For as quick-triggered as NFL teams can be to cut players loose, occasionally there are times when players are kept for too long. Sometimes it’s the result of a regime not wanting to admit defeat on a poor draft pick or acquisition. Other times teams overvalue experience in a system and are overly cautious to allow young players to grow into roles.
It happens every year. Let’s examine five players who deserve to get cut but will remain with their teams.
Michael Johnson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
Johnson has been a steady contributor over his NFL career but there has been a noticeable dip in his output in recent years. Having reached the age of 30 in February, it’s safe to say his best football is behind him. Johnson still represents value for his ability to stop the run but with the influx of talented young players at the defensive end position, it’s time for the Bengals to move on from Johnson.
Both rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis have performed well this preseason and so has third-year pro Chris Smith. That trio is the future of the defensive end position with Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry as the veteran influences.
I can see Cincinnati overvaluing Johnson’s ability to stop the run and, in doing so, rob the young trio of valuable game experience in the system.
Vladimir Ducasse, G, Buffalo Bills
Bills offensive line coach Juan Castillo had Ducasse with him last season in Baltimore and brought him to Buffalo to compete for a position on the offensive line. For some odd reason, that position is the one held by John Miller, who showed outstanding growth from his rookie season in 2015 to a reliable starter last year. All indications were that Miller was going to break out this season but now he’s competing for his starting job with Ducasse.
On his fifth team in as many years, Ducasse has been underwhelming for his entire career and has been a liability for Buffalo this preseason. Furthermore, Ducasse offers no versatility to play any other position except offensive guard. I don’t see a roster-worthy player in Ducasse but Buffalo’s coaching staff has a peculiar infatuation with him.
Leonte Carroo, WR, Miami Dolphins
Carroo was expected to play a prominent role last season for the Dolphins but came away with just three receptions in 14 games. Parting with three draft picks, Miami paid a steep price to trade up for Carroo, who underwhelmed as a rookie. Carroo still has demonstrated inconsistencies and Miami shouldn’t rely on him.
Miami’s receiving corps is crowded and it would be better served by developing rookies Damore’ea Stringfellow or Drew Morgan. I don’t anticipate Miami agreeing with me, especially considering the draft capital it coughed up to acquire Carroo. He isn’t a player that Miami should invest more time developing; it’s better if the Dolphins just count their losses. With that said, teams often have a difficult time admitting their mistakes.
Adam Jones, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals have made it clear that they value talent over character. While they likely won’t agree with this, it’s time for them to stop tolerating bad behavior off the field — otherwise, it will continue.
Jones’ off-field issues are lengthy and he was arrested again in January for disorderly conduct, assault and a felony charge of harassment with a bodily substance. The perpetual run-ins with the law have led to numerous second chances and sent the wrong message to the roster. Instead, Jones is slated to start opposite Dre Kirkpatrick after he serves his suspension. It’s time to move on and clean up their image, but I don’t have a feeling that Cincinnati will.
Harry Douglas, WR, Tennessee Titans
The draft selections of Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor were tremendous pickups to bolster a lacking wide receiver corps around franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota. Taylor has been spectacular this preseason and Davis was the fifth pick in the draft. They are the future and the present at that position. Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker are steady veteran leaders to stabilize the position and Tre McBride has shown promise this preseason.
“Invaluable. He’s a coach in the locker room and on the field,” Mularkey said about Douglas, “He does everything right. He’s a guy to follow. He’s had a productive career. He’s played a long time for a reason. Harry’s been very productive.”
With Douglas catching just 15 passes in 11 games last season, Mularkey wasn’t referring to 2016 as productive. Douglas’ best football is behind him and it’s time for Tennessee to build around its budding young stars.
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