Jets cut Coles, Rams part with Drew Bennett, Trent Green

National cut day in the NFL continues. The Jets released Laveranues Coles, while the Rams cut quarterback Trent Green and Drew Bennett.

The Jets released veteran wide receiver Laveranues Coles this afternoon — but both sides left open the possibility of his return to the team.

Coles, who was scheduled to earn a guaranteed $6 million salary for the 2009-10 season, wanted a long-term deal with the team. But when the two sides could not reach an agreement, they reached a compromise, giving Coles the right to find his own deal on the open market on the eve of free agency.

Considering the market for wide receivers, which is pretty much T.J. Houshmandzadeh at this point, Coles could still get a decent contract from another team. If he doesn’t get the long-term deal he covets, a reunion with the Jets seems more than likely.

The Rams will have a new backup quarterback in 2009. The team released Trent Green, who was one year into his second tour of duty with the team on Wednesday in a move that saves the team $1.3 million of salary cap space.

The departure of Green, a two-time Pro Bowler who was with the Rams previously in 1999 and 2000, means the Rams will have a new No. 2 quarterback in 2009. One possibility is Tampa Bay free agent Jeff Garcia, who played for Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in Philadelphia in 2006.

The team also released wide receiver Drew Bennett, who had been a major disappointment since signing a $30 million free-agent contract two years ago. Bennett’s relieve is a wash, saving the team only $50,000 in cap space.

The Rams didn’t save much cap space by cutting Bennett, but there was no reason to hang onto him either. He was a gigantic bust since he arrived in St. Louis and could wind up back with Tennessee under coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.

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Top 10 active NFL passing leaders

The 2008 NFL season is now in the books. Well, unless you love football so much that you actually watch and care about the Pro Bowl tomorrow. You know how I would care about it? If I was in Hawaii. But that’s just me. Anyway, as some of the game’s great quarterbacks padded their career stats, let’s take a look at the active Top 10 in passing yards:

1. Brett Favre, New York Jets (65,127)—Sure, he led the NFL in interceptions this past season with 22, but Favre threw for 3472 yards and 22 touchdowns. Will this number stand, or will Favre add to it? I think I speak for every sportswriter out there when I say I’m tired of reading about and writing about Favre’s impending retirement.

2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (45,628)—With 20,000 yards to catch Favre, it will take Manning, who has averaged over 4000 yards per season for 11 years, another five seasons to get there. Manning is only 32, so I’d bet on that. Well, unless Favre retires and unretires a few more times.

3. Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans (37,393)—It’s hard to believe Collins is only 36 years old, and leading the Titans to the best record in the NFL in 2008 sparked a fire under him. And that fire will continue to burn in Nashville despite how Vince Young feels about it.

4. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles (29,320)—McNabb is 82-45-1 as a starter over 10 seasons in Philly. Wait, can NFL games end in ties? Anyway, McNabb has thrown 194 touchdowns with just 90 interceptions. But the guy has no rings, and was so nervous in his lone Super Bowl appearance that he vomited in the huddle. I don’t get it.

5. Brad Johnson, Dallas Cowboys (29,054)—Johnson stopped putting up meaningful numbers a few seasons ago, and he looked awful for those three games he started in place of Tony Romo this year. Let’s just say we shouldn’t expect ol’ Brad to reach 30,000 passing yards for his career.

6. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals (28,591)—Okay, so he didn’t win his second Super Bowl ring, but Warner still has an amazingly accurate arm at 37. He said he won’t tease us all with retirement talk ala Favre, but my feeling is he’s not anywhere close to being done.

7. Trent Green, St. Louis Rams (28,475)—Green has started the equivalent of one season’s games over the past three, and he’s taken some brutal hits that have left given him multiple concussions. If I was Green, and I know I’m not, I would hang it up now.

8. Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions (27,293)—Kitna has had some bad luck. He played on some bad Bengals teams and then signed with the Lions in 2006. And though Kitna went down with an injury after four games this past season, he still was part of the first 0-16 team in NFL history.

9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (26,446)—Here’s the irony. Brady had 76 passing yards before a brutal knee injury ended his season in Week 1. If he had played 16 games, there’s a very good chance he’d be as high as fourth on this list today.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (26,258)—Brees came within 15 yards of Dan Marino’s single season record of 5084 passing yards, but he still made fantasy owners happy, and still climbed onto this list as a result.

Source: Pro Football Reference

Memo to Rams – think QB next April

Rams-49ersIt’s incredibly way too early to be thinking about the 2009 NFL Draft but if I were general manager of the St. Louis Rams, I’d definitely be thinking about making my first pick a quarterback next April.

