CINCINNATI Troubled linebacker Odell Thurman was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, one month after he was reinstated by the NFL from a two-year suspension.
Thurman failed to attend the team's three voluntary workouts last week, when he was in Georgia following the death of his grandmother. The Bengals are installing a new defense and wanted him to participate.
"I was just told by coach (Marvin) Lewis that he hadn't been in the building enough since his reinstatement, and they decided to go in a different direction," agent Safarrah Lawson said.
The move came one month after the Bengals released receiver Chris Henry following his fifth arrest, an indication that the team is taking a hard line on player conduct. Eleven Bengals player have faced criminal charges in the last two years.
Thurman, a second-round draft pick from Georgia, showed promise as a rookie in 2005, when he led the team in tackles and led all NFL rookies with five interceptions. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2006 season after failing to show up for a drug test. The punishment was extended to a full season when he was later arrested for drunken driving.
Commissioner Roger Goodell turned down his request for reinstatement and kept him out of football for the 2007 season as well. Thurman was allowed to resume working out with the team in January, and was fully reinstated on April 21.
OWNERS COULD OPT OUT OF CONTRACT: The NFL's labor situation could get more complicated this week.
The league's owners meet today and could vote to opt out of the labor contract. Such a move could signal a protracted period of labor tension and lead to a 2010 season without a salary cap and a potential work stoppage the following year.
The owners have until Nov. 8 to terminate the contract. Some would prefer to do so now and hasten the way for talks toward a new agreement to replace the 2-year old contract that most owners feel has tilted too far toward the players, who get 60 percent of total revenues.
That the owners will opt out is basically a foregone conclusion.
Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, has been predicting a lockout. League and union officials note that is standard rhetoric in labor disputes.
"I expect them to opt out Tuesday or, if not, in the near future," Upshaw said last week.
The NFL often takes its time on such matters, and league officials believe a decision to opt out could be tabled.
The official business of the meeting is to award the 2012 Super Bowl, with Indianapolis, Houston and Arizona vying for the game. The next three have been awarded Tampa in 2009, South Florida in 2010 and Dallas in 2011 in the new stadium to be opened by the Cowboys next season.
That Dallas Super Bowl, as well as the others, is one reason why those involved in the game believe a new deal will be in place before the league reaches an uncapped year. Jerry Jones, one of the league's most influential owners, has too much tied up in that game to have it lost in a work stoppage.
At issue is the contract extension agreed to in March 2006, just before the start of that year's free agency. It was pushed through by commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who retired soon afterward. The agreement was to extend to 2013 with the opt-out option this year that would end it in 2011.
OL MCKINNEY JOINS DOLPHINS: Offensive lineman Steve McKinney, coming back from a knee injury that forced him to miss most of the 2007 season, signed a contract Monday to join the Miami Dolphins.
The deal was confirmed by the office of McKinney's agent, Tim Irwin.
The 6-foot-4, 302-pound McKinney was a starter in each of his first eight NFL seasons, but after he allowed 9 1/4 sacks in 2005 he became a part-time center for Houston. He tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the Texans' third game last year and missed the rest of the season.
On March 25 the Texans released McKinney, 32, who is still rehabilitating his knee. Once healthy, he's expected to compete for playing time at guard or as a backup to starting center Samson Satele.
The Dolphins waived guard Drew Mormino last week after he failed a physical. Following a 1-15 season in 2007, the Dolphins are revamping their offensive line under new head coach Tony Sparano, who was offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dolphins said they were not yet ready to confirm McKinney's deal. He's the older brother of Seth McKinney, was played center and guard for the Dolphins in 2002-05.