The Biggest Dead Weight Gone From Each NFL Team
The Biggest Dead Weight Gone From Each NFL Team

By Will Laws

Every NFL team got rid of some dead weight this offseason. Which players deserved to get cut the most?

Roster turnover is a natural process in every sport. As training camps have kicked off across the NFL, players are adjusting to the new faces surrounding them in the huddle. They also must proceed without the veterans who populated the squad in 2015, but have since been released, traded or retired from the game altogether.

Though some departing players will surely be missed, others wore out their welcome through poor play, off-the-field issues or a worrisome combination of the two. PointAfter, part of the Graphiq network, reviewed the offseason transactions of all 32 teams and picked the player that was the best example of "dead weight" for each franchise.

Every team conducted at least one personnel move during the offseason that could be considered addition by subtraction. The ability to do so without much recourse is largely due to the loosely structured nature of NFL contracts. Though this is a rather troubling aspect of the game for football players, it lets teams throw off guys who are considered dead weight rather easily.

The following list is ordered in reverse of the 2015 league standings, starting with the three-win Tennessee Titans and ending with the Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos.


1. Tennessee Titans: Michael Griffin


New team: Minnesota Vikings

Griffin, who turned 31 in January, is now a shadow of the man who made the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. The former first-round pick recorded just one interception and three pass deflections in 2015, which proved to be the final chapter of his nine-year career in Tennessee.

Griffin graded out as one of the worst starting safeties in football in 2015, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). He might have an opportunity to redeem himself as a starter in Minnesota this season opposite Harrison Smith, a two-time All-Pro whom PFF ranked as last season's No. 1 safety.


2. Cleveland Browns: Johnny Manziel


New team: Unsigned

This was probably the easiest choice to make for this entire article, even though Cleveland shipped off several subpar players this year.

Johnny Football was a drag on the entire Browns franchise, and they couldn't move forward until the mistake of drafting him was rectified. A locker room with Robert Griffin III and Manziel sure would have been fun to watch from the outside, though.


3. San Diego Chargers: Donald Butler


New team: Arizona Cardinals

Butler agreed to a seven-year, $52 million extension with San Diego in 2014, which seemed ridiculous for a guy who'd never sniffed the Pro Bowl. Still, it was surprising just how quickly he regressed into one of the worst linebackers in the NFL.

Pro Football Focus ranked Butler No. 91 of 97 qualifying linebackers in 2015. He was riding the bench by the end of the season, and will look to revive his career in Arizona.


4. Dallas Cowboys: Greg Hardy


New team: Unsigned

In terms of on-field production, Matt Cassel is probably the best example of Dallas doing addition by subtraction this offseason. But Greg Hardy's negative impact on the Cowboys went beyond the gridiron, as his deplorable actions off the field, ineffective self-defense in interviews and consistent habit for tardiness polluted the locker room.

Dallas couldn't afford to keep him around in 2016, which is practically the definition of dead weight.


5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Clemons


New team: Seattle Seahawks

Pro Football Focus ranked Clemons as the worst edge defender in the NFL last year out of 110 qualified players. The Jags unsurprisingly released Clemons and replaced him with $90 million man Malik Jackson, who brings elite interior pass rushing skills and Super Bowl experience from Denver.

Jacksonville won't miss Clemons, who proved to be a massive bust over his three-year tenure with the club.


6. Baltimore Ravens: Courtney Upshaw


New team: Atlanta Falcons

Upshaw was drafted by the Ravens with the No. 35 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the Alabama product failed to live up to expectations in Baltimore.

A hybrid end/linebacker, Upshaw was a non-factor in pass rush, totaling 10 sacks in four seasons. He also often struggled to shed enough pounds to keep up with speedy tailbacks in run defense, lending a literal sense to the term "dead weight."


7. San Francisco 49ers: Reggie Bush


New team: Buffalo Bills

The 49ers re-signed the vast majority of most of their free agents, but Bush was not among that group. The former Heisman Trophy winner injured his leg in San Francisco's season opener, then tore his meniscus in November.

He ended up logging just eight carries in 2015, and his services will not be needed by the Niners this year as they continue to build around Carlos Hyde in the backfield.


8. Miami Dolphins: Greg Jennings


New team: Retired

Jennings announced his retirement in July, and it was no shock after he spent the 2015 campaign buried on Miami's depth chart.

The 32-year-old produced just 19 receptions, 208 yards and one touchdown last season, all of which were career lows.


9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bruce Carter


New team: New York Jets

Carter was benched for a mid-round rookie last season. That's embarrassing for a guy who was playing on a newly signed four-year, $20 million contract, which has since been derided as one of the worst free agency deals of 2015.

Tampa Bay ate millions of dollars to cut his deal short. Now, Carter will look to rebuild his value after inking a one-year pact with the Jets.


10. New York Giants: Jon Beason


New team: Retired

Beason was an All-Pro linebacker once upon a time. But that was way back in 2008, before injuries wrecked his career in Carolina. After a brief resurgence in New York, Beason inked a three-year, $17.5 million deal in 2014.

