Veteran stars who were cast aside

BY Alex Marvez • March 14, 2009

The names were synonymous with just one NFL team.

Derrick Brooks will enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Same for Marvin Harrison with the Indianapolis Colts. Nobody caught more passes for the New York Giants than Amani Toomer. Nobody has kicked an extra point for the Baltimore Ravens besides Matt Stover.

But these four players — along with eight other well-known mainstays — are no longer with the only franchises where they have ever played.

PHOTOS: The Dirtied Dozen

The NFL can be a cold, hard business for NFL 30-somethings. Alex Marvez shares 12 longtime veterans suddenly shown the exit.

They are the Dirtied Dozen.

A combination of age, salary and declining performance — or projections of such — prompted an offseason bloodletting. Twelve veterans with 143 years of NFL experience and 56 Pro Bowl selections combined were released or not re-signed.

Getting dumped has cast aspersions on how much these players have left in the tank. It is a blow to their battle-tested pride.

Denver safety Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia), Dallas linebacker Keith Brooking (Atlanta) and New England running back Fred Taylor (Jacksonville) are eager to prove themselves with new teams. Others are still seeking employment. They may never play again or — if desperate enough — could try to reinvent themselves in the UFL.

Here's a look at the Dirtied Dozen, the legacy they've left behind and what their former teams are doing to replace them. Honorable mention goes to three players who almost made this a baker's dozen: Former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister, ex-Chicago safety Mike Brown and Philadelphia-turned-Jacksonville tackle Tra' Thomas.

1. LB Derrick Brooks — 14 seasons, 11 Pro Bowls with Tampa Bay

Why is he gone?

The 35-year-old Brooks didn't fit in the youth movement being implemented under first-year Bucs head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik. Brooks started all 16 games last season but was pulled from nickel packages because his coverage skills have declined. Tampa Bay didn't want to pay Brooks a $3 million base salary in 2009 as a part-time player.

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