Warning: There isn't a lot of good news in this article. The Wolverines in the NFL, as a whole, did not perform well in 2013, and they seem to be an injury-prone bunch.
Unfortunately, Jay finished a solid 2013 campaign with an ugly performance in the final game of the regular season. With the playoffs on the line, Feely missed two out of four field goals in a 23-20 loss against the San Francisco 49ers. Assuming everything follows the same script, one successful kick ties the game and both wins it for Arizona. Needless to say, his disappointing play versus the 49ers left a sour taste in the mouths of Cardinals fans, causing many to assume Feely wouldn't be retained (he's a free agent this year). However, excluding the last game, Jay connected on 28 of 32 field goals, a total that's expected from him. In regards to a new contract, Feely stated that "[The Cardinals] want me back, I want to be back, so hopefully we can get that done." Given the rough end to the season and the fact that Arizona held a kicker competition in the early weeks of 2013, it's not guaranteed that Jay sticks in Glendale for his fifth consecutive season. If the right opportunity arises for the Cardinals (i.e. a veteran free agent outplays Feely in tryouts, a rookie excites the front office in the draft, etc.), the former Wolverine will be looking for a job for the 2014 season.
Kenny Demens (ILB, Undrafted in 2013, Arizona Cardinals):
Following a strong preseason, it looked as if Demens was going to make the 53-man roster in Arizona. However, he started 2013 on the practice squad until the team activated him in Week 4 due to a couple injuries at linebacker. He stayed with the Cardinals until Week 7 and played in only the first two games on a total of 25 snaps: 16 defensive and 9 special teams. He recorded three solo tackles - all in Week 4 - and following his brief stint on the active roster, he was waived, resigned, and sent back to the practice squad for the rest of the season. Shortly after the new year, the Cardinals signed Demens to a futures contract, meaning they've retained his services for another year. Hopefully Kenny continues to develop in Arizona's system and receives another shot on the 53-man roster in 2014.
Branch referred to the 2013 season as "kind of a prove-it year" back at the start of preseason, and he did just that. Following Week 17, he and the Bills inked a contract extension for three years, worth $8.5 million (with a $3.1 million signing bonus). As a rotational lineman in Buffalo's 3-4 defense, Branch ended up receiving 52% of the Bills' defensive snaps thanks to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. Looking at his stats, 2013 was by no means spectacular for Branch: 39 combined tackles and one pass defended with no sacks. With Buffalo's defensive coordinator Mike Pettine jumping ship to lead the Cleveland Browns, the Bills hired former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to fill his shoes (good luck Buffalo!). Jim will likely run a 4-3 defense rather than a 3-4, meaning that as of now, Branch is listed as a starting defensive end. This has caused some to question whether or not Alan possess the speed and skills to be an end over a nose tackle. With this change, 2014 might be a tough transition year for Branch if he remains at end.
Like Demens, Roh signed a futures contract with the Panters a couple of weeks ago. However, Roh never earned a shot on the 53-man roster in 2013 like his fellow Wolverine. He'll have to shine in camp and preseason if he wants a chance in 2014.
Hall missed the majority of 2013 on I.R. with his second torn Achilles in three years. Prior to the injury, Hall entered '13 looking to build on a solid end to his 2012 campaign. He seemed to be doing just that as he racked up 16 total tackles and one interception in the first three weeks. Unfortunately, he missed Weeks 4 and 5 with a hamstring injury and only played in one more game being tearing his Achilles in Week 7. The good news is that Hall's rehab is on track, and there's an outside chance he's ready by training camp. Moreover, his limited play impressed Cincy Jungle enough to consider him a candidate for the Bengals 2013 Comeback Player of the Year.
Zoltan Mesko (P, 150th in 2010 to Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals):
Following three seasons in New England, Mesko failed to survive the final preseason cuts and entered free agency in August. The move by the Patriots wasn't necessarily clear looking at stats alone - Mesko and his competitor, rookie Ryan Allen, performed roughly the same in the preseason - but made more sense when Mesko was due to make over three times Allen's $400k salary in 2013. He wasn't a free agent for long as the Steelers signed him before the start of the season. In the next eight weeks, Mesko underperformed with an average punt of 42.5 yards, which put him in the bottom 25% of the league. He was also pitiful when it came to landing the ball inside of the 20-yard line: looking only at punters with at least 30 attempts, he finished dead last with three punts inside the 20. After flying out of Pittsburgh, Mesko remained unsigned until the Bengals picked him up before the start of the playoffs. Cincy ended up losing in the first round, and Zoltan looked alright in his final game of the season. He almost matched his season total for punts inside the 20 with two, and his third punt was a 50-yarder. Cincy Jungle gives Mesko a 0.1 chance of returning ("5 being almost certain"), but the "NFL's Most Interesting Man" doesn't seem too worried as he lounges in U.S.A. speedos while holding puppies.
