If you’re an NFL player, you don’t want your name to fill the blank in the following sentence.
I didn’t know (name) was still in the NFL.
Dion Jordan is one name that could be inserted there.
The Dolphins released Jordan last week, but he was already out of sight, out of mind.
A colossal draft bust, Jordan hadn’t played since 2014.
There are several other players who have played as recently as 2016, but have mostly been out of mind to fans of the 31 teams they didn’t play for last season.
Some of these players who occupied a roster spot in 2016 are unsigned, so they might finally be out of the NFL. Some of them, however, will still be in the league next season.
The Dolphins drafted Dion Jordan with the No. 3 pick in 2013. That’s laughable enough. What’s even funnier is that they traded up from No. 12 to get him.
“Obviously from where he was selected to today it’s not a move that’s worked out,” Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum told the Palm Beach Post.
Tannenbaum wasn’t yet with the Dolphins when Jordan was drafted, and his words suggest that he really wanted to ask how in the world the Dolphins could have traded up for this guy.
Seen as a defensive end/linebacker hybrid, the 6’6″, 248-pound Jordan started just one game and had three sacks in his first two seasons. He was suspended for the 2015 season for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. He suffered two knee injuries during his suspension, which kept him out of action in 2016.
It would have been a lot to ask this 6’6″ Jordan to be as successful on the football field as a Jordan of similar height was on the basketball court. But Dion Jordan might be worse at football than that other Jordan was at baseball.
Bears quarterbacks were sacked 49 times in 2011 and 44 times in 2012 when J’Marcus Webb started all 32 games at left tackle. Not all of those sacks were Webb’s fault, but if he wasn’t the worst left tackle in the league during those two seasons, the ones who were worse could be counted on one hand.
Webb has started just 19 games over the last four season, 16 of them in 2015. By then Webb had moved to right guard for the Raiders, and Pro Football Focus ranked him among the worst guards in the NFL through the midpoint of that season. That site also ranked the Seahawks’ offensive line the worst in the league in 2016, and Webb couldn’t even stay on that team. Seattle released him in November after he had started just three games.
Not only is it hard to believe that Webb still played in the NFL last season, it’s also hard to believe he’s still only 28.
Darrius Heyward-Bey has had his moments in his three years with the Steelers. He’s caught just 30 passes, 21 of them in 2015. But four of those have been touchdown catches and his only carry last year was a 60-yard touchdown run on a reverse in Miami.
Steelers fans don’t need to be reminded that Heyward-Bey exists, but after running the fastest 40 time at the 2009 combine and getting drafted seventh overall by the Raiders, Heyward-Bey wasn’t supposed to be a fifth receiver before turning 30.
Heyward-Bey topped out at 64 catches for the Raiders in 2011, spent a year with the Colts in 2013 then went to the Steelers in 2014.
One reason Heyward-Bey is forgotten is because most of his value comes on special teams. That’s a big reason he’s not only still in the NFL, but signed with the Steelers through 2018.
When A.J. Hawk announced his retirement in January, most people probably thought he had retired already.
Yes, Hawk played in the NFL last season. He stepped onto the field for 19 special teams snaps in the Falcons’ 23-16 win at Denver in Week 5, but that was the only game he appeared in.
The Packers drafted Hawk fifth overall in 2006. The linebacker never lived up to his draft status, but missed just eight starts in eight seasons with the Packers, earning a Super Bowl ring in 2010, before signing with the Bengals in 2015. Hawk had one tackle in the Bengals’ 18-16 wild-card playoff loss to the Steelers. The Bengals had a one-point lead and the ball with less than two minutes left, but a Jeremy Hill fumble and back-to-back 15-yard penalties handed the win to the Steelers.
Already part of one postseason collapse, Hawk was spared any involvement in the Falcons’ Super Bowl debacle because he was cut in October, three weeks after he signed.
It’s a safe bet that Clipboard Jesus won’t rise again.
There were a few weeks, however, when Charlie Whitehurst earned an NFL paycheck in 2016. The Browns desperately signed him in September after Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown were injured. Then Cody Kessler was injured in a Week 5 game against the Patriots, and the long-haired Whitehurst put down the clipboard and completed 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 33-13 loss.
The Browns released him two days later, likely ending a 10-year career in which Whitehurst barely started the equivalent of a half-season of games. He went 2-7 as a starter.
Whitehurst spent the first four years of his career with the Chargers and never threw a pass, but in 2010 the Seahawks thought he could eventually succeed Matt Hasselbeck and traded back 20 spots in the second round of the draft to get him. They also gave up a third-round pick in the trade. Whitehurst threw just 155 passes in two seasons with the Seahawks. The Chargers signed him back in 2012 and Whitehurst had stops in Tennessee and Indianapolis before his cup of coffee in Cleveland.
