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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.