Failures, failures everywhere. Players decide that they can find a better contract elsewhere, and many times take the money over a better fit. Sometimes, players really don’t have much of a decision where they play. If there’s not a lot of interest in them when they become a free agent, they’ll take whatever contract they can get. Free agency can be tough, you can either have all the power in the world, or be dependent on any team that finds the slightest interest in you. And that’s why it’s so important to take every opportunity you can on the field, because you never know how it will affect you.
With so much talent in the draft and free agency, there were so many players that went all over the place that it’s hard to keep track. The media doesn’t always fully cover where every player went when there’s really big stars that sign with teams. But you’ll be surprised, some of the players on this list are stars, or were stars at some point. Maybe they played in a system that allowed them to be the best they can be. So, who will fail after signing with their new team?
20 Chris Baker (DT) - Cincinnati Bengals
There’s some teams in the NFL that make it really difficult to succeed. The Cincinnati Bengals are one of them. You rarely see any stars on the team, except A.J. Green and a very few others. Maybe their plan was to sign Chris Baker, that way it’s easier to move on from Geno Atkins in the future. The Bengals signed former Buccaneers defensive tackle, Chris Baker. Baker has been a dominant defensive lineman spending most of his career with the Redskins, and recently struggled with the Buccaneers.
Moving into the 2018 season, Baker will turn 31 years old in the middle of the season. We saw Baker’s struggles playing with a new team, so it may not get any better as he tries to play with the Bengals. His age might be getting up to him, and he also had to play against some difficult offensive lineman in the NFC South. As he gets older, it’s only going to get more difficult with a new team. While the Bengals look for someone to replace Atkins at a cheaper rate, the attempt to replace Atkins with Baker will be a complete failure, forcing the Bengals to continue looking for a potential replacement to avoid paying Atkins big money.
19 Thomas Rawls (RB) - New York Jets
Despite failing, will Thomas Rawls even get a shot to play? The New York Jets already have Bilal Powell, who has played well over the past two seasons, and they just signed Isaiah Crowell, the former running back for the Cleveland Browns. Both running backs rushed for over 700 yards each last season, while Rawls has only rushed for over 700 yards once in his career. Obviously, Rawls’ carries have gone down, but so has is average yard per carry.
In his rookie season, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry, whereas in 2017, he rushed for only 2.7 yards per carry. Rawls will be lucky to get 50 carries on this team.
The Seahawks offensive line struggled, and the Jets offensive line isn’t going to be an improvement from that. Rawls is a glorified backup running back, who was able to get a chance to start for the Seahawks. For an undrafted free agent, he definitely has surpassed his expectations. But for the Jets, his expectations are still going to be very low. Don’t be surprised if the Jets actually cut Rawls before the season even ends. If Crowell and Powell can combine for at least 1,000 rushing yards, Rawls is no better than a practice squad running back.
18 Adrian Clayborn (DE) - New England Patriots
With one of the best defensive performances of the season against the Dallas Cowboys, Adrian Clayborn made himself look like a star. Clayborn sacked Dak Prescott six times, as the Cowboys were missing their Pro Bowl offensive tackle, Tyron Smith. Clayborn made sure he took advantage of the opportunity to come away with a big day, and he did, which led to a $750k pay day. But, does that mean that teams should have high expectations for him?
The New England Patriots signed Clayborn to a two-year deal worth $10 million. That contract seems pricey for a defensive end, that six of his 9.5 sacks came in a matter of one game. If you take away that game, Clayborn has another below average season with 3.5 sacks.
Going into the 2018 season, Clayborn will turn 30 years old. He won’t luck out again against an offensive tackle that provides no protection for his quarterback. And the Patriots have had a struggling defense the past couple of seasons, which puts Clayborn in a bad position to succeed. And when Clayborn doesn’t perform, Bill Belichick will have no problem making sure his snaps are cut short. This two-year deal may not make it all the way through.
17 Mychal Kendricks (LB) - Cleveland Browns
The success of linebackers really depends on everyone around you. You can be a talented linebacker, but if your defensive line can’t help you and your linebackers alongside of you get confused, offenses can torch the defense. The Cleveland Browns have built a team that looks really talented, but it’s still hard to even think that the Browns will be successful. The last time the Browns made it to the playoffs were all the way back in 2002, and they haven’t had a winning season since 2007. Point is, it doesn’t seem like this team will succeed with the coaching staff they have.
