Big names, once-productive vets might be on the NFL chopping block
The pro game may be too daunting for college stars Colt McCoy and Pat White
Sam Hurd and Sinorice Moss have salaries that don't match their production
The 'Skins might drop RB Willie Parker in favor of ex-Bronco Ryan Torain
Colt McCoy, the Texas golden boy and college football's all-time winningest quarterback, seems to have avoided the NFL chopping block. Or maybe not.
McCoy's disappointing preseason has led to his name surfacing as one that could fall victim to roster cuts. Browns coach Eric Mangini recently offered an endorsement, sort of, for McCoy. He said the decision has not been made and offensive coordinator Eric Mangini has kept four quarterbacks before. When it comes to NFL roster cuts, though, nothing ever is certain and keeping four QBs is very unlikely.
The happiest day for NFL players is the day after the final preseason game, when camp and games that don't matter are done. It's also the most difficult day for players and coaches alike. Every year there are surprising big-name players who take the long walk to the head coach's office upon hearing the saddest three words in the NFL: Get your playbook.
It is called the Not For Long league for a reason. The first round of cuts comes this week. By next Sunday, rosters must be set at 53. Here are some once-upon-a-time contributors and big-name players who could be cut:
Colt McCoy, QB, Browns
Mangini's endorsement was not exactly definitive. With Jake Delhomme penciled in as the starter and Seneca Wallace having a good preseason, McCoy is locked in a battle for the No. 3 spot with Brett Ratliff.
It seems highly unlikely the Browns would actually pull the trigger on cutting a third-round draft pick like McCoy, who is younger than Ratliff and could develop slowly. Still, there's a sense the Browns feel McCoy is in over his head and not the physical talent they believed him to be.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots
If actions speak louder than words, Maroney will hit the bricks soon. Pats coach Bill Belichick said Maroney "absolutely" remained part of his plans. Taking him for his word, Maroney seems safe.
But Maroney has not gotten the touches in a stacked backfield and the numbers just don't add up. Fred Taylor has looked strong of late, and then there's Sammy Morris, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk ahead of Maroney. With roster depth issues elsewhere, it's unlikely New England will keep five backs.
Pat White, QB, Dolphins
Perhaps the most dynamic player in college football three years ago, White has struggled to learn the quarterback position and has not found a home anywhere else on the field.
Behind Chad Henne and Chad Pennington, White (44th overall in the 2009 draft) appears to be a project worth keeping for the Dolphins. Still, Miami won't keep four QBs, and Tyler Thigpen, frankly, is a better NFL quarterback than White. And as NFL defenses have figured out the Wildcat, White's days appear to be numbered.
Willie Parker, RB, Redskins
The next big thing lasted about an hour-and-a-half. A two-time Pro Bowler, a two-time Super Bowl champ, Parker could turn heads and wow fans with the best of them. And then it was all gone.
"Fast" Willie Parker, who broke Marcus Allen's long-standing record for longest rush in the Super Bowl with a 75-yard jaunt, is on the fast-track out of town in D.C.
Larry Johnson solidified his place behind Clinton Portis in Mike Shanahan's offense with a strong effort in the Redskins' third preseason game. Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams are also in the mix, leaving Parker in a tough spot.
Sam Hurd, WR, Cowboys
Hurd is popular, reliable, good in the locker room and blazing-fast. He's also likely on the way out.
At the start of camp, the consensus was that Hurd and Patrick Crayton were battling for the final receiver roster spot. Crayton's had a terrific camp; it's a classic numbers-game type situation. The Cowboys certainly aren't going to release Roy Williams, Miles Austin or top pick Dez Bryant. And young players like Jesse Holley and Kevin Ogletree are up-and-comers -- and cheaper. Once rumors of the Cowboys trying to deal Hurd surfaced last week, it was a sure sign Hurd's days in Dallas are coming to an end.
Kris Brown, K, Texans
What's the big deal, kickers are cut all the time, right? Yes. But Brown has been one of the most reliable kickers in the NFL in recent years. He also is a huge fan favorite in Houston, a community staple and the last of the original Texans from 2002.
But there's a bit of a "Brad Lidge Effect" in Houston. Brown missed a pair of crucial kicks last year against the division rival Colts and Titans. Make just one of those and the Texans would have been in the playoffs for the first time. The misses seemed to get into his head, and he struggled down the stretch. The Texans brought in former Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers and the battle is heated. The nod may go to Rackers if it's a tie.
Sinorice Moss, WR, Giants
Victor Cruz is the "it" player in New York right now. He's also cheap. Meanwhile, Moss is the five-year veteran who's underachieved and has a $1.176 million base salary. Do the math. It just doesn't add up well for Moss.
The Giants have waited for Moss to break out into something special for a while now. Now that there's a clearly capable option on the roster and Moss has nursed a groin injury, the former second-round pick out of Miami could be going bye-bye.
Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks
His nickname should be, "Roach." For all the times people have tried to step on him, squish him or shoo him away, Branch keeps hanging around.
Despite being an aging (31), ridiculously overpaid (two years left on a $39 million contract), oft-injured and often underachieving wideout, Branch remains a part of the 'Hawks plans. But for how long under the new regime? Pete Carroll has openly praised Branch, but despite being a Super Bowl MVP, Branch has never had a 1,000-yard season and has bad wheels.
Chris Simms, QB, Titans
With Vince Young given the starting job and trusty backup Kerry Collins entrenched, Simms, a one-time NFL starter, could well find it difficult getting a job after he is cut by the Titans.
Rusty Smith likely will be kept instead of Simms, who's staring at the end of an underachieving career.
Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos
Stokley's first impression under Josh McDaniels was a magnificent one, catching a deflected ball in the 2009 opener and scoring one of the most memorable game-winning TDs of the year. But Stokley, once called the best slot receiver in football by former coach Mike Shanahan, doesn't fit the McDaniels' mold at wideout.
Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal are the front-line receivers, with rookies Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker making noise. Stokley's days in Denver could be numbered.
Rhett Bomar, QB, Giants
Tom Coughlin has a tough call to make and the former superstar-in-waiting could be left on the outside looking in. With the departure of David Carr, the Giants have Jim Sorgi, who is injured, as the only experienced quarterback behind Eli Manning. If the Giants cut Sorgi, that would leave the inexperienced and still developing Bomar. Not exactly ideal.
If they waive Bomar, he surely will be picked up by another squad because the talent is there and he could prove to be something in this league -- just not with New York.