For National Football Authority, we break down the effects of the Saints bounty suspensions. How will the Saints go on without linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith? How will the Packers adjust without defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove? And what about the Browns and Scott Fujita? Click here to read all about it.
Category Archives: NFL Suspensions
Each season, we use our Football Relativity tool to compare the impact and importance of suspensions around the NFL. We covered preseason suspensions in this post; now, it’s time to look at in-season suspensions. We compare them using our Football Relativity tool, in which 10 signifies the most damaging suspensions and 1 the least damaging. We’ll update this post throughout the 2011 regular season.
10 – DT Ndamukong Suh, Lions (2 games for stomping a Packers player in Week 12) – On Thanksgiving Day, Suh’s temper got the best of him as he stomped Packers OG Evan Dietrich-Smith. That led to a two-game suspension for the star defensive tackle, right in the midst of Detroit’s playoff push. It was a stiff punishment for on-field action, but Suh’s growing litany of over-aggressive or dirty play made the suspension necessary.
9 – OLB James Harrison, Steelers (1 game for helmet-to-helmet hit) – Harrison has often run afoul of the league’s player-safety initiatives, and when he lowered a head-to-head hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy in Week 13, his past misdeeds caught up to him. So Harrison was suspended for Pittsburgh’s Week 14 game in San Francisco, a 20-3 Steelers lost.
8 – OT Trent Williams and TE Fred Davis, Redskins (4 games each for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy) – Two of the Redskins’ best four players sat out the final four games of the season after failing a post-lockout drug test. The fact that they got an extra strike under the substance-abuse policy and still got caught is a bad sign for Washington in 2012 and beyond, but by the time the suspensions came down, the season was already a lost cause for the Redskins. In that sense, it’s a break for Washington to get these suspensions out of the way so that both players can start 2012 fresh – if they behave.
7 – RB Cedric Benson, Bengals (1 game for violating the league’s personal conduct policy) – Originally, the league levied a three-game suspension on Benson, but on appeal it was reduced to one game plus a one-game-check fine. Benson, the Bengals’ lead running back, had two misdemeanor assault cases during the 2011 offseason. It’s a blow to the Bengals, who rely heavily on Benson and who won’t have him in Week Eight at the Seahawks. But the loss is not nearly as big as it could have been.
6 – Vikings CB Chris Cook (2 games by team) – Cook was suspended by the Vikings for Weeks 7 and 8 after a domestic assualt felony charge. Cook, who has had legal problems before, started getting paychecks again in Week 9, but the team excused him from practice and games while the charge was resolved. That’s a strong tactic to take with the former second-round pick.
5 – none
4 – Giants DT Jimmy Kennedy (4 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy) – Kennedy signed with the Giants in August to add depth at a banged-up position, and through the first four games of the season he did pretty well with that. But this suspension (which the Giants reportedly knew was possible when they signed him) takes Kennedy out of the lineup for four games starting in Week 6.
4 (con’t) Rams WR Austin Pettis (4 games for violating league’s performance-enhancing substances policy) – Pettis was suspended for the last two games of 2011 and the first two games of 2012 for violating the league’s PED policy. Pettis had 27 catches in his rookie season, and missing two games of 2012 makes this suspension a little harder to take.
3 – Dolphins CB Vontae Davis (1 game by team) – Davis was suspended for Week 9 after reportedly showing up to practice hung over, although the Dolphins didn’t officially release the reason for the benching.
3 (con’t) – Seahawks OG John Moffitt (4 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy) – Moffitt, who started nine games at right guard as a rookie before going on injured reserve, was suspended for four games during his recovery. Moffitt is a key player, but the suspension only cost him money, not playing time. Still, it puts him on notice for future infractions.
2 – Colts OG Jaimie Thomas (4 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy) – Thomas is on injured reserve, so this suspension doesn’t impact the Colts much. But it does cost Thomas four game checks. Thomas played in eight games in 2010.
1 – S Brandon Underwood (2 games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy) – The ex-Packer was given a two-game suspension even though he wasn’t on an NFL roster. So Underwood didn’t lose any money, but he hasn’t found a job since the suspension ended either.
Each year, we compile a list of players who will be suspended going into Week One and compare the importance of those suspensions. We’ll do this using our Football Relativity scale, with the 10 level holding the most significant suspension and the 1 level marking the least significant. We’ll start a new post once the season starts.
