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.
NFL contracts are often a hot-button issue. People love to debate who’s making too much, too little, who deserves more and who is overpaid. Some athletes outplay their deals, while others cash in and fail to deliver. Teams obviously try hard to avoid the latter situation, but sometimes things don’t work out as hoped.
With all of that in mind, here’s a look at the worst contract on every NFL team.
Arizona Cardinals – Jermaine Gresham, tight end
The Cardinals put an emphasis on re-signing tight end Jermaine Gresham and as a result, may have drastically over-paid for him. He hasn’t had over 460 yards receiving since 2012, has seen his catch rate hover around 60% in each of the previous two seasons and hasn’t scored more than two touchdowns since 2014. Those are mediocre numbers at best for a player signed to a four-year, $28 million contract with $16.5 million guaranteed.
Atlanta Falcons – Brooks Reed, defensive end
Brooks Reed is not exactly a bad player — he’s a high-motor guy who plays a very defined role. Of course, when the Falcons signed him to a five-year, $22 million deal in 2015 they expected much more. Instead, what they’ve gotten for $9 million guaranteed is 42 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 28 games.
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco, quarterback
When the Ravens signed Joe Flacco to a monstrous $120.6 million deal in 2013, many foresaw potential issues looming. However, at the time, Flacco was coming off of a magical postseason run that culminated with a Super Bowl XLVII victory. He had earned his money. But in 2016, facing a massive cap number, Baltimore was forced to extend Flacco with a three-year, $66.4 million deal. Now under contract through 2021, Flacco has cap hits above $24 million beginning next year and throughout the remainder of his deal, large dead cap numbers that render him uncuttable and guarantees that make him untradeable. Arguably, it’s the worst contract in the NFL.
Smith is accused of attacking his sister’s boyfriend during a July 4 party in Pasadena, Calif. He’s accused of beating the man and stomping on his head, which has led to a felony assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury charge.
The 30-year-old signed a four-year, $40 million deal with the Raiders last offseason. In addition to his legal troubles, Smith has also lost his starting job.
Utah’s loss certainly was the Dolphins’ gain in the draft this year. Cornerback Sean Smith has looked strong in training camp and has carried that performance into the games. He had a pick against the Jags and this sick interception against the Saints on Thursday night. Check out these sweet hands:
The Dolphins made a concerted effort to beef up their secondary in the offseason, drafting Vontae Davis and Sean Smith with their top two picks, signing free agent Gibril Wilson, and re-signing Yeremiah Bell and Will Allen. Maybe they figure if they want to keep up with Brady and Moss, not to mention T.O., that they better have a good secondary. We’ll see how much the moves pay off in the regular season because the strategy seems to be working so far. By the way, what is Mark Brunell still doing out there? Hasn’t the guy filed for social security already?