Brooking is definitely not beyond being dumped. Remember, new coach, new GM, they have no emotional stock in him. They did not draft him or sign him to a huge contract.
Also factor in the fact that the team brought in another potential star LB in Hartwell. If Hartwell is as successful in Atlanta as many people think he can be (he is after all a Ray Lewis-type player) and emerges as an elite MLB over the next 2-3 years, the team will no longer have a PR issue with cutting Brooking.
The truth of the matter is that not as many fans (at least those that seem to be more outspoken) are infatuated with Brooking as it was with Tuggle. As scout said, Tuggle was a star on bad defenses. Brooking is a star on good defenses.
Brooking is not going to be dumped in the very near future, but the team has oddly been recruited Brooking-type players in the past 2 drafts. The team was very well aware that Demorrio WIlliams was a WLB when they drafted him, thinking he was a Derrick Brooks-like player, something Mora & McKay would rather see in a Falcon uniform. Boley is in the same mold, and Beck has the sort of balls-out playing style that Brooking has. Bring in Reese and Hartwell, and you have the emotional support to back it up. If you dig deep, the writing is already on the wall that Brookign is on the way out.
He can get cut. But it all depends on his play over the next 2 or so years, and how well other players like Williams, Boley, and Beck develop. Ideally, 2 of those 3 players will develop into quality starters and join Hartwell in the starting lineup and the clamor over cutting a player like Keith Brooking will become minimal because most fans recognize the business aspect and in the salary cap era, unless you are a superstar QB, there is no loyalty from the team. Think about, the elite half dozen or so QBs out there (Vick, Brady, Favre, Culpepper, McNabb, Manning) are really the only "un-cuttable" players out there. Even guys like Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, etc. are sure Hall of Famer guys, and although the majority may hate it, the majority understand the law to the NFL game, that says you can only play as long as you produce, and unless you play that "pivotal" QB position that all football people seem to rest success upon, you aren't "above the law."
Brooking needs to continue to play at a Pro Bowl level, which only will help him retain longevity in Atlanta. Two or so more Pro Bowls over the next 3 years, and you may see the team unable to justify cutting him. But if 2004 is his last Pro Bowl in the near future, then the team has more than enough reason to release him.
But to answer scout's original question, the truth of the matter is that I don't see any player on this team as of right now that is uncuttable besides Vick. I would say at this point that D-lo, Crump, and Kerney, are next to him in the least likely to be cut over the next 5 years, but I wouldn't say it's impossible.
Dunn could possibly be gone after this year, as could Weiner, Brady Smith, and Duckett. Brooking, Jenkins, Webster, and Coleman are prominent players that I could potentially see falling out of favor over the 2-3 years.
The bottom line is basically at the high salaries many of these guys are making, you are one average or underachieving season away from being on the outs. If the Bucs and Ravens are maneuvering as we speak to get rid of Derrick Brooks and Ray Lewis, you know Keith Brooking is not untouchable.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.