Every year there are hundreds of rookies that enter the National Football League. For every rookie that makes the final cut and is part of the upcoming roster, there is a veteran player that is cut from the team.
After the compensatory picks were awarded, the NFL Draft 2011 will swell to 254 draft picks, at which time Mr. Irrelevant will be selected. Obviously not all of the picks will make a 2011 roster, as some will be waived, while others will get hurt and be placed on the I.R. lists. Others will be demoted to the practice squads.
But for each rookie that does make it, there is a cause and effect, as one more veteran will have to be trimmed from a roster to make room. There are always surprise cuts every year. These are the guys that were hoping to extend their careers, but Father Time is working against them.
Here are 25 players that should be realizing their careers are going to be over very soon, or will see a substantial drop in their personal production that serves as a warning bell that the end is near.
Chad Pennington added to his long list of injuries by tearing his ACL during a basketball game. He is already a free agent and will be coming off another major surgery. Pennington still wants to play one more year, but let's face the facts.
In the past two seasons, Pennington has only played in four games out of a possible 32. Taking it a step further, in his 11-year career, he has only appeared in 89 games out of a possible 176.
It's unfortunate, because his career touchdown to interception ratio is a very positive 102 to 64, and he has a 66 percent completion average, which is superior compared to starters like Matt Hasselbeck.
Miami Dolphins Head Coach, Tony Sparano, has apparently made Pennington an offer to work on his coaching staff, but there is no word on how this was received by Pennington.
Chad, it might very well be time to hang up the football cleats and basketball sneakers. Besides, it sounds like Tony made you an offer you can't refuse.
Adjacent is a classic picture of Cornell Green whiffing on a block, which undoubtedly lead to another massive hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Green was a starting tackle for the Bills in 2010 but after the team had seen enough from the aging tackle, he was placed on the season-ending I.R. list and was eventually released.
He played for the Oakland Raiders in 2009 and was let go there as well. The Raiders' fans warned the Bills' fans that they were getting a human penalty-flag machine, and much to the Bills' chagrin they were right.
Green is now 34 years old and has played for seven different teams during his career. So far, he has 46 career starts and has appeared in 89 games. But based on what he demonstrated last season, there is nothing left in the tank.
It is time to call it a career Cornell.
Sammy Morris has enjoyed a long career in the NFL. As a third-down running back, Morris has stuck around long enough to secure a good NFL pension (presumably) and some Super Bowl rings to show for his efforts.
Morris is now 34 years old and will be entering his 12th NFL season, but his limited production shows that it's time to hang it up.
During recent years, the stats are very telling. His rushes have dwindled in each of his last three seasons, from 156 to 73 to 20, and his rush touchdowns from seven to two to none. His average rush has gone from 4.7 to 4.4 to two, while his catches fell from 17 to 19 to seven. He was active for all 16 games last year and managed to tally 133 yards for the year.
Morris was born in Oxford, England, so maybe this is a good time for him to think about returning to his birthplace to serve the NFL as an ambassador to England, which will be hosting another regular season game this year.
A University of Oklahoma alum, Tommie Harris was a first-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears in 2004. After playing in Chicago for the past seven seasons, the Bears released Harris in February of this year.
Now a free agent, Harris is looking to catch on with a new team. But in taking a closer look at his production, maybe it is time for Harris to think about another career.
Despite playing in 15 games last year, Harris was only able to register 13 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the season. In the past three seasons, Harris has watched his production head steadily downhill. Tackles have dropped from 37 to 24 to 13. His sack totals have been dropping for the past four seasons, from eight to five to 2.5 and then finally to 1.5 last year.
Harris turns 28 later this month, but based on his recent production, he may want to consider an early retirement.
According to a story run in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com, the Steelers still want tackle Flozell Adams back for the 2011 season.
My reaction is why?
The Steelers are set to pay him a $5,000,000 salary next year, so maybe that is part of the reason. Pittsburgh is hoping to address issues with their offensive line in the draft and maybe who they draft will have a direct impact on Adams and his career.
