, he played in 57 games with 50 starts, most of them at weakside linebacker. He had 315 tackles (237 solo), 3 1/2 sacks, three interceptions, 15 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries, including a 65-yard return for a touchdown in 2011 and a 70-yarder in 2012.
In the Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots in Indianapolis, he had a team-high 10 tackles.
“Michael Boley was brought here as a fast, athletic, versatile linebacker,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We recognized his special skills were in coverage. He’s a smart player who made some big plays for us.”
The release of Boley opens the door for third-year linebacker Jacquian Williams to play a bigger role.
Boley was a leader on the defense, but changes happen after a unit finishes 31st and plays poorly late in the season, which the defense did in one-sided losses to Atlanta and the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Boley has played in 121 regular-season games with 102 starts. He has started all five postseason games in which he has played. His career regular-season totals include 680 tackles (497 solo), 9.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, 40 passes defensed and eight interceptions. In the postseason, Boley has had 28 tackles (22 solo) and two sacks.
Lions cut Vanden
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions released two veteran starters Tuesday, cutting defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and guard Stephen Peterman.
Vanden Bosch signed a four-year contract with Detroit worth $26 million when he arrived as a free agent before the 2010 season. He quickly earned respect in the locker room, but the price tag may have been too high this year for the 34-year-old.
Vanden Bosch has earned three Pro Bowl selections in 11 NFL seasons. He made 15 ½ sacks in 43 games for Detroit and started all 16 games last season.
“Heard they just (released) the one guy that took me under his wing, a great teammate, a great person, my brother KVB,” Lions defensive end Cliff Avril posted on Twitter. Avril signed a one-year franchise tender before last season, so it’s not clear whether he’ll be back either.
Peterman, who turned 31 last month, started all 48 regular-season games for the Lions over the last three seasons, along with their playoff game at New Orleans in January 2012.
DE Frostee Rucker
CLEVELAND — The Browns’ switch on defense started with Frostee Rucker being shifted out the door.
Rucker was released by Cleveland on Monday, the first major move as the Browns change from a 4-3 defense to a multifront system under new coach Rob Chudzinski and coordinator Ray Horton.
A top free-agent signing by Cleveland last year, Rucker started all 16 games and finished with 48 tackles and four sacks in his one season with the Browns. Rucker made $6 million last season and $2 million of his $2.5 million contract for 2013 would have been guaranteed if he was still on the roster today.
The 29-year-old Rucker spent six seasons with Cincinnati before signing last March with Cleveland. He established himself as a leader in the Browns’ locker room, and Rucker was a staunch supporter of coach Pat Shurmur.