Seeing as the Texans were the worst team in the NFL this year, I never understood why they didn't activate Jamison and give him some playing time once the season became hopeless. Tim spent the majority of the season on the inactive list, and in the five games he wasn't, he played on only 54 snaps: 43 defensive and 11 special teams. He recorded a lone tackle and defended one pass on the season. The Texans have him under contract for 2014, but if they end up drafting Jadeveon Clowney with the top pick in the draft, I don't know if they'll keep Jamison around.
Over the course of this year, I lost track and forgot to catch up on Webb's whereabouts. After being cut by the Cardinals before the start of the regular season, Webb remained in free agency until the Lions signed him to their practice squad in early November. Two weeks later, Detroit parted ways with Webb, and the Colts signed him a little while after that to their practice squad. Following the Colts' elimination from the playoffs, Indy and Webb agreed to a futures contract.
Henne was signed prior to the 2012 season to backup Blaine Gabbert, but due to injuries, Henne's started 19 games in the previous two years and 13 last season. Unfortunately, he wasn't effective and played downright ugly football at times in '13. He finished the year completing 60% of his passes for 3,241 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Most of his stats came during garbage time, because 1) the Jaguars aren't a good football team right now and 2) he didn't do much to help their offense when he did play. From all this, you'd assume that the Jags would choose not to resign him this offseason given that his contract is up. However, it looks like they want to resign him before he can test the market. The majority of people expect the Jags to draft a quarterback - or two - in the draft this year, and if he is retained, it's unlikely Henne sees much playing time in 2014, unless every one ahead of him on the depth chart keeps getting injured.
Denard Robinson (RB, 135th in 2013 to Jaguars, Jacksonville Jaguars):
First, Denard tried to switch from quarterback to wide receiver. Then, after the Jags selected him in the fifth round, he became an "Offensive Weapon." Now, following a rough rookie campaign, he's simply a backup running back. His biggest issue was holding onto the ball, evident by the fact that he had three fumbles on 20 carries. One fumble cost him what would have been his first NFL touchdown. Because of this, he saw more action on special teams (38% of snaps) than offense (5%). However, the Jags had a pitiful year, and I was still surprised to see a lack of playing time for Denard near the end of the year, especially once multiple running backs ahead of him went down with injuries. Big Cat Country thinks he'll get another year to show what he's worth "before the experiment begins to wain [sic]." As for what he thought of his season, Robinson had this to say:
"I just didn't do the little things I think I'm capable of doing. I feel like I did learn. I did get better. So I'm going to take that in stride and just keep getting better...Just little things like catching the ball, getting in and out of my breaks all the time when I'm running the ball, little things like that. Trusting the process and just being patience with my runs and stuff like that."
Hemingway only played one game for the Chiefs in his rookie season, but in '13, he saw action in all 16 contests while starting two. Seeing more action on special teams than in the offense, he still finished the year with 13 receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Since I only watched the Chiefs in the playoffs, I'll turn it over to Arrowhead Pride as they sum up his '13 season and future nicely:
"Hemingway really improved this season. He ran better routes and did a better job of attacking the ball. The game seemed to slow down for him. He wasn't as hesitant on the field. He provides the Chiefs with a great gunner on special teams.
He deserves more playing time in 2014. During the off-season he needs to continue working on his route running, accelerating out of his breaks and getting a free release at the line of scrimmage."
Kovacs bounced back and forth a couple of times from Miami's practice squad to the 53-man roster this year. He ending up playing in nine games, mostly on special teams with a little time in the secondary. I'd be a little shocked if Miami doesn't offer him a futures contract considering his solid special teams contributions. The Toledo Blade wrote a nice piece summarizing his first NFL season, and according to Kovacs, "his next goal in the NFL is to prove his versatility, that he can play on both special teams and at safety..."
