The Green Bay Packers released veteran offensive tackle Chad Clifton, a second-round pick in 2000 who has played in 165 games for the franchise.
Clifton, who will be 36 when the 2012 season begins, failed a physical, according to reports. The 12-year NFL veteran had offseason back surgery, and it's uncertain whether he will be able to play again. Clifton was the oldest starting left tackle in the league when the 2011 season began, and was limited to just six games by a severe hamstring injury.
"Chad is a great Packer and has been an integral part of our success over the past 12 seasons," general manager Ted Thompson said. "He was a member of some of the most prolific offenses in team history, but more importantly, he is a great person and teammate. We thank Chad for all that he has given the Packers on the field and in the community and wish him and his family well."
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the $5.7 million the Packers save by cutting Clifton is enough to cover the cost of signing their picks in this weekend's NFL Draft, and should help in the process of negotiating contract extensions with receiver Greg Jennings and guard T.J. Lang.
Among the candidates to take Clifton's spot at left tackle are Marshall Newhouse, Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga.
Clifton is a two-time Pro Bowl player who started 160 games at left tackle during his 12 years with the Packers.