10 NFL Free Agents Who Teams Should Let Walk
There are certain potential NFL free agents that teams should let walk this coming offseason.
Some of these players are injury prone and getting up there in age, and others will simply be holding out for more money. Either way, every NFL team lets some of its players leave the team and hit the free-agent market.
This year will be no exception.
Here's a list of 10 players that teams shouldn't re-sign this offseason.
Rashean Mathis tore his ACL late in the season last year, and that might have been the last time that he put on a Jacksonville Jaguars uniform.
He used to be considered one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL a few years back, but age and the lack of a surrounding cast in the secondary have made his productivity decline.
Mathis is 31 years old and will be coming off a very risky injury in 2012.
However, the Jaguars signed Aaron Kampman to a relatively large contract during the 2010 offseason after he was coming off a similar injury.
Kampman did re-injure himself, though, and he missed the majority of the 2011 season. This proves that the Jaguars are willing to spend money on players who are coming off a serious injury.
The Jaguars should learn from their mistake with Kampman, however, and let Mathis walk.
The Giants have struggled to run the ball in 2011. They gained 89.2 yards per game on the ground, which was dead last in the NFL.
Injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and a disappointing season from Brandon Jacobs could partially be the blame, but most of it should fall on the poor play from the offensive line. It's inexcusable to have a backfield consisting of Bradshaw and Jacobs but statistically have the worst rushing attack in the NFL.
Kareem McKenzie, the Giants' right tackle, should be responsible for some of the blame as well.
According to Football Outsiders, the Giants were unsuccessful when running behind the right tackle this season.
The St. Louis Rams need to let Brandon Lloyd walk this offseason.
He's one of the more overrated players in the NFL and isn't the type of receiver that you want running routes for a young quarterback.
He does make some of the most acrobatic catches in the game, but that's all Lloyd is: a human highlight reel.
Lloyd knows how to get open, but I can't tell you how many times I have seen him fall to the ground and give himself up after a catch.
His 148 yards after the catch in 2011 was the least by any receiver with at least 50 catches. Lloyd also finished with just 70 catches on the year despite being targeted 150 times. Sam Bradford needs receivers who are going to help him out, not give themselves up.
The St. Louis Rams have the second overall pick in the draft and will probably see Justin Blackmon sitting there. He's just the type of receiver that they need, so the Rams should save their money for Blackmon instead of burning it all on Lloyd.
The Tennessee Titans will have a problem to deal with in the secondary this offseason.
Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, Chris Hope and Jordan Babineaux are all set to become free agents. That's at least three-quarters of the entire Titans secondary that could be lost to free agency.
Griffin and Finnegan will likely be retained, but that leaves one spot for either Hope or Babineaux.
Hope missed part of the 2011 season with an injury, and that opened the door for Babineaux to prove himself.
That he did.
He played extremely well in the wake of Hope's absence, and it has forced Tennessee's management to make a tough decision.
Babineaux will be the cheaper and safer option, so the Titans should let Hope go.
This may surprise some, but having Plaxico Burress on the field goes against what the New York Jets are trying to do on offense.
They are a run-oriented team that strayed from their roots last season. They finished 22nd in the NFL with 105.8 rushing yards per game, which is definitely uncharacteristic of the Jets. They rushed for 148.8 yards per game in 2010, which was the fourth-best in the NFL.
So why did the Jets deviate from their bread and butter?
It was partly because of Burress and his ability to wreak havoc in the red zone. He caught eight touchdown passes this season, but at what cost?
In five of the Jets' eight losses this year, quarterback Mark Sanchez threw the ball over 35 times. Only twice did the Jets win when Sanchez exceeded that mark.
The Jets also have other targets under contract like Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller and the up-and-comer Jeremy Kerley.
The Jets need to return to their running game if they want to win. The first step in that direction would be letting Burress walk.
Matt Flynn is going to get plenty of offers from other teams to be their starting quarterback. He is the most appealing backup quarterback to hit the market since Matt Cassel and Matt Schaub.
