Why It's Time for These 20 NFL Studs to Find New Teams
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
There are a number of reasons why star players in the NFL need a change of scenery during their careers.
They might not get along with a new coach or general manager, or perhaps they don't mesh well with the starting quarterback. Their contract has run out and they know they can get a better deal in free agency. Or the team has just drafted their backup in the first round, so they know their days are numbered.
Whatever the reasons are, either perceived or real, there are a number of star players who could very well be headed to new teams in 2013. In this presentation, we have identified 20 players who have reasons for finding a new employer next season.
There are a number of players who need new teams, such as Oakland MLB Rolando McClain, Seattle WR Braylon Edwards and Detroit WR Titus Young. However, you won't see players of their ilk in this presentation, because we are focusing on star players...or studs, if you prefer.
Jake Long, T, Miami Dolphins
Will Jake Long be back in Miami in 2013?
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
There were concerns about what kind of a fit LT Jake Long would be for the new West Coast offense that head coach Joe Philbin was installing for the 2012 season.
As the regular season got underway, it was clear that Long's play was not up to par. According to this story by Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, Beasley wrote:
Jake Long also had a game that wasn’t up to his Pro Bowl standards, struggling with run blocking for the second consecutive week, according to Pro Football Focus, which grades every play.
Long, who is the league’s 43rd-ranked tackle entering Week 5, also allowed a sack for the second time in three games after surrendering just five all last season.
Long's contract is up at the end of the 2012 season. It doesn't help that Long was placed on injured reserve this week due to a torn triceps, so he won't have the chance to end his season with a flourish.
Adam Schefter of ESPN wrote a story about the costs involved in placing a franchise tag on Long in 2013. Schefter wrote:
Because Long's salary-cap number this season is higher than the franchise number for offensive linemen, the Dolphins would have to franchise him at 120 percent of this year's salary. Thus, his franchise tag would be $15,365,952, according to league sources.
Another issue is that the Dolphins have a young prospect that might be able to unseat Long. Stanford rookie tackle Jonathan Martin was able to provide strong support to Andrew Luck in college, and now he will have the final four games to audition for a starting job in 2013.
If you analyze all of the above factors, it sure seems likely that Long will be playing elsewhere in 2013.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
Is Darren McFadden too unreliable for Oakland?
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden just can't stay healthy enough to be counted on for a full season in the NFL. When you are the feature back for an offense, that is a major problem.
McFadden got hurt again this year (what else is new?), with an ankle injury. If he is somehow able to play in all four remaining regular-season games, that will give him 12 games for this season. His career totals in games played per season look like this: 13, 12, 13, seven and now eight (current number for 2012).
It is one thing to miss a quarter of your games every season, but it is something else entirely when you stop producing at the level that your team was accustomed to. McFadden enjoyed an average rush in 2010 (5.2 yards per carry) that went up to 5.4 yards per carry in 2011. But this year the average has dropped all the way down to 3.3 yards per carry. The touchdowns are down: from seven, to four, to two.
The Raiders had too many holes to fill with limited salary-cap space to address them when new GM Reggie McKenzie came on board. The team had to let Michael Bush walk away in free agency. With a 3-9 record, the Raiders obviously still have a number of issues to deal with. One way they can address some of them is to consider trading McFadden in the 2012 offseason, while he still has some value attached to his name.
McFadden is due to earn $5,856,250 in 2013. If the Raiders' hands are tied due to salary-cap issues, they have to wonder if it is worth paying McFadden that much knowing that he probably is only good for 10 to 12 games per year.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick's days as an Eagle are probably over.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick has endured a very rough 2012 season. His offensive line continually broke down in their pass protection throughout the year, leaving Vick back in the pocket to scramble for his life.
The writing was on the wall when T Jason Peters was lost for the year due to a torn Achilles tendon. The combination of King Dunlap and Demetress Bell hasn't been close to the kind of protection that Peters was able to provide.
Granted, Vick isn't the player that he once was. The constant pounding he has been taking in Philadelphia due to his style of play and the offensive line has taken its toll.
While it is debatable that Vick can still be considered a stud, he has been named to four Pro Bowl teams and was voted the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2010. Vick holds the NFL all-time rushing record for quarterbacks.