Kendricks has been phenomenal throughout his career with the Eagles, which is why they had to let him go. The Eagles made so many moves that they couldn’t afford the talented linebacker. Kendricks knows he likely will struggle, as he has tried denying the fact that he’s signing with the Browns, although many reports show that the two parties agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. The talent around Kendricks could make him feel like it’s him against the opposing offense, which could lead him to struggle this season. Expect this to be a one and done deal, as he will enter free agency looking for another team next season.
16 Donte Moncrief (WR) - Jacksonville Jaguars
It came as a shock when the Jacksonville Jaguars dominated their division, and made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. The only thing that may prevent them from being that good, is the lack of talent they have at the wide receiver position. They lost Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, as well as their tight end, Marcedes Lewis. That’s a tough pill to swallow, considering Blake Bortles isn’t the most accurate quarterback in the NFL. There’s so many things that can go wrong with the Jaguars season, from Bortles looking like Bortles to Leonard Fournette getting injured again to this receiver corps not helping Bortles out.
Expectations are high for Moncrief, who caught 26 passes in 2017 for 391 yards, scoring two touchdowns.
Obviously, production will decrease while missing your starting quarterback, but there’s still worry. Since his rookie season, his catch percentage has gone down, as well as his targets. Moncrief also has missed 11 games within the past two seasons. Moncrief will put up similar statistics to what he has the past two seasons, as he still may see himself missing time in 2018 due to injuries. Unfortunately, injuries tend to linger throughout players’ careers.
15 Orlando Scandrick (CB) - Washington Redskins
The nine-year veteran, Orlando Scandrick, decided it was finally time to part ways with the Dallas Cowboys as he requested to be released. It seemed like things left off on the bad foot between Scandrick and the Cowboys, as he has shown on social media that he no longer cares for the time, as well as demanding a release. Now, at 31-years-old, you can’t expect Scandrick to really keep up with many of these wide receivers, which is what doesn’t make sense. Scandrick struggled going up against receivers in the NFC East, and the Cowboys added a ton of speed which makes the one team he hasn’t played, just as difficult. This decision is going to haunt Scandrick.
Hopefully the Redskins don’t depend on Scandrick much, as his lack of speed and consistent injuries make him a liability for the team. The Cowboys gave him the benefit of the doubt, but another team isn’t going to do that for him. He’s old and worn out, it’s as simple as that. Scandrick has been getting burnt since he was a rookie; nothing will be changing any time soon. The decision for Scandrick to sign with the Redskins may actually benefit the Cowboys.
14 Teddy Bridgewater (QB) - New York Jets
Josh McCown. Sam Darnold. Teddy Bridgewater. That’s the order of this depth chart for the New York Jets, so far. The Jets re-signed McCown to give whoever their young quarterback to be, a quarterback to look up to and learn from. They drafted Darnold, to be their future and learn from the veteran. And they signed Bridgewater, why? In many articles, there’s confusion as to why the Jets decided to sign Bridgewater. Was it for jersey sales? Did they feel bad that he worked so hard just for no one to be interested? What was the point in signing him?
If the Jets have a plan to keep him on the roster, it may involve him switching his position. With his serious injury that he suffered, it may make it difficult for him to learn a new position. Regardless, whatever position he plays, it is going to be a failure. He’s either going to sit on the bench and never play as a quarterback, or try to play another position and maybe play as a backup. It’s an amazing story, but the Jets were not the team to sign with. Maybe the Bills or the Giants, but the Jets just don’t have the space to give Bridgewater an opportunity to play.
13 Dion Lewis (RB) - Tennessee Titans
It seems like a trend that players who succeeded in New England struggle when they play for new teams. If that’s the case, the Tennessee Titans wasted a good chunk of change on running back Dion Lewis. But if you look at the statistics, Lewis wasn’t really ready for a position to possibly be the star. Lewis rushed for 896 yards in 2017, and scored a total of nine touchdowns throughout the season. But in a balanced offense that can do practically everything, it’s easy to succeed. But we have seen time after time, players struggle when they aren’t playing for Bill Belichick, just ask Wes Welker.
