NFL Roster Cuts: What Big Names Will Be Looking For New Work?
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With the start of the NFL regular season just a week away, teams around the league are waving goodbye to the preseason.
And just plain waiving players.
Tuesday marked the cutdown deadline, forcing teams to reduce their rosters from 80 to 75 players. On Saturday, teams will have to trim down to 53 players for the regular season.
While most of the players cut are likely to be have-nots, has-beens, and future CFL'ers and Arena leaguers, there are bound to be some familiar names and former All-Pros left looking for employment on the NFL's cutting room floor.
The Cincinnati Bengals got a lengthy head start when they cut the volatile and oft-injured Antonio Bryant last week, whom they had signed to a four-year, 28 million dollar deal in the offseason.
That's eight million dollars guaranteed to a guy who will never play a single regular season down in Cincy. Ouch.
Who else, aside from Bryant, might be severed by Saturday?
New York Jets Send Laveranues Coles Packing
Laveranues Coles will forever be a part of Jets lore, thanks to the "Monday Night Miracle".
Remember the good, ol' days when Laveranues Coles was a star wide-out for the New York Jets, hauling in any and every pass Chad Pennington sent his way? The touchdown that helped the Jets beat the Dolphins in the "Monday Night Miracle"?
The Jets may remember, but apparently nostalgia wasn't a good enough reason to keep the veteran receiver around.
After his third, and by far his shortest, stint in New York, Coles is back on the market, though it doesn't seem likely he'll play anywhere this season.
Not that Coles isn't capable. According to the former Pro-Bowler himself, speaking to the Newark Star-Ledger:
"Coach [Rex Ryan] said I was doing well and they want to bring me back after the first game..."
However, it seems as though Coles has little desire to return under such circumstances, and may even follow his college coach, Bobby Bowden, into retirement, as he went on to say:
"I think I'm done...I don't want to become one of those journeyman football players. I don't need the money."
Whatever Laveranues decides to do, he'll certainly be remembered fondly by Jets fans, as much for his unique name and sportsmanship as his performance on the field.
Willie Parker Crowded Out Of Washington's Backfield...
Willie Parker is fast, but is he fast enough to escape the 'Skins' chopping block?
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Last Friday, Willie Parker was playing on the same field as Laveranues Coles as the Washington Redskins played the New York Jets in a preseason tune-up.
Now, it's looking more likely by the day that Parker will be joining Coles in the free-agent pool.
After six seasons, two Pro Bowl selections, and two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Parker found himself relegated to the role of back-up behind Rashard Mendenhall amidst an injury-plagued contract year in 2009.
Parker went looking for a new opportunity in Washington, signing with the 'Skins back in April, but hasn't caught on with Mike Shanahan's squad as well as he and it had hoped.
Hoping to get him into the Beltway backfield mix, Shanahan started Parker against the Jets, under which circumstances Parker produced a mere 16 yards on eight carries.
Granted, the team as a whole totaled only 22 yards on the ground in 12 attempts. However, Parker's performance did little to help his case in climbing the Redskins' depth chart.
Odds are, Parker will find himself on the outside looking in this weekend.
...And Larry Johnson May Not Be Far Behind
Larry Johnson's memories of greatness are just that...memories.
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And there's a pretty good chance Willie Parker won't be the only one getting scalped in Washington.
Look no further than Parker's stiffest competition–Larry Johnson.
Johnson has seen his player profile drop dramatically since his back-to-back Pro Bowl selections in Kansas City. Some may attribute Johnson's fall from grace to a poor attitude both on and off the field, while others point to the detrimental effects of the NFL-record 416 carries he racked up during the 2006 season.
Either way, LJ has struggled to catch on since leaving the Chiefs, barely sticking with the Bengals last season and now hanging on for dear life with the 'Skins.
Johnson came into the preseason as the presumed back-up to Shanahan-favorite Clinton Portis. However, his performance in August, along with the rise of young 'backs Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams, has left Johnson standing on shaky ground.
While Johnson's spot on the squad may very well survive Saturday's slimming of the roster, it's place among the final 53 is far from guaranteed.
Justin Fargas Cut From Beat-Up Bronco Backfield
Looks like it's back to "The Pits" for Justin Fargas.
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Justin Fargas may not have the credentials of the other players listed thus far–he has only one 1,000-yard season to his name–but his release may be more surprising.
Not because Fargas is such a big star. After being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft, the son of Huggy Bear saw limited time in his first few seasons before racking up just over 1,000 yards in 2007. He followed that up with 853 yards as the Raiders' starting back in 2008 before splitting carries last year with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.
Denver brought him in just three weeks ago amidst injuries to its top three backs–Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, and LenDale White.
Coming off arthroscopic knee surgery in March following a failed physical with the Raiders, Fargas managed only 17 yards on 10 carries.
With the Broncos' backfield on the mend, Fargas' value to the team dropped, and so went his roster spot.
Cardinals Might Toss Matt Leinart in The Grand Canyon
The Cardinals could cut Matt Leinart if they can't trade him by Saturday.
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Speaking of former Trojans, no player in the league has garnered as much attention leading up to Saturday's deadline as Matt Leinart.
His disconnect with teammates and coaches, namely head coach Ken Whisenhunt, has become public knowledge in recent days, with Coach "Whiz" going on record to question Leinart's ability to lead Arizona's offense into the post-Kurt Warner era.
With Derek Anderson now penciled in as the Cards' starter under center, Leinart would become a rather pricey back-up, especially when his salary balloons to more than seven million dollars next year. Arizona's front office has already reached out to teams around the league, finding potential suitors in Buffalo, Oakland, and New York.
However, if the Cardinals can't make a deal or find a place for Leinart on the team by Saturday, he may find himself among a collection of Heisman winners gone bust.