An inconsistent player whose flashes of excellence were often overshadowed by crucial drops and off-field drama, Little was released by the Cleveland Browns on Friday.
The 24-year-old Little became expendable after Cleveland added veteran receivers Miles Austin and Earl Bennett to its roster Thursday. Those moves were made for insurance in case Pro Bowler Josh Gordon is suspended by the league for failing another drug test.
Last week, Browns general manager Ray Farmer said he believed Little could improve.
"The young man's talented," Farmer said during the NFL draft. "The question mark would then fall onto can he be consistent and do the things that he has physically demonstrated he can do at times. If he continues to do those things and add a level of consistency -- the difference between being good and great is consistency.
"When a guy shows you he can do anything, he shows you he can jump up and make the one-handed catch, he shows you he can break a tackle, the question then is can he repeatedly do that over and over again. That's the difference between being average or marginal and good or great."
Little's departure ends a sometimes turbulent three-year run for him in Cleveland.
The Browns drafted Little, who was a running back at North Carolina, in the second round in 2011. And while he produced -- he led the team in receptions in 2011 and 2012 -- the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Little had too many passes slip from his hands and also had his share of non-football issues.
Last season, Little vowed to act more responsibly after it was revealed that he crashed his car driving 127 mph -- more than 70 mph over the legal speed limit. He called his actions "mindless."
He was cited for drag racing and he expressed remorse for putting his life, and the life of a passenger in his expensive car, in danger. Little was reprimanded by then-coach Rob Chudzinski, who did not reveal the punishment.
Also, Little joined the Browns with a history of questionable decision-making. He was issued 93 parking tickets on multiple vehicles with nine different license plates while he was at North Carolina.
In November, the school sent a letter of "permanent disassociation" to Little and other former Tar Heels football players for their roles in the program receiving NCAA penalties in a case that led to criminal charges against five people for violating the state's sports agent law. Little and others were suspended in 2010 for accepting improper benefits, including cash and travel accommodations.
Little acknowledged his actions distressed others.
"There's a lot of people that I've hurt," he said, "and I think a lot of the blame should be put on me much less than attacking other people."
Little was typically candid when speaking to the media and he seemed to be maturing as a person and player. In 41 starts over three seasons with the Browns, he caught 155 passes for 1,821 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 41 catches for 465 yards and two TDs last season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.