NFL Free Agency: Randy Moss and 10 Hired Guns Who Could Deliver a Super Bowl
Some guys just can't command long-term deals anymore.
Be it character concerns, an injury history, a drop-off in production, age, or some combination of those four reasons, more and more players are forced to accept short-term deals laden with incentives.
These players aim to prove to the league, and maybe to themselves, that they still have what it takes to bring a team to the Super Bowl.
You just know that these players have a chip on their shoulder after a rocky 2010, and now, here are the ten "hired guns" who could bring their team to the Super Bowl in 2011.
QB Donovan McNabb
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Donovan McNabb has been publicly disgraced without even doing anything wrong off-the-field.
McNabb was ineffective as a Redskin in Mike Shanahan's offense, and the veteran quarterback ended up losing his job to Rex Grossman.
McNabb is a winner, and this may be the chip on his shoulder that drives him to succeed on another team.
The quarterback threw to a tune of a 77.1 quarterback rating and just 14 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.
Despite below-average totals in 2010, McNabb still has a playoff run left in him, and could carry a quarterback-needy team to the postseason.
QB Carson Palmer
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Mike Brown can say whatever he wants, but Carson Palmer is gone in Cincinnati.
From the retirement threats to the drafting of Andy Dalton, Palmer will be playing for another squad come 2011, and he may just be the missing piece that a team needs to win it all.
Palmer can be a Super Bowl quarterback with the right nucleus around him, and don't forget that this is a guy who is but a year removed from a playoff appearance.
The Bengals dropped the ball in 2010 with Palmer, and it was the final straw for the veteran quarterback, who is now ready to move on from Cincinnati and carry another team to the postseason.
QB Matt Hasselbeck
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Don't forget, this is a guy who's been to a Super Bowl and who engineered one of the biggest playoff upsets in recent memory.
Hasselbeck isn't going to blow you away with great numbers, and isn't the long-term solution, but plug him in as your starting quarterback and your team could just sneak into the playoffs.
A lot of teams out there could use a starting quarterback, and with the Seahawks balking at the veteran's contract demands, look for Hasselbeck to garner some interest when the labor situation is resolved.
RB Cedric Benson
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Cedric Benson has had an interesting career.
First he was a high draft pick, then he was labeled a bust, then he rediscovered himself in Cincinnati, and now people aren't sure what to make of the 28-year old Texas product.
Benson is unquestionably talented, but what teams want to know is whether or not he can be an efficient feature-back.
Benson has rushed for over 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons, so the potential for effectiveness is there, but Benson won't receive a long-term contract from any team.
The best-case scenario is that Benson goes to a team with a lack of a rushing attack and performs well all season, guiding his team to the promised land.
RB Ronnie Brown
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The Dolphins recently brought in Daniel Thomas via the draft, pretty much spelling the end of Ronnie Brown's time in Miami.
No pun intended, it was a good run.
Brown brings a lot of skills to the table with his versatility, punishing running style, ability to break tackles, and mastery of the Wildcat offense.
Brown would be a perfect fit in many situations, and would provide a feature back who could beat a defense a number of ways.
The veteran running back is a creative offensive coordinator's dream, and Brown will likely find a good fit when free agency resumes.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
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The New England Patriots selected a few running backs in the 2011 draft, which may mean they don't plan to renew BenJarvus Green-Ellis' contract.
The 'Law Firm' had a breakout campaign in 2010, posting 1,008 yards on the ground to go with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Teams could do worse than this running back, who has fresh legs and postseason experience to go along with a physical running style.
Green-Ellis hasn't performed well over a long enough period of time to garner big wages, but can carry the load in many systems and take his team to the postseason in the right circumstances.
WR Randy Moss
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No one knows what Moss will give them on the field—will he be a dangerous game-breaker who succeeds at consistently taking the top off the defense.
Or will he be a locker room cancer who marks the downfall of the team?
GM's, owners, and coaches are asking themselves this question, but look for a team to gamble on Moss.
Moss doesn't have a chip on his shoulder—he has the whole woodyard.
That might be enough for him to shut his mouth and take his team to the postseason.
WR Chad Ochocinco
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So far the Bengals have checked in at every positional group with a player on his way out and in line for a short-term deal.
For all of you aspiring GM's out there, this is a bad thing.
For Chad Ochocinco on the other hand, a fresh start may be exactly what the doctor ordered—if Ochocinco can find a situation where he can just be one of the guys, he may be a productive receiver for someone.
The much-scorned receiver can still produce, and would be a number one receiver in a number of offenses around the league.
DE Shaun Ellis
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I've never loved Shaun Ellis as a 3-4 defensive end.
He is a bit undersized, and had a relatively off year statistically in 2010, posting just 4.5 sacks.
With the current situation facing the Jets in which they have Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Brad Smith, and Antonio Cromartie, among others, up for free agency, Shaun Ellis may slip through the cracks and end up a free agent when all is said and done.
Similar to Jonathan Vilma, Ellis would be well-served to find a 4-3 team to his liking and put up numbers there.
After 12 seasons in the NFL, Ellis won't garner a long-term deal, but he can be a hired gun somewhere and truly improve the defensive front for some team.
CB Ike Taylor
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If I was Ike Taylor, I'd be pretty mad.
He was the number one cornerback on the AFC Champions, and he isn't getting a long-term deal because there are still questions about his ability.
Taylor may defer to a superior receiver every now and again, but he has invaluable playoff experience and above-average cover skills.
The veteran cornerback may find himself in colors that aren't black and yellow come 2011, but he will bring a winning attitude and undeniable talent wherever he goes.
Taylor can be a contributor to a team with Super Bowl aspirations looking for that one extra piece.