I did not see this coming so quickly.
Sure, McKinney is coming off ACL surgery. And he was scheduled to count an estimated $2,356,720.00 against the cap this year, which is admittedly an awfully high number for someone coming off an injury at thirty-two (32) years old and who may not start. While I'd also concede that the recent arrival of Chris Myers certainly put McKinney's long-term future in question, I honestly thought that last month's release of Mike Flanagan, coupled with the uncertainty/inexperience surrounding the other options at center on the roster, all but assured that McKinney would be penciled in for a roster spot. In hindsight, that may have been naive, but I thought the Texans would jettison Flanagan or McKinney last year instead of paying seven figures for one of them to be a reserve. I was wrong then, and I was wrong this time around too. Nice to see that I learn from my mistakes, huh? Chalk this up as the latest example of why I should leave the general managing to Rick Smith.
Fortunately, this story may have a happy ending; McKinney could sign a new deal at a much cap-friendlier number:
"They told me that I just make too much money ($1.6 million this year) to be a backup," McKinney said. "They told me they didn't want to ask me to take a pay cut, and they wanted to give me an opportunity to look around to see if I could get the same kind of money somewhere else."
"Right now, I'm letting it all soak in, and I'm trying to digest everything. I'm going to see what's out there, but, hopefully, I'll have a chance to come back."
Personally, I'm hoping this split is temporary. All nostalgia aside, the running game disappeared when McKinney went down in Week Three, and his experience would be a welcome security blanket as the Texans try to break in a new center.
Update [2008-3-29 13:15:33 by Tim]: Despite the Chronicle trumpeting the headline of "Ex-Texan McKinney Signs With Browns," Steve McKinney hasn't signed anywhere. No...actually, his brother Seth signed a contract to remain with the Browns. Now THAT is some attention to detail, Chron staffers.