The 2017 season is on its way, and many players are playing out of their mind while others struggle to perform at a high level. In the NFL, many players can have one good season and that can help that player get a starting position on the roster. Unfortunately, not every player manages to live up to those expectations, and end up becoming unemployed, or stuck on the bench. Some of the most notable players to fail to live up to their expectations after a great season are Robert Griffin III and Brock Osweiler.
When these players fail to succeed or stay healthy, their jobs are in jeopardy. As these are just some of the more popular names that come to mind in recent history, there are plenty of players that are currently on the verge of losing their jobs. Each player has their own story and reasoning, but there are quite a few of them that are almost out of a job. Even if they don’t get cut, getting sat on the bench a lot of times doesn’t work out in the players favor. It could lead to them having to re-negotiate their contract, releasing them, and lowering their chances at finding a new team after their time with their current team is over. There are plenty of these players, but 15 of them stand out in particular.
15 J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt losing his job? No way! Watt has been incredible throughout his career, totaling 76 sacks in seven seasons. Watt may be one of the best defensive ends we have ever seen, but unfortunately, he can’t stay healthy. It’s starting to get old seeing Watt go down with injuries. The past two years have been troubling for Watt, who has dealt with back problems and now a knee injury.
No team would ever want to get rid of a star, and that probably won’t be the case here, but there’s a good chance the Texans start looking for another defensive end to replace Watt. That way that Watt isn’t on the field as much, which gives him a lesser chance at getting injured. As much as the Texans would love to expect Watt to eventually come back healthy as ever, it seems unlikely with the way things have been going for him.
14 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
While the New York Giants have begun to fell apart, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie decided to add the list, which got him into some trouble with the organization. Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended indefinitely when he decided to walk out of a defensive meeting. He was suspended for “violation of the team’s rules,” and will spend some time off the playing field for his actions. If Coach Ben McAdoo had no problem keeping him off the field due to his actions, what could be next for his career?
The Giants frustration must be through the roof right now with everything going on, and the last thing they need is a player showing he isn’t committed to win. With Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple at the corner spots, the Giants could end up dumping Cromartie and finding another cornerback to help them out. This may be a reach, but there’s a very good chance that we could end up seeing something like this happen in the near future.
13 Julius Thomas
Julius Thomas was once a star in the NFL, now he remains an afterthought that is almost completely forgotten about. After he signed a big contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars, things started to go downhill. The Jaguars decided to get rid of him, and the Dolphins picked him up on a cheaper contract. But even a two year deal worth $12 million, he may be too expensive for the Dolphins to pay for a guy who hasn't even found the endzone. Maybe it goes along with the offensive struggles of the team, but Thomas hasn’t been very effective since departing from the Broncos. Thomas went from a contributing factor on a winning team, to irrelevant on a mediocre team. Expect him to be on the free agent market again very soon, as his numbers continue to plummet.
12 Adam Jones
I guess it’s acceptable to be one of the most troubling NFL players to ever touch the field, and still have a job at the age of 34. Jones has dealt with many issues, which actually took him off the field in 2007 and part of 2008. Jones also dealt with some altercations with the Steelers assistant coach, which cost him a fine. And then to start 2017, Jones was suspended for the first game for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
On top of the problems Jones has been involved with, he’s also dealt with some injuries throughout his career. At 34 years old, is it really worth it to hold on to Jones? Expect the end of Jones’ career to come to an end, as it would be shocking to see the Bengals wanting to continue to deal with the drama that involves Adam Jones. And it'd probably be surprising to see any other team offer him a roster spot.
11 Frank Gore
There’s a time in almost every running back's career, where they have to let the younger guy take the load. Frank Gore has been one of the most dominant backs in the game, as he ranks 7th all time in rush yards. As great as he’s been until even last year, this season he started to slip up a little bit.
After a great game against the San Francisco 49ers, many reporters were saying that Marlon Mack, rookie out of the University of South Florida, looks like he may be the running back of the Colts future. Even head coach Chuck Pagano feels that they need to get Mack more involved in the game. Now, obviously there is still more that has to be seen. But with Gore’s age and Mack’s young legs, there’s a very good chance that the Colts may be giving up on Gore after this season.
10 Nick Folk
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers front office should not be in charge of deciding which kickers they should sign. They first decided that it would be a good idea to use their second-round draft pick of the 2016 NFL Draft to draft, Roberto Aguayo. Guess how that worked out? He’s already gone. The Bucs decided to bring in Nick Folk before Aguayo left to add some competition, Folk won and that is when they decided to part ways with Aguayo.
Well, signing Folk wasn’t the best decision ever either. Through five weeks, Folk has missed five field goals, giving him a 54.5 field goal percentage. Folk’s performance against the New England Patriots truly cost the Buccaneers that win. The Bucs aren’t going to want to deal with kickers missing easy field goal attempts for the future.
The Bucs have placed him on injured reserve, with a "minor injury" classification, meaning Folk is as good as gone as soon as he comes off IR.
9 Ereck Flowers
It seems that whenever there’s an article regarding poor performances by NFL players, Ereck Flowers is in it. And once again, one of the worst offensive tackles in football finds himself in another one of these articles. Either the backup offensive tackle to Flowers is atrocious, or the Giants are really trying to be generous by giving Flowers unlimited amounts of chances to prove that he can be a dominant left tackle in the NFL.
It’s understandable that the Giants really want to see Flowers succeed as they selected him 9th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, but he continues to struggle. Flowers seems to be more a liability to the Giants, than he is an asset. As much as the Giants would love to continuously wait to see if Flowers improves, they’re going to have to bench him and move on. There’s only so much Eli can take before he ends up on the long list of injuries.