10 – Vikings DT Kevin Williams and Saints DE Will Smith (2 games for violating league’s performance-enhancing substance policy) – For three years, the StarCaps case lingered over four players. It lingered so long that two of them – NT Pat Williams and DE Charles Grant – aren’t even in the league right now. But the league finally settled and gave the Williams Wall, Smith, and Grant two-game suspensions with additional fines of two game checks. That’s a blow to both the Vikings and Saints, who lose top DL starters, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.
9 – none
8 – Bengals OG Bobbie Williams (4 games for violating league’s performance-enhancing substance policy) – Williams, who had started all but 3 games at right guard for the Bengals over the last seven years, has become one of the league’s better run-blocking guards. But he will miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension. It’s a huge blow to the Bengals, who lack consistency on the offensive line around Williams.
7 – none
6 – none
5 – Redskins CB Phillip Buchanan (4 games for violating league’s performance-enhancing substance policy) – Buchanon, who re-signed with the Redskins this offseason, will be benched for four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. He started five games last year and played all 16. The Redskins will likely rely on him as their third corner, so given that important role he’s a loss for the first quarter of the season.
4 – Titans FB Ahmard Hall (4 games for violating league’s performance-enhancing substance policy) – Hall, the Titans’ starting fullback, said he failed a test for performance enhancers because of a medicine he took to remain awake. Regardless, he will miss the first quarter of the season. The suspension didn’t just cost the Titans Hall; it also cost them a draft pick, since they traded for Quinn Johnson to replace him. It’ll be interesting to see if Hall can overtake Johnson and seize his job back once he returns.
3 – Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor (5 games) – In a controversial suspension, Pryor entered the supplemental draft with the knowledge that his college suspension of five games would be carried over to the NFL. It certainly impedes Pryor’s development, since he is raw and missed most of training camp, but it was the deal he had to make to get into the NFL in 2011. (Pryor is appealing, so the suspension could be reduced.)
2 – none
1 – Ravens WR David Reed (1 game for violating league’s substance-abuse policy) – Reed, a second-year player who is the Ravens’ primary kickoff returner, drew a one-game suspension for violating the substance-abuse policy. He’ll miss the opener against the Steelers, which is a blow to the Ravens in a key rivalry game.
We did not include the following unsigned players in the comparison: LB Eric Alexander (four games), LB Eric Barton (four games), OT Robert Brewster (four games), LB Vinny Ciurciu (four games), LB Harry Coleman (one game), LB Brandon Lang (four games), FB Reagan Maui’a (three games), RB Dominic Rhodes (at least one year)
Each week we share insights, analysis, and opinions of the week’s transactions. To see previous posts, click this link and start working back.
The big move of the week was the Redskins’ suspension of DT Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth famously signed a contract potentially worth $100 million before the 2009 season and cashed a $21 million bonus check before this season before clashing with head coach Mike Shanahan over playing in a 3-4 defense instead of his preferred 4-3. The situation festered throughout the season, with Haynesworth’s conditioning, commitment, and preparation constantly questioned as he played in eight of the first 12 games with just 2.5 sacks. In moments, like the Chicago game, Haynesworth was dominant, but he was largely an afterthought. Finally, the Redskins had enough and suspended Haynesworth for the last four games of the season. We don’t absolve Shanahan in this situation, but Haynesworth’s petulence certainly led to an embarrassing end to his Redskins season, both for him and the team.
(And you can compare the Haynesworth suspension to others during the 2010 season in this post.)
In other moves…
Cowboys (put WR Dez Bryant on IR) - Bryant has had a standout rookie season, with six receiving TDs and two more scores on punt returns, but a knee injury sidelines him after 12 games.
Colts (put CB Jerraud Powers and S Bob Sanders on IR; add RB Dominic Rhodes) – The Colts’ injury problems in the secondary continued as they gave up the ghost on 2010 contributions from Sanders, who is trying to return from a biceps injury, and Powers was knocked out for the season as well. They brought back stalwart Rhodes, who played in the UFL this season, to help fill in for equally prolific RB injuries.
Buccaneers (put CB Aqib Talib and C Jeff Faine on IR; add C Donovan Raiola) – The Buccaneers lost two key contributors in Talib, who was emerging as one of the league’s best corners, and Faine, a quality pivot. Both are major losses as the Bucs push for the playoffs. They brought in Raiola, who has been with six NFL teams but has yet to play in an NFL game.
Saints (add LB Kawika Mitchell) – Mitchell, an eight-year veteran who has not played in 2010, joins the Saints to provide a late-season infusion. If he’s healthy, Mitchell is good enough to be an acceptable starter.
Lions (add OT Tony Ugoh) – Ugoh, who was once a starter for the Colts, joined the Lions. The former second-round pick has started 24 NFL games.