But he ended up playing just nine games in the first two seasons of the contract, and would have certainly been cut in the spring had he not elected to retire instead.


11. Chicago Bears: Jermon Bushrod

Jermon Bushrod

New team: Miami Dolphins

The $36 million contract the Bears handed Bushrod in 2013 proved to be a huge mistake.

Chicago needs better offensive line play in 2016 to protect Jay Cutler, who's notoriously prone to making mistakes under pressure. Cutting Bushrod and slotting in a new tackle in his place is a step toward that goal.


12. New Orleans Saints: Brandon Browner


New team: Seattle Seahawks

If Brandon Browner wasn't the worst cornerback in football last year, he was certainly the handsiest. He racked up a whopping 23 penalties, a record for corners since Pro Football Focus started tracking them in 2007.

In a secondary that was truly one of the worst in NFL history -- opposing QBs logged a 116.2 passer rating, which would rank in the top five best individual passer ratings of all time -- Browner stood out as the weakest link. Goodbye.


13. Philadelphia Eagles: DeMarco Murray


New team: Tennessee Titans

The Eagles signed the NFL's 2014 rushing leader to a five-year, $40 million deal last offseason. Murray promptly stumbled to the worst season of his professional career, both in terms of total yards and yards per carry.

He could be a better fit in Tennessee, where he was traded in March, but Murray was dead weight in Philadelphia. The Eagles will gladly gift more touches to Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles in his stead.


14. Oakland Raiders: Rod Streater


New team: Kansas City Chiefs

Streater was Oakland's leading receiver as recently as 2013, when he led all Raiders with 888 receiving yards and 60 receptions despite working with the rag-tag quarterback trio of Terrelle Pryor, Matt McGloin and Matt Flynn. After an injury-shortened season, however, Streater was a healthy scratch for every game in 2015 after Week 1.

With the Raiders vastly upgrading their talent at wideout in recent years with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, there was simply no use for Streater anymore. The former undrafted free agent out of Temple signed with Kansas City for less than $1 million for 2016.


15. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Cook


New team: Green Bay Packers

The Rams had an intriguing offseason, to say the least. They shipped a boatload of picks to Tennessee for No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, and lost a bunch of strong defensive players (Janoris Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Nick Fairley) in free agency.

However, the first major transaction of their new era in Los Angeles was to cut three veterans in one fell swoop -- two largely beloved figures in Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, and a largely despised, overpaid tight end in Jared Cook.

Laurinaitis was shocked over his release, but Cook almost surely was not after failing to surpass 500 receiving yards last year. The 29-year-old has moved on to Green Bay on a one-year "prove it" deal, as the athletic target is running out of time to maximize his potential in the NFL.


16. Detroit Lions: Joique Bell


New team: Unsigned

The painfully mediocre Bell couldn't average more than four yards per carry in any of his final three seasons with the Lions. He rightfully fell behind rookie Ameer Abdullah in the pecking order last fall, and Detroit elected to sign Stevan Ridley to complement Abdullah in 2016.

Change was needed after the Lions fielded the NFL's worst rushing attack last year, though some of that blame also falls on the offensive line.


17. Atlanta Falcons: Roddy White


New team: Unsigned

White will remain a beloved figure in Atlanta long after he retires. But the Falcons were justified in cutting ties with him following a downright depressing 2015 campaign. It became clear during his age-34 season that he no longer has what it takes to separate from cornerbacks, as he caught just 43 passes in 16 games.

The franchise will transition to a younger set of complementary receivers alongside Julio Jones, a group that'll be headlined by Mohamed Sanu and 2015 fourth-round pick Justin Hardy. White, who will reportedly not accept the veteran's minimum salary, might not play another snap in the NFL.


18. Indianapolis Colts: Andre Johnson


New team: Tennesee Titans

Andre Johnson was an utter disappointment after emigrating from the rival Texans last season, totaling just 41 receptions and 543 yards. Indianapolis often preferred Griff Whalen over Johnson in three-wideout sets, betraying the veteran's fizzling abilities.

The Colts have enough talent at wideout to get by without this washed-up 35-year-old.


19. Buffalo Bills: Leodis McKelvin


New team: Philadelphia Eagles

Mario Williams was an awful fit in Rex Ryan's defensive scheme last year, and teammates were quick to anonymously bash the former No. 1 overall pick after he "checked out" near the end of the season. But Williams, who averaged nearly 13 sacks for Buffalo between 2012-14, had a legitimate gripe about being dropped into pass coverage too much.

Leodis McKelvin had no such excuses for stinking up Buffalo's secondary the past few years. Bills fans have been lamenting McKelvin's shoddy coverage for a while, as the former first-round pick has regressed since an impressive debut campaign in 2008.

This is a guy who literally had his ankles broken by Lamar Miller two years ago. The Bills saved nearly $4 million in cap space by cutting the eight-year veteran in March.


20. New York Jets: Antonio Cromartie


New team: Unsigned

The Jets don't exactly have a ready-made replacement for Cromartie, who was released one year into a four-year, $32 million agreement during the offseason. But the 32-year-old serial father was so poor in 2015, New York was willing to bet on the likes of Buster Skrine outdoing him in 2016.


21. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III

Robert Griffin III

New team: Cleveland Browns

There was no scenario that could have involved Griffin staying in D.C. this season. He was a symbol of the dark days that befell the franchise after his knee injury. Washington couldn't have fully transitioned to the Kirk Cousins era with RGIII still on the roster, and a separation was the best move for all sides involved -- except the city's tabloid reporters, that is.


22. Houston Texans: Brian Hoyer


New team: Chicago Bears

By the time the curtain closed on Houston's humiliating wild-card playoff loss to Kansas City, it was all too evident the Texans needed a new quarterback. After Hoyer was sacrificed to the Chiefs defense, which forced five turnovers from the journeyman, Texans fans would have rioted if Hoyer was still on the roster come Week 1 -- let alone as the starting QB.


23. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Wallace


New team: Baltimore Ravens

Everyone and their mother predicted Wallace would bust in Minnesota, and bust he did.

On this list for the second straight year, Wallace couldn't separate himself from the pack in a Vikings receiving corps topped by a sixth-round rookie. His trademark attribute -- speed -- will decline as he enters his thirties, so cutting ties with Wallace was the right move for Minny.


24. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Hawk


New team: Unsigned

Most of the pieces Cincinnati lost this offseason were useful contributors - safety Reggie Nelson, cornerback Leon Hall, wideout Marvin Jones. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of A.J. Hawk, who was cut in April midway through his two-year contract with the Bengals.

Green Bay seemingly knew what they were doing when they parted ways with the longtime Packer great in 2015, as Hawk recorded just 24 tackles in 15 games last season.


25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Antwon Blake


New team: Tennesee Titans

Blake had an ironclad argument for being the NFL's worst cornerback in 2015. He allowed more receptions (76) and yards (1,074) than anyone else, also missing the most tackles (28) by a dozen over the next-closest corner.

Letting Blake, a former undrafted rookie, depart to Tennessee was probably one of the easiest roster decisions Pittsburgh had to make last spring.


26. Seattle Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch


New team: Retired

Lynch is a beloved franchise icon, but it was probably best for all parties for Beast Mode to hang 'em up this year.

Seattle will save approximately $16.5 million over the next two years without having to swallow the PR hit of possibly releasing Lynch, as the team's brain trust surely considered after the breakout of Thomas Rawls. They have a ready-made replacement in the former undrafted rookie at a fraction of the cost.


27. Green Bay Packers: Mike Neal


New team: Unsigned

A mediocre starter in 2015, Neal helped to bury his own grave in Green Bay with an ill-advised tweet after the NFL Draft. Green Bay craves more production in both the pass and run game from whoever will replace Neal at outside linebacker this season.


28. Kansas City Chiefs: Donald Stephenson

Donald Stephenson

New team: Denver Broncos

Stephenson struggled badly at right tackle for the Chiefs in his fourth season in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the No. 69 tackle in the league out of 77 qualifying players.

Nevertheless, the Oklahoma product will stick in the AFC West this season after signing a three-year contract with the Broncos. A horribly inept pass blocker tasked with protecting Mark Sanchez -- what could go wrong in Denver?


29. New England Patriots: Brandon LaFell


New team: Cincinnati Bengals

LaFell was one of many Patriot wideouts who was plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness last season. New England sought to improve that position group by signing Chris Hogan and Nate Washington this spring, which made LaFell expendable. The Pats let him walk away in free agency, and he'll try to help replace the departed Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in Cincinnati.


30. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper


New team: New England Patriots

Cooper was PointAfter's choice for Arizona's least valuable player of 2015. So, what'd the Cardinals do? Trade him to New England for a 2015 Pro Bowler in Chandler Jones. Just excellent stuff from Arizona's front office.

Cooper had squandered his last chance at a starting gig last season, so shipping him to the opposite side of the country for a foundational piece on defense was an excellent way to get rid of dead weight.


31. Carolina Panthers: Roman Harper


New team: New Orleans Saints

The Panthers' NFC championship roster was largely kept intact during the offseason. Two members of Carolina's secondary were let go, however.

One was Josh Norman, arguably the best cover corner in football. The other was Roman Harper, a 33-year-old safety with graying hair and declining speed.

Harper ended up returning to New Orleans, where he made two Pro Bowls in his prime. Cam Newton is probably already salivating over the two games he'll have to connect with Ted Ginn over the top of Harper's outstretched arms and overmatched legs.


32. Denver Broncos: Owen Daniels/Vernon Davis


New team: Unsigned (Daniels)/Washington Redskins (Davis)

With Mark Sanchez projected to start for Denver in Week 1, it's safe to say the Broncos need a better security blanket at tight end than the decrepit pair of guys they ran out last season.

Davis was acquired in a midseason trade and proved he was well past his prime, frequently dropping passes. Daniels caught less than 60 percent of passes thrown his way and looked his age. He's still unsigned heading into training camp.

Whether the Broncos start uber-athletic Virgil Green, free-agent addition Garrett Graham or 2015 third-rounder Jeff Heuerman, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, Sanchez should have more able bodies to throw to in the middle of the field.


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