NFL Free Agents 2011: 5 Cut Players Who Are On Their Last Legs
The first full day the new NFL season brought many surprises. Surprisingly there were no trades. It was surprising how fast Charles Johnson re-signed with Carolina, until you look at his contract. It was surprising that the Redskins actually made a good signing in Santana Moss.
What might be the most surprising is who was cut loose in order to provide cap relief to some teams. The Ravens released long time nose tackle Kelly Gregg. The Packers are getting rid of Nick Barnett. The Giants released center Shaun O’Hara.
At least these guys have a future ahead of them. The following players are on their last leg and their next deal, if they get a deal, may be their last.
5. Willis McGahee
McGahee has use left. He is a decent third down back and knows where the end zone is. In 2009, he scored 12 touchdowns, had 544 yards rushing on 109 carries, and being a back-up has saved his body.
The problem is that he is old for a running back at 30 and he has not carried a major workload since 2007 when he had 294 carries and rushed for over 1,200 yards. He also had the benefit of being a part of a dangerous three-back system in Baltimore and rushed behind a mammoth offensive line.
McGahee is good for any team that needs a short yardage back that can still bust out now and then. Teams like St. Louis, San Francisco, or any team with one feature back would be a good fit. The Rams would be interesting as they would be able to keep the physical presence going but take some of the damage off of Steven Jackson.
4. Marion Barber III
Barber has a lot of miles left as he will be only 28 this season. He also has the benefit of never being the sole back in the offense and always has been part of a multi-back system preserving his body more.
Barber is on his last leg because even a three year contract could be his last. He also was handed the feature back role in the Dallas Cowboys offense, running behind a massive line, and usually facing a seven man front or less because of the passing threat. He could only muster 374 yards on 113 carries.
Barber’s best season was in 2009 where he had 932 yards on 214 carries with 7 touchdowns. This was his second year as a feature back, so he obviously has the talent. Maybe it was just Dallas and Barber needs a change in scenery. He could be a bargain for someone, but mentally it is unsure if he can handle being a main guy and he may have to return to a back-up role.
Barber’s best seasons touchdown wise and his single best season yards wise were when he was the second back, but if he is put in the feature role he may just be average and really hurt his future in the NFL.
Barber would be good in San Francisco, Denver (here he could be a main guy but still succeed under Fox), or maybe Philly would work as Barber can catch as well as run the ball.
3. Roy Williams
Williams is the “Captain Obvious” of this list. He was traded to Dallas in return for a first, a third and a sixth round draft pick. How did that work out? Williams’ best season was 2009 where he had 38 receptions and 596 yards receiving.
It is very bad that Williams’ best season resembles tight end Todd Heap’s most recent year. Actually, Heap did better.
Williams was never one to lead the league in yards receiving, but at one time in Detroit he was feared by opposing defenses. Now, defenses wait for him to make a 40 yard play so he can fumble it afterwards.
This might just be another example of a misuse of talent known as the Dallas Cowboys, or he was never as good as Jerry Jones hoped he would be. Chances are it is a strong combination of both.
Williams might actually be better off now. He is 30, but as evidence by his numbers he has not taken a lot of bruising. He could go to a team that is close to contending, but could use a big target for the red zone. The Jets, the Colts or maybe New England would be interesting landing spots.
2. Todd Heap
Heap, sad to say, may be more than just on his last leg. He has some wear and tear, he is up there in age, and quite frankly a lot of teams have young tight ends they would rather see.
Heap had been a Raven for 10 years and was unfortunately hampered by injuries. Heap has proven, though, that he can still be useful. He has proven to be healthy lately and at 6’5” he still makes a big target.
The last two seasons Heap has had almost 600 yards receiving, and he has had 6 and 5 touchdowns in respective years. I just do not know where he could land. He might have a shot with the Rams. Otherwise, I see him as an injury replacement later in the season. This could very well be the end of Todd Heap.
1. Derrick Mason
Mason is the most intriguing player of all those who have been cut. Sure he will be 37 this season, but that is his only fault; and he is still productive. Mason could be the Julio Franco of the NFL, possibly able to play into his 40s.
Just look at the numbers. In three of his last four seasons he has gained over 1,000 yards receiving, and he has scored seven touchdowns in each of his last two seasons.
He only had 800 yards last season, but that can be attributed to the stellar Ravens run game and the addition of wide receiver Anquan Boldin. In the end, Mason still proved to be more reliable than any of the three veteran receivers the Ravens brought in last season.
It is very unfortunate that many teams will look at Mason’s age and pass on him. I just hope some team will come to their senses, sign this guy and realize that age is just a number that does not apply to Mason on the field. They will be better for it.