ESPN.com ran a story that the Eagles announced rookie Nick Foles would be starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Even if Vick was medically cleared from his concussion, the Eagles still would start Foles. That was probably the final straw for Vick's exit out of Philadelphia.
From a contract standpoint, Vick signed a new deal in August of 2011, which calls for him to earn a salary of $15.5 million, plus another $3 million guaranteed if he gets injured.
With a terrible ratio of 11 touchdown passes to nine interceptions, to go along with five lost fumbles out of his total of 10 fumbles on the year, is Vick too much of a liability to employ as a starting quarterback? There is no doubt that the Eagles will release him rather than pay the $15.5 million salary. The question is where will he play in 2013 and will it be as a starter or as a backup?
Brent Grimes, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Brent Grimes only appeared in one game in 2012 for Atlanta.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The chain of events that occurred in 2012 with Atlanta Falcons CB Brent Grimes leads to speculation that he might need to find a new home in 2013.
Grimes was the player the Falcons gave the franchise tag to in 2012. Both parties negotiated to try to work out a long-term deal, but they settled for the franchise-tag going rate instead. That figure came out to $10.28 million.
To shore up the secondary, the Falcons traded for CB Asante Samuel with the Philadelphia Eagles. Then Grimes went down with a torn Achilles tendon in the opening game of the season. The Falcons had no choice but to place him on injured reserve, ending his year.
So, what happens to Grimes and the Falcons in 2013? If they decide to offer him another franchise tag, they will have to bump him up from his $10 million-plus salary. Coming off of an Achilles tendon injury, there is no guarantee how healthy he will be, so the Falcons may be leery about the risks of extending him a multiple-year contract.
The entire league might be suspect with respect to Grimes, but according to Pro Football Focus, Grimes finished the 2011 season as the No. 2 cover cornerback in the league (behind Darrelle Revis).
With that kind of track record, some team will be willing to take a chance on him. Grimes might need to go somewhere else on a one-year deal just to prove to the league that he is all the way back. If the Falcons hadn't traded for Samuel, they might still want to bring Grimes back, but for now the whole situation is up in the air.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo has hung his head more than a few times in Dallas.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo has to be one of the most embattled players at his position who is actually quite successful in what he does. We need to define what we mean by using the word "successful."
Romo has a career ratio of roughly two touchdown passes for every interception he has thrown. To date, Romo has 168 touchdowns to 87 interceptions. His record as a starting quarterback in the regular season is 53-36. Romo broke Troy Aikman's all-time Dallas Cowboys franchise record of 165 touchdown passes in the Week 13 game against Philadelphia.
His career completion percentage is 64.9 percent. Romo passed for over 4,000-plus yards in 2007, 2009, 2011 and is on pace to do it again in 2012. The Cowboys only had one season below .500 in the games that Romo started (2010). That is a track record that makes most franchises envious.
There are a number of teams that would like to have Tony Romo as their starting quarterback, but if you listen to enough Dallas Cowboys fans, apparently that opinion isn't shared by many people in Dallas.
Most fans will point to the limited success in the playoffs—or better yet, the limited appearances in the playoffs—since Romo took over as the starting quarterback as the main reason for their disenchantment.
But with the high level of expectations in Dallas, that raises the bar to a place that few quarterbacks can meet. If the Cowboys were stuck with the 2012 version of Mark Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert or Matt Cassel, they would be begging for Romo. Sometimes you don't know how good you have it until what you have is gone.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
That thud you heard was Sam Bradford getting sacked again.
Norm Hall/Getty Images
St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford is another example of a quarterback that might be better off with a change of scenery.
One area that has been a major source of concern has been the pass protection in St. Louis. Ever since Bradford arrived, the Rams have been giving up a high number of sacks per year. In 2012, Bradford is tied for No. 3 in the league with 30 sacks to date and is on pace for a career-high 40-sack season.
In 2011, Bradford was tied for No. 6 in the league with 36 sacks despite playing in only 10 games due to injury (he was on pace to be sacked 57 times that year). In his rookie year of 2010, the league abused him to the tune of 34 sacks, good for No. 5 in the league.