If you watched Adams play last season, you saw that he is still doing his best to play at a high level, but he turns 36 next month. After 13 years in the NFL, it must be tough for Adams to tangle with so many younger and strong defensive lineman game after game.
When Adams was drafted by Dallas in 1988, his rookie coach was Chan Gailey. Yet, when Dallas released Adams at a time when the Bills were clearly hurting at the tackle position, no real overture was made by the Bills' Coach Gailey to bring Adams in for a look. You would think if anyone knew what Adams had to offer, it would be Gailey.
At 6'7" and 338 pounds, it probably takes Adams a long time to get out of bed the day after a game. How much longer can he keep this up?
Fred Taylor is now 35 years old. Taylor was originally a first-round draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998. After a long career with the Jaguars, Taylor became a member of the New England Patriots' running back-by-committee system.
But looking at his production, it is clear that Taylor should probably call it a day. In the past four years Taylor has had 223 rushes for 1,202 yards, 143 rushes for 556 yards, 63 rushes for 269 yards and finally 43 rushes for 155 yards last year. As you can see, his numbers are plummeting .
The Patriots will almost certainly take advantage of their surplus of draft picks and take a running back during the first two days of the draft. That selection would probably mean that New England has found their replacement for Fred Taylor.
Taylor has had a great run. He has toted the ball 2,534 times and gained 11,695 yards. That is a lot of wear and tear to deal with.
Congratulations on a solid career Fred.
Brian Brohm was a second-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2008. The Buffalo Bills thought they may have found some unfulfilled potential on their hands when they plucked him away from the Packers' practice team in 2009.
Brohm made one start in 2009, which was the result of injuries to both Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick. In two appearances that year, he went 17/29 for 146 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and one fumble. His QB passer rating was 43.2
Most Bills fans were willing to let his performance slide, because he really didn't have enough time to learn the offense and barely took snaps with the first team in practice. So, when 2010 rolled around, Brohm became the second-string quarterback after the Bills released Trent Edwards early in the season. Brohm got regular reps in practice and had a full season to learn Chan Gailey's offense.
Finally, when Fitzpatrick went down with an injury, Brohm got his next start on the road in week 17 against the New York Jets to finish out the season. Okay, tough opponent and probably not the best conditions, but this was the culmination of everything that he had been working towards the entire season.
Know what he did?
Brohm completed 10 out of 23 throws for 106 yards. He threw no touchdown passes, was intercepted three times and was sacked three times. His QB passer rating for the day was 17.9. I think we have seen the end of Brian Brohm as a quarterback in the NFL.
According to a story that ran on April 18th in Pro Football Weekly, Adam "Pacman" Jones might be in demand to be a starting corner next season.
Personally, I just don't see it happening. From the laundry list of questionable off-the-field issues and questionable behavior, to suffering a season-ending neck injury in his only start last year, Jones does not seem worthy of being an NFL starter any more.
When it comes to issues such as reliability and dependability, I would run away from anything to do with Adam Jones.
I realize the adjacent picture is going to be hard to believe, but here is Trent Edwards getting sacked as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. From having the starting quarterback job handed to him on a silver platter by the Buffalo Bills' Chan Gailey, to getting his release papers from the team by the end of week three last season, Trent Edwards has seen his football career turned upside down in a short space of time.
Edwards is one of those quarterbacks that panics when he senses pressure. It's hard to lay blame on him, since he did suffer through at least two concussions while with the Bills. But if you are that uncomfortable, maybe it is time to consider a new profession.
Gailey was right to cut the cord on Edwards and turn the team over to Ryan Fitzpatrick, because Fitzpatrick showed what a capable quarterback could do with the Bills' offense. When Edwards was picked up by Jacksonville, he played two games and threw one touchdown and three interceptions. He was sacked four times and had a passer rating of 51.4
Despite an entire training camp of work with the first team, Edwards threw one touchdown, two interceptions and had a passer rating of 58.3 in his last season with the Bills.
For his career, Edwards has thrown 26 touchdowns and 30 interceptions and has had 10 fumbles to go along with a career passer rating of 75.4.
Bill Walsh, may he rest in peace, sure had this recommendation wrong.
