The Schein Nine  

 

Cowboys' Sean Lee, Bucs' Jameis Winston need new team in '19

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"Happy holidays! Now get out of here."

Chances are there will be a little more tact involved if teams do indeed part with these veterans this offseason. However, with the final days of 2018 upon us, I'm taking a look at some big-name players who should get a fresh start with a different club next year, Schein Nine style:

1) Sean Lee, LB, Dallas Cowboys

I don't write this with any joy, but it's time. And everyone knows it. Lee has been a star in this league -- he was first-team All-Pro just a couple seasons ago -- but he cannot stay healthy. And now the issue is he's the not even close to being one of the Cowboys' top two linebackers.

Lee was a healthy scratch for the Cowboys' Week 15 NFC East clincher, which was equal parts the right move, telling for the future, and sad. Dallas' second-year LB Jaylon Smith is a star. Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch is a stud, too. There used to be a direct correlation between Lee's availability and the ability for the Cowboys' defense to perform. Now, they are winning and fantastic on defense with Lee as an afterthought. He will get another chance to strut his stuff somewhere else.

2) Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks

If the Seahawks win the Super Bowl this season, will Thomas wear his championship ring on the middle finger he flashed to the Seahawks' sideline when he was carted the field in Arizona after fracturing his left leg in Week 4? In all seriousness, though, Thomas should've been traded before the draft this year. It didn't happen. That seemed to be the time to cut the cord. With the middle-finger incident and Seattle getting back to dominant form, there's no coming back now.

Here's hoping Thomas will be healthy enough to still play at a high level in 2019 (signing with Dallas or Kansas City as a free agent would make sense) and that fences are eventually mended in Seattle. He was an all-time great Seahawks defender and part of a consistently great defense.

3) Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

Wow, was he dreadful against the Jaguars on Sunday, throwing a hideous pick-six in the fourth quarter of Miami's 17-7 loss. In many ways, it would represent a fitting final game for Tannehill in a Dolphins home uniform. I can give you fancy stats to prove my point or simply state it once again: Ryan Tannehill is just a guy. He's not a franchise quarterback and will never live up to his draft status or potential.

I'm not ruling him out as a starter or top-32 quarterback in the NFL for 2019 at all. But Miami cannot keep on spinning its wheels and going nowhere.

4) Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

He's the epitome of class, but it's Lamar Jackson's team now. As you might have noticed, the Ravens are 5-1 since Jackson was promoted to QB1. Flacco will never have to give back the Super Bowl XLVII championship. And forget the "is Joe Flacco elite?" debate. Flacco was a great Raven who won a lot of games. He should always be celebrated and appreciated. He hasn't been great for a few years now. If healthy, he can still play and lead, but it's time for Baltimore to move on.

5) Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers

I've always been a huge Cobb fan, but he hasn't been healthy, playing in just eight games, or particularly productive (averaging 4.6 catches for 44.5 yards) in a yo-yo of a season where he never suited up for more than three games in a row. Obviously, the Packers need a new head coach. They also need some new players around Aaron Rodgers. Cobb is due to become a free agent going into his ninth season next year. It would be logical for Green Bay to give him an opportunity to sip from the fountain of youth elsewhere.

6) Ziggy Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions

For a long time, Ansah was the face of the Lions' defense. And I long argued that he was a truly underappreciated star. After contract squabbles, a franchise tag that paid him north of $17 million, and the season-ending shoulder injury he suffered earlier this month, a fresh start elsewhere would be best for everyone involved. He's a great talent and leader. The injuries have started to pile up, though. Ansah hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2015, and if he's going to recapture the magic, it's time to do it outside of Motown.

7) Ndamukong Suh, DT, Los Angeles Rams

There's a chance that Suh can alter the narrative if he uses a Rams Super Bowl run to morph back into the truly dominant player he was in his Detroit days, but we've seen no evidence to suggest this is possible. I'm not ready to write the epitaph on Suh's career. But I believe the days of Suh getting $10-plus million per year are numbered. Aaron Donald has had a legendary season without Suh playing at an elite level. Unless he's willing to take a significantly lower salary than the $14 million he's making in 2018, there's probably no reason for the Rams to invest in another season from the soon-to-be 32-year-old.

8) Chris Boswell, K, Pittsburgh Steelers

It's amazing to think that Boswell signed a five-year deal worth just under $20 million before the season started. Every time he kicks, it's seemingly an adventure. He's made just 13 of 20 kicks this season, good for an accuracy rate of 65 percent, which is by far the league-low among kickers with 20 or more attempts. Pittsburgh has bigger problems and reasons for underachievement and drama, but missing kicks is high on the list. A less pressurized team and situation might be better for Boswell's next act.

9) Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The trust factor is long gone here, given Winston's issues on and off the field, and his time with the Bucs should come to an end after four seasons. It won't be the end of the line for Jameis -- he'll play again. There's talent there, as we've seen in spurts throughout his career. But he's just too much of a risk. You wonder if he will ever truly get it.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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