New team, same success for only a few of these 10 Pro Bowl players
Is all-star production transferable? Ten Pro Bowl players change teams, but only a few will find themselves in schemes that will get them back to the Pro Bowl.
Did anyone notice that 10 of the players who participated in the 2014 Pro Bowl have gone on to sign with other teams for the upcoming season? Those 10 prominent players combined to have $128 million in guaranteed money in their deals. Teams were willing to pay to get a 2014 Pro Bowl player -- or, in the case of the Redskins, two Pro Bowl selections -- on their roster.
There is always risk involved when you pay a player for what he has done on another roster in another scheme, and now you are hoping your club gets a Pro Bowl season out of its new addition.
The 2013 Pro Bowl produced eight players who left their team right after the game and signed with a new team -- and none of them returned to Honolulu last season. That's not to say some of them played well with their new club -- or, in the case of Wes Welker , had Super Bowl responsibilities -- but take a look at the players who moved on after the 2013 Pro Bowl, and ask yourself what will happen to the 10 players making the jump this year.
In 2012, Wes Welker, Elvis Dumervil , Ed Reed , LaRon Landry , Phil Dawson , Jermon Bushrod , Dashon Goldson and Leon Washington were honored for their achievements with an invite to the 2013 Pro Bowl, but it is debatable that they delivered this past season on new teams. This year's group faces the same challenges, but teams have their fingers crossed that things will work out.
This year, the 10 players signed deals for a combined $236.25 million. Six of them are defensive backs. Three of the four cornerbacks on "Team Rice" now play for new teams. Alterraun Verner , Antonio Cromartie and Brandon Flowers all hope to get back to the Pro Bowl in a different uniform.
Here's a look at the 10 players and my thoughts about their chances for similar success. They are listed from highest to lowest contracts with guaranteed money.
Jairus Byrd , safety, New Orleans Saints : Left the Buffalo Bills and joined the Saints for a six-year, $54 million deal with $26.3 million guaranteed. Byrd joins the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL and the second-ranked pass defense. The Saints paid him to create turnovers. He has 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in his 66 starts and he should have an excellent season. The Saints have a strong pass rush and their offense forces many teams into one-dimensional "catch-up" mode, so Byrd should have Pro Bowl numbers once again.
Branden Albert , LT, Miami Dolphins : Albert left the Kansas City Chiefs and joined the Miami Dolphins for a five-year, $47 million deal with $26 million guaranteed. Albert gave up five sacks last year with Alex Smith under center and now has to protect for Ryan Tannehill , who was sacked a league-high 58 times. Compounding the issue is the absence of center Mike Pouncey , so it looks like Albert will not have the same success he had in KC.
DeSean Jackson , WR, Washington Redskins : Left the Philadelphia Eagles and joined division rival Washington for a four-year $32 million deal with $16 million guaranteed. He's coming off a career season (82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns). Now he has to share receptions with Pierre Garçon, who led the NFL with 113 receptions. Jackson will fit in nicely in Washington but I have some doubts about him reaching 82 receptions again.
Alterraun Verner, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers : Left the Tennessee Titans and joined the Tampa Bay Bucs for a four-year, $25.75 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. I think this might have been the best offseason deal from this group of all-stars. He has big shoes to fill replacing Darrelle Revis , but he's young and healthy. Lovie Smith will improve the pass rush and the other members of the secondary are solid. I would think Verner could get back to the Pro Bowl.
TJ Ward, safety, Denver Broncos : Left the Cleveland Browns and joined the Broncos for a four-year, $22.5 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. Ward made his reputation as a hitter. He finished the 2013 season with 112 tackles. Playing in Denver's secondary will be more about pass coverage than run support because most teams are playing catch-up, which mostly explains why Denver's pass defense was ranked 27th last season. He will play well but I don't see a trip to the Pro Bowl after 2014.
Darrelle Revis, CB, New England Patriots : Left the Bucs and joined the Patriots on what is really a one-year deal for $12 million, with all of it guaranteed. Bill Belichick loves to get his hands on a player like Revis who is playing for an even bigger contract, and the New England scheme will fit him just fine. The quarterbacks he'll face in divisional games are EJ Manuel , Geno Smith and Ryan Tannehill. Revis Island will return to the Pro Bowl -- if the Patriots don't make the Super Bowl.
Jason Hatcher , DL, Washington Redskins: Left the Dallas Cowboys and joined rival Washington for a four-year, $27.5 million deal with $10.5 million guaranteed. Hatcher is 32 years old and there is always risk with older players from other schemes. Hatcher is coming off a career season with 11 sacks in a four-man front after notching only 16 sacks in the previous seven seasons playing mostly in a 3-4 front. He returns to a 3-4 in Washington and his numbers could easily go down into the single digits. I like him in a rotation, but I don't see a return to the Pro Bowl.
Dexter McCluster , RB/WR, Tennessee Titans: Left the Chiefs and joined the Titans for a three-year, $9 million deal with $7.5 million guaranteed. I expect Coach Whisenhunt to use McCluster like he used Danny Woodhead in San Diego last year. Woodhead had 76 receptions and 106 rushes for 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns. Philip Rivers fed the ball to Woodhead and Jake Locker is under center for Tennessee, so the production will not be the same for McCluster, which means probably no Pro Bowl.
Brandon Flowers, CB, San Diego Chargers : Was released by Kansas City and joined rival San Diego with a one-year deal for $3 million with $1.5 million guaranteed. The Chargers played Flowers twice a year and have lined up against him 10 times. Flowers recorded two interceptions, two forced fumbles and only 14 passes defended in those 10 games, which might indicate why it's only a one-year deal.
Antonio Cromartie, CB, Arizona Cardinals : Left the New York Jets and joined the Cardinals for a one-year deal for $3.5 million with only $200,000 guaranteed. It's a good deal for the Cardinals, who get a 6-foot-3 corner with multiple Pro Bowl appearances who will team up with Patrick Peterson . He should have three or four interceptions and 15-20 pass breakups, but won't return to the Pro Bowl as an NFC player after all the years in the AFC.
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