Derrick Mason has enjoyed a long and fruitful career in the NFL. He was originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the 1997 draft and has played in 14 NFL seasons. So the 37-year-old will have a nice pension waiting for him when he retires.
Standing at 5'10" and weighing in at 197 pounds, he is not a big, physical receiver. Yet he still had a productive season in 2010 by most wide receiver's standards. However, if you take a closer look at the numbers, you will see a player that is in the twilight of his career.
During the last four years, his catches have been sinking: 103, 80, 73 and 61 respectively. His yardage also dropped: 1,087, 1,037, 1,028 and 802. Similarly, his first-down conversions on catches is trending downwards: 60, 60, 55 and 44.
It is clear that the end can't be too far away. Mason will try to hang on for this year, but at his current age his lack of production hints that we have seen the best he has to offer.
Albert Haynesworth signed a lucrative $100 million deal in February of 2009 to join the Washington Redskins.
How has Albert reacted to becoming such a wealthy young man?
For starters, he held out of Redskins camp. When he finally joined the team, he started a running feud with his coaches. To add fuel to the fire, in the offseason he allegedly sexually assaulted a waitress and went nuts in a road rage incident.
Some people handle their money better than others, I suppose.
On the field, Haynesworth has rewarded Redskins' owner, Daniel Snyder, by playing in 20 of a possible 32 games. His tackles in the past three years have dropped from 51 to 37 to 16. His sacks have dropped from 8.5 to four to 2.5.
Haynesworth had a very impressive start to his career, and maybe another change of scenery would do him good. But then again, with as much money as he has coming in, he might want to coast for a few more years.
Word around Buffalo is that Aaron Maybin has only a 50-50 chance of survive training camp this year. The only reason the Bills would have to keep him is in hope of recouping some of the money form the huge contract they gave him.
Maybin was called out recently by Bills Head Coach, Chan Gailey, in a piece run by Tim Graham on his ESPN AFC East blog. Gailey questioned Maybin's attitude and ability to learn new moves.
The Bills made Maybin the 11th overall pick in the 2009 draft and signed him to a $17.5 million contract for five years. Since Maybin recorded only six tackles for the entire 2010 season, he is being paid roughly $500,000 per tackle.
That is pretty good work if you can find it.
Considered a sack specialist at Penn State, Maybin is still looking for his first sack coming in to his third NFL season. He has totaled 24 tackles and one forced fumble. The Bills were trying to get him some work on their special teams unit, but the other non-starters beat him out on that team as well.
Maybin looks up to fellow Baltimore area native Shawne Merriman and Bills fans and Buddy Nix are hoping that some of Merriman's good qualities rub off on Maybin and lights a fire under his butt. Otherwise this will be the last year we'll see the neat haircuts Maybin likes to show off.
Ronnie Brown was a first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2005. He had a reasonably productive year in 2010, picking up 734 yards, but in comparison to prior seasons, it's apparent that his wheels are starting to slow down and his fans' concerns are justified.
During his six-year career, he has only topped the 1,000-yard plateau one time—2006—and he barely, did so with 1,008 yards. In the last four years, his average yards-per-carry has been dropping: 5.1, 4.3, 4.4 and 3.7 respectively. Dipping below 4.0 is a clear warning sign that not all is well.
His yardage has also been dropping during the past three years from 916 to 648 (in just 9 games) to 734.
From a touchdown standpoint, those have also dropped from 10 to 8 to 5.
In terms of durability, Brown has only been able to play in 48 of a possible 64 games in the past four seasons. The shelf life of a running back in the NFL is usually short, due to the severe pounding they take every year. For Ronnie Brown, the end seems near.
It might seem hard to imagine, but Willis McGahee is entering his ninth NFL season. Unfortunately, the best days of his career are far behind him and his production continues to fade away.
He topped 1,200 rushing yards twice during his final three years with the Buffalo Bills, before he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. His rushing yards over the last four seasons illustrate how his game is in decline: 1,207, 671, 544 and 380 respectively.
His total yards as a pass receiver coming out of the backfield are in a similar decline: 237, 173, 85 and 55. Average yards per catch are trending in the same direction: 7.2, 5.7 and 3.9 last year.