The Titans moved on from DeMarco Murray, which means there has to be a new starting running back. Derrick Henry is going to emerge and become the clear starter, which will lead to Lewis getting less carries.
It was Lewis’ time in New England, which allowed him to be so successful. But in Tennessee, he may be the no. 2 running back, or be forced to be used more in the pass game rather than the run game. His career was looking good in New England, but may end sooner than expected in Tennessee.
12 A.J. McCarron (QB) - Buffalo Bills
There’s one team in the NFL that may really not have a clue who will be the starting quarterback for Week 1, and that’s the Buffalo Bills. They signed A.J. McCarron, while also drafting Josh Allen. There’s not a clear-cut starter because McCarron doesn’t have an extreme amount of experience considering he’s only started three games in his four-year career. But because of his success in the 2015 season which led the Bengals to the playoffs, many look at McCarron as a possible starting quarterback. And because of Allen’s accuracy issues and raw, undeveloped talent, the Bills are likely going to go with McCarron for Week 1.
Unlike Tyrod Taylor, McCarron isn’t as mobile, and is going to try and move the ball through the air more. The lack of talent at wide receiver is going to cause McCarron to struggle. The Bengals may not be the most talented, but they had decent receivers, along with a true no. 1 receiver in A.J. Green. There was also a talented defense with a decent run game. In Buffalo, he will have a good run game with a poor passing game. The Bills are going to soon realize there’s more that needs to be fixed besides the quarterback position.
11 Danny Amendola (WR) - Miami Dolphins
There’s a trend with former New England Patriots players, and it’s that most of them struggle when they’re no longer under the care of Bill Belichick. Belichick is a genius, and his creativity allows the best to come out in every player.
Danny Amendola was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Dallas Cowboys. He was cut before the season began, and eventually found a career with the St. Louis Rams. Throughout his career, he’s been a pretty solid receiver who’s reliable and uses his speed to get past defenders. Even at 32 years old, Amendola was able to finish his 2017 season with 659 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.
But the problem is, that Amendola won’t be playing with Tom Brady anymore. Instead, he will have to create chemistry between him and Ryan Tannehill. More of Amendola’s failures will come from Tannehill’s struggles, rather than Amendola slipping himself. He’s going to play with a quarterback who hasn’t played football in over a year. Who knows, Tannehill may not be the same quarterback he once was when he gets back on the field. And considering Amendola is essentially replacing Jarvis Landry, who typically caught 100 passes a season, that's a role Amendola just cannot fill. It's impossible to foresee Amendola doing anything but regressing in Miami.
10 Jonathan Stewart (RB) - New York Giants
It’s difficult to succeed when you don’t get enough reps to succeed. With the Giants drafting Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Stewart lost about 150 carries that could have been his. But with a young talent drafted with the second overall pick, Barkley is going to be used up as much as he can be. Which leaves Barkley with around 50-100 carries on the season.
The last time Stewart had less than 100 carries was in 2013. So clearly, Stewart’s season is not going to be impressive at all.
And not playing as much can get to his head. This is a running back who has been a starter practically his whole career. He signs a decent deal and then finds out he’s going to be the backup running back. Barkley isn’t going to be as great as everyone thinks, at least not in his rookie season, in part to the offensive line. And because of that offensive line and Stewart’s age, he’s not going to be all that effective either. Consider the 2018 season to be damaging to Stewart’s future contracts. It never really made sense to sign Stewart, especially with having a plan to draft the top ranked running back in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, maybe the Giants weren’t expecting to do so.
9 LeGarrette Blount (RB) - Detroit Lions
Unlike Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount may be one of the few players that needed the New England Patriots to succeed. Obviously, the best seasons of Blount’s career came when he was in New England, but he ran the ball pretty well in Philadelphia as well. Nothing will ever top Blount’s 2016 season, where he rushed for 1,161 yards and scored 18 touchdowns. But to be honest, it’s not even fair to expect that from him considering that was only his second 1,000-yard rushing season, which came seven years later in his career. But with Detroit, there’s some differences that will make it tough to be successful.
