Thursday, February 14, 2008
McNabb, Shockey, Harrison among stars in limbo
By Pat Yasinskas
They remain under contract, but that doesn't mean they'll remain with their teams.
In a league in which trades are rare, there might be a record number of players on the block this offseason. From disgruntled Cincinnati receiver Chad Johnson, who has been openly lobbying for a trade, to a group of guys who still might believe they can spend their entire careers in one uniform, there's a growing list of high-profile players who could become available as teams start overhauling their rosters.
Everything from team chemistry to the salary cap could be involved in potential decisions to peddle big-name players. But asking prices aren't always met, and that could lead to some surprise cuts.
Here's a look at 10 big names who could be on the trading or chopping block:
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles
Reasoning: The Eagles keep saying McNabb is their guy, and maybe that's the truth. But there was a reason why the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb last year. McNabb's age and history of injuries are concerns. Philadelphia has lots of needs at other positions and McNabb should have substantial market value. Former Philadelphia assistant coaches Brad Childress (Minnesota) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore) are desperate for a solid quarterback and they might be willing to put together offers that would tempt the Eagles.
Jeremy Shockey, New York Giants
Reasoning: Maybe it's not a coincidence that the Giants played their best after Shockey was injured. He and quarterback Eli Manning never have had great chemistry. Winning the Super Bowl gives Manning more clout. That's not to say Manning will try to run Shockey out of town, but the Giants will be more conscious than ever about doing what's best for their quarterback. Shockey kept a low profile during all the Super Bowl festivities, and he might want out. The development of rookie Kevin Boss during the postseason gives the Giants some flexibility at tight end.
Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Reasoning: Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis came out and strongly said Johnson will not be traded and that the Bengals have not even thought about moving the receiver. But Johnson might have a different wish. While making the rounds during Super Bowl week, Johnson told interviewers he'd look good in just about any uniform, besides Cincinnati's. A big contract extension might change Johnson's thoughts on staying with the Bengals. But this is a team that has a history of being frugal. Johnson's a walking distraction, but he's always been productive. The success of Randy Moss in New England might have potential suitors imagining a similar scenario for Johnson and they might try to talk Cincinnati into changing its mind.
Kris Jenkins, Carolina Panthers
Reasoning: He's a three-time Pro Bowler and was Carolina's best defensive lineman last season. But the Panthers and Jenkins haven't been seeing eye to eye for several years. The Panthers tried to trade him last spring, but held out for a first-round pick that didn't come. The price tag could drop this season, and Washington or Baltimore are places Jenkins would love to play. The Panthers, who would be comfortable with Damione Lewis and Ma'ake Kemoeatu as their starting defensive tackles, also could simply cut Jenkins and free up $3 million in salary cap space.
Chris Simms, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A couple of years ago, it seemed like Simms would be Tampa Bay's quarterback for the long term. But he hasn't played since having his spleen removed early in the 2006 season and Jeff Garcia has a firm grip on the starting job. The Bucs also have Luke McCown and Bruce Gradkowski, and that may make Simms expendable. He's not likely to fetch the Bucs anything big in return, but there are plenty of teams that might be willing to take a shot on a guy who once looked like he could be a solid starter.
Antwaan Randle El, Washington Redskins
Randle El had a career-high 51 receptions last season, but the Redskins need a big receiver as they switch to the West Coast offense, and Santana Moss isn't going anywhere. There already has been talk of them trading for Johnson, and Randle El is taking up a good chunk of the salary cap.
Warrick Dunn, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons need help just about everywhere else, and they have Jerious Norwood waiting to be their feature back. Dunn, 30, still has something left in his legs and could help a lot of teams. Getting a draft pick or two for Dunn might speed Atlanta's rebuilding process.
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis Colts
Harrison will be 36 in August and he missed a large chunk of last season with a knee problem that might not get a lot better. Sure, Harrison is a Colt through and through. But Tony Dungy and Bill Polian already have shown they won't let sentiment get in the way of sensibility (see Edgerrin James). Reggie Wayne has established himself as the No. 1 receiver and Anthony Gonzalez had a promising rookie season.
Muhsin Muhammad, Chicago Bears
Muhammad will turn 35 in May and his reception total has dropped steadily each of the past three seasons. Some of that can be blamed on inconsistency at quarterback. But Muhammad, who never had great speed, isn't getting any faster and his $3.4 million salary cap figure might make him too expensive a luxury for the Bears.
Alge Crumpler, Atlanta Falcons
Again, the Falcons need to add draft picks and Crumpler might be one of their few marketable players. The tight end isn't a big receiving option in new coordinator Mike Mularkey's offense. Mularkey wants to build a power running game, and blocking tight ends take up a lot less salary cap space.
Pat Yasinskas covers the NFL for ESPN.com.