In today’s section talking about gems from past drafts, we are going to talk about a guy who wasn’t even drafted! Let’s jump into the career of Brent Grimes.
Grimes played for the D2 Shippensburg University Red Raiders. In his time there he played on both sides of the ball, set a conference record for the most interceptions in a career, and set the school record for the most career kick return yards. Unfortunately, Grimes would go undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft. He was picked up by the Atlanta Falcons, but an injury set him back for his entire rookie season. So, he suited up in 2007 and played for the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europe. He was their starting cornerback and his defensive performances helped them win the final World Bowl.
Despite his play in Hamburg, it took Grimes a few years to really get going and get his feet wet in the pros. 2008 was an uneventful year. He really started to perform well in 2009, when he had over 65 tackles, 13 pass deflections, and six interceptions. In 2010, he had an almost better season with over 80 tackles, 20+ pass deflections, and four interceptions.
In 2010 he was selected to his first career Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, in the following season, he would suffer a minor knee injury that would cut his season short. In his final season with the Falcons, another season-ending injury ended his tenure early. Unfortunately, the Falcons didn’t really value Grimes enough to give him a massive contract. The last two years of his contract he was on an unrestricted free agent tender and a franchise tag until the Falcons let him go.
In 2013 the Miami Dolphins signed Grimes to a one-year deal. He came into the season as their starting cornerback and boy, did he play like it. In his first year with Miami, he had 60 total tackles, 17 passes defended, and four interceptions. He ended up finishing the season as one of the most highly rated corners in the league and reaped the financial rewards the next season. He finally got the payday he deserved with a four-year deal for 32 million dollars. 2014 was another great year for Grimes. He made the Pro Bowl with almost 60 tackles, 12 pass deflections, five interceptions, and a touchdown.
Grimes finished the 2015 season with another Pro Bowl appearance but was cut in 2016 for a number of reasons. The first was that Grimes refused to restructure his contract with Miami, an understandable stance considering two straight Pro Bowl seasons. The second had to do with issues with comments his wife was making about the team, especially the play of Ryan Tannehill. His wife was even arrested outside the stadium for going after a reporter who asked her thoughts on her husband’s future with the team and publicly criticized the team and Tannehill.
After being released by the Dolphins, Grimes would quickly move on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Grimes would play for the Buccaneers for three years with his play trending downward each year. He would eventually retire after the 2018 season at 35 years old after a twelve-year NFL career.
When I look at the career of Grimes I can’t help but feel he was always underappreciated and underpaid. If you take a look at his tape, the statistics, the analytics…the whole picture really, you see a guy who performed at a very high level for a long time in the NFL. Not to mention he didn’t really play for a contender aside from the end of his time with Atlanta. He joined the Falcons when they were bad pre-Matt Ryan and stuck around until they were in the playoffs through a three-year stretch from 2010-2012. He was a part of the real average Miami Dolphins teams and Tampa Bay teams that finished near the bottom of the NFC South at the end of his career. For most of his career, he played on very inconsistent teams and was often one of the main bright spots on his teams’ defenses.
Grimes had quite the career regardless of the teams he played for. He played for a D2 school where the odds were astronomically against him, he went undrafted and played a year for NFL Europe where he helped his team win the last ever World Bowl, and then was signed to the Falcons where he really began to learn how to play football in the NFL. All it took was just one team to take a chance on him and he took the rest into his own hands. You have to love stories of underdogs like Grimes. Defy the odds.
Follow Austin on Twitter @ArmchairAustin.