The first downs he has generated running the ball have dropped from 56, 34, 28 and 18 last year. In 2009 he averaged five yards per rush, and last year it was 3.8.
To top it all off, he only had 100 carries last season and fumbled the ball twice. The Ravens lost the ball both times, adding insult to injury.
As the NFL and the players union try to find a happy medium and work out a new deal, Tony Gonzalez gave Atlanta Falcons fans a scare when he announced that he would retire in the event of an extended lockout . This was not what the Falcons expected, but when a player ponders retirement, it usually means that he's been contemplating it for a while.
As painful as this is to suggest, how much longer before the wheels come off of Tony Gonzalez and his long career? Gonzalez is one of my personal favorite players as a tight end, and he's been one of the best players in the league during his 14-year tenure.
Gonzalez is now 35 years old and Father Time is stating to catch up with him. His production has already been trending in the wrong direction.
Despite playing in all 16 games over the past four seasons, his yardage totals are 1,172, 1,058, 867 and 656 respectively. His total of 656 was his lowest tally since 1998.
His total receptions has also dropped: 99, 96, 83 and 70.
If you need further proof, 2010 was the first time in his career that Gonzalez' average yardage per catch dropped below 10 yards. He is becoming less of a downfield threat and more of a short-yardage receiver. The end can't be too far down the road for this once mighty warrior.
Donald Driver has enjoyed a long and productive NFL career. The Green Bay Packers wide receiver is now 36 years old and will be coming into his 13th season in the NFL.
From the years 2002-2009, Driver amassed 1,000-plus receiving yards seven times in that eight-year stretch. But 2010 saw Driver's production drop across the board at an alarming rate.
Driver played in 15 regular-season games last year for Green Bay. Consider the following numbers: his yardage dropped from 1,061 to 565, his average yards per catch dropped from 15.2 to 11.1 and the catches he made that resulted in first downs went from 49 to 29.
Now look at his reception numbers.
In the past five years, his reception totals have plummeted: 92, 82, 74, 70 and 51 respectively. Slowly but surely, he is becoming less of a factor in the Packers' passing attack.
In 2010, Driver finished fourth in receiving yards for the Packers and was surpassed by Greg Jennings, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. At least Driver will be able to look forward to receiving a NFL Super Bowl ring. Once he gets that, he will realize that all of the years of wear and tear were worth it.
But with all of the options available to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, it was probably just a matter of time until his production dropped off.
Lee Evans has been considered the Buffalo Bills' No. 1 receiver for many years. Evans has now entered his 30s, and he is watching younger receivers like Steve Johnson come in and take over his reign as the leading Bills receiver.
The 2006 season represents the high mark for Evans, when he made 82 catches for 1,292 yards. Since then, his yardage totals have dropped: 1,292, 849, 1,017, 612 and lastly, a career-low 578 last year.
His reception totals have also been dropping: 82, 55, 63, 44 and 37 (which was also a career low).
Evans still has some talent and he has been durable, playing in every Bills game since he joined the team, except for the final three games of the 2010 season due to injury.
Bills fans have observed that Evans is starting to have a tougher time shaking off press coverage at the line of scrimmage and he also doesn't fight for bad passes that become interceptions. If he tried to be more of a defensive back on bad passes, the Bills wouldn't have given up 21 interceptions last year.
Chan Gailey went on record as saying that he needs to get Evans more involved in underneath routes, which means that Evans will become less of a home-run threat than before, another sign that his production will continue to drop.
Jake Delhomme has completed 12 seasons in the NFL, but the end appears to be right around the corner.
Delhomme began 2010 as the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, but eventually the job was taken over by Colt McCoy, and the rookie appears to have won the starting job for next season.
Delhomme had a nice run as the Carolina Panthers quarterback, leading them to the Super Bowl. During his most productive years, 2003-2008, Delhomme generated a QB rating that was consistently in the 80s and which got as high as 88.1.
In 2009, however, Delhomme began to regress. He threw eight touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his last year in Carolina, which resulted in a QB passer rating of 59.4. In his first year in Cleveland, he once again had an abysmal ratio of two touchdowns to seven interceptions, with a passer rating of 63.4.