Brady and the Patriots had a roller coaster season filled with multiple comeback victories that ended in disappointment at the hands of the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. In the biggest game of the year, Brady looked average at best and the rest of the offense gave him zero help. The Pats have long been known for creating something out of nothing with their wide receiver options, but this season may have been the breaking point. The Patriots need to have more weapons in their receiving core. Granted, Brady didn't have the best season of his career - 60.5% completion rate for 4.343 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions - but that's still a solid stat line. Also, take for example the fact that he was sacked 40 times in '13, the second-most in his career (he endured 41 in his sophomore campaign). Brady's not getting any younger (he'll be 37 by the start of the 2014 season), and I can't see him playing much past the age of 40. If the Pats want to capture that elusive fourth Super Bowl with Brady at the helm, they might want to consider some upgrades on offense this offseason. For more analysis on Brady's season, head over to Pats Pulpit and read this.
In his nine year career, Baas has never played in less than 11 games until 2013. Hampered by neck and knee issues early in the season, a reoccurrence of an MCL sprain ended his season prematurely in Week 7. On the season, Baas ended up playing and starting in just three games for a total of one complete game and 142 offensive snaps. Needless to say, the year was a complete disappointment, and his future in New York is up for debate. Some think he'll be cut to make cap room, but others have pointed out that it's not that simple in Baas's case. If you don't want to read the articles, the gist of it is that if the Giants cut him before June 1st, they'll save $1.775 million on the cap next year while Baas still accounting for $6.45 million without playing for the team. If they wait until after June 1st, they'll save $5 million on the cap, but the savings would come too late to use during free agency, i.e. what's the point? As the author of the second article asks, "How badly do the Giants need $1.775 million against the salary cap this season and is what Baas can give you on the field worth that money?"
Ryan Mundy (S, 194th in 2008 to Steelers, New York Giants):
With Stevie Brown's season-ending injury and legal issues for another one of New York's safeties, Will Hill, Mundy found himself stepping into a starting role at the beginning of 2013. He was dominant until suffering a knee injury in Week 7: a 91-yard interception return, a fumble recovery for a safety, and the team-lead in tackles. However, he lost his starting spot to Hill after his injury and ended up stuck with mostly special teams duties until starting two of the last three games. He finished the season with the one pick, one fumble recovery, one sack, and 77 tackles. He proved to be a valuable asset and solid replacement in the absence of Brown and Hill. Still, his future in New York is up in the air and depends on whether or not the Giants decided to bring back Brown (highly likely) and Hill (less likely due to constant legal issues). As Big Blue View described Mundy, "There is nothing special about [him], but good teams need players who can step in at any time and perform adequately." If the Giants disagree, he'll be able to find a new team for 2014 without a problem.
Stevie Brown (S, 251st in 2010 to Raiders, New York Giants):
In the middle of what everyone hoped to be his first interception return out of many in 2013, Brown went to juke a defender and tore his ACL, ending his season in the third week of the preseason. He's a UFA heading into 2014, but all signs point to the Giants retaining his services. Brown stated that contract talks have already begun, and the Giants have the exclusive ability to negotiate with him until March 8th. The deal makes sense for both parties for a variety of reasons, such as Brown's talent and lack of leverage in contract negotiations on Brown's end due to a missed season. In terms of his rehab, he commented the following about his knee in early January: "It feels strong. It feels stable. I couldn't ask for it to be better at the stage that it's in."
David Harris (ILB, 47th in 2007 to Jets, New York Jets):
Harris dialed up another solid season as a centerpiece in New York's defense. He finished the season with over 120 tackles for the fourth time in his career and a pair of sacks. As a 30-year old inside linebacker, he's getting up there in age, and it makes sense for the Jets to restructure (and possibly extend) Harris's four-year, $36 million contract signed in 2011 to open up some cap space. There's no reason for the Jets to get rid of him this offseason, but they'll probably be looking at options for his eventual replacement.
The Jets kept Campbell on the 53-man roster for the entire 2013 season...but never activated him from the inactive list. For a team that never looked primed for a playoff run, why keep an extra lineman on the roster to never at least take a look at him? Apparently, the Jets did this with another offensive lineman as well, and Gang Green Nation already tried to figure out why New York made such a baffling decision. They concluded that "the only logical reason that presents itself for why the Jets chose to use two roster spots on Aboushi [i.e. the other lineman] and Campbell (particularly Campbell, who likely would have gone undrafted if not for the Jets picking him) is that the Jets think rather highly of both of them, and not only did not wish to take the rather small risk of losing them to another team if they were cut, but apparently wanted to make sure they would not be subject to poaching off the practice squad either." The article goes on to speculate that the Jets might be planning to use Campbell as an important piece in building their offensive line in 2014. If so, Will might have a chance to start in the NFL sooner rather than later.
