The San Francisco 49ers cut ties with one of the few remaining links to their last run of success when they released linebacker NaVorro Bowman on Friday.
General manager John Lynch said the team looked into possible trade partners and came close to completing one. But when that fell through, Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan granted Bowman's request and released him to give him the opportunity to pick his new team.
"We tried to do what was best for him also and the team and give him a chance to move on," Shanahan said. "We thought we had those trade partners, but I think he was a little bit more interested in keeping it open for himself to be able to pick what team he wanted."
Bowman originally joined the 49ers as a third-round pick in 2010 and quickly formed one of the league's best linebacking duos with Patrick Willis. The two were key to San Francisco's run of three straight trips to the NFC title game and one Super Bowl appearance.
The only players remaining in San Francisco who played in that Super Bowl following the 2012 season are left tackle Joe Staley, center Daniel Kilgore and tight end Garrett Celek.
"He's given his heart and soul for this organization," Lynch said. "I know he's a fan favorite. So, this isn't going to be easy for the fans, but Kyle and I felt like it was in the best interest of our team and so we've acted accordingly."
Bowman earned first team All-Pro honors four times in his career, achieving it from 2011-13 and then again in 2015 after coming back from a devastating knee injury. Bowman then tore his Achilles tendon early last season and missed most of the year before coming back again this year.
In 89 career games, Bowman has 808 tackles, 12 1/2 sacks, four interceptions, seven forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and 28 passes defensed. Bowman led the team in tackles four times in the past six years.
Elliott to appeal
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and his legal team are not giving up their fight with the NFL over his six-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.
One day after having his preliminary injunction thrown out and his case ordered to be dismissed by a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Elliott informed a New York judge that he plans to file a petition for a rehearing before the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Elliott, the NFL's rushing champion as a rookie, has played in the first five games for the 2-3 Cowboys. He leads the team with 393 rushing yards, averaging 3.7 a carry. Dallas has a bye this week.
No Cruz back to N.Y.
The New York Giants, who lost three receivers to season-ending injuries last week, will be without five more starters Sunday in Denver: defensive end Olivier Vernon, center Weston Richburg, running back Paul Perkins, linebacker Jonathan Casillas and receiver Sterling Shepard.
Coach Ben McAdoo also indefinitely suspended veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Wednesday.
But despite the Giants' shortage of receivers, Victor Cruz says the team has not called his agent back. The longtime Giants receiver was cut after last season and is out of work.
"Can you imagine, if I get a phone call from the New York Giants and I go back out there wearing the number 80 in blue and I get in that end zone one more time?" Cruz told Newsday. "Do you understand? I can already hear the deafening screams from the crowd."