BUFFALO - Cornerback Terrence McGee was hoping the Buffalo Bills would give him one last shot to prove that he could still play.
That opportunity will have to come elsewhere, after the Bills continued their purge of veteran defensive players by releasing the oft-injured McGee on Thursday.
"It's been definitely a difficult day," McGee said by phone from his home in Dallas. "It's one of those days that you know is going to come eventually, but you never know when. Yeah, I wish I could've kept going. But I think, because of these injuries, they wanted to move on."
McGee spent 10 seasons in Buffalo, and was one of the team's longest-serving active players. Injuries, however, began catching up to McGee who finished last season on injured reserve for the third time in four years.
He was limited to just seven games before having surgery on a left knee that hadn't fully healed from the previous year. McGee was due to make a $1.75 million base salary next season in the final year of a contract he had restructured a year ago.
McGee said he plans to continue playing next season once he's fully recovered.
"This is definitely not it," he said. "I feel like I still have something left to prove, to go out there and show I can still play."
In a statement released by the Bills, general manager Buddy Nix thanked McGee for his efforts, and wished him the best of luck.
McGee learned of his release a day after he left Buffalo, and after he met with several members of the Bills new coaching staff, and also had his knee examined by a team doctor. No one provided him any indication that he was about to be released.
"Yeah, it was a bit of a shock," said McGee, who was selected by Buffalo in the fourth round of the 2003 draft out of Northwestern State. "But there's nothing I can do or argue about or get mad about."
The move is the latest under new head coach Doug Marrone, who took over last month after Chan Gailey was fired following three straight losing seasons. Marrone has brought in an entirely new staff that includes former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine handling the same role in Buffalo.
Pettine continues to transform his defense, with McGee's departure coming two days after the Bills released veteran safety George Wilson and linebacker Nick Barnett.
The Bills need to free up salary-cap space in order to add to their roster. That includes the possibility of re-signing two key starters, safety Jairus Byrd and left guard Andy Levitre, who are both eligible to become free agents next month.
McGee's effectiveness had declined over the past four seasons, a stretch in which an assortment of injuries limited him to 33 games, including 19 starts.
When healthy, McGee was a dual threat at both cornerback and kickoff returner. He had 17 interceptions in 122 games. A 2005 Pro Bowl selection for his special teams play, McGee holds numerous team kickoff return records including career yards, (5,450), career touchdowns (five), and longest return (a 104-yard return against Miami in 2004).
In a 37-27 win over Cincinnati in 2005, McGee became the first NFL player to score on a kickoff and interception return in the same game.
McGee's one regret is failing to help the Bills reach the playoffs. At 13 seasons, the Bills own the NFL's longest active postseason drought, and it's a stretch in which they've enjoyed only one winning season - a 9-7 finish in 2004.
"It's definitely a big regret, because I know fans are really looking forward to being in that playoff atmosphere," McGee said. "I know I was. But we just never got it done."
The Bills also announced signing two free agents: quarterback Aaron Corp and offensive lineman Hutch Eckerson.
Corp rejoins the Bills after he spent last offseason in Buffalo. He's an undrafted free agent out of Richmond, and also spent two seasons at Southern California.
Eckerson, an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina, was cut by New Orleans before the start of last season. In 2011, Eckerson was cut by San Diego before the start of the regular season.