SAN DIEGO -- All-Pro fullback Lorenzo Neal was released Thursday by the San Diego Chargers, who also parted with safety Marlon McCree and right tackle Shane Olivea in the hours before free agency opened.
General manager A.J. Smith said all three requested their release so they can quickly jump into free agency.
"They want to start somewhere else," Smith said at a news conference. "They want an opportunity, and I understand that."
Olivea had four years left on his contract, while McCree and Neal each had three years remaining.
Even though Neal was a Pro Bowler as well as an All-Pro, his role was expected to diminish in 2008. The Chargers tried to trade the 15-year veteran during the recent NFL Scouting Combine.
McCree is probably best remembered for fumbling a fourth-down interception in the fourth quarter that gave the New England Patriots new life in a playoff win over the top-seeded Chargers after the 2006 season.
Still, it's expected that there will be a demand for his services.
Olivea lost his starting job to Jeromy Clary midway through the season. McCree's release allows Eric Weddle to move into the starting lineup. The Chargers sent Chicago four picks, including this year's third-rounder, to move up 25 spots in the second round of last year's draft to take Weddle.
The Chargers ended a four-game playoff losing streak stretching back to the 1994 Super Bowl, reaching the AFC championship game before losing 21-12 at New England.
"This time we did make some noise," Smith said. "We played in three pressure-packed football games, and I believe in the future this is going to serve us well."
Kicker Dave Rayner, a restricted free agent, will not be tendered a contract. He was signed as a kickoff specialist after Nate Kaeding fractured his plant leg in a win over Denver on Dec. 24. Kaeding continued to kick field goals and PATs.
The Chargers are interested in bringing back their unrestricted free agents, running back Michael Turner, cornerback Drayton Florence and quarterback Billy Volek. But Smith expects Turner and Florence to get big money from other teams.
Turner is expected to get a starting job elsewhere after backing up LaDainian Tomlinson for three seasons. Smith shopped Turner last offseason but didn't get an offer he liked. So he kept the bruising back under a $2.35 million, one-year contract.