Seven big-name players who should be cut

NFL teams typically hate to admit a mistake. And so they hang on to guys who don’t belong much longer than they should.

Earlier this year, the Raiders realized it was time to cut the cord on quarterback JaMarcus Russell. After the move, many who had loudly criticized the franchise began to wonder whether Oakland might be ready for a resurrection.

What other teams could inspire confidence by making a move that simply needs to be made? Let’s consider seven players.

The Eagles rolled the dice on Mike Vick, but it hasn't paid off.
The Eagles rolled the dice on Mike Vick, but it hasn’t paid off.

Mike Vick

The Eagles need a quality backup for starting quarterback Kevin Kolb. The Eagles don’t need a season-long sideshow from a wildcat gimmick who simply isn’t prepared to serve as Kolb’s understudy.

So the Eagles should seize on the recent controversy involving Vick to close the door on the failed one-year experiment with him.

Even if Vick stays in Philadelphia, the Eagles need a competent veteran backup with experience in the West Coast offense. So they should just dump Vick now, sign Jeff Garcia and move on.

Pride and ego could get in the way. The Eagles went out on a limb last year to sign Vick, and cutting him now amounts to an admission that they never should have signed him in the first place.

By the way, they never should have signed him in the first place.

Reggie Bush

The Saints rely on a multi-headed attack at tailback, and Bush is only a bit player in the offense. But the Saints owe him a base salary of $8 million for 2010.

On one hand, the Saints should have every right in an uncapped year to spend way too much on a locally beloved role player who’ll never live up to the hype. On the other hand, the Saints shouldn’t ignore the connection between Bush’s overcompensation and their inability to sign the franchise’s top running back, Pierre Thomas, to a long-term deal.

Ideally, the Saints would pressure Bush into taking less money. But he’d most likely refuse, and then the Saints would have to decide whether to call his bluff by cutting him.

So they should just cut him now. They won’t, but they should.

Albert Haynesworth

The Redskins have an opportunity to unite their roster under new coach Mike Shanahan by telling the reluctant defensive lineman that, if he doesn’t want to be part of the team, the team doesn’t want him.

Forget trying to trade him for a handful of peanuts and a ’98 Camaro. Make a loud and clear statement by cutting Haynesworth.

If the Redskins are concerned about saving face, they can take solace in the fact that Haynesworth’s decision to blow off mandatory minicamp voids $9 million in guaranteed base salaries for 2010 and 2011. Though cutting Haynesworth now wouldn’t wipe away the misguided decision to pay him a $21 million roster bonus on April 1, making a strong statement about one of the NFL’s most disliked men would have a far greater intangible value to the new regime in D.C.

Deion Branch

Believe it or not, Branch has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season in his eight-year career.

He came close in 2005, his last year in New England, but fell two yards short.

Since Seattle traded a first-round pick for Branch and signed him to a six-year, $39 million contract, his production steadily has dropped, and his salary has increased.

Last year, Branch made more than $100,000 per reception. This year, his salary rises to $5.47 million. It no longer makes sense for the Seahawks to wait for Branch to deliver. He never will.

Roy Williams

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has shown he’s not afraid to admit a mistake. Last year, he did it twice — with receiver Terrell Owens and cornerback Pacman Jones.

Now, Jones needs to eat a Texas-sized slice of humble pie and part ways with one of the biggest blunders of his tenure with the team. He needs to cut Williams.

Arguably, the handwriting already is on the wall less than two years after the Cowboys gave up a first-round pick, a third-round pick and more for a receiver who’s now averaging $9 million per year. After Miles Austin’s breakout in 2009 and the first-round selection of Dez Bryant in 2010, the Cowboys simply don’t need Williams.

Having Williams around gives the Cowboys leverage against an extended holdout by Bryant. However, once Bryant puts pen to paper, Jones should put shoe to Williams’ rear end.

Bob Sanders

In 2006, the Colts were horrible against the run, prompting concerns that the Chiefs would quickly bounce Indy from the playoffs by using a heavy dose of Larry Johnson.

Then the safety Sanders returned from injury, and Johnson gained 32 yards on 13 carries in a 23-8 loss. Three games later, the Colts hoisted a silver trophy in a South Florida downpour.

Sanders missed nearly all of the 2009 season, but the Colts didn’t miss Sanders. They made it back to the Super Bowl, and they didn’t lose it because of his replacement.

The injury-prone defender packs a wallop when he’s healthy, but he’s healthy too rarely to justify his salary.

So the Colts should make the tough decision to move on.

Cedric Benson

The Bengals routinely are criticized for harboring criminals. They do so not because they hope to change lives, but because they know a bargain when they see one.

Two years ago, they saw a bargain in Benson when the Bears dumped the former fourth-overall draft pick after two arrests in a month. And the Bengals got 1,251 yards out of him in only 13 games last season.

With 2010 being a contract year for Benson, they can expect even more.

But Benson has gotten in trouble again, and Bernard Scott was solid in his rookie season. Scott, who slid in the draft due to his own off-field issues, could become the lead dog for the Bengals.

The Bengals most likely will give Benson another year of their patent-pending second chances. If they do, they’ll probably see someone else offer Benson big money in 2011. That’s all the more reason to make a rare (for the Bengals) example out of Benson. Then, they can get ready to give a few second chances to Scott.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

NFL teams typically hate to admit a mistake. And so they hang on to guys who don’t belong much longer than they should.

