Adam Schefter of NFL.com is reporting that the Buffalo Bills have released starting left guard Derrick Dockery.
Dockery had five years remaining on a seven-year, $49 million deal he signed as an unrestricted free agent in March of 2007. The Bills were reportedly disappointed with his play in 2008 after a solid 2007 campaign.
As Schefter notes, the move does get a too-big contract off of their books, but the Bills will have to "accelerate $5.4 million against their cap" for the 2009 season. That's money that the Bills can't spend this year, folks. The Bills save approximately $450K against their '09 salary cap by cutting Dockery.
I'm not completely surprised by the news - it's likely Dockery was going to get the axe at some point simply because his contract was too large - but the timing of it is weird. Buffalo now has two gaping holes on the interior of their offensive line (left guard and center), so it's pretty safe to say that the team will be targeting interior linemen once free agency opens tonight at midnight. Vikings C Matt Birk or Ravens C Jason Brown are expected to be the team's top-priority free agent target should either still be available when free agency opens at midnight tonight.
Rumors are beginning to swirl that several names are considered possible replacements at Dockery's left guard slot, including current right guard Brad Butler, recently re-signed reserve Kirk Chambers, or perhaps another mid-range free agent option. Stay tuned!