That’s a wrap for the NFL regular season. Some of Virginia’s former stars had great seasons, while others, not so much, in no small part due to injuries. Here’s our final big recap of the year, although we’ll be keeping you posted with any remaining postseason guys as well.
Oday Aboushi, Houston Texans – Aboushi played in 4 games this year, starting 3. He primary played LT. The Texans made the playoffs, although that was largely due to their defense. They had one of the worst offenses in the league, finishing 29th in total offense. Aboushi is a FA after the season ends, but has proven to be a versatile OL who can play both inside and outside. He’ll find his way onto a roster for next season.
Branden Albert, Miami Dolphins – Albert started 12 games at LT for the Dolphins, missing 4 because of injuries. He helped the Dolphins win 10 games, though their offense ranked just 24th in the league. Albert helped RB Jay Ajayi rush for over 1200 yards on the season. He has 2 years remaining on a 5 year $47M deal with the Dolphins and figures to be their starting LT again next season.
Ahmad Brooks, San Francisco 49ers – Brooks started every game for the 2-14 49ers. Despite being just 4 years removed from 3 consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances, the 49ers defense was the worst in football. They allowed almost 300 yards more than any other team. Brooks had 53 tackles, 6 sacks, 4 passes defended and 1 forced fumble. Ahmad has just 1 year remaining on his 6 year, $40M deal, but he may not be worth his $8M salary next year. The 49ers can release him and see just an 800k cap hit. He may be released.
Eli Harold, San Francisco 49ers – Playing across from Brooks, Harold started 13 times (but appeared in all 16 games). He compiled 37 tackles and 3 sacks to go along with a fumble recovery. Harold is still very young and has 2 more years on a team-friendly contract, so he should be back with the 49ers next year.
Anthony Harris, Minnesota Vikings – Harris started the final 3 games of the season for the Vikings, after playing primarily on special teams before that. He totaled 41 tackles, 1 pass defensed and a fumble recovery. Harris has 1 year remaining on his rookie deal.
Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers – Inman began the season as perhaps the 3rd or 4th WR on the Chargers. Inman is a very strong blocking WR, which was his role to begin the season. But due to injuries, Inman played much more than that. He ended the season 2nd on the team in receiving with 810 yards on 58 catches. He had 4 TDs. Dontrelle is a FA this year and is probably going to see a nice payday coming off his career year.
Cam Johnson, Cleveland Browns – Johnson was signed prior to week 4 and immediately paid dividends for the Browns defense. He had 2 sacks and a forced fumble in that week’s loss to the Redskins. Johnson continued to see extensive playing time, starting 9 times and totaling 32 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 pass defeded and 2 forced fumbles. The Browns defense was not good, but Cam’s play was a bright spot and will hopefully keep him in the NFL for the near future. Johnson’s deal with the Browns was for 2 years, so he should remain in Cleveland for one more year.
Chris Long, New England Patriots – Long was in and out of the Pats starting lineup during the year, as the team went to Nickel packages more and more, with only 3 down linemen. All told, Long started 7 games but appeared in all 16. He had 35 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. It was a solid year after two injury plagued years and he figures to be a big part of the Pats quest for another Super Bowl. Long signed a one year deal with the Pats in a quest for a ring. There’s a good chance he’s playing somewhere else next year.
Rodney McLeod, Philadelphia Eagles – Signed as a free agent by the Eagles, McLeod began his 5 year deal very nicely. He started 15 games (sitting out the season finale) and finished 3rd on the team with 83 tackles. He also had a sack, 3 TFLs, 7 passes defended, 3 INTs and a forced fumble. He was one of the leaders on a surprising Eagles defense that finished 9th in the NFL in total defense.
Morgan Moses, Washington Redskins – For the 2nd straight year, Moses started all 16 games at RT for the Skins. Though the Redskins didn’t make the playoffs, Moses and the rest of the “Hogs” did their jobs. The Skins had the #3 offense in the NFL this year. Despite being one of the more pass-heavy offenses, QB Kirk Cousins was only sacked 23 times. And the team rushed for 4.5 yards per carry. Moses has one more year on his rookie deal.