8 Eli Manning
Eli Manning seems to be slowing down in New York. He won't have Odell Beckham Jr. for the remainder of this season, which will make it even harder for him to show that he still has something left. The Giants got off to a horrific 0-5 start this season and with so many quarterbacks with franchise potential in 2018, this would be a good year for the Giants to finish last and grab one of the top signal callers available. With Eli now being 36, and 37 by the time 2018 rolls around, the Giants drafting a QB would likely signal the beginning of the end for Eli, as that young QB would likely be battling for a starting job in 2018, or would be breathing down Eli's neck. It looks like it's time for the Giants to embark on a new era at quarterback.
7 Blake Bortles
The difference maker that may prevent the Jaguars from being a true playoff contender, and just missing the playoffs, is the quarterback position. Yes, football is a team game, but this Jaguars team is so good around the football, they just need to find a consistent quarterback that can keep them in games. Bortles hasn’t played completely awful yet, but it’s been a thing throughout his career that he’s been very inconsistent. In a lot of these games, he’s still putting up more interceptions than he is touchdowns. Expect the Bortles era in Duval to end.
Eventually, the Jaguars are going to realize that they are a legitimate playoff contender, and that this team can actually win ball games. Once this realization goes through, the Jaguars are going to look through for a new quarterback, if they haven't already. With next year's draft class being so QB heavy, look for the Jags to be a team that potentially trades up to grab their signal caller, much like the Texans did in trading up for Deshaun Watson.
6 Jay Cutler
To be fair, Jay Cutler did let the media know that he wasn’t in shape to play football. The Dolphins decided to sign with him anyways after Ryan Tannehill went down during training camp. What we’re watching, may be the worst Jay Cutler the NFL has ever seen. And that’s pretty embarrassing considering there was a season when he threw 26 interceptions. Cutler has been very inaccurate and inconsistent, and basically led to part of a decline of a former playoff team. This team didn’t make any huge adjustments during the offseason that would lead them to not being a playoff team anymore.
Cutler will keep his job as the Dolphins are paying Cutler $10 million for this season, but don’t expect him to be the starter all season. Matt Moore, the backup to Cutler, played fairly well last season after Tannehill went down with an injury. Don’t be surprised if this team decides to hand the ball off to Moore soon.
5 Doug Martin
Injuries unfortunately ruin careers, and it definitely has depleted the career of Doug Martin. We have seen moments where Martin looks like the best running back in the game, as well as other moments where we are surprised he can get up after taking a hit. Martin has dealt with multiple injuries including his hamstring, ACL, MCL, and shoulder. Just that alone is tough for a running back to have to suffer, and be able to come back from. Martin then missed the first four games of this season for abusing the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.
The longer Martin is off the field, the less of a chance he gets back on the field. If he doesn’t have a big season this year, the Bucs are going to need to start looking for another running back to help Jameis Winston run this offense effectively.
4 Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer had a fantastic career, and has a great shot at being a Hall of Famer when his career is all said and done. But, that time may be sooner than he may want. To start off the 2017 season, Palmer has thrown for a lot of passing yards, but has also struggled to make as many scoring plays as he would like. Also, Palmer has turned the ball over a lot more than he probably would anticipate. This Cardinals team is ready to win, they just need to put the final pieces to the puzzle together. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Palmer is part of that puzzle. At age 37, it seems that Palmer’s time in the NFL is finished.
He can still put up numbers, but this team wants more than just numbers. They want to win. The way this breakup could end could involve Palmer retiring on his own note, or the Cardinals trading Palmer away or releasing him. This whole situation will be very interesting to see play out.
3 Christian McCaffrey
As great as Christian McCaffrey looked in college, it doesn’t seem like those performances will be coming to the NFL. Before this season begun, I said multiple times that McCaffrey and the Panthers wouldn’t workout. And in six games, McCaffrey still has yet to rush for over 100 yards, averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. His best rushing game so far has come against the 49ers where he rushed for 47 yards.
Expect McCaffrey’s career to be much like Darren Sproles. McCaffrey is good to run occasionally, but be helpful in the passing game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him transition to become a permanent slot receiver. But for running back, the Panthers may have a better shot at looking for a traditional running back to help move the chains for them.
2 Sam Bradford
This breakup will be sad, as Sam Bradford is almost perfect for the Vikings. Bradford was selected as the first overall draft pick by what was the St. Louis Rams. Bradford’s whole career was almost a disappointment, until he came to Minnesota. Last season he posted the best completion percentage in a single season ever in purple and yellow. Bradford has had some issues staying healthy, and that hurt him this season as he suffered a knee injury which have kept him out for a few games.
As great as Bradford is, this Vikings team can’t keep waiting for quarterbacks to get healthy. They’ve been waiting for Teddy Bridgewater to get back, yet he still hasn’t played ball since his early 2016 injury. And now they wait for Bradford, who is currently injured. Bradford heads into free agency this offseason, and don't expect him to be back in a Vikings uniform come September 2018.
1 Ezekiel Elliott
It seems to be a thing that many Cowboys players get involved with the wrong people. Well, Ezekiel Elliott just adds to that list. Elliott has been involved with many different situations, which have led to him getting a six-game suspension in 2017. His suspension has been reinstated as of now, and the NFL has affirmed that it's going to stand.
The NFL usually gets what they want, and it seems that it's not going to fair nicely with Zeke. He's going to have to serve his suspension and when he does come back, who knows where this Cowboys offense will be? Unfortunately, Zeke has himself in a sticky situation that he cannot seem to get himself out of.
Will Zeke's absence lead to a reduced role when he does come back?