This Date In Transactions History

This Date In Transactions History: Matt Cassel

When the Patriots drafted Matt Cassel in the seventh round of the 2005 draft, nobody would’ve guessed that Cassel would go on to have a lengthy and significant NFL career. Cassel never started a game in college, he was a backup all four years at USC, but landed himself on NFL teams’ radars with a strong Pro Day performance. On this day 13 years ago, Cassel signed his rookie contract with the Patriots. 

It was a surprise when Cassel even made the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster in 2005, and even more of a shock that he continued to stick around. Eventually he worked his way from third string into being Tom Brady‘s primary backup. Cassel would entrench himself in NFL and Patriots history when Brady went down with a torn ACL in the first game of the 2008 season. Cassel stepped in and ended up starting the next 15 games for New England.

He led the Patriots to an 11-5 record while throwing for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Although the Patriots became the first team since the NFL switched to their current playoff format to go 11-5 and not make the playoffs, it was an incredible season for Cassell. Just a couple months earlier beat writers had been predicting he would be cut from the team.

At the end of the year, the Patriots franchised tagged him and ended up trading him to the Chiefs for an early second round pick. Cassel would go on to make the Pro Bowl with the Chiefs in 2010, but flamed out soon after that and has bounced around the league as a backup ever since. He’s spent time with the Chiefs, Vikings, Bills, Cowboys, and Titans since his magical season in New England. This past April, he signed a one-year deal with the Lions.

The seventh round pick who hadn’t started a game in high school somehow saw himself quarterbacking the Patriots to an 11-5 record and earned himself a spot in the NFL for the next decade. It was a great pick by the Patriots, who ended up getting a season of stellar quarterback play and a second round pick for the 230th pick in the 2005 draft. And it all started on this day, 13 years ago.

This Date In Transactions History: Marc Bulger

With the Rams prepared to take Sam Bradford with the first-overall pick in the 2010 draft, the organization decided to release long-time quarterback Marc Bulger. Eight years ago today, the Pro Bowler ended up finding his next home. On June 23, 2010, Bulger signed a one-year, $3.8MM deal with the Ravens (with the potential to earn up to $5.8MM thanks to incentives).

Bulger, a 2000 sixth-round pick out of West Virginia, bounced around the NFL during his rookie season, spending time with the Saints and Falcons. He eventually landed on the Rams practice squad, although he was inactive for his entire rookie campaign. He got his first chance to start during the 2002 season following injuries to Kurt Warner and Jamie Martin. Bulger ended up leading the team to a 6-0 record to wrap up the year, and he ultimately earned the full-time starting gig in 2003.

Bulger would go on to earn a pair of Pro Bowl nods during his time with the Rams, including a 2006 campaign when he completed 62.9-percent of his passes for 4,301 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. The team ended up signing the quarterback to a six-year, $62.5MM extension following that standout campaign, but Bulger’s product dropped soon after. Between 2007 and 2008, Bulger threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and he missed half of the 2009 season due to injury.

With the Rams armed with the first-overall pick heading into the 2010 draft, they released Bulger early in the offseason. While some sources claim that the quarterback requested the release, there was plenty of incentive for the organization. The team had already signed A.J. Feeley to be Bradford’s backup, and releasing Bulger saved the team $8.5MM.

Then, eight years ago today, Bulger ended up catching on with the Ravens. While Baltimore was paying the veteran modest money to back-up a third-year Joe Flacco, the quarterback didn’t end up seeing the field during the 2010 campaign. While teams expressed interest in him during the following offseason, Bulger ultimately decided to hang up his cleats.

It was an unceremonious ending to a pretty underrated career. Bulger currently sits second on the Rams’ list of all-time passing yard leaders, and he’s third in touchdowns. While his tenure in Baltimore was forgettable, those in St. Louis will likely remember Bulger’s contribution for years to come.

