Every year there are always a number of big-name NFL players that find themselves looking for work. A big reason for that is because they are unwilling to take a pay cut, and their respective teams are forced to release them due to salary cap restraints.
It's never good to wish someone ill, but it's fun to see which guys really think that their performance has not matched their contract and are willing to do something in the best interest of the team.
This offseason will be no different, in fact there might be a few more noteworthy players cut because of all the CBA issues.
One guy who is in serious danger is Cowboys WR Roy Williams. He has been a HUGE disappointment for the Cowboys since being acquired in 2008. Unless he is willing to restructure his current contract, he will find himself looking for work very soon.
What players could be joining him in the hunt for work in 2011?
Here are 15 players that will probably have to take a pay cut this offseason if they want to stay with their current teams.
Williams signed a six-year, $54 million contract with the team in 2008, after being traded to Dallas by the Lions. Since then, he has had 94 catches for 1,324 yards with 13 touchdowns in 40 games. Hardly numbers that match the contract he signed.
On top of that, he has clashed with coaches and the media. His days in Dallas are numbered unless he decides to take a big pay cut.
Reggie Bush entered the NFL with as much hype as anyone. He hasn’t lived up to that, but he hasn’t been a total bust, either. He is a great decoy in the backfield and can be effective as a slot receiver.
The problem is that he's due to make over $11 million in 2011. He is a productive player, but not one who is worth that kind of money.
To his credit, he has said that he will be willing to restructure his contract to stay in New Orleans.
We will have to wait and see if that happens.
One of the most painful things about the NFL is that players who have spent a long time with only one organization tend to find themselves in a position where they will be non-tendered or released.
That’s the situation facing Ronde Barber, who has played with the Bucs for 14 years.
He is not the player that he once was, and the team is probably going to move forward without him. If he is willing to cut his salary to stay around and act as a nickel cornerback and mentor to the younger players on the roster, he could be brought back.
You can file this one under “never going to happen”. Albert Haynesworth loves his money, probably more than he loves football, and he will not think about restructuring his deal.
Add to that the rivalry that has developed between him and head coach Mike Shanahan and Haynesworth’s days in Washington are over.
Still, it would be interesting to see what happens if the team even approached him about restructuring his deal.
This is another one that’s not likely to matter either way.
The Redskins embarrassed McNabb with the way that they handled him in 2010. The writing seems to be on the wall, though it is curious that the team gave him an extension late in the season.
McNabb does not sound like he is completely against returning in 2011, but it would probably have to be at a reduced cost for the team.
Look for him to take the same route as Albert Haynesworth.
Steve Smith isn’t happy with the Panthers.
The Panthers are rebuilding, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to have an aging, expensive wide receiver on the roster.
Unless Smith is willing to take a pay cut, which is highly unlikely, he will be looking for a new team next year. His production fell off in 2010, but part of that could be attributed to the Panthers having no quarterback.
Perhaps it was just the team being polite, but the 49ers have said that they are open to Alex Smith returning to start in 2011. As a 49er fan, let me just say: Dear God, I hope not.
He already had to restructure his contract once to stay with the team, so it’s unknown if he would be willing to do it again.
Despite what the team has said, look for Smith to either be the backup next year or on a different team. There is no way that they can go into another year with him under center and hope to contend in the NFC.
A few years ago, Tommie Harris was one of the better defensive tackles in football. He had eight sacks in 2007, and was a dominant force in the middle for the Bears defensive line.
Things have not gotten better for him as time has gone on. In fact, things have gotten worse. In 2010, he only had 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
He is due to make $5 million in 2011, and the Bears should approach him about restructuring his contract. If he doesn’t, he will likely have to reinvent himself in a new city next year.
Lofa Tatupu is one of the Seahawks' most beloved players. He made an instant impact in his rookie season of 2005. That year, he led the Seahawks in tackles and the team made their first Super Bowl appearance.
He has not been as productive the last two years. In 2009, he missed 11 games due to injury. He still has four years left on the six-year extension he signed in 2008.
Don’t be surprised if there are rumblings about him being a possible salary cap casualty, given his salary and the way that his production has tailed off.
A couple of years ago, Marion Barber was everyone’s favorite running back. He was a physical, bruising back who seemed to thrive on hitting defenders.
Now, the Cowboys have a wealth of running backs and he could find himself as the odd man out. Felix Jones seems poised to become the main guy, with Tashard Choice backing him up.
He signed a big contract extension in 2008, and doesn’t seem to fit in the Cowboys plans right now. Plus, he has missed time each of the last three years, so he could be breaking down physically, as running backs tend to do.
The Jets have a number of big time free agents, and they will have to decide who they want to keep moving forward and who is expendable.
Taylor signed a deal that is back-loaded in a big way. According to Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com, his salary goes up to $2.25 million with a $10 million roster bonus.
That’s a lot of money to be paying for a 36-year old defensive lineman. The Jets would be wise to renegotiate the deal so they can afford to keep players like Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie.
It’s hard not to like L.T. He’s a nice guy, he plays hard, he is going to go into the Hall of Fame. The problem is he is past his peak.
He had a nice year for the Jets, but they would be best served to try and reduce his $2.4 million salary next year.
As mentioned in the Jason Taylor piece, the Jets have a number of guys coming off the books and need all the money that they can get to resign a lot of them to contend with New England in that division.
It could be one-and-done for Tomlinson in New York.