By taking at least 30 sacks every year, it is amazing that Bradford hasn't been injured more than he has already. St. Louis had the opportunity to draft Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL draft, but opted instead to keep Bradford and trade away the pick to stockpile additional draft picks. In hindsight, they might live to regret that decision. Then again, if Griffin was sacked 40 or 50 times every year, he might not last very long either.
The Rams are an improving team under new head coach Jeff Fisher and are headed in the right direction. While Fisher took steps to improve the defense this year, upgrading the offensive line has to be a major priority in 2013.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers continues to regress from his banner 2010 season.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers' career has been going downhill for the past two years. Rivers is only 30 years old, but instead of getting better with experience like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, he has actually regressed.
You can chalk that up to G.M. A.J. Smith, head coach Norv Turner or new offensive coordinator Hal Hunter. As recent as 2010, the Chargers boasted the No. 1 overall offense in the NFL, averaging 395.6 yards per game. In 2011, they slid down a bit to No. 6 overall, but still averaged an impressive 393.1 yards per game. Now in 2012, the bottom has fallen out. They are ranked No. 26, and their average yardage is all the way down to 322.1 yards per game.
Rivers isn't helping the offensive slide due to the alarming rise of his turnovers. You want to ideally see two touchdowns for every interception thrown, at the minimum. This year, Rivers has thrown 18 touchdown passes compared to 15 interceptions, which is a poor ratio. In 2011 the numbers weren't much better, with 27 touchdowns to 20 interceptions. That 2010 season, when they had the No. 1 offense? Try 30 touchdown passes to just 13 interceptions.
Obviously, it has hurt Rivers that Vincent Jackson is no longer with the team and that Antonio Gates' health continues to be an issue. But a great quarterback has a way of making all of the other players around him better, and that just isn't happening with Rivers.
Maybe all of the playoff losses and frustration in the postseason has gotten to him over the years. Whatever the reason, maybe it is time for Rivers to move on, as the team is due to make a number of changes in 2013.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson will break 1,000 rushing yards in 2012.
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson was riding high in 2009 when he was the toast of the NFL, being dubbed as CJ2K. That was then, and this is now. The magic surrounding Johnson and his appeal has left the building quite some time ago. Is a change of scenery in order?
The Titans advanced to the postseason in Johnson's rookie year with a 13-3 record and haven't been back to the playoffs ever since. If paying Johnson in the range of $8-10 million per year isn't resulting in the team making the playoffs, then why not trade him to a team that really has a need for him and is willing to part with some assets to acquire him?
When Johnson ran for 2,006 yards in 2009, he was the big star at the ESPY's award show. Since then his production has significantly tailed off, and he doesn't seem close to the same back he was in 2009. To his credit, Johnson has gained at least 1,000 yards every year of his NFL career, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Johnson has missed only one regular-season game in his entire career. He is on pace for gaining 1,300 to 1,400 yards this season, which many backs would be delighted with. But once you set the bar so high, people expect you to reach that pinnacle again, or even top it.
There are a number of quality NFL teams that have many pieces in place but are just missing that dynamic running back that could put them over the top. While Tennessee would probably demand quite a lot in exchange for Johnson, his departure would free up considerable salary-cap space to allow the Titans to address other areas of need.
Since Johnson signed his new six-year contract back in 2011, there shouldn't be any need in the near future for any more holdouts. The only question is does he continue to carry the ball for Tennessee in 2013, or will he be playing for a new team?
Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
Mark Sanchez supported Greg McElroy in Week 13.
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Some will snicker that we have included New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez in this presentation, because he isn't really playing to the level that would qualify him for stud status. We understand your reservations.
When you reflect on his career to date, Sanchez went from a green rookie to starting quarterback in two-straight AFC championship games right out of the gate. That is why he is included here, due to those impressive accomplishments.
Fast forward to Week 13 of the 2012 regular season, and Sanchez finally got the plug pulled on him by head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan yanked Sanchez after his terrible performance against Arizona, only to watch inexperienced Greg McElroy come off the bench to lead the Jets to a victory in the fourth quarter.
