Now coming to the close of the 2017 NFL season, it has become clear which players are currently in advantageous situations, and which ones are scrambling to leave their incumbent team. For some of the league’s most notable skill players, they’re stuck in circumstances that are not conducive to their success, and it’s beginning to have a negative affect on their career. Most of these players still have a fair amount of time left to go in their careers, but they need to find themselves in a. favorable situation soon, or bear the consequences that comes from playing in an ill-suited system.
While moves can be made in the upcoming offseason concerning these players–and undoubtedly will–a few will end up being stuck for at least another season. Quick turnover can’t always happen for everyone in the league that needs it, and as a result we’ll see some of these players continue to suffer even longer. Let’s take a look at which skill players will be seeking a new team to play for, to rid themselves of their bad situation.
Ranked below are 8 NFL wide receivers and 7 running backs who need a new home.
15. DeSean Jackson (WR)
One of the most notable free agency acquisitions in 2017 was the Buccaneers signing of Jackson, who figured to give them the deep threat capabilities their offense has needed for years. As it turned out, quarterback Jameis Winston has suffered a down season, and Jackson has been relatively ineffective himself, if only because of Winston’s inaccuracy at times.
Jackson signed a three-year deal, but he should probably be trying to force his way out of Tampa Bay as soon as possible via a trade. The NFC South is the toughest division in football right now, and the Bucs are firmly planted in the cellar. Jackson would do well to go to a contending team at this point in his career, even if it has to be in the same division.
14. Frank Gore (RB)
Gore has admirably stood in on a bad Colts team as their starting running back for the past few years, but now that he’s in his mid-30s, he’s passed the point of being able to carry a running game all by himself. The Colts have a myriad of problems attached to them right now, and in with the younger Marlon Mack waiting in the wings, it’s likely that we see Gore move on in the offseason.
If he doesn’t retire, he’ll want to go to a contender. With plenty of teams likely willing to offer him a one or two-year deal, Gore will have his pick of the litter. Consider how nicely he’d fit in alongside Le’Veon Bell in the Steelers offense, with the contrasting styles of both players. It would make for a playoff-worthy backfield, and Gore would have another chance at a Super Bowl in all likelihood.
13. Kelvin Benjamin (WR)
In a surprise middle-of-the-season move, Benjamin was traded from the Panthers to the Bills. It’s a system that doesn’t really fit him, or at least, it’s not the one conducive to him posting monster statistics. With Tyrod Taylor throwing him the ball, Benjamin is likely to suffer, and Buffalo’s inherently conservative offense will do him no favors going forward.
He’ll likely stay in Buffalo for the 2018 season, since he’s under contract, but in 2019, he should hit the free agent market in hopes of going to an offensive system that is a better fit for his playing style, ideally with a young quarterback who will be taking over a team by then. The Giants fit the bill for that, and should be well into their rebuild by that point.
12. Mike Gillislee (RB)
While many thought that Gillislee was primed to take over the starting role in the Patriots backfield, Bill Belichick had other ideas. Instead, he’s been utilized increasingly less as the season has worn on, with the likes of Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead taking on a larger share of the carries. Indeed, Gillislee’s future with the team seems to be in doubt, as he simply isn’t seeing much time on the field.
New England have always rotated their running backs, but cutting Gillislee’s carries in this manner indicates that he may not be there very much longer. Still, he’s a talented player who’s always sure to break some big runs. Going to an up-and-coming team with a creative offensive play-caller could be the next move. Gillislee could excel in Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers offense, and they have the cap space to spare.
11. Odell Beckham Jr. (WR)
Beckham’s injury this year was unfortunate, but seeing as how the Giants have collapsed around him entirely, he may give a second thought as to whether he should stay there for the rest of his career. He has one of more year left on his rookie deal, and if the team doesn’t see improvement as a whole, there may not be tons of incentive for Beckham to stick around for the long-term.
Needless to say, Beckham hitting the 2019 free agent market would cause a shockwave throughout the league. It would be the biggest bidding war out there, and someone would upgrade with one of the game’s elite wide receivers. Consider a pairing along DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, for Deshaun Watson to throw to. The Texans could ensure an elite offense for years to come if they want to shell out the money.
10. Bilal Powell (RB)
Kansas City has found their running back of the future in Kareem Hunt, who had a very impressive rookie season. He’s adept at all facets of the position, and has earned the starting role going forward. Still, he needs a complimentary running back, and Powell is likely to be one of the better names hitting the free agent market in 2019. He’ll be a confirmed veteran at that point, but he’d give the Chiefs a consistent number-two option in the backfield.
Powell has toiled on the Jets roster for many years now, but he’s actually been a quality player most of the time. Going to a contender at this point in his career would be to his benefit, and finally give him a chance at some legitimate success. He’d be a relatively cheap pickup that can bolster a roster.
9. Paul Richardson (WR)
It’s no secret that the Titans tried to upgrade their offensive skill players the last few years in an effort to get Marcus Mariota some legitimate help. The running game has been very good, but the wide receivers are still a major question mark, and there’s no deep threat to be found. Richardson has improved by leaps and bounds this year for the Seahawks, and there’s a solid chance that he could hit the market in the offseason.
The Titans could pair him along with promising rookie Corey Davis, and cultivate a receiving corps that can finally come to the aid of Mariota. The aging Eric Decker is likely to walk in the offseason, so it’s really incumbent upon Tennessee to find a young receiver who can step in and help make a difference.
