NFL

Fresh Starts Necessary For NFL Free Agents

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The first three plus weeks of the NFL’s calendar year (free agency) has seen hundreds of players change teams, collect million of dollars and give fanbases hope for at least a few months.

For every Malik Jackson, Brock Osweiler and Olivier Vernon, there are plenty of free agents who are on their last chance to try and salvage their careers.

We’re going to spotlight a few players who are in great spots for a career resurrection.

Robert Griffin, III, Cleveland Browns

The NFL is a different world from year to year, and it’s really a different world from what it was in 2012 when RG3 was Rookie of the Year and led his Washington Redskins to the postseason.

You know the story of what happened, and his market was rather soft as he had a couple visits with the New York Jets and Denver Broncos before finally landing in Cleveland.

This is probably Griffin’s last chance to reestablish himself as a starting quarterback, and although Cleveland is where quarterbacks usually go to die, he will have a real shot with new head coach Hue Jackson and possibly his former college teammate Josh Gordon.

“There is a natural connection between RG3 and J.G.,” Briles told Cleveland.com last week. “When you’re talking about a quarterback-receiver relationship at the highest level of the game, you need a really strong bond, and those guys have it. I think it’s going to be great for them.”

Even if the Browns draft a quarterback with the second-overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, it’s likely that incumbent starter Josh McCown will be moved and Griffin will have a leg up on winning the starting job.  If he fails in Cleveland, it’s unlikely that he will be anything more than a backup for the rest of his career.

Alfred Morris, Dallas Cowboys

When RG3 was making history in Washington, Alfred Morris was running through canyons as his backfield mate. After a 1,600 yard season as a rookie in 2012, Morris’ numbers have plummeted each season and he was replaced last year by Redskins rookie Matt Jones.

Morris was never a 1,600 yard running back talent, as that was mainly due to the scheme that Washington ran and the athleticism of RG3.

Now it’s up to Morris to once again prove he can be a valuable member of a tandem or three-headed backfield and there’s no better chance to do so than in Dallas, with one of the best offensive lines in football.

Morris will compete for carries with oft-injured veteran Darren McFadden along with Lance Dunbar, who the team re-signed last week.  Morris is likely the most talented back of the three and there’s no better place to resurrect his career.

Demarco Murray, Tennessee Titans

Demarco Murray received a lot of criticism and scorn when he left the Dallas Cowboys prior to the 2015 season after he led the NFL in rushing the previous season.  Murray did what most people would, which was take the most money.  Unfortunately, Chip Kelly’s system didn’t cater to his skill set and he was the player face of a failed season.

Now Murray is back to being considered “damaged goods” and needs to reestablish his career.

He will have an excellent chance to do so in Tennessee as he will likely receive the bulk of the carries in a backfield with the mobile Marcus Mariota and a pretty solid offensive line which could include potential No. 1 pick Laremy Tunsil.

“I think he has a lot of juice left in the tank still, I really do,’’ Mularkey said of Murray. “I am not going to comment on other teams and their offensive schemes and how they use players. But we believe … when we were looking at him and pursuing him in the trade, he has a lot left and in our offense we will be smart with him, how we handle him. We are going to manage him, but he is going to run the ball. He will be used extensively.”

Head coach Mike Mularkey’s system should fit Murray’s skill set well and with a young quarterback it’s likely that the Titans will try and run the ball to shorten the game and play good defense.

Prince Amukamara, Jacksonville Jaguars

Prince Amukamara was a former first-round pick, and when he’s been on the field there are very few questions about his talent.  Unfortunately, he’s missed 25 games in five seasons and that’s why his market in free agency was limited.

Enter the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had a ton of money to throw around in free agency.  You can never have too many pass rushers and good cornerbacks and since the team couldn’t find a great pass rusher in free agency, they added Amukamara.

“His size, his length and his desire. He’s a guy that we’ve normally shied away from in terms of the injury history but his injuries haven’t been reoccurring,” Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell explained of his new cornerback. “They’ve all been different injuries at points in time of his career; kind of a little freakish to some degree. He just feels like it’s a prove-it deal for him and he’s motivated to play well and the risk for us wasn’t a high risk for a one-year deal.”

He will have the opportunity to start opposite Davon House and he is the most talented player in the Jacksonville secondary.  The former Nebraska Cornhusker signed a one-year deal and a good season in Duval County will help re-establish his value in the 2017 free agency market.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.