Vinny Curry’s days in Philadelphia might be numbered.
Does anyone remember Curry really doing anything on any of those days?
The defensive end’s spot isn’t too secure because the Eagles signed defensive end Chris Long, another guy no one would have remembered was still in the league if he didn’t win a Super Bowl with the Patriots.
Curry was a second-round draft pick in 2012. He hasn’t missed a game since 2013, but he’s never started a game and he’s never even played half of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. He has 19 career sacks in his limited role, including a career-high nine in 2014. He had just 3.5 in 2015, yet the Eagles signed him to a five-year, $47.3 million contract. As much as that sounds like a Chip Kelly move, it happened after the erstwhile coach was fired.
If that contract was based on potential, Curry didn’t deliver on that potential last season. He had just 3.5 sacks although he played a career-high 42.8 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps.
Curry will be 29 next season. Unlike many of the guys on this list, he still has time to remind people that he’s in the league whether he does it in Philadelphia or somewhere else.
How long has Marcedes Lewis been in the NFL?
The tight end was on a Jaguars team that made the playoffs. Believe it or not, Lewis is still playing.
Lewis was a first-round draft pick in 2006. In his second season, he caught 37 passes for a team that went 11-5 and reached the AFC divisional playoffs. That was the last time the Jaguars made the playoffs. Lewis’ best season came in 2010, when he caught 58 passes for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns, all career highs. That was his only Pro Bowl season.
Since 2013, however, Lewis hasn’t caught more than 25 passes in a season. He played in just 10 games in 2016 and a calf injury landed him on injured reserve.
Lewis is under contract for next season when he’ll be 33, but it’s easy to forget that he’s still in the league because of his diminished role and the football oblivion that Jacksonville has become.
San Francisco has become the West Coast’s Bermuda Triangle on the NFL map.
Glenn Dorsey, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2008 draft, has faded from NFL prominence in the Bay Area. The defensive lineman had four sacks in five seasons with the Chiefs, and came to the 49ers in 2013. He’s added three sacks in San Francisco as the 49ers have gone from 8-8 to 5-11 to 2-14.
Dorsey missed the 2014 season with a torn biceps. He sat out six games with a torn ACL in 2015 and four games with a knee injury last season. The 49ers allowed 165.9 rushing yards per game last season, by far the most in the league. They allowed less than 100 rushing yards in only five games, but Dorsey played more than 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in three of those games.
Although Dorsey wasn’t terrible last season, not everyone remembered who he played for in 2016 and he’s unsigned. That’s not good for a No. 5 draft pick.
Before LeGarrette Blount did it in 2016, Stevan Ridley was the last Patriot to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Ridley ran for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, and he led the Patriots in rushing again in 2013. His 773 yards were one more than Blount. Unfortunately, Ridley tore his ACL in 2014 and hasn’t been the same since.
In 2015, Ridley ran for 90 yards on 36 carries for the Jets. The Lions signed him last year but cut him in training camp. The Colts picked him up but released him a week later.
Ridley then became another player who no one will remember played for the 2016 NFC champion Falcons. They signed him when Tevin Coleman was injured, and he appeared in just one game in which he ran three times for seven yards before handing in his playbook. He was last seen working out for the Seahawks in December.
A third-round pick in 2011, Ridley is still only 28.
Even though the Rams have moved to the bright lights of Los Angeles, their roster is still full of players who were drafted early but haven’t really registered on the NFL radar.
These aren’t necessarily bad players, it’s just that playing for the Rams robs players of their star power even though they’re in Hollywood.
Greg Robinson was the second overall pick of the 2014 draft. For those wondering what he’s been up to, he has been a failure at left tackle and Andrew Whitworth’s arrival signals a position change.
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers, the No. 14 overall pick in 2012, has started all but six games in his career but has just 14.5 sacks and two forced fumbles to show for it. Fellow Rams draft pick Michael Sam is more famous than he is.
Mark Barron was drafted seven spots before Brockers by the Buccaneers. They became teammates in 2014 when the Bucs traded him to the Rams for draft picks. Drafted as a safety, Barron was shaping up as a bust with just three interceptions and a forced fumble in his first three seasons.
The 6’1″, 213-pound Barron moved to linebacker and forced three fumbles in 2015 and had two interceptions and eight passes defended in 16 starts last year.
When Barron was traded in 2014, he went from a 2-14 team to a 6-10 team. The Rams went 7-9 in 2015 and 4-12 last season.
If Barron ever plays for a winning team, perhaps fans will notice that he’s still in the NFL even if he was drafted way too early.
About Mike Batista
Mike is a longtime NFL analyst and Steelers fan. He currently writes for Steelers Addicts, and has also written for Bleacher Report.