5 NFL Starters Who Have Played Their Way out of the Lineup for 2013

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystDecember 19, 2012

5 NFL Starters Who Have Played Their Way out of the Lineup for 2013

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    The 2012 NFL regular season is winding down, and while some players such as running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings are enjoying career seasons, for others this year has not been so kind.

    In fact, it's been downright cruel.

    There are more than a few highly-paid professional football players who will probably be gaining a whole new perspective on the game when next season rolls around.

    Such as the perspective from the bench. Or the unemployment line.

    Here are just a few. 

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets

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    Speaking of cruel at this point, with New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez already benched after Monday night's debacle against the Tennessee Titans (according to Rich Cimini of ESPN), this almost feels like piling on.

    Sanchez's 2012 season has been a catastrophe of epic proportions, as the fourth-year pro has posted a quarterback rating of under 70 while turning the ball over an eye-popping 24 times.

    Thank goodness the Jets locked him up with that contract extension before the season.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    A lot can change in a year in the NFL.

    At this time in 2011, running back Rashard Mendenhall was the starting tailback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but a torn ACL ended his season early and cast doubts over his 2012 prospects.

    However, Mendenhall returned sooner than anyone expected, and after gaining over 100 total yards in his first game of the 2012 season, it appeared that the fourth-year pro was "back."

    Or not.

    Since that Week 5 return, Mendenhall has gained 63 yards total, and given the recent dust-up with the coaching staff that led to Mendenhall being suspended for Week 15, the odds of the free agent staying in the Steel City are slim.

    The odds of his being a starter anywhere in 2013 are even slimmer.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    You know that the season hasn't gone exactly as you'd hoped when a team's starting quarterback goes down with a season-ending injury and most fans of the team are happy about it.

    Yet that's exactly what happened when Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert went on injured reserve earlier this season.

    That may have had something to do with a second straight terrible season from Gabbert.

    Sure, Gabbert once again threw more touchdown passes than interceptions, but he also once again ranked near the bottom of the league in passer rating and yards per attempt. First-round pick or no, by now the Jaguars need to realize that Gabbert isn't the answer under center for their franchise.

Doug Free, OT, Dallas Cowboys

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    It was once thought that Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Doug Free was a quality offensive lineman in the NFL, so much so that the Cowboys handed Free a $32 million extension before the 2011 season.

    Since then, Free has just been offensive.

    The sixth-year veteran leads the NFL in penalties by an offensive lineman, grades out as the seventh-worst tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus, and has played so badly that Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn tweeted that "Doug Free can't block a soul unless he holding."

    Money well spent.

Corey Webster, CB, New York Giants

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    Part of the reason why the New York Giants presently sit at 8-6 and in danger of missing the postseason altogether is a leaky secondary that ranks 28th in the NFL against the pass.

    A large part of the blame for those leaks can be laid at the feet of cornerback Corey Webster.

    According to Pro Football Focus, the eighth-year veteran grades out as one of the worst players at his position in the National Football League, allowing well over 60 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed.

    Oh, and Webster's seven touchdowns allowed is tied for worst in the NFL.

    Other than that, he's played great.