Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett was released by the San Francisco 49ers on Friday, just six months after signing a two-year $7.5 million deal with the team.
Pro Football Talk (PFT) first spotted the move while NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the 49ers did make the cut, citing sources with knowledge of the situation. The team later confirmed the release. This decision means that Dockett will never play a game for the team as his deal was inked in the off-season.
The move makes the veteran defensive tackle a free agent. It means that he can now sign with any other team. The 49ers will get a dollar-for-dollar credit, up to $2 million, on whatever he earns elsewhere, according to Mike Florio of PFT.
The exact reasons behind Dockett's exit are not clear but it was largely seen as a result of the player's apparent rib injury. Dockett describes it as a "cracked rib," a diagnosis that the 49ers are refuting. Coach Jim Tomsula told ESPN that, "The crack is in the cartilage, which is treated like a contusion. It's not the bone. If it was the bone, we would be talking about something different (and more serious)."
The 34-year-old Dockett spent 11 seasons of his career with the Arizona Cardinals. The team chose him during the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Since then, he earned three Pro Bowl nods for the years 2007, 2009, and 2010, and registered 459 combined tackles, 40.5 sacks and 14 fumble recoveries.
He played in 158 out of the 160 possible games in his first 10 seasons with the Cardinals before his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was torn in a training camp practice in August 2014. The ACL is a major ligament in the knee and injury prevented him from participating in the season that followed.
After missing the entire last season, the Arizona Cardinal opted to let him go in February but the San Francisco 49ers was quick to scoop Dockett up.
Rumors are quick to surface suggesting that Dockett's release signifies a possible reunion with the Cardinals. Rapoport also posted a tweet that reads, "The #49ers have released DT Darnell Dockett, source said. Could a return to #AZCardinals be next?"
Fox Sports shared that aside from Darnell Dockett, the San Franciso 49ers also released linebacker Philip Wheeler, offensive linemen Patrick Miller and Joe Looney, safety Craig Dahl, and receiver Issac Blakeney on Friday to leave 69 players on the roster. The team have to cut down to 53 by Saturday.