Earlier this year, the Raiders realized it was time to cut the cord on quarterback JaMarcus Russell. After the move, many who had loudly criticized the franchise began to wonder whether Oakland might be ready for a resurrection.

What other teams could inspire confidence by making a move that simply needs to be made? Let’s consider seven players.

The Eagles rolled the dice on Mike Vick, but it hasn't paid off.
The Eagles rolled the dice on Mike Vick, but it hasn’t paid off.

Mike Vick

The Eagles need a quality backup for starting quarterback Kevin Kolb. The Eagles don’t need a season-long sideshow from a wildcat gimmick who simply isn’t prepared to serve as Kolb’s understudy.

So the Eagles should seize on the recent controversy involving Vick to close the door on the failed one-year experiment with him.

Even if Vick stays in Philadelphia, the Eagles need a competent veteran backup with experience in the West Coast offense. So they should just dump Vick now, sign Jeff Garcia and move on.

Pride and ego could get in the way. The Eagles went out on a limb last year to sign Vick, and cutting him now amounts to an admission that they never should have signed him in the first place.

By the way, they never should have signed him in the first place.

Reggie Bush

The Saints rely on a multi-headed attack at tailback, and Bush is only a bit player in the offense. But the Saints owe him a base salary of $8 million for 2010.

On one hand, the Saints should have every right in an uncapped year to spend way too much on a locally beloved role player who’ll never live up to the hype. On the other hand, the Saints shouldn’t ignore the connection between Bush’s overcompensation and their inability to sign the franchise’s top running back, Pierre Thomas, to a long-term deal.

Ideally, the Saints would pressure Bush into taking less money. But he’d most likely refuse, and then the Saints would have to decide whether to call his bluff by cutting him.

So they should just cut him now. They won’t, but they should.

Albert Haynesworth

The Redskins have an opportunity to unite their roster under new coach Mike Shanahan by telling the reluctant defensive lineman that, if he doesn’t want to be part of the team, the team doesn’t want him.

Forget trying to trade him for a handful of peanuts and a ’98 Camaro. Make a loud and clear statement by cutting Haynesworth.

If the Redskins are concerned about saving face, they can take solace in the fact that Haynesworth’s decision to blow off mandatory minicamp voids $9 million in guaranteed base salaries for 2010 and 2011. Though cutting Haynesworth now wouldn’t wipe away the misguided decision to pay him a $21 million roster bonus on April 1, making a strong statement about one of the NFL’s most disliked men would have a far greater intangible value to the new regime in D.C.

Deion Branch

Believe it or not, Branch has never had a 1,000-yard receiving season in his eight-year career.

He came close in 2005, his last year in New England, but fell two yards short.

Since Seattle traded a first-round pick for Branch and signed him to a six-year, $39 million contract, his production steadily has dropped, and his salary has increased.

Last year, Branch made more than $100,000 per reception. This year, his salary rises to $5.47 million. It no longer makes sense for the Seahawks to wait for Branch to deliver. He never will.

Roy Williams

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has shown he’s not afraid to admit a mistake. Last year, he did it twice — with receiver Terrell Owens and cornerback Pacman Jones.

Now, Jones needs to eat a Texas-sized slice of humble pie and part ways with one of the biggest blunders of his tenure with the team. He needs to cut Williams.

Arguably, the handwriting already is on the wall less than two years after the Cowboys gave up a first-round pick, a third-round pick and more for a receiver who’s now averaging $9 million per year. After Miles Austin’s breakout in 2009 and the first-round selection of Dez Bryant in 2010, the Cowboys simply don’t need Williams.

Having Williams around gives the Cowboys leverage against an extended holdout by Bryant. However, once Bryant puts pen to paper, Jones should put shoe to Williams’ rear end.

Bob Sanders

In 2006, the Colts were horrible against the run, prompting concerns that the Chiefs would quickly bounce Indy from the playoffs by using a heavy dose of Larry Johnson.

Then the safety Sanders returned from injury, and Johnson gained 32 yards on 13 carries in a 23-8 loss. Three games later, the Colts hoisted a silver trophy in a South Florida downpour.

Sanders missed nearly all of the 2009 season, but the Colts didn’t miss Sanders. They made it back to the Super Bowl, and they didn’t lose it because of his replacement.

The injury-prone defender packs a wallop when he’s healthy, but he’s healthy too rarely to justify his salary.

So the Colts should make the tough decision to move on.

Cedric Benson

The Bengals routinely are criticized for harboring criminals. They do so not because they hope to change lives, but because they know a bargain when they see one.

Two years ago, they saw a bargain in Benson when the Bears dumped the former fourth-overall draft pick after two arrests in a month. And the Bengals got 1,251 yards out of him in only 13 games last season.

With 2010 being a contract year for Benson, they can expect even more.

But Benson has gotten in trouble again, and Bernard Scott was solid in his rookie season. Scott, who slid in the draft due to his own off-field issues, could become the lead dog for the Bengals.

The Bengals most likely will give Benson another year of their patent-pending second chances. If they do, they’ll probably see someone else offer Benson big money in 2011. That’s all the more reason to make a rare (for the Bengals) example out of Benson. Then, they can get ready to give a few second chances to Scott.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

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