NFL Free-Agent Cap Casualties Likely to Find New Homes in 2015

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IFebruary 22, 2015

NFL Free-Agent Cap Casualties Likely to Find New Homes in 2015

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    The Indianapolis Colts released safety LaRon Landry earlier this month.
    The Indianapolis Colts released safety LaRon Landry earlier this month.USA TODAY Sports

    We are inching closer to NFL free agency on March 10.

    Meanwhile, all 32 teams are closely re-evaluating their rosters to see what moves they would like to make in anticipation of the market and/or to save some room on the salary cap.

    That means letting players go, which as we know is the unfortunate part of this business. The good news for these players is that they don’t have to wait until next month to test the market. Teams can sign these players immediately.

    We have already seen the Minnesota Vikings scoop up tight end Brandon Bostick after the Green Bay Packers cut him loose. And we feel that the eight players listed here will find new homes around the league this offseason.

    While none of these performers may be the difference between a disappointing season and an appearance in the playoffs, never say never in today’s National Football League.

QB Josh McCown (Released by Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The well-traveled signal-caller has certainly attracted a lot of attention since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released him.

    Off a 2013 season with the Chicago Bears in which he was effective when filling in for Jay Cutler, quarterback Josh McCown found a home with the Bucs and new head coach Lovie Smith this past offseason.

    As we know by now, McCown and the team fell flat on its collective facemasks. One year after throwing 13 touchdown passes and just one interception in Chicago, McCown threw for 11 scores and committed 18 turnovers (14 interceptions, four lost fumbles) in 11 starts with Tampa Bay.

    To date, he’s been the busiest of the players released this offseason. Last week, McCown met with the Buffalo Bills and has also talked with the Chicago Bears and New York Jets, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Cabot also reports that McCown is on the radar of the Cleveland Browns these days.

    It seems inevitable that the veteran quarterback winds up on someone’s roster sometime soon. Trying to guess exactly which team that is at this time is a bit of a challenge.

WR Donnie Avery (Released by Kansas City Chiefs)

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs made a pair of moves that may have surprised some but were far from shocking.

    We kept waiting throughout the 2014 season for one of the team’s wide receivers to catch a touchdown pass.

    As we know, it never occurred. As a result, the club let go of two of its wideouts, Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins, this month.

    While Jenkins’ departure is hardly a surprise, Avery has been a steady player during his career and figures to find work elsewhere. However, he was limited to a career-low six games due to injury in 2014 and caught just 15 passes for 176 yards.

    Although it may not be a brisk market for Avery, the veteran journeyman (who has played for four NFL teams) figures to get a look-see sometime soon. He would be a good addition for a club with a young receiving corps.

TE James Casey (Released by Philadelphia Eagles)

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Eagles don’t lack for offensive weapons. They certainly don’t lack for quality at the tight end position. That’s still true with the release of James Casey.

    In the same year that the team added the former Houston Texans performer via free agency, the Birds also drafted Zach Ertz in the second round.

    In 2012, Casey caught 34 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns with the Texans. In two seasons in Philadelphia, he totaled only six catches for 90 yards and a pair of scores and played a bigger role in special teams.

    He should be an economical pickup for a club that is looking to add depth at tight end or even a pass-catching fullback.

T Michael Oher (Released by Tennessee Titans)

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    One of the feel-good stories (literally) of the last 10 years has gone a little sour as of late.

    Massive tackle Michael Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. In his first five NFL seasons, he started every game for the team at either right tackle or left tackle, including 10 postseason contests.

    Last offseason, he signed with the Tennessee Titans after it was apparent that he wasn’t in Baltimore’s plans going forward. He finished 2014 on injured reserve and was let go by Tennessee earlier this month.

    Some people feel that the 6’4”, 315-pound blocker has underachieved despite his notoriety. He’s far from a slam dunk to wind up as a starter anywhere; however, Oher (28) is young enough to sign with a team and perhaps work his way back up a depth chart.

OLB Keith Rivers (Released by Buffalo Bills)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Once upon a time, the Cincinnati Bengals selected University of Southern Cal linebacker Keith Rivers with the ninth overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft.

    Unfortunately, the talented defender has had problems staying healthy throughout his career. As many will recall, his rookie season was cut short after seven games after he got blasted on a block by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

    Rivers rebounded to have two productive years with Cincinnati but then missed all of 2011. The Bengals dealt him to the New York Giants, where he played for two seasons. A year ago, he signed with the Buffalo Bills and in 12 games with the club (three starts) totaled 16 tackles.

    Rivers still holds enough intrigue as a player and at 28 years old may find a place on a roster this offseason. There are certainly enough teams in the league that are looking to make over their defenses and could give the six-year pro a shot at helping their cause.

ILB Brad Jones (Released by Green Bay Packers)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Far from a surprise given the economics, the Green Bay Packers wound up parting ways with linebacker Brad Jones on Friday. Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel talks about the move and the money the team saves in the process.

    In six seasons in Titletown, he played at both inside and outside linebacker. Jones totaled 10 sacks during his days with the Packers—four came in his rookie season when he started seven games.

    This past season, Jones was a Week 1 starter in the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but that was the only game he appeared in the opening lineup. He would appear in 12 games during the regular season and total just 18 tackles.

    The fact that Jones, a seventh-round pick by the Packers in 2009, was able to play both inside and outside linebacker should make him appealing to some defensive coordinator who is looking for a bit of versatility.

S LaRon Landry (Released by Indianapolis Colts)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    It was another rocky year for the Indianapolis Colts on defense, especially when they lined up against the upper echelon of the NFL.

    Granted, the team played better defense in its first two playoff games in 2014—wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos—but these Colts still need a lot of help on this side of the ball as evidenced by the AFC title game loss at Foxborough.

    Some of that help will not include veteran safety LaRon Landry. The Colts, his third team in four seasons, released the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins.

    After spending the first five seasons of his career with Washington, he was a Pro Bowler with the New York Jets in 2012. He joined the Colts in 2013 and went from a 12-game starter that season to playing in only 11 games (six starts) this past year.

    He finished tied for sixth on the team with 46 tackles and did manage 2.5 sacks, but the lack of big plays (zero interceptions, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries or passes defensed) were hard to ignore. In three postseason games, Landry amassed a total of 17 tackles but once again no takeaways or passes defensed.

    Is there still some good football left in the eight-year veteran? Don’t bet against a team looking to find that out.

S Thomas DeCoud (Released by Carolina Panthers)

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    USA TODAY Sports

    In his first season with the Carolina Panthers, safety Thomas DeCoud finished fifth on the team with 50 tackles. The former Atlanta Falcons standout also totaled three passes defensed and one interception.

    DeCoud was inactive for the NFC Wild Card Game versus the Arizona Cardinals but returned to play the following week in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round.

    In any case, DeCoud is once again available after being cut loose by an NFC South team for the second straight offseason. A Pro Bowler with the Falcons in 2012, he’s totaled 15 interceptions in seven NFL seasons.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if he wound up with the defensively starved New Orleans Saints or Tampa Bay Buccaneers and kept his career in a southern-like direction?

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