March 16, 2010
Free agency comes and goes every year, and for some guys, it's an extraordinary blessing, leaving them feeling well-appreciated and awash in cash.
For others, though, it serves as a white-gloved slap to the face, rudely bringing to their attention the fact that they are no longer the belle of the ball. We're a full two weeks into free agency, and as of yet, no one's had the desire to ask them to dance. Their names are still big, but the demand for them is not, and that's probably a difficult thing to deal with.
This is a list of those who may be dealing with that feeling right now.
Nate Burleson(notes), Antonio Bryant(notes), Antwaan Randle-El, Kassim Osgood(notes), Jerheme Urban(notes), Arnaz Battle(notes), Kevin Walter(notes) ... all those guys have hit the market, and all those guys have found homes. Owens remains on the street, though. And not only that, since the Bengals took about 10 minutes to decide they'd prefer Bryant to Owens, there hasn't been a mention of Owens visiting anyone else.
I've said it before: I think teams are making a mistake by dismissing Owens. He's finally shown that he knows how to join a team, produce on the field and not be a distraction. It's unfortunate that this knowledge has only come when his physical skills have started to diminish, but that's the way it goes sometimes. He can still go. Some team will get him for a song, and be handsomely rewarded.
On that list, there were three teams. Unfortunately for Joey, that number did not match the list of teams who were actually willing to employ him. That list, to this point, contains zero teams.
That's got to be a tough pill for Porter to swallow, because I don't think there have been too many guys in NFL history that have had a higher opinion of themselves than Joey Porter.
Westbrook's done nothing in his career but produce, produce and produce some more, but unfortunately for him, he's got two labels on him that are absolutely murderous to free agency success: old and injury-prone.
He's on the wrong side of 30 and he played in only eight games last year. His averages were still decent (4.5 yards per carry, 7.2 yards per reception), but I'm afraid the injury bug trumps everything else.
It also doesn't help that there's a strong class of running backs available in the draft, but at the same time, but that hasn't stopped Chester Taylor(notes), Thomas Jones(notes), Larry Johnson(notes) and LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) from getting contracts. Meanwhile, I haven't even heard of anyone having the slightest bit of interest in Westbrook.
He's an eight-time Pro Bowler and a member of the all-decade team, and while his agent says "several" teams have shown interest, the Titans, his original team, only want him back as a backup. I'd think that if someone out there had offered Mawae a clear-cut starting job, he'd have taken it by now.
Knee surgery has complicated matters for Sharper, but I'd have still thought someone would've snatched him up by now. Who could blame Sharper if he looked back at his '09 season and said, "Exactly what more can I do for a team? What more can I possibly prove?"
But, like Westbrook, he's stuck with a deadly combination: age, lack of speed and then the knee surgery, which is not known to make people faster. Of the five gentlemen on this list, though, I would think that, long-term, Sharper has the least to worry about. He'll latch on somewhere.
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