Each week we share insights, analysis, and opinions of the week’s transactions. Since we were out of town and unable to post at the end of this week, we’re giving you a double helping this week. To see previous posts, click here and start working back.
By far, the most significant transaction was also the most arcane. By placing OLB Shawne Merriman on a unique injured reserve list, the Chargers basically cut the three-time Pro Bowler. Merriman won defensive rookie of the year honors and was dominant for the first three years of his career, but a knee injury in 2008 sidelined him for all but one game, and he hasn’t been the same since. “Lights out” had 39 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons but has just four sacks since his knee problem. That plummeting productivity, plus Merriman’s well publicized contract disputes and off-field issues, made him a pariah in San Diego. So this move fits with GM A.J. Smith’s scorched-earth negotiating and roster-management tactics. Still, it’s stunning to see such a whimpering end for Merriman in San Diego after he had such a dominant and exhilarating start to his career.
Chargers (add S Tyrone Carter and OLB Antwan Barnes, put OLB Shawne Merriman on injured reserve) - With Steve Gregory suspended, the Chargers added veteran safety Carter, who provides a veteran insurance policy in case Paul Oliver can’t hack it as a starter. Barnes, whom the Eagles traded for this offseason, got cut there, but he seems to fit a 3-4 defense like the Chargers run . He’ll fill Merriman’s roster spot.
Bears (add DE Charles Grant) - The Bears added Grant, the former Saint who couldn’t catch on with the Dolphins in the preseason and was playing in the UFL. Grant is a sturdy end who has provided pass rush in the past, and if he’s ready to play he could provide presence across from Julius Peppers. Grant replaces Mark Anderson, a rookie sack sensation who hasn’t done much since.
Texans (add DE Mark Anderson) - Anderson didn’t stay unemployed long, as he was snapped up by the Texans. Anderson has showed potential, but he needs to deliver. Houston helps a change of scenery will help him become a productive backup behind Mario Williams, Antonio Smith, and Adewale Ogunleye.
Panthers (claim WRs David Clowney and Devin Thomas on waivers, cut WR Dwayne Jarrett) – The Panthers finally cut ties with former second-round pick Jarrett, who was a bust on the field, after he was arrested for a second DWI. In his place, they added Thomas, whom the Redskins gave up on as a second-round bust, and Clowney, who got cut in a numbers game with the Jets. Like Jarrett, Thomas is a big target, but Thomas has more speed, and for a receiver-poor team like the Panthers he’s worth a shot. Clowney is probably more of a third or fourth receiver, but he’s good enough to add depth to a team whose only proven wide receiver, Steve Smith, is out with injury right now.
Saints (add RB Julius Jones, cut RB DeShawn Wynn) - With injuries keeping Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush out, the Saints added Jones in Week 6. (Jones had been released by the Seahawks when they acquired Marshawn Lynch.) Jones replaced DeShawn Wynn and joined Ladell Betts in a fill-in backfield. Jones isn’t a special back, but he at least gets what’s there and provides a bit of a physical threat.
Rams (promote WR Danario Alexander) – With Mark Clayton now out for the year, the Rams promoted Alexander to add depth at receiver. They have hopes that Alexander can develop into a contributor and not just a fill-in.
Colts (add S Aaron Francisco, WR Kenny Moore) - To address injuries, the Colts added two veterans. Francisco comes in to help fill in for Melvin Bullitt, who’s out for the year with injury. Bullitt was replacing Bob Sanders, so the Colts have tapped out their depth at strong safety. Moore helps fill in for injuries that are slowing Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and Anthony Gonzalez.
Vikings (add CB Frank Walker) - The Vikings added Walker, a veteran who has bounced around the league, to provide depth after losing Cedric Griffin to another torn ACL.
The NFL suspended Bengals DE Antwan Odom for four games Friday for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Below are some thoughts on the suspension; you can see how it compares to other in-season suspensions in this post.
Odom was the Bengals’ best pass rusher last season, piling up eight sacks in five games before suffering a season-ending injury in game six. This year, he’s off to a slower start, with just four tackles in four games, which is part of the reason the Bengals have just seven sacks in five games. At his best, Odom adds edge rush to Cincinnati’s defense, drawing coverage that allows LBs Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers more freedom to blitz and roam. Without Odom producing, the Bengals offense loses fright factor – to the point that a safety, Chris Crocker, leads the team in sacks through Week 5. Now Odom is sidelined for games 6-9 with a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy, further weakening a defense that isn’t the same this year as it was last season. Robert Geathers and Frostee Rucker must step up and provide pass rush now for the Bengals, or else the defense will have to blitz so much that it opens holes elsewhere.