There was a degree of surprise when the Patriots waived cornerback Ras-I Dowling yesterday, a top draft pick from a team that normally doesn’t miss at the draft, Dowling’s dismissal before even the final round of cuts to the 53 man roster turned heads.
Now there is even more shock as not one NFL team wanted to take a risk at Dowling as the former Virginia product passed through the waiver wire on Thursday.
According to multiple reports, Dowling passed through waivers unclaimed. While that might seem unusual for a player chosen 33rd overall in the 2011 Draft, his rookie contract likely contributed to him becoming undesirable for teams looking for a cheap depth pick up on the waiver wire. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Dowling’s rookie deal included $351,377 in guaranteed base salary, which any team claiming him would have been on the hook for.
Dowling was a star for Virginia, hauling in eight interceptions in his time in the NCAA. That was enough to draw the attention of the Patriots as well as to see Dowling make the Super Bowl in his first season in the league in 2011. Now after two seasons it appears that Dowling’s NFL career arc is not going like initially planned
Dowling is now free to sign with any team in the NFL, but he will be taking a significant to do so. The guaranteed money of a rookie contract no longer something that the once bright prospect who was drafted by one of the best organizations in the NFL now long gone. If he is to find a place on a 53 man roster this season, expect it to be very close to the league minimum as Dowling will no experience the other side of breaking into the NFL as an unwanted free agent, a far cry from being a coveted college prospect.