Less than 5 years after the Atlanta Falcons signed Michael Vick to a $130 million contract, the suspended quarterback was released in a 98-word statement.

Before yesterday's announcement - a move that clears Vick to sign with any NFL team - general manager Thomas Dimitroff called the team's former franchise player.

Dimitroff said Vick, who has missed two seasons while serving a prison sentence for running a dogfighting ring, deserved to hear first about his release. He said Vick "was upbeat" in the short conversation and was looking forward to moving on.

Dimitroff said releasing Vick allows the Falcons "to have a clean slate going into the summer" and allows Vick the freedom to negotiate with other teams.

Vick is eligible to immediately sign with a team, even though he has not been reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

"Everybody always knew that Mike wouldn't be playing with the Falcons," Vick's agent, Joel Segal, said. "He's really just taking it one day at a time."

The NFL had no comment.

Goodell has said he will meet with Vick after he completes his 23-month sentence on July 20 for running a dogfighting ring.


* The Minnesota Vikings plan to send a trainer and a coach to Mississippi to work with Brett Favre.

The purpose of the trip is to assess the currently retired quarterback's progress since he had arthroscopic surgery 2 weeks ago to repair a partially torn biceps tendon in his right arm.

* Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress' defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Burress and prosecutors have yet to agree on a plea deal, and the case will be adjourned until September. Burress shot himself in the thigh on Nov. 29 in a Manhattan nightclub. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison. Burress has pleaded not guilty and is free on $100,000 bail.

* Former Pro Bowl quarterback Trent Green has decided to retire. Green, who began his career with San Diego in 1993, was released by St. Louis in February and opted to retire after 15 NFL seasons. Green, 38, earned a Super Bowl ring with the Rams in 2000 and twice played in the Pro Bowl (2003, 2005).

* Receiver James Thrash was released by the Redskins after failing a physical. The former Eagle has been unable to practice during the offseason because of a neck injury that has him contemplating retirement. *