Monday, August 13, 2012

Dolphins cut Chad Johnson after arrest

A day after Chad Johnson was arrested for allegedly headbutting his wife during a domestic dispute, the Miami Dolphins have severed ties with the veteran wideout by terminating his contract.

As previously reported, Johnson and his wife, Evelyn Lozada, got into an argument in his car outside their home in Davie, Fla. after she found a Walgreens receipt for a box of condoms. According to Lozada, the argument got heated, which Johnson screaming, "I don't give a fuck! I don't give a fuck about my career!" and headbutting her, leaving what the police report says is a three-inch gash.

Lozada called 911 from a neighbor's home as Johnson drove around the neighborhood. When police arrived, Johnson gave his side of the events, claiming that Lozada headbutted him. The police report indicates no noticeable marks were found on Johnson.

Johnson posted $2,500 bond and was released from Broward County jail on Sunday afternoon. In a press conference, Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin indicated he would not comment on the situation until he spoke with his player in the near future. Word of his release was broken Sunday evening.

Signed to a one-year, $925,000 contract in early June shortly after his release from the New England Patriots, Johnson received no guaranteed money and the Dolphins will not pay any of his salary for the 2012 season because he was cut before the regular season opener.

Johnson was projected to be a starting wide receiver for the Dolphins in 2012 despite catching only 15 passes with the Patriots last season and already being 34 years old. He dropped the only pass thrown his way in Friday's preseason opener against the Buccaneers and also reportedly struggled in the team's recent scrimmage.

The Dolphins will move forward with 11 receivers under contract and an open roster spot on their 90-man training camp roster. Among the receivers competing for a roster spot is seventh-round rookie Rishard Matthews, who has been wearing No. 86 after giving Johnson his trademark No. 85.


Analysis

As I wrote the night of his arrest, the Dolphins would be smart to severe ties with Johnson immediately after this arrest. In addition to the fairly incriminating police report, the Dolphins were one a one-strike policy with Johnson, who had never been arrested during his NFL career but has had a history of being a lock room distraction.

Combine those factors with his limited production in 2011 (for a high-powered offense, no less) and the fact that he had shown trouble separating from defenders, it was an easy decision for the Dolphins to part ways now rather than let the legal process play itself out and bring constant media attention for a negative reason.

While we do not know if Johnson is guilty (although it certainly seems likely), the Dolphins had no reason to wait for the legal system to take its course. Johnson may be innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law (and that's how it should be), but for the Dolphins, the arrest was enough to make him not worth keeping any longer.

As far as the Dolphins' receiving corps goes, losing Johnson opens up a roster spot in a largely undecided group. Davone Bess and Brian Hartline are probably the only two locks, although Hartline has been sidelined all camp with a calf injury and really needs to get back on the field to take advantage. Legedu Naanee is also probably locked into a starting job after a strong training camp, although he doesn't have a good history of being effective in the regular season.

Beyond that, Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt seem to have the best chance of cracking the 53-man roster, as both have had strong camps and retain special teams value. I don't see much upside in Marlon Moore, however, and I am predicting he won't make the team. Last year's fourth-rounder, Clyde Gates, has appealing speed but seems to be in the doghouse, so it's hard to predict his chances right now.

The rookies—draft picks B. J. Cunningham and Rishard Matthews plus undrafted rookie Jeff Fuller—I expect either one or none of them will make the active roster to start the season and that they are primarily batting for a practice squad spot or two.

While the Dolphins' receiving corps certainly lacks star power or proven commodities, they made the right move in taking a stand and getting rid of Johnson. His presence likely would not have changed the fact that the team is probably not playoff-bound in 2012, and releasing him quickly shows integrity in sticking to their principles and not letting football needs affect a human decision.


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