The 15 Biggest Has-Beens in the NFL Today

Nick Kostora@@nickkostoraContributor IIIJune 19, 2012

The 15 Biggest Has-Beens in the NFL Today

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    When an NFL player passes the point of quality production and enters into the world of mediocrity, he can officially be labeled a has-been.

    It happens to all too many guys over the course of their career.

    Maybe injuries ruin them or they can't let go of the game past their prime or maybe they just get lazy.

    Whatever the reason, players become has-beens every year.

    So who are the best (or worst?) examples of this grim reality in the NFL today?

    Is the list flooded with old quarterbacks or will there be some big-name defensive players thrown into the mix as well?

    Here are the 15 biggest has-beens in the NFL today.

Dishonorable Mention: Rex Grossman

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    Can you be a has-been if you were never any good to begin with?

    In the case of Rex Grossman, the answer is yes.

    At one point in his career, Grossman was a promising young quarterback with a bright future who helped lead the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl.

    Now he is with a Washington Redskins organization that wants nothing to do with him.

    Even a mediocre 3,000 yard passing campaign in 2011 could not save the 31-year old's career.

    Grossman had his run to the title game, now he is just a backup with no future.

15. Ronnie Brown

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    Ronnie Brown has never been a superstar in the NFL, but at least he was a featured option in the backfield during during his time with the Miami Dolphins.

    Now after a sub-par stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, he is an aging veteran on the San Diego Chargers doing little to show there is much left in the tank.

    The Eagles even tried to dump him off in a failed trade to Detroit midway through 2011.

    It obviously didn't work and Philadelphia was stuck with a running back who averaged 3.2 yards per carry over the course of the season.

    Hopefully the Chargers can find the spark in Brown's game that has been missing in recent years.

14. Kyle Orton

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    There will be no quarterback controversy involving Kyle Orton in 2012.

    After years of battles for positioning with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos and even a brief stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, Orton has now settled into a clear backup role with the Dallas Cowboys.

    He has never been a particularly flashy or exceptional player, but Orton did have back-to-back seasons of 3,600 yards passing in 2009-10.

    Yet, after losing his job to Tim Tebow in Denver and leaving Kansas City, there were no teams interested in giving him a starting job.

    Only 29 years old and already settling in as a permanent backup?

    Sounds like a has-been to me.

13. Terence Newman

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    In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Terence Newman had this to say about his 2011 season with the Dallas Cowboys (h/t WFAA):

    “I didn’t play well down the stretch but I think we also didn’t play well down the stretch.  Great teams know the blame is on everyone and accept that. In spite of the criticism I endured, we endured, we still could have put a lot of things together.”

    I see why the Cowboys cut him. 

    Newman is a mediocre player at this point in his career and has lost whatever step he had to begin with.

    His inability to place blame solely on his poor play is a testament to the kind of player he is.

12. Jeremy Shockey

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    Once upon a time Jeremy Shockey was an elite NFL tight end.

    Now he is an afterthought.

    His attitude, work ethic and ability to be a good teammate have all come into question over the years.

    Perhaps it is time to throw his skills into the mix too.

    There was a four-year stretch from 2004-07 when he could be counted on for at least 600 yards receiving and an average of six touchdowns.

    In the last two seasons he has averaged just over 420 yards receiving and 3.5 touchdowns.

    Shockey no longer has the presence or talent he brought with him to the league a decade ago.

11. Cadillac Williams

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    Cadillac Williams won Rookie of the Year honors in 2005...and he has done nothing since then.

    Well maybe that's not fair.

    Williams did rush for over 800 yards in 2009, but when you fail to meet your rookie statistics in the next six seasons, chances are the first year was probably a fluke.

    Of course Williams has dealt with a rash of injuries during his career, but that does not excuse him from being a has-been, even if his time as a productive player was only for one season.

    Throw in the fact that Williams has turned 30 and you have a player with no traction left on the tires.

10. Thomas Jones

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    In 2009, Thomas Jones ran for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns with the New York Jets.

    It was his fifth consecutive season of at least 1,000 rushing yards and the best statistical year of his career.

    Flash forward to 2012 and Jones appears to be in his twilight years.

    He may have been able to break the trend of running backs declining after their 30th birthday for awhile, but time has caught up to him now.