Delhomme might feel like he is still a starting quarterback, but his production says otherwise.
Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is now 33 years old. Williams has been a horse over the span of his 10-year NFL career.
Williams turned in an impressive four-year stretch from 2000-2003, where he gained at least 1,000 yards in four straight years. From 2004 to present, he has only had one more 1,000-yard season, when he exploded for 1,121 yards in 2009. From 2006-2010, his rushing totals have been 743, 15, 659, 1,121 and 673 respectively.
He is clearly more of a threat as a rusher than a receiver. He caught the ball 35 times for 264 yards in 2009, but those numbers went down to 19 catches for 141 yards last year.
His rushing attempts dropped last year from 241 to 159, his touchdowns from 11 to two; his first downs gained via rush from 55 to 26 and he has fumbled four times in each of the past three seasons.
As Williams and his partner Ronnie Brown are both free agents, it is very possible that some new blood will be coming to the Dolphins backfield. As for Williams, his fans can point to the average of 4.2 yards per rush and say that he still has something to offer, but when you look at the annual totals for the past five years, it appears that he is not the running back that he used to be.
What a strange year 2010 was for Tennessee Titans wide receiver Randy Moss. The prolific wide receiver looked like he was ready for the loony bin at times last season, especially when he was seen paying tribute to the New England Patriots while he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings.
Some homecoming party in Minneapolis. Not!
Moss is now 34 years old and is entering his 14th year in the league. But will next season be remembered as the season when lucky No.13 hit the wall?
Moss has turned in 10 1,000 yard-plus receiving campaigns and has had three straight years of 1,000-plus yards, from 2007-2009.
But 2010 was just a bizarre year. Appearing in all 16 games, he went from 1,264 yards down to 393 and from 13 touchdown catches down to five. He has turned in at least two straight years with a long play of at least 70 yards, but last year his longest catch was 37 yards. He also went from 83 catches in 2009 down to 28 last season.
What is his role going to be in 2011?
Not sure, but the evidence is hard to ignore. It appears that Randy Moss' days of being a prolific receiver are history.
Hines Ward is still an effective receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and he plays his role very well. It is noteworthy that his personal production is dropping and will continue to drop with every passing year.
Just like Randy Moss, Hines Ward is 35 years old and entering his 14th season in the NFL. Like Moss, Ward saw his 2010 numbers drop across the board, and one has to wonder if the physical abuse he has taken over the years is starting to get the best of him.
As recently as 2008 and 2009, Ward was still cranking out over 1,000 receiving yards. His totals went from 1,043 to 1,167, then down to 755 last year. For those three years, his catches went from 81 to 95 and then to only 59 last year. Over the last three years, his touchdowns have dropped from seven to six to five last year.
It is not just the receptions.
Historically, Ward was counted on to be involved in the running game as well. He would get at least 10 rushes on reverses a year, from 2001-2003, but those numbers gradually declined as well. Now he has only been involved in two rushes over the last three seasons. He is just not the same athlete that he once was.
His appearance on Dancing With The Stars, is a nice diversion, but it seems like Ward is becoming more outspoken as he gets older and is turning into a cranky, old veteran. With the influx of young wide receivers on the Steelers roster, it is not hard to envision that the Steelers are grooming Ward's replacements.
We don't know where Donovan McNabb will be playing in 2011. The Redskins may be able to trade him for some kind of value or they may be forced to release him.
McNabb is now 34 years old. He has played in the NFL for 12 years. Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, McNabb has been able to prove his detractors wrong by becoming a successful NFL quarterback for many years.
But that was then and this is now. In the 2010 season, McNabb lost the confidence of his coach Mike Shanahan. He finished up the season with 14 touchdowns but had more interceptions with 15.
Not exactly a great ratio.
He passed for over 3,000 yards again, but his completion percentage dipped below 60 at 58.3. He was sacked 37 times, which is a sign that his scrambling ability is not what it used to be. In 2010, he finished with a QB passer rating of 77.1.