The effort that Marc Bulger turned in during the first half of the Rams’ 35-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was absolutely abysmal. Bulger’s final numbers weren’t that bad – 34 of 53 for 295 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs – but most of that came in the second half when the Niners were already up 35-3 and were on cruise control.

Jim Haslett doesn’t have much of a choice but to go with Bulger as his starter because Trent Green is even worse (if that’s even possible). But St. Louis has to do something at quarterback next year because Bulger clearly isn’t a quality starter anymore. Against the 49ers on Sunday, he repeatedly threw into double and triple coverage throughout the first half and worse yet, he didn’t even look like he was trying to read the defense. He also lost a fumble on a bad exchange with the center, which San Fran promptly turned into a touchdown. Bulger’s overall effort was absolutely pitiful.

And speaking of Haslett, how does he expect to land another head coaching job with how bad the Rams have played the past three weeks? The front office for St. Louis should feel fortunate that Roger Goodell reminded them of the Rooney Rule when they tried to offer Haslett a full time job following the team’s win against the Redskins in his first game as interim head coach.

The Lions might be winless, but I’d bet the house that they could beat the Rams right now. At least Detroit gives a little effort.

The Rams are an embarrassment

Jim HaslettRemember when Jim Haslett took over for Scott Linehan about a month ago and the Rams beat the Redskins in Washington and then crushed the Cowboys at home the very next week? Well, those wins are nothing but a distant memory.

The Jets hammered the Rams 47-3 at Giants Stadium on Sunday, but it wasn’t even that close. St. Louis trailed 40-0 at halftime, turned the ball over five times, managed only 200 total yards and were just 4 of 10 on third downs. Even when they marched into the red zone, they still couldn’t muster any points.

It was impressive how the Rams responded when Haslett was chosen as interim coach. They showed emotion, played inspired and actually resembled a football team. But their last two games have shown that the front office needs to completely blow this team up. They need a new quarterback because Marc Bulger has been a disaster and Trent Green should have retired two years ago. They need an offensive line. They need a secondary and they need a new direction.

As for the Jets, I know Brett Favre gets all the attention for the team’s turnaround this year but the defense deserves a ton of credit too. Eric Mangini has the defense playing more aggressively and unsung players like Abram Elam are stepping up big. If the Jets make the playoffs this year, Favre would have played a big part. But it’ll be the defense that will determine just how far they eventually go.

Top 10 Active NFL Punching Bags (Most Times Sacked)

Usually sacks are kept track of statistically by the guys who are the sacker, not the sack-ee. In today’s NFL, that means guys like Aaron Kampman, John Abraham and Justin Tuck. But when you think about it, that’s a lot of punishment on the guys who are being brought down to the ground, usually with 300 pounds or more on top of them. Ouch. Here is a list of the active leaders in the “sacked” department:

1. Brett Favre, New York Jets (451)—Well, if you play the game long enough, this is sure to happen, right? Still, Favre paid the price in 1996, the year he led the Packers to a Super Bowl title, hitting the ground a career high 40 times.

2. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles (309)—In a full season, McNabb is typically brought down 35-40 times, and mainly because he’s mobile, meaning he’s being chased. Still, I bet he’s still seeing stars from that game last season in which the Giants sacked him 12 times.

3. Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans (306)—At 36, this is another example of longevity. But when you hang in the pocket for as long as Collins does sometimes, this is bound to happen.

4. Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions (302)—Kitna played a few years in Seattle and a few years in Cincinnati before signing with Detroit before the 2006 season. He was welcomed with a sieve for an offensive line, taking 63 sacks in 2006 and 51 in 2007. Again, ouch.

5. David Carr, New York Giants (262)—Here is where this gets a little painful even to write about. David Carr has only been in the NFL since 2002, the first year of the expansion Houston Texans. That year, Carr broke an NFL record by being sacked 76 times. With 249 total sacks in 5 seasons, Carr has enjoyed the view from the sidelines in Carolina and now in New York (Giants), as a backup.

6. Trent Green, St. Louis Rams (255)—And we wonder why the guy has struggled to get on the field due to concussions. This is one of those sad truths about playing in the NFL.

7. Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks (237)—Chunky Soup sure doesn’t help Hasselbeck or McNabb get away from a pass rush.

8. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals (223)—Fantasy owners don’t care about this number. They only care about the Arena League type numbers Warner keeps putting up, even now at the age of 37.

9. Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams (215)—It’s a sure sign that the mighty Rams have fallen when a guy like Bulger hits the ground 49 times, as he did in 2006.

10. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (203)—The only one that New England fans remember is number 203, the one that knocked Mr. Brady out for the 2008 season in the opener last month.

Source: Pro Football Reference

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