NFL Free Agency: Out with the Old? 10 Players Likely Gone Thanks to Draft Picks
Generally, free agency comes before the NFL draft, and teams that lose out on players in that period or that make it known that they are cutting ties with certain players on their roster generally know which positions they'll attack on draft day.
However, this season, the draft preceded the free agency period, and players on NFL teams learned of their future with their current team based on who the team selected early on draft day.
These 10 players aren't locks to be gone necessarily, but they probably understand that it wouldn't be a shock if they were on the chopping block once the lockout ends.
All contract details and rumors thanks to Evan Silva and Rotoworld.com
Mike Peterson, OLB, Atlanta Falcons
Not a huge factor in the Falcons defense, Peterson is getting up there in years and was likely viewed as expendable in the near future.
While the Falcons made it known that they want to bring him back next season, they may have sent a message in drafting Akeem Dent from Georgia in the third round, which was a bit of a reach on many boards and shows that they obviously felt the position was a need.
Peterson is a free agent, and odds are the Falcons won't re-sign him barring he's willing to take a backup role and less money for the future.
Indianapolis Offensive Line
President Bill Polian made it clear that he was both frustrated they didn't go offensive tackle in last year's draft (missing on Rodger Saffold) and that he was going to make it a priority in this draft to add to the offensive line.
In the first round, the Colts got Anthony Castonzo of Boston College, who many considered the safest left tackle prospect. And, in the second round, they took one of the top four or five right tackle/guard prospects in the draft and fringe first-rounder Ben Ijalana from Villanova.
While it's unclear if any of the Colts 2010 starters will be off the roster, they obviously view both of these players as day one starters, so I'd expect at least one of the weakest links on last year's offensive line to be gone come free agency.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Minnesota Vikings
This might be a bit of a stretch, based on the fact that he's been maybe the most consistent receiving threat for this team the past two seasons, but the drafting of Kyle Rudolph from Notre Dame in the second round sparks some questions.
Shiancoe may have been a product of Brett Favre's love for throwing to tight ends, and with a new offensive system in there, it's possible that the Vikings could be willing to part ways with one of the league's top-10 tight ends the past two years and save themselves the $3.1 million he's owed next season.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
For a reason unknown to many, Marvin Lewis remains the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals despite severely struggling during his tenure outside of one playoff berth. Still, it looks that now that he's back, things are going to be more under his control. And that means that locker room frustration guys won't be the focus on this team.
Chad Ochocinco is due $6 million next year, which is a lot for a receiver whose production has dipped at this point in his career. Plus, the team selected A.J. Green from Georgia at No. 4 overall, and have now drafted five receivers in the past three drafts.
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
It's been widely known that since Palmer declared that he wouldn't step foot into the Bengals' stadium as a member of the team that he was on the trade block. The Bengals were rumored to be considering calling his bluff, but while they still hope he does change his mind and return, based on their draft, they seem ready to move on.
The Bengals drafted Andy Dalton, one of the top five quarterbacks selected in what was a memorable quarterback draft this year. While I'm not sold on Andy Dalton as a future starting NFL quarterback, the Bengals offensive coordinator is apparently, and if that's the case, then they could start taking those rumors of Seattle, Arizona and Miami offering high-round picks for Palmer, once the lockout is over.
Ricky Williams, RB, Miami
Now a free agent this year, Ricky Williams has been a fringe roster guy for this team the past two seasons, being the second running back and not a guy that was consistent whatsoever. With neither Williams or Ronnie Brown emerging as a guy they can expect 1,000 yards from each and every year, the Dolphins look like they are going in a different direction.
The teams drafted Daniel Thomas of Kansas State in the second round (actually traded up to secure him) and he's viewed as their likely opening day starter and feature back, along with Ronnie Brown. Williams could be brought back, but only on a reduced contract and in a deep rotational role.
Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys didn't really have a huge need at running back for the future, with Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber all still young, able-bodied running backs who at times have all flashed brilliance.
However, the team drafted DeMarco Murray of Oklahoma in the third round this year, and having four running backs getting carries is not something that is customary in the league. That means one of last year's three running backs is likely gone.
Barber got the least amount of goal-line carries for the team and is due $500,000 on June 5th, with a total of $25.25 million dollars left on his current contract.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Thomas Dimitrioff made it clear that he wanted to add some playmakers to his offense in this draft, and trading up from No. 27 to No. 6 overall to get a receiver is a pretty bold move and stresses the importance of his idea of what his team needs.
Julio Jones was a bit of a strange pick, as he'll be the No. 2 receiver for this team opposite Roddy White. However, it does make it pretty clear that their current number two receiver wasn't good enough, and could be out of a job.
Mike Jenkins is due $3.5 million next year, and $4.25 million in 2012, so paying him to be the No. 4 receiver (after Harry Douglas in the slot) seems a bit much.
Matt Light, OT, New England Patriots
The Patriots were rumored to be very interested in adding depth to their offensive line as well as maybe a potential starter or two. It seemed as though their target was Mike Pouncey of Florida, who could fill their need at left guard and center.
However, with Pouncey gone (and maybe regardless of whether he was there or not) the team went with a different position on the offensive line. The Patriots picked the long-armed offensive tackle Nate Solder from Colorado with the 17th overall pick.
While I wasn't sold on Solder being a consistent offensive tackle in the NFL because he struggled so much with power rushers, he does have maybe the highest ceiling as far as being an NFL left tackle.
Matt Light is a free agent this offseason, and underwent shoulder surgery earlier in the offseason. While the team has said they are interested in bringing him back, it may not be worth it considering they now have Solder and Sebastian Vollmer as their tackles of the future.
Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints
"It's been fun New Orleans," Reggie Bush's tweet said the day after the Saints traded up for Mark Ingram in the first round of the draft. The team hasn't ruled out bringing back the former No. 2 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner (not technically).
Still, with Mark Ingram being able to be a 1,000-yard rusher, a receiver out of the backfield, and a pass blocker, Ingram fills up multiple roles as a running back and should result in at least one of the Saints rushers last year leaving town. Bush has been injury-prone and only shown flashes, very few, of brilliance over his career. Plus, Bush is due $11.8 million next year.
Sean Payton has said the he has a "clear vision" for Bush, and he'd be "surprised, really" if Bush wasn't back. However, it's still uncertain if Payton is still that confident. Reggie obviously isn't.
He knows it's over, Adam Schefter has reported that it's likely over, and conventional wisdom and a quick look at the depth chart shows that Bush is likely done in New Orleans. But hey, his former coach up in Seattle may be interested.
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