This Date In Transactions History: Redskins Sign Terry Crews

On this date in 1995, the Redskins signed linebacker Terry Crews. Yes, that Terry Crews. 

Crews, a 6’3″, 245-pound linebacker, was a standout at Western Michigan. The Los Angeles Rams took note and selected Crews with the No. 281 pick and he appeared in six games as a rookie in 1991. He later found his way to the Chargers, appearing in ten games for them in ’93. His next NFL opportunity came with the Redskins, who inked him in the summer of 1995.

Like his previous stints with the Rams and Chargers, Crews’ run with the Redskins was rather unremarkable. He recorded only one solo tackle and one assisted tackle in that ’95 season, though he did stick on the roster for the full season and dressed for all 16 games.

This would not be Crews’ last NFL contract. Later, he signed on with the rival Eagles, but quickly realized that football wasn’t for him.

For two weeks, I stayed at the Holiday Inn across the street from Veterans Stadium. I just remember it was Christmas Day. It was the saddest thing ever, that Holiday Inn. I was eating old sausage and two little pancakes. It was so sad,” Crews said (via Philly.com). “I was missing my family. We lost the game to the 49ers – it was a playoff game. I just thought, I don’t want to do this anymore. The excitement wasn’t there.”

Crews didn’t find excitement or millions in the NFL, but he found a different path to fulfillment and riches. The 2002 comedy “Friday After Next” launched Crews into a lucrative acting career that included roles in several hit movies, including football comedy “The Longest Yard.” We won’t list his full IMDb here, but you get the point – Crews hit it big, just not on the gridiron.

Crews’ time with the Redskins wasn’t notable move from a football perspective, nor was his short-lived trip through Philadelphia. But Crews’ struggles throughout his NFL career made him appreciate the success that he discovered later in life.

I was the name at the end of the roster,” said Crews, reflecting on his former life as a professional football player. “It wasn’t until after I became famous that people noticed I played in the NFL. I kind of snuck in!

This Date In Transactions History: Baltimore Ravens

The 2010 draft didn’t necessarily go as planned for the Ravens. They sent their first-rounder to the Broncos (Denver selected Tim Tebow), and their pair of second-rounders failed to live up to their billing. Linebacker Sergio Kindle played in only three career games, while defensive tackle Terrence Cody mostly played in a reserve role.

The team did manage to snag tight end Ed Dickson in the third round, but nobody would deem the first half of Baltimore’s draft a success. However, the team did manage to draft a pair of contributors in the later rounds: tight end Dennis Pitta and defensive end Arthur Jones. Both of those players inked their rookie contracts on this date eight years ago.

The Ravens used their fourth-round pick (#114) on Pitta, a tight end out of Brigham Young. He ended up playing his entire seven-year career in Baltimore, winning a championship along the way. His best season came in 2012, when he hauled in 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns, and his 2,098 career receiving yards rank 12th in franchise history. Unfortunately, Pitta suffered a number of injuries throughout his career, forcing him to miss 46 regular season games. After suffering a hip injury during last year’s OTAs, the Ravens ended up cutting the veteran, effectively ending his career.

Jones, who was selected with the team’s second fifth-rounder, mostly served in a reserve role for the Ravens during the first three years of his career, including their Super Bowl run in 2012 (the defensive end finished with a key sack and fumble recovery in the victory). He took on a bigger role in 2013, finishing with 53 tackles and four sacks. He ended up inking a lucrative five-year deal with the Colts worth more than $30MM, but he never managed to stay healthy during his tenure in Indy. The 32-year-old played in a single game for the Redskins this past season.

While no one would ever declare the Ravens 2010 draft as a “win” (the team also drafted wideout David Reed and offensive tackle Ramon Harewood), their pair of later-round picks ended up having solid NFL careers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: T.J. Yates, Akeem Dent

Four years ago today, we had a rare June NFL trade. In a relatively interesting move (at the time), the Texans sent quarterback T.J. Yates to the Falcons for linebacker Akeem Dent.

