Transition in the NFL can be a blessing and a curse. The success or failure of a player switching teams depends on a number of factors and circumstances, and it's very difficult to tell what is going to transpire most of the time. For the players who have found their new stomping grounds underwhelming, a combination of age, injury history, poor coaching and poor personnel around them probably had something to do with it. The NFL is a cutthroat league, and success is not guaranteed to any player on an annual basis, particularly if they're putting themselves in a new situation.
We've seen tons of players over the years who clearly made a mistake by going to a new franchise. Maybe they were overconfident in their own abilities, or maybe they overestimated how good their new team was going to be, but either way they made a mistake by making the switch. Let's take a look at some NFL players who had a miserable experience going to a new team, for one reason or another.
Ranked below are 15 NFL players who immediately regretted switching teams.
15 Chad Johnson - Bengals To Patriots
After spending his whole career with the Bengals, Johnson made one pit stop to the Patriots on his way out of the league. In 2011, he made his way to New England, and had what was unquestionably the worst season of his career. He couldn't get on the same page with Tom Brady or Bill Belichick, and that pretty much cost any chance he had to re-establish his career outside of Cincinnati.
Any receiver who enters the Patriots' system needs to prove that Brady can trust him on the field, and Johnson just was never able to do that. He would retire after the season, after putting up the worst numbers since his rookie year. Ultimately, it was one of the most notable failures of the era, and somewhat of a surprising one, given how productive Johnson was for the entirety of his career.
14 Deion Sanders - Cowboys To Redskins
"Neon Deion" was one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game, and he had been successful on three teams before joining the Redskins, so many figured that his quality play would just follow suit. That wasn't the case after the 2000 season, not because Sanders didn't have a good season, but because he promptly retired.
He had signed a seven-year contract with Washington, but the prospect of playing on a mediocre team clearly didn't give Sanders any incentive to stick around. It was one of the most surprising retirements of the time period, although he would be back in the NFL four years later as a member of the Ravens. But Deion wasn't happy in Washington, and he took a hiatus from the sport because of it.
13 David Boston - Cardinals To Chargers
Though he had an up-and-down first four years in the league with the Cardinals, Boston was still considered one of the prime receivers in football at the end of the 2002 season, having put together several years of All-Pro numbers. He decided it was time for a change of scenery, and opted to go to San Diego, where he thought he would mesh well with the Chargers' high-powered offense.
The problem was, he didn't mesh well with head coach Marty Schottenheimer, and the relationship between the two seemed to be doomed from the beginning. Boston didn't have a terrible year during his one season in San Diego, but the damage on an interpersonal level was already done. He would leave the team directly after the 2003 season, spend one more year in the NFL with the Dolphins, and then retire.
12 Mario Williams - Texans To Dolphins
There's no doubt that Williams is one of the best pass rushers of the modern era, having some astounding seasons with the Bills and Texans. That hasn't helped him in Miami though, where he spent last season and had what was undoubtedly the worst season of his career. He originally signed a two-year deal worth a fair amount of guaranteed money, and has since been released after only a single season with the Dolphins.
Clearly, Williams wasn't enthused about the team, and his effort level, which has come into question before, was at an all-time low. It seems that Williams has tapped out on his career, as he hasn't signed with a new team since. Maybe just one trip to Miami soured him on football enough to never play again, as he clearly wasn't happy with his decision to go there.
11 Randy Moss - Vikings To Raiders
The oft-forgotten part of Moss' legendary career is the two years he spent with the Raiders in the mid-2000s. He was coming off many successful years with the Vikings, and was promptly traded to Oakland during the 2005 offseason. While Moss had a couple of decent seasons in Oakland, he wasn't happy with the constant losing, and was clearly disillusioned with the prospect of having to play for a sub-par team.
It's no surprise that his numbers immediately jumped back into elite standing when he joined the Patriots in 2007, and had one of the best seasons for a receiver in NFL history. Moss had made it public that he wanted to leave the Raiders during the 2006 campaign, and he made good on that desire, finding a new home in New England to revitalize his career. Moss and Oakland just were never a fit for each other.
10 Brock Osweiler - Broncos To Texans
When the Texans threw almost $80 million at Osweiler to be their long-term starter before the start of the 2016 season, I doubt they expected the situation to take the turns that it has over the last year. Osweiler was probably pretty confident going into last season; coming off a Super Bowl-winning team, one that he started a few games for in place of Peyton Manning to help them win some games. He probably thought that he could just walk into Houston and become an effective starter just by showing up.
As it turned out, it was a more difficult job than he had anticipated. Osweiler struggled the entire season, and was indirectly maligned by head coach Bill O'Brien late in the season, when he benched Osweiler for no-name backup Tom Savage. At that point, Osweiler was probably wishing he was still a backup collecting a seven-figure paycheck, than a starter who had actual responsibilities on the field.
No telling what ends up happening now that he's on the Browns.
9 Emmitt Smith - Cowboys To Cardinals
The former Cowboys running back was one of the best to ever play the game, but when he went to the Cardinals for an ill-advised last attempt at revitalizing his career, it was almost painful to watch. Needless to say, Arizona didn't have near the quality of team that the mid-90s Cowboys could lay claim to, and Smith had two nondescript seasons in Arizona as a result.
Smith not only battled injuries, but also suffered a pretty significant drop-off in play. Just about everyone thinks he would have been better off retiring after the 2002 season with the Cowboys, but pride took over, and Smith decided to give it another go. It's hard to imagine that he enjoyed his time with the Cardinals. The team wasn't very good, and Smith hardly had the best years of his Hall Of Fame career. Overall, it was just a very bizarre career move that probably should have never happened.
