Well, this should be an interesting couple of months.
Between the labor negotiations that don't seem to be going anywhere, the free agency period that might be the quietest in a long time, and the season that no one knows when it will start (if it starts at all), the NFL off season will be an interesting one.
Perhaps more so, because teams will have to make decisions about free agents with the labor contract set to expire and no one knowing what the near future will hold. So, teams have been very cautious about what they will do with their free agents, and no one has really signed deals on either side until the labor situation straightens out.
It doesn't stop teams from making decisions on players who are not currently on the market to be had by any team. So with that in mind, I put on the GM cap, looked at every team's free agents, and decided on one free agent each team shouldn't bring back.
Breaston had a breakout 2008 season, but has struggled with inconsistency and injuries the past two years. Losing Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin didn't help either.
The Cardinals have seen the type of receiver he can be, but he's not a No. 2 receiver. He fits in better as a slot man on a team that has good receivers around him, and a quarterback who can get him the ball in the open field.
That's not happening in Arizona.
I don't know if you can call Finneran "Mr. Falcon," but it feels like he's been there long enough to do so.
Finneran's days as a wide receiver in Atlanta go back to the Michael Vick/Chris Chandler days. But he's slipped as the years have gone on and receivers like Roddy White and Michael Jenkins have passed him on the depth chart.
He still provides leadership in the locker room, but with the Falcons possibly targeting a wide receiver with their first round pick, there just might not be room on the depth chart for him.
Houshmandzadeh is starting to hit the downside of his career, as he's underperformed both in Seattle last season and Baltimore this season. Of course, it doesn't look good when you complain about your lack of involvement in the offense and then have the drop that ends your team's season.
Houshmandzadeh can still be an effective second or third receiver, but for what the Ravens need and are trying to do, he really doesn't fit their system.
McCargo was brought in to be a force in the middle and one of the cornerstones of the Bills' 3-4 defense when he was drafted.
Instead, he's made one start in six seasons, and his career high for tackles is 29. I won't go so far as to call him a bust, but he's yet another Bills draft pick that hasn't panned out.
Perhaps it's best for both sides to go their separate ways.
This time last season, the Panthers had seen enough out of Matt Moore down the stretch to hand the ball over to him, cutting Jake Delhomme loose to make Moore the starting quarterback.
What happened afterwards in Carolina wasn't all his fault (proven by the fact that Jimmy Clausen wasn't much better), but Moore didn't exactly wow the public with his season. Now the Panthers will have to make a decision on what to do.
While Moore can definitely come back and compete for the job again, there's also a chance he could find himself on the outs.
Clark wasn't a star, but for the bulk of his career, he's been a decent pass-catching tight end.
But Greg Olson is now the tight end in Chicago, and Clark has slowly seen his role diminish in the Bears offense. So much so that he's even come out publicly and said that he doesn't expect to be back in Chicago next season.
I'm thinking the Bears tend to agree.
If last year was any indication, T.O. can still play.
In fact, Owens was the most consistent receiver the Bengals had. He even outperformed Chad Ochocinco. But the Bengals also had a rough year, and are facing a rebuild.
T.O. and rebuild don't go well together.
It's already a foregone conclusion he won't be back—the bigger question is where will he land.
Eric Wright is still a young guy, and he still has the potential to be a very good cornerback. But most would agree that he's regressed since his rookie year.
With Sheldon Brown's presence and the emergence of Joe Haden, Wright might be starting to be pushed out in Cleveland.
There could be a chance Patrick Peterson of LSU could be available to the Browns at No. 6, which could make the choice of not bringing Wright back even easier.
A defensive end in a 3-4 scheme won't have phenomenal stats (nor will the defensive line, for that matter), but too many times Spears seems to be invisible on the Cowboys' defense. He has the potential to be very good, especially against the run. For someone considered to be a big part of the Cowboys defense, though he hasn't exactly lived up to the billing.
One has to wonder if now might be the time the Cowboys finally cut their losses.
One has to wonder what could've been with Maroney had he not become injury-prone while in New England. Maroney once showed so much promise with the Patriots when he platooned with Corey Dillon his rookie season. But he never was able to get back to that level.
Eventually, he was shipped off to Denver, and made even less of an impression there.
Now he's a free agent, and it's pretty much a given he won't be back in Denver.
The guys at WalterFootball.com made an interesting point about Smith, who's struggled to stay healthy in the NFL. They stated that he was ruined by the 400-plus carries he got his senior season at Central Florida.