Woodson only signed a one-year deal with the Raiders for 2013, and both parties want to see the same in 2014. At 37 years old, Woodson had a stellar season, starting in all 16 games and tallying 97 tackles, three forced fumbles, two sacks, one interception, and returned one fumble for a touchdown. Silver & Black Pride compare him to RoboCop, and that's not far from reality. A new contract hasn't been signed yet, and I'd be shocked it Woodson left Oakland seeing as he's been pretty vocal about wanting to finish out his playing days in silver and black. Oh, and if you didn't know, he's still pretty upset over the "Tuck Rule Game," asserting before the AFC Championship game this year that "Tom Brady owes me his house. I'm the reason why he's married to who he's married to. Everything." I vividly remember watching that game over a decade ago, and it looks like it still keeps Charles up at night.
Brandon Graham (LB, 13th in 2010 to Eagles, Philadelphia Eagles):
With Philly switching to a 3-4 defense in 2013, Graham moved from defensive end to outside linebacker, and in the process, saw minimal playing time. Graham's usage on defense dropped from 40% in ‘12 to 27% this year, but he did see more action on specials teams, 4% in '12 to 60% in '13. He's failed to back up the Eagles selecting him in the first round four years ago, and the Super Bowl reminded Philly's fanbase that they traded up to select Graham over Earl Thomas, Seattle's star safety. Since Graham hasn't exceled as an Eagle and doesn't fit all that well into a 3-4 scheme, there's a good chance Philly tries to trade him in the offseason. However, if a move isn't enticing enough, Graham's still under a cheap rookie contract for one more year, so holding onto him for one more year to give him one last shot wouldn't be the worst idea.
David Molk (C, 226th in 2012 to Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles):
At one point considered the heir apparent to the starting job in San Diego, the Chargers parted ways with Molk during preseason in 2013, and he remained there throughout the entire year. It would have been nice to see someone pick him up in free agency during the season - cough, Lions, cough - but nothing happened until the Eagles scooped him up after they were eliminated from the playoffs. Molk signed a futures contract in Philly, and he'll be battling for the backup spot.
Following an underwhelming 2013 season (38 receptions for 447 yards and two touchdowns), it's unlikely Avant remains in Philly for 2014. He's long been known as a team leader and a great teammate, but his production can be replaced and improved upon. According to Bleeding Green Nation, "Avant only caught 50% of the passes thrown his way in the slot, which ranked 32 out of 33 slot receivers." With a $1 million bonus coming his way on March 15th (on top of a $2.25 million base salary), the Eagles will have to make a decision about Avant sooner rather than later, and that decision will likely be to part ways with the eight year veteran.
In the first game of the 2013 season, Foote recorded eight tackles before rupturing his biceps and ending his season as soon as it begun. The injury came on the heels of Foote signing a three-year contract extension in the offseason and now forces the Steelers to make a decision about his future. 2014 will be his 13th NFL season, and Behind the Steel Curtain pointed out that he "worked extremely hard to rehabilitate his injury. Not only did he spend a lot of time at the facility, Foote was a fixture in the locker room, more than any other injured player in recent memory. One more season, if the Steelers believe he can still play, isn't out of the question and certainly not too expensive, either." Foote's said that, according to his agent, "[the Steelers] said they want me back, but they got to make sure everything lines up right." In my opinion, the Steelers should bring him back. His salary is low -- $1.5 million - and by all accounts, he's a great guy to have around.
LaMarr Woodley (OLB, 46th in 2007 to Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers):
Woodley started strong - 20 tackles and five sacks in the first six games - but multiple calf injuries kept him out of five of the last seven games in 2013. Because of this, his future is a question mark just three years into a six year, $61.5 million he signed in '11 to make him the highest paid defensive player in franchise history. He's struggled with injuries three years in a row now, and even though he performs well when healthy, that may not be enough to keep him a Steeler in 2014. Pittsburgh needs to decide whether or not to stick with the veteran Woodley or move on to the 26-year old Jason Worilds, who has come on strong in the previous two seasons but also struggles with injuries. Cutting Woodley forces Pitt to eat some cash in '14 and '15, but there's no point in keeping a guy around at $10 million a year if he spends it sitting on the bench. In the words of Behind the Steel Curtain: "This is arguably the biggest decision the Steelers will make this offseason."
