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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

10 most notable NFL players released in March

Adrian Peterson

The new NFL league year begins on Wednesday, which means teams are preparing to reshape their roster. As they do so, they are releasing players, with Monday being a big day for releases. Players can be cut for a variety of reasons, though there are often financial motives behind such decisions. Whatever the case, talented veteran players are still showing up on the market as we work our way through March.

Here are the ten most notable players who have hit the market this month. Oh, and by the time you read this, Ndamukong Suh could be released, which would have put him at the top of the list.

1) Adrian Peterson, RB

Adrian Peterson will be on the free agent market for the second offseason in a row. He was released by the Arizona Cardinals on Monday after playing six games for them last season. Though Peterson only rushed for 529 yards on 156 carries (3.4 yards per carry average). He posted two big games for them, including a 134-yard, two touchdown performance against Tampa Bay, and a 159-yard game against the 49ers.

A neck injury ended Peterson’s season last year, but he says he has recovered. There is a chance he could return to the Cardinals despite his release.

2) Lawrence Timmons, LB

Timmons would have looked more appealing a year ago. His tumultuous tenure with the Miami Dolphins was pretty much doomed from the start, especially after his early season disappearing act on his new team. It’s something of a surprise that he was even given a second chance by Miami.

The other problem was Timmons wasn’t particularly great once he started playing, at least compared to his own lofty standards. He had 84 tackles, but that was down from his usual number, and this was his first season since his rookie year in which he didn’t collect a sack. He will turn 32 in May, but a team will definitely take a chance on him.

3) Tamba Hali, LB

Hali has been a Chiefs stalwart for years, but the time had come for the two sides to move on. A knee injury limited him in 2017, and the 34-year-old didn’t get a sack all season for the first time in what has been an illustrious career. In fact, he only had one tackle in five games.

Realistically, Hali isn’t a full-time player anymore. He could be a part-time pass rusher for someone and he will have offers, but none particularly lucrative. His best days are behind him, but he may wind up as a bit-part player on a team that needs to find a way to put a bit of pressure on quarterbacks.

4) Lardarius Webb, DB

Webb has spent his entire career with the Baltimore Ravens, but that may have come to an end. The veteran lost his starting gig in 2018 a year after signing a three-year contract, so the writing was on the wall for him, especially with the chance to clear around $2 million in cap space.

Webb still has something to offer. He had two interceptions last season to go with 37 total tackles. The Ravens released him a year ago and brought him back on a lesser contract, but it seems that this is truly the end for him in Baltimore.

5) William Gay, DB

The veteran defensive back was moved to a reserve role last season, so it was only logical that the Steelers would take the opportunity to save a bit of cap money and move on. Gay is now 33, and still had an interception last season, but as one would expect, losing his starting job hurt his numbers significantly.

Gay should land as veteran depth with another team. Perhaps the most notable thing about his release is that he’s the final member of the 2008 Super Bowl-winning defense to depart Pittsburgh, signaling the end of an era.

6) Sean Smith, CB

Smith joined the Raiders in 2016 on a $40 million deal and didn’t even come close to living up to it. He started only eight games last year, was never effective in his time in Oakland, and it was a no-brainer for the team to seize the opportunity to clear $8.5 million in cap space by dumping him.

Smith’s next stop will not be the NFL. He was charged with assault last August and accepted one year of jail time, meaning we won’t be seeing him in the league next season — or possibly ever again.

7) Orlando Scandrick, CB

Scandrick requested his own release, sensing that the Cowboys were transitioning to a younger secondary. The veteran did start in all 11 of his games last season, but it became clear toward the end of the season that he was not in Dallas’s long-term plans.

Still, the veteran defensive back has something left to offer. He has been a regular starter since 2013, having played on playoff teams in the process. He had 38 tackles last season and has eight career interceptions. Teams interested in him will have to make sure he is recovered from the back injury that ended his season early last year.

8) Richard Sherman, CB

Seeing Sherman in the uniform of any team other than the Seahawks is going to be a strange one. Seeing him with the division rival San Francisco 49ers will be even stranger, but that’s where he will be in 2018 after he was released.

A combination of injury and financial obligations paved Sherman’s road out of Seattle, but he was still a steady contributor in the nine games he played for the Seahawks in 2017. He had two interceptions and seven passes defended. While Sherman may not be at his top form especially coming off the ruptured Achilles’ tendon, he is clearly a huge addition for San Francisco.

9) Martellus Bennett, TE

Bennett’s move to Green Bay did not work out for him in 2017, and his bizarre release made headlines for the wrong reasons. A return to the New England Patriots didn’t quite jump-start his season the way he would’ve hoped, and now he’s back in a crowded tight end market.

Bennett is still only two years removed from a season in which he caught seven touchdown passes, so he should not be dismissed easily. The 31-year-old could wind up being a fine secondary option for someone, either as a pass-catching tight end who complements the offense or a depth option. Retirement could also be a possibility for him.

10) Elvis Dumervil, LB

The San Francisco 49ers had an option on Dumervil, but elected to let the defensive lineman go. He certainly contributed to their cause in 2017, leading the team with 6.5 sacks and re-establishing himself as a quality pass rusher in limited action, even if he’s not quite the star he was when he was younger.

Dumervil is 34, and he’s more of a situational pass rusher now. As he proved in 2017, though, he’s still very capable and can bring down quarterbacks when given the chance. There will be eager suitors for him, even in a part-time role.

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