    Jones averaged only 2.9 yards per game last season with the Kansas City Chiefs and scored zero touchdowns.

9. Shawne Merriman

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    Shawne Merriman entered the NFL like a bat out of hell.

    He amassed 39.5 sacks in his first three seasons and added 187 tackles in that time frame.

    Any idea what he has done in the five seasons since?

    53 tackles and five sacks.

    Lights out indeed.

    Merriman violated the league's steroid policy early in his career and has been tarnished ever since.

    There is always a chance he can resurrect his career this season with the Buffalo Bills.

    The odds say no.

8. Ronde Barber

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    Ronde just retire already.

    No one wants to see good players extend their careers indefinitely and perform below their previous expectations. 

    Barber is seriously approaching that point.

    He misses more tackles than anyone in football and often has to be hid in zone coverage schemes to shield his lack of speed.

    Maybe moving him to free safety is the proper way to extend Barber's career and get use out of his 37-year old frame.

    But that's a giant maybe at this point.

7. Chad Ochocinco

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    Chad Ochocinco has joined Miami.

    So now he can flounder with the Dolphins.

    His production has dropped considerably in the last two seasons and he was a complete non-factor last year with the New England Patriots.

    Miami is hoping to get the speedy and fearless wide receiver that could be counted on for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns every year with the Cincinnati Bengals.

    I hope they have a time machine headed for 2005.

6. Bart Scott

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    I know, I know. Bart Scott is a leader of the New York Jets defense and an important piece of their team.

    But he is still declining quickly in skill and nowhere near as good as he was earlier in his career.

    His 66 tackles in 2011 were his lowest since 2004, and he played a much smaller role in the Jets' 3-4 defense.

    Scott is loud and brash, but with each passing year he is less able to back that talk up.

5. Shaun Rogers

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    Shaun Rogers was once a great run-stuffing defensive tackle with surprising athleticism for his size.

    The key word there is "once."

    Rogers has looked downright old in recent years and seems to have no drive or energy when on the field.

    Few fans likely even know what roster he is on right now (the answer is the New York Giants) and he is a far cry from the Pro Bowl form he displayed in the mid-2000s.

    Rogers is 33 years old and upwards of 350 lbs.

    He has not recorded more than two sacks in four years.

    Now that's a has-been.

4. Donovan McNabb

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    Oh Donovan McNabb what happened to you?

    I am convinced there is still talent in McNabb's body, but he seems poised to never display it again.

    The former Philadelphia Eagles star has taken a steep dive off the cliffs of perennial Pro Bowls and into the perils of free agency with no interested parties.

    Perhaps all McNabb needs is the right situation and proper motivation.

    But this a 35-year-old guy with no Super Bowl rings and few (if any) years left.

    Shouldn't that be motivation enough?

3. Keith Brooking

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    Keith Brooking when you are no longer a starting linebacker and are only contributing 50 tackles a season, it is time to move on.

    That is what happened in 2011 with the Dallas Cowboys and is a prime example of why the 36-year-old linebacker needs to move on from the game of football.

    His career high in tackles came all the way back in 2003 and Brooking is currently just hanging around in free agency.

    Perhaps he is still a leader in the locker room, but his days of leading by example on the field are behind him.

2. Albert Haynesworth

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    There was a time long ago when Albert Haynesworth was a dominant defensive tackle.

    I know it seems crazy to say such a thing, but it is in fact true.

    There is a reason the Washington Redskins gave him that $100 million contract a couple years ago, and it's because they felt he was worth it.

    He has proven them so terribly wrong.

    Haynesworth has recorded just 6.5 sacks since signing that deal and zero over the past two seasons.

    By comparison, he had 14.5 sacks combined over the final two seasons he spent with the Tennessee Titans.

    It has been an epic fall for Haynesworth.

1. Mark Brunell

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    Mark Brunell is still an active player in the NFL.

    There was talk earlier in the offseason that he planned to retire, but now he says he would like to play another year.

    But honestly who needs a 41-year-old glorified clipboard holder?

    Brunell had his era where he was the face of the Jacksonville Jaguars and a quality starting quarterback in the NFL.

    Those days are long gone.

    Brunell is the biggest has-been the game has to offer today.