NFL

Island of Misfit Toys for NFL: Superstars who need a change of scenery

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In the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer their was a special place known at the “Island of Misfits Toys,” and believe it or not that place exists in the NFL.

The island was filled strange toys that included a cowboy who rides an ostrich or a boat that can’t stay afloat.

Having a bird that swims is similar to the Seattle Seahawks having arguably the leagues best pass catching tight and leaving him on the offensive line to block rather than stretching the seam for six points.

We will go into detail on how things aren’t working out exactly how players and teams envisioned when they were acquired via the NFL Draft, trade or free agency.

 

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

Misfit Toy – A bird that swims.

Prior to the beginning of free agency in March, the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks sent shockwaves through the NFL after Jimmy Graham was sent to the Pacific Northwest.

Graham played in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in NFL history. He was quarterback Drew Brees’ favorite target and created staggering tight end statistics at the position.

He lined up off the line of scrimmage so much that when it came time to negotiate a new contract, Graham filed an arbitration suit to be paid as a receiver rather than a tight end.

In the end, he lost in arbitration and one season later (2015) he was traded to the Seahawks. Seattle relies on running the football again, again and again.

So far the transition hasn’t been as easy or as productive as the Seahawks, and perhaps even Graham thought.

Signs are pointing to Graham to getting back to his normal self. He has posted a 100-yard game for the first time since Week 2 of 2014 against the Cleveland Browns.

There’s no point in having a bird that swims when you want it to soar.

 

Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers

 

Misfit Toy – A pistol that shoots jelly.

 

Kaepernick is the pistol that shoots jelly.

At one point and time, the former Nevada quarterback was armed and dangerous. He was developing into the ultimate multi-threat quarterback, picking apart defenses with his arm and his legs.

Then he began to regress.

The second-round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft now finds himself sitting the bench behind Blaine Gabbert.

“This was just a decision that I just felt like I wanted Colin to step back and breathe,” said Jim Tomsula 49ers head coach. “Look at things through a different lens. Keep preparing, keep doing his thing, keep working, but just step back and take a look at things, OK.”

The 49ers are 2-6 and it is possible that they are looking to keep Kaepernick safe and sound so they can trade him after the season ends.

Kaepernick’s career looked promising working under former head coach, Jim Harbaugh. The possibility of the 49ers’ bringing in another quarterback-minded coach or better yet, a change of scenary would do a world of good for Kaepernick.

It still comes down to Kaepernick reading and reacting to the coverages and making plays, but a new logo on the side of his helmet would do him a world of good.

We have to see if this pistol finally starts firing bullets again in another town where his skills can be better adapted.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Misfit Toy – Train with square wheels on its caboose.

When Murray played in Dallas, he resembled a European bullet train.

He was fast and powerful, and led the NFL in rushing (2015) with 1,845 yards. Then the Dallas Cowboys decided that they weren’t going to invest the money to keep Murray, who signed with the Eagles via free agency in March.

Now Murray looks like the train with square wheels on its caboose, another fixture on the Island of Misfit Toys.

Murray is being outplayed by the Eagles other free agent acquisition, Ryan Mathews and if it wasn’t for the expensive price tag ($42 million over five years), Murray would likely find the ball coming to him less and less.

We all know Chip Kelly is not afraid to pull the trigger on deals that involve superstar names.

Murray could join the list of LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, among the Eagles that Kelly has exiled.  The only difference is that those players were actually productive in Philadelphia.

Last season, Murray averaged 5.2 yards per carry and this season with his square wheels, it’s up to a dismal 3.5 yards per carry. Forget about leading the NFL in rushing, Murray has to become the leading rusher on his own team. Mathews receives on average, eight carries per game and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry and leads the Eagles with 342 rushing yards.

Murray is getting nearly double the amount of carries (14.1) and has rushed for just 307 yards.

Choo-Choo, all aboard this train might be leaving the station (another NFL city).

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

Misfit Toy – A cowboy who rides an ostrich.

Luckily for Morris, he is a free agent after the conclusion of the season.

Prior to this season, Morris was one of the most stable fixtures in the NFL in terms of reliability and production.  He exploded on the scene his rookie season rushing for 1,613 yards, which isn’t to shabby for a sixth-round pick form Florida Atlantic. Morris followed his sensational rookie campaign with two more 1,000-yard seasons.

Entering his fourth season in Washington, the team has elected to phase him out.

He is receiving 13 carries per game this year and his production is considerably off his normal pace and he’ll likely miss out on his fourth straight 1,000 yard season.

He is now a ‘Cowboy who rides an ostrich’, when he once rode a powerful stallion.

Morris will get his mojo (stallion) back when free agency opens in 2016 and hopefully he can find a suitor who wants to feed him carries and allows him to be the sole featured running back in their offense.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.