Last week, Deadspin’s Drew Magary asked whether Kerry Rhodes was being “blacklisted” from the NFL. Rhodes is an eight year veteran at safety. Magary notes that, according to Pro Football Focus, Rhodes was the fourth best free safety in the league in 2012. He intercepted four passes while starting fifteen games for the fifth ranked pass defense in the NFL and, according to Magary, “apart from the retired Ronde Barber, Rhodes is the only player in PFF’s top 30 safeties from 2012 that doesn’t currently have a job.”
So, why isn’t he on a roster? (the Giants are bringing him in for a workout Tuesday)
Look at his career stats and you will see that there was no obvious drop-off in the quality of Rhodes’s play in 2012 compared to the seven previous seasons. He’s been serviceable at worst and Pro Bowl-caliber at best. Nothing about him has changed except for the fact that someone put up a picture of him with his arm around a dude. Rhodes has vehemently denied the gay rumors, and yet the mere suspicion of his gayness seems to have been enough to make him unemployable.
According to one report, Rhodes was offered $3 million by the Cardinals in the off-season and turned it down, though I haven’t seen that report confirmed elsewhere. And the NFL minimum for a player entering his ninth season would be $840,000. In any event, according to this list of top safeties’ salaries (which also includes strong safeties), three million dollars a year would place Rhodes well outside the top ten (the tenth highest paid safety in the league, heading into 2013, is the Colts’ Laron Landry, at $6 million).
Magary emailed Pro Football Talk and super insider Mike Florio to ask him about why Rhodes was still sitting idle two weeks into the season with lots of teams in need of safety help. Florio responded that “from what I am hearing, I can’t disagree with the possibility Rhodes is being blackballed. You can quote me on all of this.”
Lord knows the Giants need the secondary help, so I hope they sign him for football reasons alone. But it sure seems like a 31-year old who is healthy and coming off a high-caliber season shouldn’t have a problem finding work in the NFL. The fact that Rhodes appears to be having such trouble doing so should be a bigger story than it is.