Punt or Go for It: Top Free Agent Safety Kerry Rhodes Seeks a New Team


Former Arizona Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes celebrates a play against the Detroit Lions at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Former Arizona Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes announced this week he is communicating with four NFL teams about a possible new free agent deal.

He wouldn’t say who those teams are. The Green Bay Packers, while they have not admitted it, may be a safety-needy team. Multiple media outlets, including this one, reported the Packers are attempting to lock up their top safety Morgan Burnett to a long-term deal.

After Burnett, there is competition for the other safety spot with Jerron McMillian and M.D Jennings battling for a starting role. If there are injuries, the cupboard is pretty bare back there. My guess is the Packers would bite on a one-year deal for a veteran safety at a cheap price.

However, not this one.

If you thought Tim Tebow is the tallest lightning rod of controversy in the NFL, Rhodes may be a close second. That, in itself, may be enough for teams to call out the punting unit on this free agent. However, a wise man named Bill Belichick signed Tebow to a deal this offseason, so it’s likely teams will at least pause and evaluate the Rhodes scenario.

What’s up with Kerry Rhodes?

He has spent a good part of his offseason trying to convince people he is not gay after an assistant claimed they had a gay relationship. Photos and videos were released that implied to some people they may have been romantically involved.

A gay player in an NFL locker room may not be a big deal any more. However, no active NFL player has ever outed themselves, so obviously a stigma exists. That said, I think it is safe to assume there are gay players in the league and players know who they are and all is fine regarding team chemistry if proper respect and privacy is maintained.

What’s probably troubling to team executives is not the G word so much as the R word. R as in reality show. In the aforementioned video, which has been called a reality show preview, Rhodes openly discusses his offseason work on his “second career” as an actor and his desire to land roles in Hollywood.

Professional athletes who take a turn to star in reality shows while still in their athletic careers are usually perceived as having a diva mentality and a lack of focus on their primary job. Think Terrell Owens. Chad Johnson. Lamar Odom. Teams didn’t exactly applaud these players when they started devoting more time to reality shows. And those shows didn’t lead to Hollywood stardom. For a primer on the worst reality shows starring professional athletes, visit this site.

Doing a commercial or spot appearance on a TV show, a la Aaron Rodgers in “The Office,” is one thing. Producing a reality show around your involvement with a professional team is a whole different thing.

The Wikipedia profile on Rhodes also reveals more evidence of a diva mentality. He reportedly enjoys the “New York” lifestyle. That doesn’t sound like Lambeau material.

That said, Rhodes may be the most talented free agent safety available. At 30 years of age, Rhodes started 15 games in 2013 in which he intercepted four passes, forced two fumbles, recorded one sack, and made 58 tackles. He has an impressive looking 2012 highlight reel that includes the song, I’m different. One of his tackles on the reel is of Packer running back Alex Green.

Rhodes earned AP All-Pro honors with the Jets in 2006, which led to a huge $37 million contract and $20 million guaranteed. As we’ve seen with many players, huge contracts usually spell doom for them in the final years of the deal unless they are playing lights out. Rhodes was traded to the Cardinals in 2010 for draft picks. The Cardinals shocked many of their fans when they cut Rhodes after last season, a move that reportedly saved the team $6 million in cap room and $6 million in cash. Reporters who followed the Cardinals speculated Rhodes, while still a good safety, was not performing up to the standards of his contract.

So now what for Rhodes? He’s in the hunt for a new deal with a team. He is promoting charity work in his hometown of Bessemer, Ala. And he’s allegedly cracking jokes on Twitter that he is the real father of Kim Kardashian’s baby.  I guess you can take the diva out of the Big City, but you can’t take the diva out of the man.

What do you think? Should the Packers look at signing Rhodes after they do a new contract with Burnett?

Leave a comment below, Like us on our Facebook page, and/or follow us on Twitter.