Players At A Career Crossroad Following Release
Sunday’s dramatic climax to Super Bowl LI brought down the curtain on the 2016 season. Amid the confetti the hierarchy within numerous organizations sat pondering the ‘if only’ moments of the season gone by.
The harsh reality of these ‘if only’ moments began to filter through as the new week began. A whole host of teams began trimming the fat from their respective rosters, for a multitude of reasons.
Those left by the wayside include, Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown, The Green Bay Packers running back James Starks along with cornerback Sam Shields and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Leodis McKelvin. All four now find themselves at a crossroad within their respective careers. With age and injuries playing a huge role in their release. What direction will they decide to go in?
The 37-year-old McCown was due a roster bonus of $750,000 (next month) along with a 2017 salary of $3.6m. During McCown’s time with the Browns he threw for 3209 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. However injuries proved to his undoing (broken collar-bone, concussion).
McCown had rejuvenated/prolonged his career following a successful spell with the Bears. Playing the relief role (Jay Cutler Injured) McCown posted a career high in completion percentage (66.5%), throwing 13 touchdowns and 1 interception in the process. That success prompted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to give McCown a two year $10m deal (cut after a year).
What now for McCown? Browns Hue Jackson’s comments in an article by ESPN’s Pat McManamon back in December, left the door open for a return, but as part of the coaching staff.
Sam Shields story reads like a plot from a Hollywood movie. As an undrafted free agent, Shields made the most of his opportunity playing nickelback, and quickly established himself not only as a starter, but as one of the best in the business. A Super Bowl winner is his rookie campaign was followed by personal accolades in 2014, as Shields was named to the Pro Bowl.
With one year remaining on his four-year, $39m contract coupled with ongoing concussion issues, the two sides parted company. Shields 2016 season never got off the ground due to a concussion (fifth with the Packers) he suffered during the first weekend of the season. The Packers placed Shields on IR.
It would appear that the Green Bay Packers deem the TY Montgomery transition to running back a success, following the release of James Starks. The 30-year-old 6th round pick (2010) found himself in the leagues concussion protocol, following a car accident in December.
No doubt a notion the Packers used to their advantage, as Stark’s release was due to a non football injury designation. In layman’s terms, the Packers didn’t want to pay Starks the $2.6m base salary he was due for the 2017 season.
Starks rushed for 2506 yards and 15 touchdowns in a complimentary role behind Eddie Lacy. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry along with 8.1 yards per reception. Will age, coupled with ball security issues (11 fumbles on 148 carries) have an effect on his desirability?
The veteran cornerback finds himself the victim of some number crunching for the second time in his career. McKelvin spent eight seasons in Buffalo before signing a 2 year $6m deal with the Eagles (March 2015). The move creates an extra $3.2m in cap space.
McKelvin the 11th overall selection of the 2008 draft has featured in over 100 games (111), 72 as a starter. During that span the 31-year-old recorded 15 interceptions.
McKelvin defended 15 passes (the second highest of his career) along with 43 tackles and 2 interceptions during the 13 games he played for the Eagles.
Featured Image By Nathan Rupert Via Flickr.com