The end of the NFL lockout seems to be in reach, but until that ends there’s still a lot of time to speculate on the placement of free agents throughout the league.
Many players will be moving around for a chance to fill in a starting or supporting role for the team they sign with.
Speaking of roles, many of the members of the free agent class of 2011 share some major similarities to some of the bigger stars of Hollywood.
Here are some of the biggest NFL free agents and their Hollywood counterparts.
If all goes well for Plaxico Burress, he will line out in similar form with Robert Downey, Jr.
Downey, Jr., who rose to stardom in films like Chaplin, had legal problems for years due to his issues with drugs. However, after getting past his drug use, his career flourished and his name rose to stratospheric heights with roles including Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes.
Burress, coming off his nearly two years in prison, hopes to find a landing point where he can again be associated name with touchdowns…instead of gunshots down his leg.
Nnamdi Asomugha has terrified opposing offenses with his dominant coverage. He does his job incredibly well, and with his emergence into free agency he should be one of the top paid players in the game.
Denzel Washington, too, has a near perfect record with his career role selections (John Q, was ahead of its time, OK?), and not only is he one of the most highly respected actors in Hollywood, but also one of the most highly compensated.
After 2.5 successful seasons as a New England Patriot, there are many questions surrounded Randy Moss’ future after two quick moves to Minnesota and Tennessee (especially as the Patriots offense moved on well without him).
Most bizarre was a press conference as a Viking where he gushed about his time in New England.
Megan Fox, who won hearts in the Transformers scenes, drew many skeptics as she was not brought back for the series’ recently released third installment. One of the major reasons for concern was a confusing interview where she criticized film director Michael Bay, comparing him to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
While both seemed to be at the top of the world, there are plenty of questions about their near futures.
I really want to support Darren Sproles. He’s one of the smallest backs in the league. He can pull out a big play on a moment’s notice. However, with the number of injuries he’s had (especially this big hit he took in December) he should reevaluate how he fits in to a running game.
He may not be the kind of guy to be a lead rusher.
Likewise, I’d really like to support Adam Sandler. I really enjoyed his SNL stuff. It doesn’t get much funnier than Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. With that said, I don’t want to see him in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Just Go With It looked awful.
There’s no way he should be in lead roles anymore.
Both need to seriously reevaluate their future prospects.
When you get past the stories of drug-test failures and yoga training, it’s easy to see Ricky Williams performing decently in a supporting role for a few years.
When you get past stories of naked bongo playing and awful movies like Failure to Launch, it’s easy to remember that Matthew McConaughey has been making pretty good movies for a long time (Dazed and Confused came out in 1993!).
Michael Vick and Hugh Grant both share humbling stories of arrests that put them under a very negative spotlight. Vick lost much of his fame and fortune after his arrest for dog fighting, while Grant was arrested for lewd conduct after his arrest following a visit to a prostitute.
However, strong performances following their controversial moments have allowed them to shift the spotlight toward the future and away from their misdeeds.
While many won’t forget their criminal and thoughtless decision making, they have both moved on and done more positive things in the time afterward.
Admittedly not really a huge connection here, but hear me out.
Most Pittsburgh Steelers fans were surprised when the talented Santonio Holmes was moved to the New York Jets out of the blue (the Steelers were not thrilled with discipline issues that led to a four-game suspension).
Iron Man fans were also surprised when Terrence Howard was switched out for Don Cheadle (apparently there were some unresolved contract issues).
The quality of the work after the moves made us all forget why we were even surprised or skeptical of the moves in the first place.
Long story short, if Holmes is moved this offseason, both the Jets and his new team will probably do better and we’ll forget our concern about the move pretty quickly.
Matt Hasselbeck may not be the go-to quarterback for the future, but he’s steady and reliable, with a boatload of experience. With some good talent and line support he can do pretty well.
Similarly, Tim Allen may be out of the loop when it comes to actors looked at for comedic roles (who actually watched Wild Hogs?), but you know he’ll have a few funny lines and will do well with a good cast around him.
So Hasselbeck may not be the freshest option. You’ll at least get a decent number of good plays and a small number of mistakes that’ll make the decision worth it.
You say Antonio Cromartie, I say he’s pretty good. You say Ben Affleck, I say he’s pretty good. It just depends on which Cromartie or Affleck you get when you call on them.
Sometimes in big situations Cromartie makes plays that leave us wondering who is the number one corner between him and Darrelle Revis.
Sometimes Ben Affleck makes movies that make us wonder why he’s always considered the second banana to Matt Damon (The Town was pretty good).
Then Cromartie gets burned for a big touchdown. And Affleck gives us movies like Gigli and Reindeer Games.
Which Cromartie is a team going to get?
There has to be a loser in the hunt for Nnamdi Asomugha. Many teams will still need a cornerback. Corners like Ike Taylor will have no problem filling the role (and taking the big-time paycheck).
Similarly, director Quentin Tarantino wanted Will Smith to play the lead role in his upcoming film, Django Unchained. When Smith declined on the role, it went to Jamie Foxx.
It’s not the worst thing in the world being option number two.
Cast aside from major work following their previous work, Aubrayo Franklin—with the Baltimore Ravens— and Joseph Gordon-Levitt—with 3rd Rock from the Sun—have caught mainstream attention in a major way.
Franklin has a big payday in line after solidifying the run defense of the San Francisco 49ers at the nose tackle position.
Gordon-Levitt surprised many with his performance in Inception, and will team up with director Christopher Nolan in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.
These two have a lot of big opportunities (and paychecks) set to come their way. Don’t be surprised when they go for them.
Mark Bulger can’t carry your team alone, but it’s a name people recognize and are somewhat comfortable with. Very few people will be openly opposed to Bulger being signed to a team (unlike other potential free agents Shaun Hill, Bruce Gradkowski or Matt Leinart).
Mark Wahlberg can’t carry a movie alone. But you hear Mark Wahlberg is attached to a film, you have an idea at what to expect and that makes you feel comfortable.
Bulger will come to your team, and he’ll be OK. Not bad, not great. Just OK.
Most people are pretty comfortable with that.
Santana Moss is not getting any younger. He’s had some amazing plays, but we’ve seen what he can do. He’s undersized, and as his speed is diminished that lack of size will limit his viability down the road.
Michael Cera is not getting any younger either. He’s had some very funny roles, but we’ve seen the limits of what he can do playing the same awkward, eccentric teen character (again and again and again).
The lesson here: Change it up. Seriously.
This is a case where you’re just going to have to pay high and hope for the best. Both Sidney Rice and Will Ferrell are high-risk, high-reward investments.
Rice is a tall receiver and unrestricted free agent. Ferrell has had several movies that have grossed more than $100 million.
Then you look at what you’re paying. Do you really want to drop big money on a receiver with only 18 career touchdowns and a history of injury woes?
Do you really want to drop $20 million on Ferrell when your film could flop like Land of the Lost or Semi-Pro?
In Rice's case, I'm sure we'll find out soon.