Chris Johnson and 10 NFL Players Who May Wind Up on Different Teams Next Season
It's Week 9, is it too early to look ahead to the NFL off-season?
The precedent set by some of the teams who are already looking ahead to the draft says no while the calender says yes. It truly is in the eye of the beholder.
But to me the only thing that comes close to the NFL is the NFL's off-season. Between combines, the draft and pro days at universities across the country, you have plenty of things to keep you occupied in between that long void from the time the Vince Lombardi trophy is presented and when the Hall of Fame game is played.
There's especially high drama in trades and free agency, although the NFL is unlike other sports in the sense that the focus is more on who teams are getting rid of than who teams are signing.
What players could teams be interested in jettisoning this off-season? Why would these teams decide to cut these players loose?
Chris Johnson held out of training camp until September 1st for what he felt was a fair deal.
The Titans gave him a fair deal, at least it would've been considered fair in 2009.
But it's 2011, and Johnson is averaging 2.8 yards per carry, and his contract, worth a guaranteed $30 million, is starting to look like an albatross for the Titans?
Is Johnson already showing signs of being "past his prime" or is this from rust accumulated from the lockout and holdout?
Tennessee will try to determine that in their last nine games of the season, and if they decide it's the former, expect to see Johnson out of the Music City.
In the dictionary, under the definition of middle-of-the-road quarterback, you will find Kyle Orton's picture.
That's what a lifetime QB rating of 79.6 and one playoff appearance in seven seasons will do to you.
Orton will be a free agent after this season, but it is very unlikely that anyone will look to him as their savior.
Denver won't hold onto him as it will move forward with someone new.
Orton also is going to want to start. Yeah, good luck with that.
The only teams I could see making a run at Orton are teams who will need a place holder while a younger quarterback that they drafted develops.
You would think this means he'd get another shot in Denver, but I highly doubt that. It would be a repeat of this season with Tebow, only without the noise.
To some (okay, me), the Indianapolis Colts are intentionally tanking this season to get Andrew Luck.
Reggie Wayne, on the other hand, didn't get the memo, as he's still out there playing hard every week.
It is likely because he's in a contract year.
Wayne hasn't had the numbers he's accustomed to (35 catches, 487 yards, one touchdown), but he is making the best of a bad situation, one where you know he's frustrated.
This off-season, the question will be brought up: does Wayne stay in Indianapolis, or does he go elsewhere?
Here's my prediction: unless Peyton Manning fights for the Colts to bring him back, Wayne is as good as gone.
There's a lot going on in Indy that we don't know about quite yet, but it doesn't look like the most stable of places right now. For a veteran like Wayne, who surely would love to add another ring to his collection before everything is said and done, this isn't the best situation.
Expect Wayne to plunge a knife into the back of the Colts organization and next year sign a small but incentive-laden deal with one of their rivals: either Wayne will become Brady's newest target in New England, or he could team up with Andre Johnson in Houston.
Let's start with the highlights of Hillis' contract year in Cleveland: he was on the cover of Madden NFL 12.
Now I may be a Chicago Cubs fan, but that doesn't mean I believe in curses. Hillis' regression is one that doesn't surprise me. Backs who run like him, taking full contact on each play, just don't last in this league.
I know it hurts Cleveland, but this season might be a good time to cut the cord and look elsewhere for your running game in the draft.
Hillis has had an injury-plagued season, but even when healthy he hasn't matched his production of a year ago as many of his fantasy owners will attest to. His 3.5 yards per carry is still decent, but getting only 60 attempts this season has shown that he doesn't have the durability shown last season.
Plus, he'll want more money than what the Browns should be willing to give him. This ends well, right?
Not for Hillis, but yes for the Browns. Plenty of good backs will be available for Cleveland to pick up in Rounds 2 through 4, which will make Hillis more expendable.
Dolphins fans came out of the woodwork defending him, saying that it wouldn't be worth it to trade him for draft picks.
Except one of my reasons included the fact that Marshall's value wouldn't be higher than at the trade deadline.
Now we're looking at a receiver who nobody considers a top receiver in the NFL anymore playing for a bad team with lame duck management.
This means someone new will come to Miami during the off-season, and you have to wonder if they're going to want to deal with Marshall.
