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Bengals cut Brian Simmons.

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The Bengals cut Brian Simmons Wednesday afternoon.

In a stunning move Wednesday the Bengals released linebacker Brian Simmons, the dean of their defense who has played in 121 games since they drafted him in the first round in 1998.

The Bengals issued the following press release, which comes hours before free agency starts Friday at midnight:

"The Bengals today terminated the contract of LB Brian Simmons, releasing him to free agency.

Simmons, a 10th-year NFL player for 2007, was a Bengals' first-round draft choice in 1998 and has played all nine of his previous seasons for Cincinnati. He has played in 121 games with 115 starts, compiling 896 total tackles, 23 sacks, 11 interceptions, 43 passes defensed, 14 forced fumbles and 8 fumble recoveries. He has scored three touchdowns, two on interception returns and one on a fumble return.

"This was not an easy decision to make," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "Brian has been a fine player on the field, and he has been a great example to all of our players as a team leader and a citizen.

Talk about a non-glorious way of repaying his "great example" by showing him I-75. Supposedly the cut will give the Bengals $2 million in cap savings. I'm just surprised by this. When a guy is known for class and leadership, soon after Carson Palmer led a brigade of players calling out "selfishness", you'd think he'd be an example, rather than a reason to free up cap space.

The next few days will be very interesting.