There comes a time when an NFL team decides to fish or cut bait with a player. Which prominent names could be headed that way in 2014?
Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams
Through coaching changes, bad offensive lines, no weapons and then a torn ACL there is no doubt the career for Sam Bradford did not start out as planned. Still, given the amount of money the St. Louis Rams are paying him, their patience to see significant progress can only go so far. The team is loaded up on talent. Bradford is full expected to get them to the playoffs. If he fails or gets hurt again, then it won’t be his potential but his contract that may decide his fate.
Dwayne Bowe – Kansas City Chiefs
Typically when a player is handed a five-year, $56 million contract he’s expected to rate among the best at his position for the near and long-term future. Dwayne Bowe has not done that for the Kansas City Chiefs. The past two seasons he has failed to crack 1,000 receiving yards and 2013 was his worst in five seasons with just 673 yards and five touchdowns. He still struggles to stay healthy and is not a consistent threat. There is still time for him to turn it around, but at $12 million or more per year against the NFL cap, that window is shrinking fast.
Jason Pierre-Paul – New York Giants
Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were both released because they were old, first and foremost but they were also released because the New York Giants expected defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to take over as the teams’ primary pass rusher. After posting 16.5 sacks in 2011, the 25-year old has 8.5 over the past two seasons. Injury problems are the primary source of blame and Pierre-Paul vows he’s healthy for 2014. Otherwise the Giants may have to institute a plan to find their edge rush somewhere else.
Ndamukong Suh – Detroit Lions
Production is not the problem for Ndamukong Suh. From a pure talent standpoint the Detroit Lions defensive tackle is one of the best in pro football. It is and has been his attitude both on and off the field that gets him in trouble whether it’s stomping on players, ripping off helmets or getting in traffic incidents. Suh was able to skate by through much of the turmoil due to the presence of Jim Schwartz, the head coach who drafted him. Schwartz is now gone. Jim Caldwell is the new man in charge and he might not have the same level of patience his predecessor did. That means Suh must not only produce, but also behave if he wants Detroit to keep swallowing his mammoth contract.
Marques Colston – New Orleans Saints
As far as earning his money, few have done it more than Marques Colston. He started by outplaying his lowly 7th round draft position in 2006 and then did it again by becoming the most reliable receiver Drew Brees has had during his stint with the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately his contract is becoming bothersome for an NFL team strapped for cash, and Colston hasn’t been the same player he was a couple years ago. Being 31-years old and dealing with nagging injuries can do that. As the Saints continue to reshuffle their receiving corps, it will be interesting to see if he can get another couple years out of his body.