Worst Player Offseason Power Rankings
Between the draft and free agency, much of the NFL offseason is spent celebrating talent that’s either entering the league or on the move. The extended down time between the conclusion of one season and start of another, though, often means positive news is interrupted by more disheartening stories.
And so, in light of Rolando McClain’s decision to retire rather than attempt to get his career back on track, Audibles presents the 10 players who have had the toughest offseasons, whether due to arrests, controversies, dumb quotes or more general disappointments.
10. Desmond Bryant: Not exactly sure how to score Bryant’s epic mugshot after being charged with criminal mischief. If you put yourself in the unfortunate position of needing to have a mugshot taken, may as well go for broke, right? That popular photo came as a result of a claim from a Florida family that Bryant showed up drunk at their home at 5:30 a.m., repeatedly banging on the front door and ripping off the door handle.
That didn’t scare teams away from the impending free agent; Bryant still signed a five-year, $34 million contract (including $15 million guaranteed) with Cleveland.
9. Brian Urlacher (and other unsigned free agents): Even now, in mid-May, the list of free agents looking for homes still includes a who’s who of former stars. There’s Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Turner, Dwight Freeney, John Abraham, Kerry Rhodes and, of course, Urlacher.
There were some rumblings that the Vikings had interest in Urlacher, but coach Leslie Frazier shot that down this week. The 34-year-old Urlacher has been one of the best linebackers of his generation. Age, however, may have caught up to him — and his NFL future is very much in jeopardy because of that.
8. Justin Blackmon: Perhaps the coaching change in Jacksonville will be what Blackmon needs to keep his career on the straight and narrow — new head coach Gus Bradley told the Florida Times-Union that he trusts Blackmon because, “He’s never done anything wrong with me.”
That’s all well and good, but Bradley’s tenure will begin sans the team’s No. 1 receiver after Blackmon was suspended four games this offseason for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Despite that, Blackmon insisted recently that he doesn’t have a substance abuse problem. The receiver also has a pair of DUIs on his record, including one while he was still at Oklahoma State. He’s coming off a promising rookie season in which he caught 64 passes, but Blackmon can ill-afford another slip-up. Another violation of the substance-abuse policy will net Blackmon a season-long suspension.
7. Ryan Nassib: Of all the players — and, particularly, all the quarterbacks — who slipped in the draft, Nassib’s fall may wind up being the most damaging. The Syracuse star, whom the Bills were reported to want with the No. 8 pick, dropped all the way to 110th. There, he landed with the Giants, where he now finds himself stuck behind the durable Eli Manning. It was a drop so surprising that even Nassib’s former college coach, Doug Marrone (now the Bills’ head man), talked about how it hurt him to pass on Nassib to start the QB’s precipitous drop. Nassib himself described his draft experience as disappointing and “strenuous.”
6. Rolando McClain: The former No. 8 overall pick “retired” on Tuesday at 23 years old — he’s already hinting at coming back eventually. Even if he does get back on the field, McClain has a long way to go to clear himself of “bust” status.
He’s also dealing with legal issues that he’ll need to sort out, with a July 9 court date pending on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. McClain has been arrested at least three times since 2011, all in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. The most recent, a disorderly conduct charge, came in April, shortly after signing a contract with the Ravens, who gave him a second chance after legal troubles and disappointing play caused the Raiders to sever ties with him.
5. Michael Boley: When you’re a free agent, the last thing you want is to give teams a reason to avoid signing you. Boley did just that with an arrest on charges of felony child abuse in February, just three days after being cut by the Giants. The Giants reportedly were considering re-signing the 30-year-old linebacker. However, with Boley now facing a possible suspension from the league, that scenario seems far less likely.
4. Armonty Bryant: The Browns gave Bryant a shot, drafting him at No. 217 overall, despite a meandering college career that saw the defensive lineman arrested and suspended after trying to sell pot to an undercover police officer.
Bryant rewarded the Browns’ faith in him by getting arrested for a DUI less than a week after the draft. Cleveland has not cut Bryant yet, with the team admitting it considered that option before deciding to give Bryant another chance. Suffice it to say, he’s walking a mighty fine line.
3. Tim Tebow: The Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul, co-owned by ex-NFL QB Ron Jaworski, recently offered Tebow a backup job. And that’s the best opportunity on the table for the 2007 Heisman winner at the moment.
After posting a 7-4 record as a starter and leading the Broncos to a playoff win in 2011, Tebow was squeezed out of Denver’s plans by Peyton Manning. His career then took a serious hit last season, as he wallowed on the Jets’ bench, unable to supplant Mark Sanchez at QB.
The Jets waived Tebow in late April and, since then, coaches and GMs around the league have said rather emphatically that they have no plans to pursue the southpaw QB. Tebow’s chances of landing on an NFL roster prior to the start of the 2013 season are growing increasingly slim.
2. Daryl Washington: Double whammy. Washington drew a four-game suspension back in April for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, then he was arrested in May for domestic assault, with his ex-girlfriend accusing him of grabbing her by the throat and pushing her, causing her to break her collarbone. That situation could lead to an additional suspension, once the legal proceedings play out. At the very least, Washington will miss the first quarter of the 2013 season and likely has a short leash in Arizona now.
1. Titus Young: Where to begin here? Young was arraigned this week on eight separate criminal charges and reportedly was arrested four separate times in a 10-day span. He’s currently facing seven years in prison for a variety of misdeeds, including assaulting an officer.
Young’s father, Richard Young, told the Detroit News that his son suffers from a brain disorder, stemming from an alleged concussion during his rookie season. Richard Young said Titus has not been taking the medication to treat that condition as prescribed.
Young was released by the Detroit Lions after a tumultuous 2012 season. He then signed with the St. Louis Rams, only to be released again a few days later. His NFL career appears to be over.