I don't know how much that played into it, but Smith is now a free agent. With Jahvid Best now the running back of the future and the emergence of Maurice Morris down the stretch for the Lions, there might not be a place for Smith in that backfield anymore.
The Packers will have a lot of decisions to make about their free agents, as they'll have a lot of them. In the case of Jackson, this too is a case of the other players at his position outplaying him.
It's not a knock on Jackson, who played nicely for most of the season. But with James Shields taking over in the Playoffs, the emergence of John Kuhn as a third down and short-yardage back, and Ryan Grant returning from his season-ending injury next year, it might be a case of just not getting a chance for Jackson to play.
Jones has always been dangerous as a kick returner and a punt returner, but the Texans also drafted Trindon Holliday from LSU last year. I would think they did so because he could be an elite punt returner. If the Texans want to develop him as an offensive weapon, and if they land a wide receiver in the draft, that could make it a lot easier for them to drop Jones.
Jones has the talent and showed he can catch the ball and not just return it. But he may not get the chance to develop in Houston.
There's no doubting Joseph Addai can be one of the most talented running backs in the game when he's healthy. But that's been a problem with him as of late—especially last season.
For a guy who has all the potential in the world, he's gone three straight years under 1,000 yards and he's never topped 1,100 yards in a season (granted he's in a pass-first offense).
Addai has all the talent to be a star, but so did Bob Sanders. The Colts eventually parted ways with him because, with his injuries, he wasn't worth the risk anymore.
How much longer until that's the case with Addai, if it isn't already?
There's no doubt that Kirk Morrison might be one of the most underrated and unheralded linebackers out there. He's a Mike Peterson-type who just very quietly goes and puts up big numbers every year. His first year in Jacksonville was no different.
But according to Steve Wyche of NFL.com, the Jaguars might already be looking for a replacement for Morrison. The report stated the Jaguars wanting more of a hard-hitter at middle linebacker who can make an impact, and it seems they've reportedly leaning towards cutting Morrison loose at the end of the season.
There's no accounting for what a Mike Vrabel-type of player means to a team in terms of work ethic and veteran leadership in the room.
But the key word there is veteran.
Vrabel's getting older, and in the Chiefs 3-4 scheme, they need a stud at outside linebacker that can get to the quarterback, create pressure and get some of the attention off of Tamba Hali. Vrabel is not that type of player anymore.
Outside linebacker is one of the key needs for the Chiefs, and if they can address it with an impact player, Vrabel's done in Kansas City.
Ricky Williams was always a high-risk, high-reward type of player. He had the potential to be a dominant running back, and for flashes of his career, he showed that.
But he also had flashes of being someone who never really felt like his heart was in the game and always wanted to be somewhere else. Maybe that explains why he took off and left the Dolphins in the prime of his career.
The Dolphins are apparently finally done with Ricky, though, and Ricky might be apparently finally done with football.
Oh Tarvaris, we hardly knew ye.
It seems like yesterday you were handed the reins of the Minnesota Vikings as the franchise quarterback. Then, they were taken away; then you won them again; then they were taken away again and given to the great wall-smashing, head-bashing Gus Frerotte.
Then good old No. 4 came in, and that was pretty much that.
Eventually, his lone supporter was fired, and now the Vikings are moving forward with a new quarterback—whoever that might be.
Throughout the decade of dominance by the Belichick Brigade, there have been basically two constants on the field. One has been Tom Brady, and the other has been Kevin Faulk—the indispensable, pass-catching running back. But with Danny Woodhead's breakout year, and the Patriots looking to upgrade at the running back position, now could possibly be the time where the great sweater-ed one cuts ties with Faulk.
Pierre Thomas was a Super Bowl hero and possibly the breakout star on a loaded Saints' team.
That was a year ago.
Now he's very possibly the lone man out, depending on whether or not Reggie Bush returns and whether or not the Saints want to move forward with Chris Ivory. Thomas was effective, but injuries took a good chunk of his season. The Saints can't take a chance losing him to injury again.
Keith Bulluck might be one of the most underrated linebackers of our era, and he's still pretty good. The only problem is that he's pretty good when he's not playing every down. But Bulluck still wants to be an every-down linebacker, which, by all accounts is not going to happen in New York. He might be saved by the fact that he's the best option the Giants have at linebacker, but he's also lost a step, and he's not an every-down player anymore.
Cromartie's probably going to get trapped in a numbers game. With the number of free agents the Jets have—including some very high-profile players,—most have expected that Cromartie to be one of the odd men out.
