Sports

25 NFL Stars Who Were Unceremoniously Released By Their Teams

Darren - September 2, 2021
Sports

25 NFL Stars Who Were Unceremoniously Released By Their Teams

Darren - September 2, 2021
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. Kurt Warner (1994)

Warner took one of the most unusual routes to the NFL. He was the quarterback behind the Greatest Show on Turf when he played for the St. Louis Rams. But Warner showed remarkable resolve to make it that far. This was because his NFL career almost ended before it even began. The Green Bay Packers released him after he went undrafted.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He wallowed through the Arena Football League before he received a second chance as back-up for St. Louis (via L.A. Times). But even before he played for them, he featured in NFL Europe for Amsterdam. Finally, he became the starter in Missouri after Trent Green’s preseason. The rest, as they say, is history.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Jordy Nelson (2017)

It’s remarkable how quickly players retire after a change of scene. Nelson was excellent for the Green Bay Packers. He was a franchise-great receiver in Wisconsin before they released him. With four 1,000 yard seasons to his name, he set the standards for Davante Adams to follow (via Sporting News). He ended his career in Oakland.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Nelson only spent a season with the Raiders before retiring. He spent a significant chunk of that year behind Amari Cooper but did make an impact on the field. Green Bay welcomed him back on a one-day contract so he could hang up his cleats at home. He helped the franchise to a Super Bowl and guaranteed his status as a legend.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Tyrann Mathieu (2017)

Mathieu’s departure from the Cardinals was one of the strangest in recent memory. They released him after five seasons with the franchise. USA Today revealed the uncertainty behind Arizona’s decision to cut him. They had cap issues but it appears as though there were issues between the player and the front office. That’s why Mathieu wants nothing to do with his old franchise.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals fans loved Mathieu but that wasn’t enough to make him stay. The franchise wanted him to take a pay cut but he rejected an eight million offer. In the end, they released him and he moved to Houston. But the Texans signed him up for a million dollars less than this. It’s clear that he just wanted to get out of Arizona because his relationship deteriorated so badly.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Jerry Rice (2000)

One of the greatest wideouts in NFL history, Rice was phenomenal for the Niners. However, they released him because he was old and they paid him a lot of money. San Francisco wanted to restructure their roster and it made sense to get Rice off their books. Then, he walked away as a free agent and joined the Oakland Raiders. It looked like it was the end.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Rice’s move to the Raiders was a success because he helped them return to the playoffs. The wideout’s influence on the franchise was profound. They got to the Super Bowl but lost out against Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Rice made the Pro Bowl too. The craziest thing was that he was 40 at the time. The Raiders even listed the veteran on their all-time roster despite his short tenure.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. Richard Sherman

A key member of the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom, Sherman was a brilliant corner. The Super Bowl champion enjoyed seven iconic seasons with the franchise before they released him. In the end, it came down to the salary cap as it often does. The Seahawks wanted to keep him but they didn’t want to match his previous earnings. So they let him go to restructure their roster.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The combination of an Achilles injury and his age scared Seattle off. They told him to take a pay cut or they’d let him go (Seattle Times). Finally, he joined San Francisco where he made a notable impact. He even made a second Super Bowl appearance in 2019. There were rumors that Sherman would return to the Seahawks but they never materialized.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Wes Welker (2004)

Welker was a highly effective wide receiver and led the league in receiving yards on three occasions. But his career almost didn’t start. The San Diego Chargers picked him up after he went undrafted. But he only played a single game for the franchise before they released him (via Boston.com). He had the option of joining their practice squad but opted against it.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Instead, he accepted a deal with the Miami Dolphins. It took him time to find his feet as he played on special teams. But finally, he became one of their most important attacking talents. This resulted in a trade to the New England Patriots. Welker never won a Super Bowl with the Pats but he was a vibrant threat for a number of seasons.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Shaun Alexander (2007)

The Seattle Seahawks released Alexander just two years after he won the NFL MVP award. They used their first-round pick on him in 2000 and he proceeded to break multiple records. However, the time felt right for a parting of ways and the Seahawks vindicated their decision. It was one of the toughest choices of Seattle President Tim Ruskell’s career (via Seattle Times).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

After a stellar 2005, Alexander’s production numbers dropped. He only featured in 10 games the following season. Then, in his final year, he rushed for just 716 yards. Alexander signaled his desire to continue playing and signed with the Redskins. But Washington released him after just four games and that ended his NFL career. It was a shame but football took its toll on his body.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. DeMarco Murray (2014)

The Dallas Cowboys shocked their fanbase when they released their star running back. This came after the most productive season of his career. However, Murray priced himself out of a contract renewal. Jerry Jones had a choice between keeping Dez Bryant or Murray and went for the former. Murray’s father Kevin signaled his surprise that the Cowboys allowed his son to leave (via Dallas Morning News).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In the end, Murray was delighted to depart because he made his fortune. The Philadelphia Eagles offered him a five-year contract worth $42 million. Murray thought that this would suit him perfectly and duly signed up. But he had the least effective year of his career and they traded him to the Titans at the end of the season.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

3. Antonio Brown (2019)

The Patriots cut some high-profile players over the years. Nobody can argue with this that. Brown only played a single game for the franchise before they unceremoniously released him. This came after news broke of his alleged sexual assault. It immediately cast his future into doubt. Crazily, it wasn’t even the first time an NFL team cut him.

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

The Oakland Raiders also released the wideout because of personal issues. NBC reported that he argued with the team over which helmet to wear and had a fallout with the front office. Brown’s indiscipline made him a nightmare to work with and ultimately they showed him the door. He rebounded with Tampa Bay and even won a Super Bowl.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Tom Brady (2020)

To say that the Patriots released Brady isn’t 100% accurate because technically he walked off his own accord. However, the circumstances that enabled his free agency were of New England’s making. In short, it all came down to money. Brady wanted a long-term contract but the Patriots weren’t prepared to hand one to their quadragenarian quarterback (via SB Nation).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The two parties failed to agree to a new contract and ultimately Brady became a free agent. But if the Patriots wanted to keep him they definitely could have. There were problems behind the scenes because of Brady’s cold relationship with Bill Belichick. Another factor was that Brady felt undervalued. The Patriots wanted to move him on and succeeded.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Cam Newton (2021)

Mac Jones fell into the Patriots’ lap in 2021 but nobody expected him to start in Week One. It looked like former League MVP Newton was in the driving seat because of his age and experience. Neither signal-caller set the world on fire during the preseason. However, Bill Belichick had other ideas and made a stunning decision when he announced his final roster.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots released Newton and designated Jones as their starter. Newton infuriated the franchise after failing to follow health protocols (via Sporting News). His lack of professionalism combined with his patchy 2020 season made it easy. They decided to focus on the future and make Jones into potentially the next Tom Brady. It was a bold call but a very exciting one.

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