CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Chris Crocker #42 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with fans after the Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-17 at Cleveland Browns Stadium during a season opener on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 27-17. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The Cincinnati Bengals have announced on Friday that they released starting strong safety Chris Crocker. Crocker joined the Cincinnati Bengals in late October during the team's disastrous four-win season in 2008. After leaving an impression of decent production and quality versatility, the team signed Crocker to a four-year deal worth $10 million in late February of 2009. During his four-year career in Cincinnati, Crocker posted three interceptions, a forced fumble and seven quarterback sacks.
Crocker was scheduled to make $1.9 million in 2012, the final year under contract with a cap number of $2.455 million (per Joe Reedy). Crocker had arthroscopic surgery in February, cleaning out a bothersome knee that showed obvious decline in his overall production (especially in coverage) during the 2011 season.
According to Crocker, the issue wasn't so much talent as it was durability.
"They wanted to let me know it was a durability issue and it wasn't a talent issue," Crocker said. "They're appreciative of my abilities as a player but I think in their mind it came down to my age and coming off the injury. I'm appreciate of what the Brown (family) did. They gave my career a second wind and I feel like good things happened when I was here in Cincinnati."
One of the final impressions people will have of Crocker was during Arian Foster's 42-yard touchdown run during Cincinnati's 31-10 playoff loss to the Houston Texans.
The Bengals currently have three safeties signed to the 2012 roster, led by veteran Reggie Nelson, who signed a four-year deal worth $18 million in March. Taylor Mays and Robert Sands figure to battle for the spot left by the departing Nelson, with Mays being the one that the team likely favors. It could also mean Cincinnati is now heavily looking at a safety or two for the 2012 NFL Draft.