By Josh Kramer
All parties involved begged for it, and now they got it. NFL football, after the longest work stoppage in League history is officially back. And the wildest free agency bonanza that we will probably ever get to witness in our lifetime is on. And yes, this will top last July’s epic, “Decision.” Though the lockout was just lifted yesterday, there has already been action galore. And I must say, the cuts have surprised me.
Three teams that are expected to be major contenders this year have stolen the show with a couple of surprising cuts/releases of players in my eyes.
Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore Ravens-Mason has handled this situation with outstanding grace and poise. And I must say the 37-year-old, who reeled in 7 touchdowns and over 800 yards last year is a surprising cut in my eyes no matter how much money he was slated to make this year. Mason is not nearly what he once was after 15 years in the brutal NFL, where the average wide receiver lasts 2.81 years, but he is not done yet. Who will pick up the savvy veteran?
Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens-The man who had one of the most memorable injuries ever witnessed on national television in the 2002 National Title game is now unemployed, and looking for a new home. I will admit that this was probably the least surprising cut of the foursome in my eyes. McGahee’s numbers have been on the decline since he arrived in Baltimore. Plus the Ravens have one of the most versatile backs in the League in Ray Rice. McGahee may be 29-years-old, which is getting up there in running back years, but somebody will surely pick up the former star from the U.
Kelly Gregg, DT, Baltimore Ravens-The 12 year veteran getting cut was not a huge shocker in my eyes. But Gregg has been a productive member of the Raven’s D-Line for 9 years now and played on some great defensive units. I could see the Ravens re-signing the veteran out of Oklahoma at a discounted rate later on in the game.
Todd Heap, TE, Baltimore Ravens-This move rates right up on my shock meter with the release of Derrick Mason. Heap had a productive year last season and has been one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL for over a decade now. Maybe the Ravens are hoping that they will be able to get the former Arizona State star for cheap in a couple of weeks? I am not sure that this will happen and this may be the most costly loss for Baltimore in my eyes.
Roy Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys-Roy Williams has not had the best of luck over the past month. Things have gone from good, to bad, to ugly. Roy has never lived up to the massive expectations that were placed on him when he arrived in the Big D two and a half years ago. Plus he demonstrated a serious lack of “game” off the field with his recent proposal debacle. Jerry Jones does not play games and you better believe that he will release whomever he can to free up cap space to go after some of the big guns on the market. I am very curious to see who takes a risk on the struggling wide receiver.
Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys-Barber had a very disappointing year last season in which he lost duties as the Cowboys number one back to the up and coming Felix Jones. Barber is a bruiser though, who does not have a ton of mileage. This guy still has a few more solid years with the right fit. Who wants a running back?
Leonard Davis, G, Dallas Cowboys-How could you cut a guy that is 6 foot 6 and 355 pounds.? This man is a goliath. I hope that Jerry Jones did not deliver the information in person and let one of his assistants handle it. The former Longhorn has had a solid 10 year career in which he has been basically injury free starting all but 5 games in a decade of line collisions every Sunday. I will be very curious to see who rolls the dice on the 32-year-old guard over the next few days.
I am just playing. But USC alums have been making major headlines already during the first day of football coming back.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals– Palmer is learning the hard way that Mike Brown has never heard the terms “negotiate” or “compromise.” Both of these important terms for NFL management are entirely foreign to the despised Cincinnati owner. Well have a nice year off Carson. What a shame. Who would have thought that the former number one overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner would be retiring at the age of 31.
Matt Leinart, QB, Houston Texans-Carson Palmer’s Trojan successor, Matt Leinart, is making headlines as well. There appears to be a reuniting of sorts coming in Seattle with Leinart widely expected to sign with former USC Head Coach, Pete Carroll, in Seattle. Maybe Pete Carroll could finally get Leinart to live up to the hype that he came to the League with in 2006?
This is just a small taste of the wild non-stop action that has been going on since yesterday. Every team in the League is cutting guys left and right and looking to make moves. Friday should be very fun when unrestricted free agents can officially sign.
I tip my hat to the fantasy football gurus as they look to make their projections. It will need to be a very quick turnaround for the gaming experts to deliver the information to the millions of fantasy football players across the globe.
Good luck staying on top of it all.
And so it has begun.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.