When free agency rolls around, so does the ugly business of releasing the dead weight on every team. With teams around the NFL already signing undrafted rookies and preparing to make offers to dozens of free agents, the salary cap needs must be addressed.
This is when teams take out the trash. In an eerily similar situation to Jamarcus Russell's inglorious departure from the Oakland Raiders last summer, expect losers like Albert Haynesworth to go the same way with their respective clubs.
This isn't a sad time, for popular players are cut very rarely, and fans are usually calling for the blood of the released players anyway.
Now, lets have a look at a few of the players who should be jobless by Friday.
This one was pretty obvious even before the Baltimore Ravens told him he'd be cut. Despite being the Ravens all-time leading receiver, Derrick Mason is way on the wrong side of 30, and has had some issues with both his production and durability in recent years.
The Ravens already have prolific receiver Anquan Boldin on the roster, and in April they drafted University of Maryland product Torrey Smith in the second round. Though Mason is arguably a better asset on the field than T.J Houshmanzadeh, he is too old to be considered a viable option anymore, given the fact that the Ravens needed cap space.
Mason is highly likely to find work elsewhere, maybe a one year deal on a team hurting for a receiver or veteran presence.
This one would be a head-scratching move if it were a year ago. However, Nick Barnett suffered a gruesome wrist injury this year and lost his starting job to the lower-paid Desmond Bishop.
In a new salary-cap ruled world, a team like the Green Bay Packers can't afford to hash out $4.4 million to a backup linebacker. Barnett is young and solid, and merely a casualty of bad fortune.He will be back, and he will still get paid.
Come Thursday, he just won't be a defending champion anymore.
This isn't a case of the player not earning his salary, but more a case of the team just no longer having use for his services. Willis McGahee and the Baltimore Ravens have had a good run together, but Ray Rice is the clear-cut featured guy there, and they don't seem to be keen on a tandem system.
Willis McGahee has the talent and remaining health to be a solid member of a running back tandem, but no longer can he carry a team. The Baltimore Ravens aren't looking to shell out $2.5 million to a guy they don't want to touch the ball.
He'll be seeking new employment come Thursday.
Now we get to the players who are useless to their teams from a talent perspective. Marion Barber is slated to receive $4.75 million from the Dallas Cowboys this year, and will probably pay them back with another season in which he averages fewer than four yards per carry (2010: 113 carries, 374 yards, 4TD).
His breakout year in 2007 led many to believe that Barber was far better than he really is, including the Dallas Cowboys. He has never been as good as anyone wanted to believe. He is a power running back in a scat-back's body, and he plays far too recklessly with far too little return.
Barber will be cut by the Dallas Cowboys, and I'd honestly be surprised if he gets much more than minimum salary from the next team, if he signs at all. Don't look for a Marshawn Lynch-esque redemption here.
Rocky Bernard was one of the biggest mistakes made by the New York Giants in recent memory. Before the 2009 season, the New York Giants made a free agency splash by signing Bernard along with Chris Canty and Michael Boley.
While Canty and Boley have both made their share of contributions to the team, Bernard has done next to nothing, recording three sacks and 32 tackles in two full seasons with the New York Giants. On a team overflowing with defensive linemen, Rocky Bernard is simply the odd man out.
His $2.5 million could go a long way for the Giants' cap space, given that they are currently OVER the cap by $6 million.
Do not expect Rocky Bernard to suit up in blue for the 2011 season.
Here he is. The biggest blunder in NFL free agency history. Dan Snyder saw fit to spend $100 million of his Washington Redskins' money on Albert Haynesworth, or as I like to call him, Haynesworthless.
The so-called defensive lineman thanked the Washington Redskins by putting in two mediocre seasons during which he fought with coaches, held out because of the switch to a 3-4, got into trouble off the field, and laid down during plays while on it.He played a total of 18 games during his two years there.
He is a bust signing in every sense of the word, and completely useless to a rebuilding organization like the Washington Redskins. They need to trim the fat. Pun intended.