Making the choice to let go of a standout player has always left fans scratching their heads. However, some choices are harder to understand than others.
Let’s look at 5 decisions to release players that left teams ruing their decisions for quite some time.
Johnny Unitas (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1995)
The Steelers picked Unitas in the ninth round in 1955. But, he never got his moment to shine there and was let go before playing. However, he soon joined the Baltimore Colts, and under their guidance, he transformed into one of the best in the sport. By his second year, he was leading in several areas, earning numerous awards and honors throughout his career.
Rod Woodson (San Francisco 49ers, 1998)
Woodson, after playing 10 seasons with the Steelers, signed with the San Francisco 49ers. After another impressive year with them, he was let go. He then joined the Baltimore Ravens and continued to excel, even playing a significant role in their Super Bowl victory.
Rodney Harrison (San Diego Chargers, 2003)
Harrison, known for his hard-hitting style, was surprisingly released by the Chargers in 2003. Soon after, Bill Belichick of the Patriots saw Harrison’s potential and brought him on board. Harrison played a crucial part in the Patriots’ success over the next few years, helping them win multiple Super Bowls.
Jimmy Smith (Dallas Cowboys, 1994)
The Cowboys drafted Smith in 1992. He played mainly in special teams during his first year, and after missing a year due to health reasons, he was let go. Later, the Jacksonville Jaguars recognized his talent, and he emerged as a top player, leading the team to multiple championship games.
Keenan McCardell (Washington, 1992)
Drafted by Washington, McCardell never really got his chance with them and was soon released. After a short stint with the Browns, he was signed by the Jaguars. Together with Jimmy Smith, he shined as one of the best, marking several career milestones.
It goes to show that sometimes, one team’s oversight becomes another team’s treasure.