A story from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Ryan announced that Sanchez will be his starting quarterback for the Week 14 game against Jacksonville. However, now that Ryan has pulled Sanchez once, the precedent has been set. If Sanchez's confidence level was shaken when the team traded for Tim Tebow, it has to be even lower after the benching.
While Sanchez has his share of positives and negatives as a starting quarterback, there is no question that the Jets have done a poor job at structuring a strong supporting cast around Sanchez. The wide receiving corps is very weak, and with the injuries to tight end Dustin Keller and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the lack of depth has been exposed.
The Jets thought the move to a power running game with new coordinator Tony Sparano would return the team to a winning record, but at 5-7, the Jets offense has taken a step backward this year. The Jets have failed to score more than 10 points in five different games this year.
If the Jets lose to Jacksonville, or Sanchez is benched any more games this year, the relationship with Ryan may be damaged to the point that it is best that one or both of them wind up with a new team in 2013.
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
Nnamdi Asomugha's big deal hasn't worked out very well for Eagles.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal wrote a story last month about long-term Philadelphia Eagles players that might not be back in 2013. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer cited that CB Nnamdi Asomugha might not return to the Eagles due to his outrageous contract. McLane wrote:
The 31-year-old cornerback is due to earn a whopping $15 million in base salary next season, with $4 million guaranteed...The Eagles aren't likely to cut Asomugha and eat the $4 million, but they're not going to pay him his full salary considering the slip in his production. More than likely, the sides will meet somewhere in the middle."
That is all well and good, but if Asomugha and his agents don't want to meet in the middle, then he might wind up getting traded. Let's face it, there are a number of changes happening in Philadelphia in 2012, and there are sure to be many more changes in 2013.
Since then, McLane has tweeted the following information about Asomugha's chances of coming back.
Slim. Will have to take pay cut. RT @Cody011: Chances Nnamdi is here next year?
The Eagles defense has been a disappointment for two years running. Asomugha hasn't been a great fit, and his salary limits what the Eagles can do to shore up the other problem areas of the team.
With so many defenses out there in need of secondary help, you would think that multiple teams would be willing to trade for Asomugha if he would agree to restructuring his contract.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Wallace has not enjoyed much production in 2012.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
It would be fair to say that Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace has been through a rather contentious 2012 season. There was the lengthy holdout, and then he had to come in on the fly and try to learn a new offensive scheme under coordinator Todd Haley.
The other receivers were ahead of Wallace due to his absence, and as a result, his production dropped. But if you were paying attention, you would know that his production has been dropping over the last two years.
A check into Wallace's production from 2010 season to current shows a steep decline across the board. All 2012 stats are current after Week 13.
Receiving yards: 2010 (1,257), 2011 (1,193) and 2012 (616)
Average yards per game: 2010 (78.6), 2011 (74.6) and 2012 (51.3)
First downs via receptions: 2010 (48), 2011 (54) and 2012 (23)
20-plus-yard receptions: 2010 (26), 2011 (18) and 2012 (6)
Touchdowns: 2010 (10), 2011 (8) and 2012 (6)
Average yards per reception: 2010 (21.0), 2011 (16.6) and 2012 (11.8)
As you can see from the above breakdown, Wallace has become more an intermediate-to-short yardage-type of receiver, as his average catch now is roughly half of what it was two years ago. Wallace wants to be paid as if he is a No. 1 wide receiver, but his production says that he is not close to a No. 1 wide receiver any longer.
Time for Wallace to find a new team to play for, and one that has enough salary-cap space that is willing to satisfy his salary demands
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Alex Smith watches while Colin Kaepernick plays.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith led his team to the 2011 NFC Championship Game. In 2012, he had led the 49ers to the NFC West division-best record, until he was knocked out of the Week 10 game against the St. Louis Rams with a concussion.
Just that quickly, Smith lost his starting job, apparently for good. Even though Colin Kaepernick lost the Week 13 game to the Rams, head coach Harbaugh is sticking with Kaepernick, leaving Smith to wonder what he has to do to get his job back.
If there is anybody in the NFL ready for a change of scenery, it is Alex Smith.
Since Smith now resides on the bench, speculation is swirling that Smith might be dealt during the 2013 offseason. CSN Bay Area.com wrote a story this week that it would make sense to trade Smith after the season. Smith has a three-year contract for just $24 million, which would make him financially attractive option for teams that have issues at quarterback.
