NFL Rumors: Injury-Prone Players Teams Must Avoid in Free Agency

Mike MoraitisAnalyst IMarch 13, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 18 :  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sidelines during the game against the Baltimore Ravens on November 18, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The NFL free-agency period is already under way and there are teams linked to injury-prone players they must avoid.

The first rumor comes from Adam Schefter of ESPN (per Michael David Smith of and it says Peyton Hillis is visiting with the Green Bay Packers in regard to their need at the running back position.

Former St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola has been linked to the Philadelphia Eagles, per Geoff Mosher of

Rashard Mendenhall, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has also drawn interest from several teams early on in free agency, including the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and others, per Marc Sessler of

Let's take a closer look at each of these players and why teams are better off avoiding them.


Peyton Hillis, Running Back

Hillis has been in the NFL for five seasons now and he's only managed to play a full season once. That one season was back in 2010 when he ran for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns as a member of the Cleveland Browns.

In fact, it was that season that landed Hillis the cover shot of the video game Madden 2012. However, the dreaded Madden Curse seems to have gotten to Hillis since then and his career simply hasn't been the same.

The 2011 season became a wash for the cover boy—he played in just 10 games after dealing with a hamstring injury and a strange battle with strep throat that might have been made worse by failed contract negotiations with the Browns. He finished with just 587 yards and three touchdowns.

In 2012, Hillis once again failed to live up to expectations, this time as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. The 27-year-old compiled just 309 yards and one touchdown in a limited role and even dealt with an ankle injury early in the season.

Even when he was on the field for both 2011 and 2012, Hillis failed to break four yards per carry, and it's become evident his production is not what it once was.

The Packers have dealt with their fair share of injury issues at the running back position in recent years and Hillis certainly seems like he could be yet another back that can't stay on the field for Green Bay. This organization needs a more reliable option lining up behind Aaron Rodgers—Hillis simply isn't it.


Danny Amendola, Wide Receiver

When healthy, Amendola is one of the best slot receivers in the game today. Not only is he a reliable option on third down, but he has enough speed and explosiveness to make big plays over the middle for his team.

The problem is that Amendola can't stay healthy. The former Rams wide receiver has missed a grand total of 20 games the past two seasons with numerous injuries all over his body—it won't get any easier from here on out considering he lives over the middle of the field.

The Eagles are one of many teams linked to the talented, yet oft-injured receiver, but they are the last team that should be taking such a risk. Philly has seen several of its more expensive investments not live up to the money in recent years, whether due to lack of production and/or injury.

Amendola could likely be added to that list on the injury side, and it doesn't help that he may be looking for as much as $6.1 million per season, per Chris Wesseling of

If the price were to come down, Amendola could be a much more reasonable option and he'd be an ideal fit in head coach Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. However, there's no word on that price coming down as of yet, so that makes Amendola a gigantic risk for any team—especially the Eagles.


Rashard Mendenhall, Running Back

Mendenhall was one of the more productive backs in the NFL before 2012. The former Steelers back broke the 1,100- and 1,200-yard mark in both 2009 and 2010, respectively, and he fell just 72 yards short of the 1,000-yard mark in 2011.

But that production came to a halt last season as Mendenhall only played in six games for Pittsburgh after recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in the last week of the 2011 season. Even when Mendenhall was on the field last year, he was mostly unproductive—he failed to get into the end zone on the ground and only averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

The biggest concern about Mendenhall at this point is how successful he can be moving forward. A knee injury for a running back is about the last thing any team wants to see and that officially makes Mendenhall a major gamble if the price isn't right.

Mendenhall certainly didn't dispel those concerns after a lackluster season in 2012, so teams must be wary about what he can produce in 2013 and beyond.

On top of that, the 25-year-old has shared a controversial opinion in the past that hasn't exactly endeared him to fans, so there is more than just injury baggage coming with Mendenhall.