Houston had actually planned on releasing Yates, their 2011 fifth-round pick. The North Carolina product had failed to show much during his first three years in the NFL, throwing three touchdowns and six interceptions in 13 games. With coach Bill O’Brien deciding to roll with the trio of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Tom Savage, Yates was set to be released and hit free agency. However, once word of Yates’ impending release got around the NFL, teams started calling in on the young signal-caller.

Houston ended up landing on a deal with the Falcons, receiving the intriguing Dent in return. The 2011 third-round pick had looked solid during his stint in Atlanta, starting 10 games and compiling 136 tackles in three years. While the Georgia product failed to progress during his time in Houston, the trade still appears to be a win for the Texans. Dent collected 38 tackles and one sacks in 15 games (seven starts) during his first season in Houston, earning himself a two-year extension. However, over the next two seasons, Dent only managed to compile a combined 29 tackles and zero sacks. The 30-year-old hasn’t appeared in the NFL since 2016.

Yates’ tenure with the Falcons was short-lived. The quarterback appeared in only a single game for the franchise, completing three of four passes for 64 yards and one interception. He was released by Atlanta prior to the 2015 season, and he ended up catching on again with… the Texans. Yates looked a bit better during his second (and third) stint in Houston, and he earned a chance to play this past season due to injuries. He finished the 2017 campaign having completed 48.5-percent of his passes for 523 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Bengals Cut Terrelle Pryor

On this date in 2015, the Bengals released quarterback Terrelle Pryor. After four unremarkable years in the NFL, the move didn’t mean much at the time. However, the release changed the trajectory of the former Ohio State star’s career.

The late Al Davis brought Pryor into the league after selecting him in the third round of the 2011 supplemental draft. Pryor didn’t play much in his first two seasons and struggled on the whole in 2013, although there were some impressive moments. Pryor was traded to the Seahawks in 2014, but was cut prior to Week 1 and wound up sitting out of football altogether that year. In January of 2015, the Chiefs signed Pryor, but released him in May. The Bengals scooped him up, but cut him from the roster five weeks later on June 18, 2015.

Clearly, Pryor’s athleticism could not carry him at the quarterback position in the NFL, but he was reluctant to give up on his lifelong dream. Prior to signing with the Bengals, Pryor declared, “If I can’t play quarterback, I can’t play football.” But, after his release from the Bengals, agent Drew Rosenhaus informed teams that Pryor was willing to line up as a wide receiver.

Ohio’s other team – the Browns – moved quickly to claim Pryor off of waivers. Pryor mostly sat on the bench in 2015 as Josh McCown‘s backup, but the Browns shifted him to wide receiver prior to the 2016 offseason. The Browns were optimistic about what the 6’4″, 228-pound athlete could do at his new position, but few expected him to finish the season with 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns.

Pryor parlayed his huge season into a one-year, $6MM free agent deal with the Redskins, but he was held back by an ankle injury and did little in D.C. This offseason, the Jets decided to take a moderate gamble on Pryor by signing him to a one-year, $4.5MM contract with $2MM guaranteed.

Pryor is still battling an ankle injury and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll be able to replicate his ’16 production with Gang Green. But, Pryor has earned far more in the NFL than anyone expected he would back in 2015, which is something to be proud of regardless of how things shake out from here.

This Date In Transactions History: Jake Delhomme

Much like the way the Colts were able to land Andrew Luck thanks to one disastrous season without their previous franchise quarterback available, the Panthers used 2010 to bottom out and be in position to draft Cam Newton.

Like the 2011 Colts, the Panthers only endured one woeful season without a clear quarterback plan. However, the long-term signal-caller solution prior to Newton produced some memorable moments. And the years-long partnership came together on this date 14 years ago. The Panthers agreed to a five-year extension with Jake Delhomme on June 17, 2004, locking him in as their quarterback of the 2000s.