Austin Pasztor, Cleveland Browns – Nobody would be surprised if the OL of a 1-15 team wasn’t very good. Though the offense as a whole was terrible (30thin the league), they actually weren’t too bad on the ground. They rushed for almost 5 yards per rush as a team. That said, Browns’ QBs were sacked a league high 66 times, so there were certainly pass protection problems. The Browns need a lot of help this offseason, including the OL. Pasztor is an unrestricted FA, so it is certainly possible that he will not be back with the Browns. He’s proven to be a decent NFL tackle and has also played guard, so he should get signed somewhere. He may not be starting though.
Luke Bowanko, Jacksonville Jaguars – Luke began the season on the PUP list after suffering a torn labrum in his hip. He returned for the final 2 games of the season, playing most of the game at center in the finale. Bowanko is signed through next season for $690k but that is not guaranteed. He may or may not return to the Jags, but likely would be on the bench even if he does return.
John Phillips, New Orleans Saints – Phillips changed uniforms during the season, actually going from the Broncos to the Saints during the week the two teams faced each other. He played 8 games for each team, starting 7 times total. He finished the season with 10 receptions for 69 yards and a TD. Phillips is a free agent, but he’s a good blocker, a decent receiver and by all accounts a good team guy. The Saints may bring him back on another minimum contract, but he’ll definitely end up where.
LaRoy Reynolds, Atlanta Falcons – Reynolds has become a very good special teams player in the NFL, which is where he spends most of his time. But, due to some injuries, he also started 3 times at LB this year. He totaled 30 tackles and a fumble recovery this year. He ended up playing 136 snaps on defense. Reynolds is also a FA after this season, but he seems likely to remain with the Falcons.
Brent Urban, Baltimore Ravens – As a reserve DE in the Ravens 3-4 defense, Urban doesn’t get a ton of playing time. But he was surprisingly effective when he played. Though he saw just 150 snaps on defense, he had 10 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defended. Urban is another FA, and another guy who is likely to remain with his team. He’s a good fit in their defense and he continues to be effective.
Special Teams Standouts:
Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati Bengals – A year after making the Pro Bowl as a special teams player, Peerman began this season on IR because of a fractured forearm (ouch!). He returned after week 10 and played primarily on special teams over the final 6 games, finishing with 3 tackles. He also got 6 carries for 15 yards in the Bengals’ final game of the season. He is a FA, coming off a 2 year, $2.1M contract. He’s still one of the better special teams players in the league and is likely to get another similar deal.
Put Me In, Coach!:
Maurice Canady, Baltimore Ravens – When the season opened, Canady was one of the top special teams players for the Ravens. Over the first 4 weeks of the season, he had 2 special teams tackles. He suffered a thigh injury and went on IR, missing the rest of the season. Overall, a disappointing rookie season, but Canady proved he belongs in the NFL and hopes to build on that in his second year.
David Dean, Cincinnati Bengals – Dean spent the season on the Bengals practice squad. He’s a FA and it will be interesting to see whether he gets signed for another year.
Matt Schaub, Atlanta Falcons – Signed to backup Matt Ryan, Schaub didn’t end up doing much this year. Ryan stayed healthy and had a monster year. Schaub saw action in 4 games, mostly mop-up duty. He also held on some placekicks. He was 1/3 passing for 16 yards and had 2 “rushes” which were kneeldowns. He’s 35 years old and he’s a FA, but he’s well respected around the league and will probably be back with the Falcons as Ryan’s backup again.
Canaan Severin, Pittsburgh Steelers – Severin was an undrafted free agent signee for the Steelers with an invite to training camp. He suffered a shoulder injury and was placed on IR. He’ll probably be given his release before next season. Whether or not he’ll find his way onto somebody’s roster (or practice squad) remains to be seen.