While this time of year is all about the excitement of regular season football, it is also the toughest time of year for franchises that have to cut players to meet roster limitations.
Which star will make the biggest impact in 2012?
These aren’t just names on a piece of paper; these are players being released and losing their jobs.
As harsh as the world of NFL football can be, there are a few players that will overcome their release to thrive with another organization.
All of the following players will land on their feet and make the team that cut them regret its decision.
Mike Kafka, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
While former Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Mike Kafka has never proven to be a great player in his limited snaps as a starter in the NFL, his training under Andy Reid and the Eagles organization will have teams giving him a chance.
With the way Philadelphia churns out productive west coast QBs, any team that runs an offense similar to the one the Eagles use will consider signing Kafka. The backup’s best option will be the Arizona Cardinals, though.
There is already a serious battle for the starting job and the Cardinals obviously love Reid-trained QBs—look what they gave up for Kevin Kolb—so Kafka would be a nice addition to an Arizona team in need. Who knows, he could win the starting job outright.
If there is a team looking for a consistent route running wide receiver with game experience, it needs to look no further than former Super Bowl MVP and New England Patriot Deion Branch.
While there is little doubt that Branch will remain a free agent until the start of the season (cheaper to wait), as injuries start to add up across the league, a team on the cusp of contention that needs a reliable receiver will come calling.
The training of playing in New England on two separate occasions will not only make him a welcomed addition into any QB’s arsenal, he can get the other receivers around him to buy into the kind of work ethic it takes to win in the NFL.
Branch will be a great mid-season signing for a team.
Tim Hightower, RB, Washington Redskins
While a knee injury plagued his 2011 season in Washington, the Redskins' ridiculous way of handling running backs didn’t give Tim Hightower a chance to really shine.
Now the team cuts the injured player. Real classy.
This will be a move they regret when Hightower signs on with another squad that is hit hard by injuries and achieves a level of play that only a man fighting for a job can produce.
The ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and run through the middle of the field will make him ideal on a team that runs a west-coast style offense.
Watch for the Cleveland Browns to kick the tires as the season progresses; especially if Trent Richardson’s knee doesn’t hold up.
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