Recently, Brandon Marshall signed with the New Orleans Saints, who felt, for some reason that what their #1 scoring offense was missing was a 34-year old WR on the downside of his career. And that got me thinking about players who have made moves to other teams in their careers. Many of us have been there as well in our own jobs. You feel stuck in a dead end job (see: Raiders) the boss always on your ass (see: Patriots), days seem to last forever (See: Browns stuck in a Hue Jackson-coached 2017 time loop), and sometimes you think death can’t be any worse than work. You need to make a change and get the hell out of there.
But about a week into your new job, you’re pining for your old desk, your old co-workers, and even that boss who rode your ass. You’ve made a bad career move and you know it. In NFL history some great players have done the same. So here’s a list of five players that stick out in my mind. Guys that made poor choices or just plain hung onto the game too long and instead of going out with a bang, they limped out with a fizzle.
Johnny Unitas (From the Baltimore Colts to the San Diego Chargers)
Johnny Unitas was one of the best QBs of his era. His play was almost as sharp as his black high top spikes and flat top haircut. Unitas had 118 wins as the Baltimore Colts quarterback from 1956 through 1972 against only 60 losses and four ties (I hate wearing them and hate seeing them in statistics). After the 1972 season, Unitas headed west to the powdered blue uniforms of the San Diego Chargers. It didn’t go well for him. He played in only five games, starting in four of them. His team went 1-3 in those starts and he completed only 34 of 76 passes, garnering a QB rating of just 40.0. He should have traded those high tops in for Huarache sandals while he was ahead.
Cris Carter (From the Philadelphia Eagles to the Minnesota Vikings to the Miami Dolphins)
Carter started off an Eagle and was let go because, “all he does is catch touchdowns.” He landed in Minnesota and continued to catch touchdowns and pretty much everything else thrown at him. From 1992 through 2001 his lowest single-season catch total was 92. The future Hall of Famer wasn’t ready to call it a career after 2001 and ended up in Miami, wearing a new number (88) and hoping for one last year in the sun. C.C. should have done what most people who move to Miami do and retired. He played in a mere five games as a Dolphin, starting just once. He caught eight passes for 66 yards in his final season. True to form, however, he did manage to get a touchdown before he finally called it a career.
Emmitt Smith (From the Dallas Cowboys to the Arizona Cardinals)
Smith was a punishing runner during the heyday of the Dallas Cowboys (I hate that they even had a heyday but I digress). From 1991 through 2001 Smith never fell below 1,000 yards rushing in a season and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. Still feeling he had something left in the tank, Smith became an Arizona Cardinals in 2003. Smith lasted two seasons in Arizona, rushing for just 1,193 total yards and averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, ending his career somewhere around Area 51.
Eric Dickerson (From the L.A. Rams to the Indianapolis Colts to the Oakland Raiders to the Atlanta Falcons)
Eric Dickerson was a marvel to watch. He combined speed and size along with a good pair of hands, making him a very dangerous man on the football field. In 1984 he ran for 2,105 yards, breaking the single-season rushing record as a Ram. He became a Colt midway through the 1987 season and continued to be a force for the next few years. His season with the Raiders was acceptable if not spectacular as he rushed for 729 yards. Dickerson bypassed calling it a career after that 1992 season and instead opted to play for the Atlanta Falcons in 1993. Dickerson managed just 26 carries that season gaining a mere 91 yards without scoring a touchdown. Instead of being seen as a dirty bird, fans were probably flipping Dickerson and Falcons’ ownership the bird.
Randy Moss (From the Minnesota Vikings to the Oakland Raiders to the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings to the New England Patriots to the Tennessee Titans to the San Francisco 49ers)
Randy Moss didn’t run, he glided. Throw the ball anywhere near him and he pretty much caught it. He was straight cash, Homie. Moss seemed to perform well just about anywhere he landed until the very end of his career. He played for three teams in 2010 but his worst stop of all was Tennessee. The Titans got themselves a Ferrari but had no idea how to drive it. Moss only had six catches for 80 yards in his brief tenure with Tennessee and decided to call it a career...temporarily. In 2012 he made his return to football, suiting up for the San Francisco 49ers. Randy should have stayed retired. Sure he caught 28 passes for 434 yards but that was pedestrian for a future Hall of Famer. In this case a balling Moss gathered no stones.
Those are my five worst career moves in NFL history. Next week I'll share Part 2, which is the five best career moves in NFL history.
I'm guessing you have your own, so hit us up in the comments and read the works of my teammates, the Blitzed Barkeep and Blitzed Scout who do some mighty fine work.
Until then, Happy Thanksgiving! Keep your mugs frosty, your footballs fully inflated, and Tom Brady away from your cell phones.
Mike Zimmer's Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan from Pennsylvania and is a #TeamBlitzed All Pro. You can follow him on Twitter.