Illustrating where the quarterback market has gone in the past several years, Delhomme’s deal was worth only $38MM. But Carolina initially signed Delhomme, previously a Saints backup behind Aaron Brooks, for $4MM over two years in 2003. That fall signaled the beginning of a nice run for the Panthers. Delhomme started 15 games to help lift Carolina to its first Super Bowl, after the Panthers notched upset victories in St. Louis and Philadelphia. Delhomme’s explosive second half in Super Bowl XXXVIII (in a game where he threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns) had the Panthers poised for overtime, only an illegal procedure penalty gave the Patriots prime field position for a game-winning drive that ended Carolina’s championship bid.

Nevertheless, the Panthers saw enough from Delhomme to extend him the following summer, and he delivered the best statistical seasons of his career on this contract. Delhomme threw a career-high 29 touchdown passes in 2004 and followed that up with a 24-TD-pass 2005 — his only Pro Bowl campaign — for a Panthers team that stormed to the NFC title game.

Carolina’s return to the playoffs, in 2008, brought the beginning of the end for the Delhomme’s run with the franchise.

Delhomme was unable to shake the five-interception performance in a divisional-round loss to the Cardinals, but he nevertheless played out that extension — and signed another (for five years and $42.5MM) shortly after the seminal 2009 loss to the Cards — starting 11 games in the ’09 campaign. Carolina, though, cut Delhomme in March 2010 and pivoted to Matt Moore and second-round rookie Jimmy Clausen for that 2010 slate. The Panthers went 2-14 that season, securing the No. 1 pick and a path for a new regime to draft Newton.

Perhaps the Panthers retaining Delhomme for one more season would not have afforded them No. 1 overall real estate and thus shaken up a loaded 2011 draft, one that saw the Broncos, Bills, Bengals, Cardinals and Falcons select standout performers at the Nos. 2-6 spots. However, the QBs selected in the first round after Newton (Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder) did not prove to be remotely in Newton’s class, making that No. 1 slot extraordinarily valuable.

Newton eclipsed Delhomme’s franchise record for most quarterback starts (90) in 2016; he’s at 108 entering this season.

This Date In Transactions History: Tim Couch

One of the most notorious draft busts in NFL history, not many remember Tim Couch‘s time with any team other than the Browns. But on this date 14 years ago, Couch signed a one-year deal with the Packers. After being selected first overall by the Browns in the 1999 draft, Couch started parts of five seasons in Cleveland. The team finally threw in the towel on him by releasing him in June of 2004. A week later, he signed with Green Bay.

Couch was already being hailed as the next great quarterback before he even entered college. ESPN once ranked him as the sixth-greatest high school player of all time. The heavily recruited Couch ultimately chose to play at Kentucky, where he went on to be a star. After three seasons at Kentucky where he set numerous records, Couch declared early for the NFL draft.

The Browns were preparing for their first season in the league as an expansion team after the original team left for Baltimore in 1996. They were looking for a quarterback to guide them as they started over and ultimately decided on Couch. Although Couch had his moments and even led the Browns to a playoff appearance in 2002, he mostly struggled. He threw for more interceptions than touchdowns and a sub-60% completion rate during his time in Cleveland. He was benched for Kelly Holcomb before ultimately being cut.

Couch’s time with the Packers ended up being brief. He struggled during camp and the preseason, in which he was often booed by the Lambeau Field fans, and suffered a shoulder injury. Just before the season was set to start, he was released by the team, effectively ending his NFL career.

His short run with the Packers was far from a glorious end to the career of one of the most high profile draft picks of his generation. The mention of Couch’s name is still enough to elicit shudders from Browns fans everywhere. It’s nearly impossible to find a list of the league’s biggest draft failures that doesn’t have Couch’s name on it, and his name will forever live on in infamy.