In the past four seasons his completion percentage has been trending downwards: 61.5, 60.4, 60.3 and 58.3 respectively. His average yards per pass has also been dropping: 8.4, 7.0, 6.9, 8.0 and 7.2.
His touchdown passes over the last three years have gone from 23 to 22 to 14. His rushing attempts follow in the same pattern, going from 50 to 39 to 37 to 29. Similarly his QB passer rating has fallen: 95.5, 89.9, 86.4, 92.9 and 77.1
He may have a good year or two left, but if his 2011 numbers are even less impressive than those in 2010, McNabb should consider going out with his dignity in check.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Thomas Jones is 32 years old and will be entering his 12th year in the NFL. Although Jones never passed the 1,000-yard barrier in his first five years in the league, he did manage to crank out five straight 1,000-yard seasons as a member of the Bears and Jets from 2005-2009.
His first year in Kansas City saw that streak end as he gained 896 yards last season. If you take a closer look at his numbers, you will see that his game is starting to drop off. His average yards gained per rush attempt in the past three years have gone from 4.5, to 4.2, to 3.7 last year. His touchdowns went from 13 and14, down to six. His first downs went from 63 and 64, down to 39 last year.
His reception totals in the last three years went from 36 to 10 to 14, which adds more proof that his skills are starting to fade. With the emergence of Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones will probably continue to see a drop in his personal production.
Carson Palmer has seen enough. With reportedly $80 million in the bank and a new MBA degree, he appears to be set for life.
The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has backed himself into a corner after taking a stand to never return to Cincinnati wearing a Bengals uniform. After several losing seasons, poor management and a bunch of wide receivers that act like prima donnas, Palmer has thrown his arms up in the air and claimed, "I just can't take it anymore."
Will Palmer play in 2011? Where will he play if he does? Or have we seen the last of Carson Palmer in the NFL?
From a performance standpoint, Palmer threw a career-high 586 passes in 2010. In his eight-year career, it is interesting to note that he has never thrown that many passes before. Palmer was only 30 yards shy of turning in a 4,000 passing-yard season in 2010. His 82.4 passer rating was reasonable and throwing for 26 touchdowns was fine too, as was a completion percentage of 61.8 percent.
So why is he on this list you ask?
Let's explore some other stats. His ratio of 26 touchdowns to 20 interceptions in 2010 was not very good. His average yards per attempt was down to 6.8, which ranked him 20th in the NFL. The 26 sacks weren't that many, but the statistic that matters the most is the win-loss record. A season of 4-12 is very hard to digest. Maybe enjoying his home on the ocean in Southern California for a year is just what the doctor ordered.
What is Chad Ochocinco? Is he a football star; is he a professional dancer, a reality television star or a budding soccer star?
One thing he may not be for much longer is a Cincinnati Bengal. Ochocinco continues to run his mouth, and he has taken turns badmouthing Carson Palmer to Marvin Lewis. It seems that Chad is doing his best to make sure he doesn't wear a Bengals uniform for much longer.
Ochocinco is 33 years old. He is about to enter his 11th NFL season. During his career, Ochocinco turned in six-straight years of at least 1,000 yards in receptions from 2002-2007. From 2008 to present, his yardage totals have been 540, 1,047 and 831.
His touchdowns during the past three years have been four, nine and four respectively. His receptions during the 1,000-yard seasons were typically in the 87 to 97 range. The last three years his catching totals have been 53, 72 and 67 last year. Traditionally, he was usually good for at least one catch of 70 yards or longer. His longest catch in the last three years has not been longer than 50 yards.
Ochocinco claims that he is interested in joining the New England Patriots. He will learn the hard way what Randy Moss already knows: he will not be the star in New England, nor will he be the main weapon. Tom Brady excels at spreading out the ball to many receivers, and Bill Belichick will not put up with any distractions caused by Ochocinco.
Clearly, Ochocinco is not the same player that he used to be. If the diversions he creates and the attention he brings to himself keep him happy, that is great. But in terms of being a top talent, the arrogance should be replaced with trying to figure out what his next career move should be.
It seems he is already getting a head start on figuring that out.