8. Jamaal Charles (RB)
Charles is probably leaving the Broncos in the offseason, as evidenced by his recent comments with request a release, due to a lack of playing time. Clearly, Denver’s season has not gone as planned, and the veteran Charles needs to be on a roster that is bound for the postseason, if he wants to continue playing.
While it’s unlikely that a team would be willing to give him a chance as a starting running back, playing a supplementary role is not out of the question at all. The Jaguars have Leonard Fournette as their go-to guy, but in such a run-heavy offense, Charles could make a difference out of the backfield as a compliment. Plus, Jacksonville seems to have turned the corner, and should be a perennial playoff contender from here on out. Charles would be a nice addition to the roster.
7. Terrelle Pryor (WR)
One of the most interesting wide receiver cases throughout the league over the past two seasons has been Pryor, who has come down from his stellar season in Cleveland, in 2016. A one-year deal signed with the Redskins in the offseason hasn’t paid the dividends many had hoped, and he’s been a non-factor in the offense all season long.
Clearly, Pryor still has some talent, but his ceiling probably isn’t as high as many thought it would be. He probably won’t be re-signed by Washington in the offseason, and needs to go to a pass-first offense to have any hope of regaining his good play. Bruce Arians and the Cardinals throw the ball no matter who the quarterback is, and Pryor could stand to benefit playing in that system.
6. Isaiah Crowell (RB)
The Dolphins inexplicably traded Jay Ajayi mid-season to the Eagles, citing character concerns (that have yet to manifest themselves in Philly) as the primary reason. The point being, they’ll need to add a featured running back going forward, because Kenyan Drake clearly isn’t it. One of the more intriguing options that could be on the market is Crowell, who’s made the best of a bad situation in Cleveland for the last several years.
Crowell is a lunchpail-to-work type of running back that will grind out extra yards, or at least attempt to, on any given play. He’s not the most dynamic player, but for a team like Miami who needs to get a consistent running back of some kind, he fits the mold exactly. Plus, he won’t be terribly expensive.
5. Robby Anderson (WR)
Anderson has emerged over the last few years into an intriguing deep threat, and is one of the most overlooked young receivers in the league. After going undrafted out of Temple, he’s been one of the lone bright spots on the Jets offense, and is in line to be a low-risk high-reward pickup during the upcoming offseason. He’d do well to go to a team with a young quarterback that he could grow with in the offense.
Mitch Trubisky has done enough this year for Chicago to show that he’s firmly locked in the starting quarterback job for the future. Give him a young deep-threat receiving weapon to develop, and it could aid him tremendously.
4. Giovani Bernard (RB)
There’s a potential out on Bernard’s contract after this season concludes, and it’s clear that the Bengals are looking at Joe Mixon as the do-it-all player out of the backfield for the future. Point being, Bernard’s role is going to be limited going forward, and he’s really not worth paying at his current contract if that’s how he’s going to be used. Plus, the Bengals may be looking at cleaning house.
The Buccaneers haven’t been good this year, but they need to begin rebuilding the running game as a primary focus. With a more consistent run-game, the passing game could open up. They need a dual-threat receiver and runner, and Bernard fits the bill for that, if they’re willing to make a trade. As a mid-tier player, it would be a fine fit for Bernard at the right price.
3. Emmanuel Sanders (WR)
Sanders may have just signed a contract extension with Denver, but there are major quarterback issues with the team, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he tried to force his way out. Which team would be ready to pick up his contract in a trade? Sanders is in the prime of his career, and could be a juggernaut receiver with the right quarterback throwing to him.
The Chiefs have a big-armed young quarterback slated to start next season in Patrick Mahomes. The one thing Kansas City doesn’t have enough of, is veteran receivers still in their prime that can make plays. Sanders fits the bill perfectly, and the Chiefs would be wise to consider looking at Sanders as a potential trade option, to aid the young quarterback on his into the starting role.
2. Adrian Peterson (RB)
It’s been a tumultuous last few years for Peterson, as he’s made his return to the NFL after serving his suspension, and is now trying to find the right place to finish out his career. Unlikely to stay in Arizona with the returning David Johnson next year, Peterson needs to find a contending team that can win now, in order to cap off his career.
Where else to turn to but the Patriots, who have a penchant for signing once-elite players who are out of their prime, and turning them into productive pieces for a deep playoff run. In the Pats offense, Peterson would almost certainly return to form, in combination with other players. Expect New England to at least take a look at this, as it would fall in line with their general philosophy of player acquisition.
1. Jarvis Landry (WR)
The contract dispute between the Dolphins and Landry are about to come to a head, and there’s an increasingly likely chance that he’ll hit the free agent market this offseason. If that’s the case, he could be the single most coveted wide receiver out there, and he can expect to receive a huge payday.
Landry has been one of the best possession receivers in the league over the last few seasons. He’s sure-handed, and in combination with a legitimate deep-threat, he’s as dangerous as any receiver in the game.
The 49ers still have a ton of cap space, and will be able to afford such a player. With Jimmy Garoppolo looking like he’ll be ready to take over the reigns as franchise quarterback, they need to give him all the help possible. Landry would go a long way in cultivating a dangerous passing offense that could see San Francisco be a contender once again in the NFC.
Potential Destination: San Francisco 49ers
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