Chad Johnson: Who Will Step Up After Miami Dolphins Release Receiver

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IAugust 12, 2012

July 27 2012; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Chad Johnson (85) during practice at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Chad Johnson was released (via USA Today) by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night after his quick stint in jail earlier in the day. Johnson had been charged with domestic battery (via after allegedly head-butting his wife. 

Whether or not Joe Philbin made the call, the decision to cut Johnson was the right one. Miami finally has some good exposure with HBO's Hard Knocks, and extra distractions need to be avoided. Johnson is essentially a walking distraction, and the Dolphins will be better off without him.

Although he is talented, Johnson was not going to propel Miami into the playoffs this season, and he certainly wasn't considered a long-term piece of the organization. If nothing else, Johnson's departure will give another receiver a chance to step up.

Jeff Fuller, Rishard Mathews and BJ Cunningham should all have a new energy at practice on Monday. With Johnson gone, Miami has no real proven talent after Davone Bess, Legedu Naanee and Brian Hartline.

Those fourth and fifth receiver slots, which could be used a decent amount with Philbin's West Coast offense, are wide open.

Roberto Wallace is another receiver who could step up. He has good intangibles, is 6'4" with speed, and may become a real playmaker.

Julius Pruitt is virtually unknown, playing his college ball at Quachita Baptist, but has been impressive so far during camp.  

Naanee and Hartline aren't exactly elite receivers anyway, so if one of the young guys impresses enough, he could jump one of those two veterans on the depth chart.

Michael Egnew is another player who could be greatly impacted by Johnson's release. Egnew is an athletic tight end who may line up in the slot at times. Without Johnson, a whole lot of targets are up for grabs. If Egnew connects with whoever starts at quarterback, the rookie could become a bigger part of the offense than anticipated.

Lastly, a lot more pressure has been put on Davone Bess. He is now the unquestioned best option for Miami and will have to be as good as ever if Miami's passing game is going to be even average.