The Odd Tale of Donté Stallworth

Sometimes I'm doing research for these posts — and yes, I actually do research for these posts — I come across an interesting little nugget of information that would qualify as a great trivia question, an insane fact that needs to have a bright light shone on it, or both. Today, I have one for you that fits into that "both" category.

Trivia: How many NFL teams has Donté Stallworth been on in his last five NFL seasons? (Keeping in mind that he did not play in 2009)

The answer is five. In each of his last five seasons, he has worn a different uniform. The more amazing part of this trivia is that Stallworth has been a very good receiver through at least most of the span, earning a seven-year $35 million dollar contract with the Cleveland Browns in 2008. Everything had to go absolutely perfectly for this to happen, and here's how it did:

After a very good 2005 with the Saints (70 catches, 945 yards, 7 TDs), Stallworth was traded to the Eagles for Mark Simoneau and a 4th round pick. This was done because the Saints knew they had lots of depth at WR.

After a season as Donovan McNabb's favorite deep-threat in Philadelphia (38 catches, 725 yards, 5 TDs in 12 games), there was a lot of pressure for the Eagles to sign Stallworth to a long-term contract. When they gave him a low-ball offer, he decided to sign a one-year deal with the Patriots instead and was the slot-receiver on the 16-0 team.

If his goal was to (almost) get a ring, prove his value and get a big-money contract … it worked. The Cleveland Browns made him one of the highest-paid WRs in the league, and gave him seven-years, in what was seen as an absurd contract the day it was signed.

Donté didn't quite live up to the hype. In his first season he played in only 11 games and caught only 17 passes for 170 yards and 1 TD. Instead of working hard on his game in the off-season, he got drunk, got behind the wheel of his car and killed a guy. Seriously.

When the league's salary cap disappeared, as per the "last year of the CBA" rules, teams were able to release players and get rid of big contracts without a penalty. This is how the Raiders were able to get rid of JaMarcus Russell so easily, and the Browns took the opportunity to cut Stallworth loose as soon as he was reinstated by the NFL (apparently killing a guy gets you a one-year suspension, as opposed to the four-game suspension you get for raping women and the two-game suspension you get for killing dogs and running a dog-fighting gambling ring out of your house).

A week after the Browns cut him, the Ravens signed Stallworth to a one-year "redemption" contract. Stallworth was going to have his chance at being one of the league's elite once again, and was penciled in as the Ravens #2 WR opposite Derrick Mason.

The Ravens' trade for Anquan Boldin may have actually helped Donté; he's more of a slot WR anyways. However, when the Seahawks used the lack of a salary cap to get away from T.J. Houshmanzadeh's big contract, the Ravens pulled out another one-year "redemption" contract for him, and Stallworth was pushed to the bottom of a WR depth chart on a team that didn't like to spread the field to begin with.

His stats with the Ravens were probably not enough for the team to bring him back. He finished the season with 2 catches for 82 yards and no touchdowns. He got 5 carries out of the backfield for 45 more yards, but again no touchdowns.

As a free agent, it's likely Stallworth lands somewhere besides Baltimore in 2011. That would mean he would have played for 6 different teams in 6 seasons, while being traded only once and getting signed to one-year deals only twice. How's that for a head-scratcher?

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