If they don't, and this gets out (and it always does), then either a team can have him for a song, or he'll be released outright.
With the way Marshall has performed this season, including the five touchdown drops and, of course, the infamous non-touchdown when he ran out of bounds instead of in a straight line, it will likely be the latter.
I've found that Tebow isn't liked by anyone.
Either he's unconditionally loved and worshipped by some fans, or he's the object of scorn and ridicule by other fans.
But he's never "liked".
This even applies to Denver's front office. While Tebow was loved by former head coach Josh McDaniels and many Broncos fans, it seems like he's loathed by the Broncos brain trust.
Because of this, Tebow will go. The Broncos will use this draft to either acquire or trade up for a quarterback who will be more in line with Elway and Fox's philosophy. If there isn't a quarterback to be had wherever the Broncos are picking, expect them to make a run for Packers back-up Matt Flynn.
Just don't expect Tebow in orange next season.
I was debating whether or not to put Donovan McNabb in this slideshow.
Not because I thought there was a chance in hell of him coming back to Minnesota, but simply because it was too easy to say "well, duh!"
McNabb will be out of Minnesota and will sign a one year deal with a team who needs a placeholder quarterback until the one they draft is ready. McNabb will attempt, once again, to prove that he is not over the hill like everyone, including the woman who played his mom in the Chunky's Soup ad, thinks.
Yes, I think McNabb will be a Miami Dolphin next season.
What a sad fall from grace: to go from being the starting quarterback of a successful team to being Kyle Orton.
Ochocinco on the Patriots never really made sense to me.
It seemed like the Pats figured they'd try some of the same magic with Ochocinco that worked on Corey Dillon and Randy Moss: get a talented player from a bad situation and put him in a great situation and see how it works out.
Well it's not like Ocho has been bad (nine catches for 136 yards and no touchdowns), it's that he doesn't get the ball thrown to him.
And why would you with Gronkowski, Hernandez, Woodhead, Green-Ellis and Welker?
The Patriots just have an abundance of weapons, and Ochocinco is pushed out of the party because there's only one football for Tom Brady to throw, and he has more of a rapport and experience with his other weapons, so he goes to them.
It's not Chad's fault, but he'll be out of New England next season.
As I'm sure you've heard me say, the Indianapolis Colts are intentionally tanking for Andrew Luck.
But Peyton Manning doesn't want Luck on the Colts. He knows the mess that will ensue and he will be back in 2012.
Manning will attempt to rush back this season in order to not only prove to the Colts that they don't need Luck next season, but also to even keep the Colts from getting Luck this season.
That is only my opinion though. Others think that Manning will not come back in 2011, that its only a Colts PR stunt in order to throw others off the scent of what they're really trying to do (Suck For Luck) and distract people from their main objective.
If it is the latter, Manning could be as good as gone out of Indianapolis.
My question is this though, if you're a team who is going to trade for Manning, wouldn't you want to see him take some snaps in 2011 just to see if he's okay? Wouldn't that raise his trade value?
The Colts hope to get a lot in return for him in the form of draft picks, but the reality is that the Luck pick is right now worth more than Manning.
I don't think he leaves Indy and I don't think Luck goes to Indy. If the Colts get the No. 1 pick, they will trade it to either Washington or Dallas, two teams in need of quarterbacks who are willing and (somewhat) able to give up the farm for Luck.
Hey, speaking of Dallas...
Sometimes a guy just needs a fresh start in a brand new place.
Tony Romo will need that in 2012.
I don't know why no one has brought this up, but the Cowboys will likely do what it takes to trade up to draft a quarterback.
They will also likely make whomever has the No. 1 pick an offer that they can't refuse.
The Cowboys have few holes, but most of those holes are in their trust in Romo.
Dallas will likely put him on the trade block, then whatever picks they can acquire for him will become more assets to trade up for a Luck or Landry Jones.
Trust me, this is the best thing that could happen to Romo. The guy might be helped by the fresh start.
Actually, he will be.
Thomas Galicia is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist who also writes about other goings on in the NFL. Follow him on twitter, @thomasgalicia, and follow him on Facebook as well. Be sure to check out his archives at www.thomasgalicia.com.