This Date In Transactions History: Michael Vick

On this date in 2009, the Falcons moved on from the biggest star in the history of their franchise. After unsuccessful attempts to trade Michael Vick, the Falcons cut finally ties with the quarterback. 

With the ability to run as well as he could throw, Vick was one of the brightest young stars in the NFL. In six seasons, he earned three Pro Bowl nominations and led the Falcons to the NFC championship game twice. The first go-round in 2002 snapped a four-year playoff drought in Atlanta.

The trajectory of Vick’s career and the entire Falcons franchise changed in 2007 when Vick was indicted for his role in the Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring. The Falcons pretty much made up their minds on Vick after the quarterback was sentenced to nearly two years in prison, but there were paperwork and cap issues to sort out. The Falcons successfully recovered ~$20MM of Vick’s $37MM signing bonus in ’07, but it wasn’t until the summer of ’09 that they formally terminated his nine-year deal which had the potential to be worth as much as $130MM.

The Falcons were able to move on from the Vick era after selecting Matt Ryan with the third overall pick in the 2008 draft. Vick, meanwhile, managed a second act in the NFL after landing with the Eagles. He was signed to be Donovan McNabb‘s backup in 2009, but he wound up as the team’s starting QB in 2010 after McNabb was traded and Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. Vick went on to take the Eagles to the playoffs and eventually sign a six-year, $100MM extension with Philly.

Vick’s subsequent stints with the Jets and Steelers were less remarkable and he was unable to find an NFL home in 2016. Last summer – on the eight-year anniversary of his release from Atlanta – Vick retired after signing a ceremonial contract with the Falcons.

With his playing days behind him, Vick has now set his sights on coaching. He’ll serve as the offensive coordinator of the Alliance of American Football’s Atlanta franchise when the league kicks off in February.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Dolphins Sign Chad Johnson

In the summer of 2012, the Dolphins found themselves less-than-enamored with their options at wide receiver. The Dolphins had just recently traded Brandon Marshall – fresh off of his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard season – to the Bears for a pair of third-round picks. Then, in the draft, they did not select a wide receiver until the sixth round.

‘‘You would like to have some players make it easy and distinguish themselves, maybe make the picture a little bit clearer,’’ head coach Joe Philbin said (via The Boston Globe). ‘‘We have to catch the ball more consistently at every position on offense, because it is not quite where it needs to be.’’

After missing out on the first and second wave of free agent wide receivers, the Dolphins placed a call to Drew Rosenhaus to inquire on Chad Ochocinco (née Chad Johnson). On June 11, 2012, the Dolphins inked the eccentric veteran to a one-year deal.

Ochocinco’s career credentials were as impressive as his touchdown celebrations were inventive. To that point, he had 766 catches for 11,059 yards and 67 touchdowns, six Pro Bowl nods, and two First-Team All-Pro selections.

However, the receiver’s best days were spent with the Bengals and he looked like a shell of his former self with the Patriots in the 2011 season. In his lone campaign with New England, Johnson had just 15 catches for 276 yards and one touchdown and was targeted just 32 times in total. Johnson clearly didn’t mesh with the Patriots’ offense and he didn’t impress in his two intra-divisional games against the Dolphins either. Against Miami, he had just one catch in each of those two games.

Ochocinco – who changed his name back to Johnson shortly after signing with Miami – didn’t mesh with Philbin and the rest of the staff. The melding of personalities turned out to be the least of his issues. In August, Johnson was arrested on domestic battery charges. Johnson proclaimed his innocence, but the Dolphins released him the very next day. Thanks to “Hard Knocks,” we have video of Philbin’s final conversation with Johnson.

Johnson’s deal with the Dolphins up being his final NFL contract. Johnson went on to play for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2014 and was suspended for the 2015 season when he skipped mandatory practices. He re-emerged in 2017 to play in a single game for the Monterrey Fundidores of the Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional de México, where he scored on a 41-yard touchdown reception in the Fundidores’ winning effort.