Obviously, the Jets might find enough to bring him back. But they also seem like they'd be content to move Kyle Wilson into the starting spot, and instead put that money towards Santonio Holmes or Nick Mangold.
Robert Gallery eventually grew into a solid offensive lineman in the NFL. Yet he never really blossomed into the star some thought he'd be when the Raiders took him as high as they did. He was still the best offensive lineman they had, but he always seemed out of place in the Raiders' system.
There was talk the Raiders' could've franchise-tagged him, but Kamerion Wimbley received that honor instead. As it is, Gallery is probably going to be a free-agent casualty so the Raiders can use that freed-up money to try to bring Zach Miller and Nnamdi Asomugha back to Oakland.
Reggie Wells was brought in from Arizona to try and sure up an inexperienced offensive line that was missing the Andrews' brothers. As it turned out, the Eagles were right in trying to sure up the offensive line—the moves just didn't work.
Wells was unsuccessful, and turned out to be an absolute mess for the Eagles. So much so that it's expected the Eagles' will go with a guard in the first round of the Draft, which means the one-year Reggie Wells experiment should come to an end.
First, let me assure you that the amount of wide receivers on this list are purely coincidental.
With that said, let's get to the case of Sweed, a big receiver who's never been able to stick with the Steelers—either because of injury or just not taking advantage of his opportunities when he was healthy.
Mike Tomlin has already said the Steelers haven't given up on Sweed, and that he'll have a chance to compete for a job, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Sweed cut eventually.
Cooper's been one of the mainstays on the San Diego defense, and has stabilized the linebacking corps. But he's also going to be 32 in June, and could possibly be 33 by the time the NFL starts up again (worse-case scenario).
That wouldn't be too bad of a scenario, but considering the Chargers have two young middle linebackers in Keith Burnett and Brandon Siler who aren't bad and can fill in that spot, Cooper might be looking at his time in San Diego being up.
Although, in a perfect world, the Chargers would want to keep him.
We've all heard the arguments about Smith—that the receiving corps was never there; the offense was never explosive; he's had more offensive coordinators and schemes than the Wells Fargo Center has had names.
At the same time, though, Smith has had the chances to be an elite quarterback worthy of being the No. 1 draft pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. And each time, he hasn't been able to take the reins.
The 49ers and new coach Jim Harbaugh will eventually make the decision whether or not to have one more go with Smith or bring in a new quarterback.
It's time to let Smith move on.
I was tempted to put Matt Hasselbeck in this spot, but the odds are that the Seahawks will bring him back for at least one season, which led me to Jennings.
When Pete Carroll came in and traded young cornerback Josh Wilson, Jennings stepped up and became the other starting cornerback. Yet he was never able to have a consistent season. With the development of some of the Seahawks' young corners and the cornerback prospects in the Draft, the Seahawks could very well let Jennings go.
Hard to believe this kid was a first round pick not that long ago.
Robinson was one of the young receivers who had a chance this year to perform for Sam Bradford. And while Robinson performed well before his injury, he hasn't been consistent enough to warrant the Rams to bring him back.
Of course, it'll depend on what the Rams to in the draft, as well as re-signing Mark Clayton and whether Mardy Gilyard bounces back from his rookie year. But I'll be surprised if Robinson is back in St. Louis next season.
This was another tough choice for me, because I was going back and forth between Williams and troubled safety Tanard Jackson. I decided to go with Williams, whose career was derailed by injuries and eventually cost him his starting job in Tampa Bay.
There could still be a place for him with the Buccaneers, but considering LeGarrett Blount is the same type of runner that Cadillac Williams is, Williams likely won't be starting in Tampa.
If he wants to start, he'll have to go somewhere else.
It's not surprising that the Titans' season went downhill after Randy Moss came on to try and save it. Of course, Moss wasn't the only reason why the Titans' derailed at the end of the season, but he definitely didn't help.
So, with the Titans' quarterback situation unsettled to say the least, and Chris Johnson the focal point of the offense, Moss is not a good fit at all. We already know Vince Young won't be back; it's safe to say Moss won't be back next season either.
At this point, Moss might find it hard to find another team that gives him one more chance.
The Washington Redskins are at a crossroads in that they really need a rebuild to fix all that's wrong with this franchise.
One of the toughest decisions they'll have to make is on Moss, who had a very productive season last year. But they have to ask themselves how many more will he have at age 32, considering he's not that big of a receiver.
It won't be a popular opinion, but the Redskins need to move on.
By the end of his next contract, it'll be an albatross, and he'll just become another overpaid player on the Redskins' roster if he re-signs.