8 DeMarco Murray - Cowboys To Eagles
There was a lot wrong with the 2015 Eagles, but the failure of Murray was one of the thing at the top of the list. Murray was coming off a career-year with the Cowboys, and decided to sign with Philly in free agency. From the beginning, the pairing of Chip Kelly's unorthodox offense, and Murray's traditional bruising running style didn't mesh at all.
As a result, 2015 was Murray's only season in Philadelphia, and by the end of the year he was barely playing at all, after it was assumed that he would be the lead running back for the next 5 years. It was one of the biggest (and quickest) crash and burns in the history of the league, and it was clear that Murray was less-than-enthralled to be a member of the Eagles (or more accurately, play for Chip Kelly). A true mismatch if there ever was one for an incoming player.
7 Chris Ivory - Jets To Jaguars
Ivory was supposed to solidify the Jaguars' backfield last season, as he was coming off of a 2015 season that saw him achieve Pro Bowl honors. Unfortunately for him, Ivory had one of his worst seasons in recent memory, as Gus Bradley couldn't get the Jaguars' on track for yet another season. In fact, most of the time he didn't even receive more snaps than T.J. Yeldon.
To make matters worse, the Jaguars selected mammoth LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the 4th overall pick in this year's draft, all but cementing Ivory as a situational player at best. He'll have to do a lot to earn back his playing time, and he's likely regretting the decision to go to Jacksonville right about now.
6 Darrelle Revis - Jets To Bucs
Back when "Revis Island" was still open for business, he was traded from the Jets to Tampa Bay, and was expected to solidify their secondary for the long-term. He signed the biggest contract in league history for a cornerback at the time, anticipation was high to say the least.
As it turned out, Revis wasn't a scheme fit in the Buccaneers zone defense that Lovie Smith ran, and it was his only season in Tampa. Instead of being the Bucs' lockdown corner for the rest of his career, he made an early exit, and went to the Patriots to win a Super Bowl. Making Revis play anything other than man coverage consistently is foolish in and of itself. Unfortunately, the Bucs didn't realize this until it was too late.
5 Donovan McNabb - Eagles To Redskins
The former Eagles franchise quarterback had a rough skid at the end of his career. After being traded from Philly following the 2009 season, McNabb went to the Redskins to be their starter. Needless to say, the switch to a division rival was a hot button topic, and everyone wondered how McNabb would fare.
A win in his first week was about the extent of his success. McNabb never fit the Redskins, and the relationship between team and the player deteriorated almost as soon as it began. McNabb was near the end of his rope as a player, and it was pretty obvious the longer the season went on. By the end of the 2011 season, he would retire for good, leaving the 2010 campaign as his most embarrassing season in the league, without question.
4 Albert Haynesworth - Titans To Redskins
The poster-boy for all terrible free agency signings. Haynesworth was one of the best defensive tackles in the league when he was with the Titans, and many figured that would transition over to the Redskins, when they signed him for an astronomical amount of money before the 2009 season. They were not prepared for what happened.
Haynesworth was terrible, and he was clearly upset about having to play in Washington. Although the drop-off was quick and surprising, Haynesworth may have had a better season had he stayed in Tennessee. It was a familiar system, and he enjoyed playing there, something that clearly wasn't the case in Washington.
3 James Harrison - Steelers To Bengals
Synonymous with the Steelers as one of their marquee players, Harrison was fed up with his contract in 2013 and tried to spite the Steelers by signing with the division rival Bengals. Harrison must have had a change of heart quickly about the situation, because he had his worst season in years, and was back in Pittsburgh the following season. Clearly he didn't feel it was the right fit.
Harrison is still playing with the Steelers, and the thought of him playing for Cincy probably haunts him now. A true ironman of the league if there ever was one, Harrison is one of the best Steelers of all-time, and going to an established division rival shouldn't have even entered the conversation. Fortunately, he quickly realized his mistake and went back home.
2 Brett Favre - Packers To Jets To Vikings
The saga that preceded Favre leaving the Packers, the team with which he had spent almost his entire career, has been analyzed extensively, and nobody can really figure out exactly what happened. There was bitterness on both sides to be sure, and neither side was entirely faultless. Making the move to the rival Vikings was astonishing to most Green Bay fans, and Favre made sure that they were paying attention.
It may have seemed like a good idea at the time and Favre did go on to some marginal success in Minnesota, but if he could do it all over again, he likely would have stayed with the Packers in some capacity, or just retired immediately. There was significant blowback from this year, and he ended up reconciling with the Packers' organization anyway. It was definitely an odd time for Green Bay and Favre alike, but most of the issues have been resolved between the two.
1 Terrell Owens - 49ers To Eagles
The move that T.O. made to the Eagles in 2004 was the biggest thing in the NFL at the time, and it figured to be the catalyst that would get the team over the hump, and into the Super Bowl. That did happen, but the celebration was short-lived. It didn't take longer than the conclusion of a single season for Owens to start taking shots at Donovan McNabb, and start raising a contract dispute with the Eagles brass.
Owens may have deserved some kind of a contract restructure, but the way he went about voicing his complaints was the worst nightmare for anybody involved with the Eagles. He wasn't happy with the way they were handling his contract, and he made no bones about it. Shortly after, he was suspended indefinitely by the team, signing with the Cowboys the next season. No better way to say that you hated playing for a team, than to sign with their biggest rival.
It's safe to say that Owens doesn't have many fond memories from his short time with the Eagles.
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