Jonas Mouton (ILB, 61st in 2011 to Chargers, San Diego Chargers):
Since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, Mouton's played in only three regular season games and recorded one tackle. After spending his rookie year on I.R. with a shoulder injury, Mouton remained off the active roster until his NFL debut in Week 13 of 2012. His luck and health didn't last long as he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in preseason this year. It's unclear what the Chargers plan on doing with him since he's barely played, but Bolts From The Blue think he'll get one more chance to prove he's not as fragile as a china doll.
Stephen Schilling (RG, 201st in 2011 to Chargers, San Diego Chargers):
Schilling's only been a member of the Chargers since joining the NFL in '11, but the team has cut him a handful of times in those three years. I never realized San Diego resigned him after letting him go at the end of the preseason, and he ended up being active for seven regular season and one playoff game. On the year, he played on 91 total snaps: 59 offensive and 32 special teams. In his three-year career, Schilling's never progressed beyond a rarely used backup lineman, and it's unlikely he'll be asked to return next year. But then again, the Chargers like to cut Schilling and bring him back, so maybe he ends up on their practice squad to start next year.
Goodwin locked down the center of San Francisco's offensive line in 2013, starting in every game for the third straight season and playing on 98% of the snaps. He even ended up rushing the ball for six yards in the NFC Championship game after scooping up a Colin Kaepernick fumble. There's been talk that he might retire, but Goodwin's said that he's still willing to play, but as he put it, "What creates uncertainty for me is being a 35-year-old free agent, which in this time of the NFL, can be tough." Failing to win the Super Bowl after three straight trips to the NFC Championship game will likely factor into his decision to return as well, if the 49ers offer him contract. It's tough to argue against giving him a one-year deal seeing as he's still playing at a high level and starting every game. If the 49ers do offer him a contract, he'll likely have to take a pay cut for the second straight year.
Mario Manningham (WR, 95th in 2008 to Giants, San Francisco 49ers):
Manningham's struggled with knee issues the past two years, and given that he's a free agent, it's unlikely the 49ers look to resign him in 2014. He didn't return to the field until Week 10 in '13 and saw limited action in the final weeks of the season (148 snaps) before returning to the I.R. list after Week 15 with more knee problems. He finished the year with a disappointing nine receptions for 85 yards. According to reports, his rehab is going well, and he "will definitely be ready for the offseason program." Now he just needs a team to sign him.
After signing four-year, $34 million contract with the Rams last offseason, Long had a rough start to the 2013 season before settling in and performing at the level expected of him. Things were looking good for the Rams and their offensive line until Long tore his ACL and MCL in Week 15. He underwent surgery a couple of weeks ago - which is already ahead of schedule - but it's still unlikely he'll be ready to go any sooner than midseason in 2014. This has put a wrinkle in St. Louis's draft plans as they now have to consider drafting a tackle.
After failing to hear his name called at the 2013 NFL draft, Omameh signed a contract with the 49ers. San Francisco cut during the final round of roster moves in the preseason but resigned with the 49ers practice squad shortly after. He remained there until the Bucs signed him in mid-October. In Tampa, he sat on the inactive list for the rest of the year. It's unclear what the Bucs plan on doing with Omameh, but I can't see him getting anything more than a futures contract at this point.
Compared to his rookie season in 2012, this year was a step back for Martin as he played in 169 less snaps (473 in '12 to 304 in '13), three fewer games (all 16 in '12), and recorded an inferior stat line: 22 tackles (37 in '12), one sack (three in '12), one pass defended, and two pressures. For a reason I can't pinpoint, Martin received a diminished role as a backup defensive tackle this season. Maybe the rookie-honeymoon phase wore off. At any rate, Martin's under contract through 2015, so hopefully he can make a bigger splash in his third NFL season.
Currently Free Agents:
Braylon Edwards, last played for the Jets in '12, waived by the Jets during roster cuts
Steve Breaston, last played for the Chiefs in '12, waived by the Saint during roster cuts
Roy Roundtree, signed by the Bengals as an UDFA, waived in the final round of roster cuts
(Note: If you can think of any players I'm missing, let me know.)