While the jury is still out on how well Kaepernick will play down the stretch and in the postseason, it seems likely that Smith has played his last game for the 49ers franchise.
Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants
Osi Umenyiora strips Aaron Rodgers with this sack.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
New York Giants DE Osi Umenyiora came into the 2012 season looking for a new long-term contract, but negotiations wound up resulting in just a one-year deal for $6.5 million.
As a result, Umenyiora is playing for a new contract this year. Due to the deep level of talent on the Giants defensive line, Umenyiora's stats are lower due to limited snaps. To date, he has recorded five sacks, two forced fumbles and one tackle for loss.
While those numbers show that Umenyiora can still make an impact, it is not at the same level of a J.J. Watt, John Abraham or Mario Williams.
At this point in his career, Umenyiora already owns two Super Bowl rings, so having financial security after he retires is still a major focus going forward. He may have to move to another team to find it.
Tim Tebow, QB, New York Jets
Tim Tebow with one of his 29 rushes in 2012 season.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Tebow must have wondered what he did that was so bad to be treated the way that Rex Ryan and the Jets have treated him this year.
Examples of Ryan's antics include listing Tebow as the No. 2 quarterback even though he was suffering from broken ribs at the time. Tebow was passed over this week for consideration to start by the likes of Greg McElroy. Tebow was promised a package of unique plays that were designed for him every week, but that promise has resulted in very few snaps over the past month.
In one short year, Tebow has gone from being a starting quarterback that won his first playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, to becoming a glorified punt protector for one of the worst offenses in the league in 2012.
When Ryan was debating about which quarterback to start this week against Jacksonville, Manish Mehta tweeted that Ryan didn't really consider Tebow very strongly.
Rex Ryan never seriously considered starting Tim Tebow this week vs Jaguars. #nyj
However, Ryan addressed his pecking order, according to a tweet from Mike Garafolo.
Rex says Tebow is the No. 2 if healthy
You have to wonder if Tebow regrets the decision to come to New York, as opposed to accepting a trade to Jacksonville. Tebow could easily be the starter there, as Chad Henne has the job now.
Tebow is still signed to a very reasonable contract for the next two seasons, but if he doesn't get many snaps to compete, his contract status makes little difference.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers
Is Greg Jennings' days in Green Bay numbered?
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers WR Greg Jennings hasn't been much of a factor in 2012, as he was out with a groin injury or listed as inactive. Jennings played in Week 4 and then was out of commission until Week 13.
With the emergence of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, the Packers need to rely less on Jennings' production. Jennings is only 29 years old, but the younger Nelson and Cobb have been coming up with big plays all year. Aaron Rodgers has good chemistry with the younger receivers, so that leads one to wonder what will Jennings' role be in 2013, and who will he be playing for?
Jennings will be a free agent in 2013. The final four games and subsequent postseason action will give Jennings, Green Bay and the rest of the NFL a better idea of what Jennings' physical condition and performance is like.
From 2008 to 2010, Jennings turned in three straight years of 1,000-plus yards in receptions. In 2011, Jennings dropped slightly to 949 yards, but now in 2012 he is all the way down to just 124 yards with four games to go. It is almost like he isn't even on the team, as he is ranked as the Packers' No. 7 receiver.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jones-Drew only has 86 rushes in 2012.
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew's career seems to be following in the footsteps of RB Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. Come up with your peak season, complain about your meager salary, eventually holdout and then follow that up with an injury and watch your production drop.
Jones-Drew's career high was set in 2011 by rushing for 1,606 yards. By the next training camp, Jones-Drew was convinced that he wasn't being paid enough and chose to hold out. The Jaguars had a new owner and new head coach, but Jones-Drew felt that it was more important to hold out than to get to work with the new regime.
As for his contract, Jones-Drew is due to earn $4.95 million in base salary in 2013, the final year of his contract.
In 2012, Jones-Drew has been impacted by a foot injury that has prevented him from playing since going down in Week 7. At this point, nobody knows if he will play again this year. Playing hurt for a team with a 2-10 record doesn't seem to make much sense, so don't be surprised if he doesn't suit up any more in 2012.