However, this time Flynn is a free agent and will be able to dictate where he ends up. I'm willing to bet the house that he won't be back in Green Bay because of one man: Aaron Rodgers.
Flynn will never get a chance to start as long as he's playing in Green Bay and Rodgers has a pulse.
Teams in need of a quarterback were salivating as they waited for Flynn to become a free agent. After his 480-yard, six-touchdown performance against the Detroit Lions in Week 17 of the regular season, Flynn is going to get paid.
No, this is not because of his fumble last weekend that killed the Green Bay Packers' chance of coming back against the New York Giants.
There was a day that Green Bay envisioned Ryan Grant becoming the feature back for years to come. He ran for over 1,200 yards in both 2008 and 2009 but hasn't been the same since.
Grant has been bothered by injuries during the last few seasons, and in turn, he has become a less prominent part of the offense. His absence from the backfield has opened the door for James Starks to emerge, and Starks had a promising season in 2011.
Now that Grant's contract is up, it's unlikely that the Packers are going to bring him back. Brandon Saine, the third-down back in 2011, also has some potential and has made Grant superfluous.
The Cleveland Browns letting Peyton Hillis walk this offseason is all but a foregone conclusion at this point.
It's obvious that money was a bigger priority for Hillis this season.
After he failed to get the contract extension that he was seeking from Cleveland, he all but checked out for the year. It got so bad that veterans on the Browns held an "intervention" in an attempt to straighten him out.
I’ve never seen anything like it. Last year, Peyton was such a positive, inspirational force on our team – but now he’s like a different guy. It’s like he’s in a funk that he can’t get out of, and it’s killing us, because we really need him. And we’ve told him that. But we’re at the point where we just don’t know what to do.
The Browns have the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and could very well find themselves with the opportunity to draft Trent Richardson. I don't think that Hillis will be back next season, and that's probably the best thing for both parties.
There's nothing like a fresh start in life.
The fact of the matter is that DeSean Jackson is going to get overpaid this offseason.
He is certainly a good wide receiver—there is no getting around that. He has the ability to stretch the field vertically and open up windows for his teammates to make plays. Just having him on the field makes the entire offense better.
However, Jackson is going to want to break the bank this offseason. I imagine that he's going to hold out until some team caves in and offers him the long-term, multimillion-dollar contract that he's seeking.
But is he worth top receiver money?
Jackson is a one-dimensional player. At 5'10", 175 lbs, he doesn't have the frame to be a complete wide receiver. His value goes down when his team is in the red zone because he doesn't have the body to muscle defenders for the ball.
You also have to worry about his character issues on and off the field. He has been known to take plays off and even disappear from the game for long stretches.
The Eagles already have a speedster in Jeremy Maclin. A receiver combo of Jackson and Maclin is certainly one of the most exciting in the NFL, but it's not the ideal tandem.
I want to start off by saying that Mario Williams is one of the best defensive players in the league. He actually was a top-10 defensive player in the league before Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, moved him to outside linebacker to fit in the 3-4 defensive scheme that he implemented.
Williams' contract is set to expire this offseason, and it wouldn't be a wise decision for the Texans to bring him back.
Despite his season-ending surgery that he sustained earlier in the year, the Texans didn't really have a drop-off in pass-rushing production.
They compiled 30 sacks in 2010 but then finished the season with 44 this year. The emergence of J.J. Watt and Brooks Reid certainly played a factor in the 14-sack improvement from last year, and they have both made Williams expendable.
Secondly, "Super Mario" is prone to injury. He missed the majority of the 2011 season with a torn pectoral muscle (ouch).
Another thing for the Texans to worry about is where they are going to get the funds to finance a Pro Bowl-type of contract that Williams deserves. Most of their money is going to be focused towards re-signing Arian Foster.
The Texans have other needs besides a pass-rusher, so they should let Williams walk and get paid somewhere else.