The next question is whether Jones-Drew will continue with the me-first tactics in 2013 in an attempt to get the Jaguars to release him from his contract, or request a trade. Stay tuned.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Dwayne Bowe has been Chiefs leading receiver for last three years.
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Kansas City Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe is another example of a player that was due to become a free agent in 2012. The Chiefs gave Bowe their franchise tag, and even though he wanted to negotiate for a long-term deal, he had to settle for the one-year franchise deal instead.
The Chiefs have been one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2012, with a record of 2-10. Matt Cassel is clearly not the answer, so the Chiefs will have to make a number of sweeping changes next year.
Since Bowe was only signed to a one-year deal, the Chiefs will either have to assign the franchise tag to him again, or risk losing him in free agency.
With Bowe, the Chiefs' passing attack ranks No. 29 in the NFL. Without Bowe, the Chiefs passing game will drop even lower. Bowe has served as the Chiefs' leading receiver for the past three years.
With the way things are going in Kansas City, you have to wonder why he would want to stay there beyond this year.
Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots
Wes Welker leads the Patriots in receiving yards again in 2012.
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots WR Wes Welker has been the team's leading receiver for the past five years. He is one of the receivers Tom Brady trusts. Brady knows where Welker will be on his patterns, and there is no mistake they have developed strong chemistry on the field over the years.
Despite all of the production that Welker has generated (534 receptions for 5,994 receiving yards from 2008 to Week 13 of the 2012 season), the Patriots decided to pass on the opportunity to give Welker a long-term contract and signed him to a one-year franchise tag instead.
When the 2012 season came around, the Patriots were playing games with Welker by starting Julian Edelman over him at wide receiver. Then when the injuries to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski hit, the Patriots had to rely heavily on Welker again.
So, where do things stand for Welker in 2013? Tom Brady does have the ability to find any open receiver and can turn his attention to a number of options in the Patriots offense. But if you subtract Welker from the equation, it wouldn't be a major surprise if the Patriots offense struggled more on third-down conversions without having their security blanket.
It will be interesting to see what transpires with Welker over the offseason and where he is playing in 2013.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rahard Mendenhall has struggled in 2012.
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall was a highly productive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2009 to 2011. He rushed for 1,108 yards in 2009 and then gained 1,273 yards in 2010. He couldn't continue with the 1,000-yard streak in 2011, as he came up short with 928 yards.
But in 2012, he has only managed to rush for 113 yards on 34 carries. Mendenhall needed to rehab from his torn Achilles injury in 2011. By the time he was ready to go, the Steelers were getting adjusted to handing the ball off to Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman.
When Mendenhall was deemed ready to go, he proved to be ineffective and had a key fumble that led to him being benched.
As a sign that his stock is dropping even further, the Steelers decided to make him inactive for the big game in Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens, even though he was healthy.
Mendenhall is scheduled to be a free agent in 2013, so with the way that things are playing out right now, this could be the final year that he is seen in a Pittsburgh uniform.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald will be hard pressed to reach 1,000 yards this year.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald is respected around the NFL as a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver and a first-class person. Yet his career is being wasted away due to the level of ineptness from the Cardinals trio of starting quarterbacks.
After their latest loss in Week 13, Fitzgerald told the Arizona Republic that he had to laugh to keep from crying. Things are that bad in Arizona right now.
No wonder Fitzgerald went on the recruiting call to try to bring Peyton Manning to Arizona. Makes perfect sense. But since Manning went to Denver instead, Fitzgerald continues to languish in Arizona.
Due to their current eight-game losing streak, the Cardinals might very well wind up in a position to draft a solid franchise-type quarterback in the 2013 draft. But will that do Fitzgerald any good? He is signed to a long-term contract that will keep him in Arizona until he becomes a free agent in 2019.
Fitzgerald has turned in five straight years of generating at least 1,000-plus yards in receptions. This year, he has only managed to haul in 650 yards with four games remaining.
Hopefully, some team will approach the Cardinals with a trade offer for Fitzgerald that they can't refuse. That is the only way he can conceivably leave there in the next seven years.
Thanks for checking out the presentation.