First, this is a passing team. It depends on Matthew Stafford and his ability to throw the football. Through Stafford’s career, this has been the way the offense operates. Second, a lot of players tend to struggle in Detroit. There’s just something about Detroit that make it tougher for players to thrive. Lastly, this team doesn’t have a good offensive line. It was easier for Blount to succeed behind a solid offensive line, but he won’t have that type of protection this season. The Lions have struggled to run the football for so long, and Blount doesn't feel like the answer to their problems.
8 Malcolm Butler (CB) - Tennessee Titans
It’s hard to believe the cornerback that practically gave the New England Patriots one of their Super Bowl rings, would become a player who fails on their new team. The Patriots would have one less Super Bowl without Malcolm Butler’s historic interception at the goal line against Russell Wilson, which prevented the Seahawks from taking the lead within the final minute of the game. Since then, Butler has gained a lot of popularity and been known as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL.
If Butler is that good, would he have helped the Patriots defend Nick Foles, and prevent the Eagles from scoring 41 points in the previous Super Bowl? Many believe so. But the drama continued between the Patriots and Butler, so Butler decided to move on to play with a new team, the Tennessee Titans.
Butler finally has the money he feels he deserves, so now it’s time to play ball. But, he now plays on a defense that hasn’t had much success lately.
Butler wasn’t as effective in 2017 as he was in the past. It seems that Butler’s success wasn’t a long-term thing. Learning a new defense after getting comfortable with the Patriots, may be problematic for Butler.
7 Michael Crabtree (WR) - Baltimore Ravens
From the moment Michael Crabtree was released from the Oakland Raiders, it seemed like it would all go downhill for him. It’s been a successful career for Crabtree, but he’s turning 31-years-old just a few days after the 2018 season begins. Crabtree lived up to his full potential in Oakland, in three seasons, Crabtree had 25 receiving touchdowns and over over 2,500 receiving yards. He benefited a lot from the young quarterback who’s on the rise, who had the ability to spread the football across the field. But, he goes to a QB who has been on the decline and doesn't seem to be able to elevate his receivers.
Let's take a look at Joe Flacco. He's known for his inability to be a vocal leader. Known for the only quarterback who won a Super Bowl recently in the AFC who may not have deserved it. Receivers struggle when they get into their 30s, and that’s what will happen with Crabtree. Flacco’s arm accuracy has been very poor, and has thrown a high number of interceptions over the past couple of seasons. This may have been the worst choice for Crabtree, but it may have been the only team that was really willing to sign him. When you’re a wide receiver, the success of your quarterback plays a huge role in your own success.
6 Sam Bradford (QB) - Arizona Cardinals
Injuries, injuries, injuries. We know that since the NFL is a full contact sport, injuries are a huge part of the game. But not being able to play a full NFL season in his career, that’s a problem that may force a player to give up on playing. Sam Bradford has dealt with numerous injuries, yet he continues to deal with more. The tough part is that teams have been interested in him because he’s an accurate quarterback, but his inability to stay health makes him a true concern for the Cardinals.
If his career history is any indication, Bradford will get injured again. If you’re prone to it, you’re prone to it. Josh Rosen will likely have to come in to play earlier than the Cards would like him to this season, while Bradford walks away with another flattering contract where he can make up to $20 million.
The expectations for Bradford are unknown, but they have to at least expect him to play. Bradford is going to play a few games, and then finish the season with a season ending injury. It’s bound to happen that Bradford has to deal with a serious injury that could potentially end his career. Despite his talent, his durability and health becomes a huge concern, which will lead him to failure.
5 Jerick McKinnon (RB) - San Francisco 49ers
Jerick McKinnon has never been able to even come close to rushing for 1,000 yards, yet the 49ers chose to let Carlos Hyde walk in free agency and sign Jerick McKinnon.
McKinnon's best season in Minnesota only occurred last year, where he managed 570 yards on 150 carries.
McKinnon landed a multi-year deal in San Francisco and he's pencilled in as the lead back. If the 49ers are able to keep McKinnon as part of a rotation, he can do well in his role. However, if they're expecting a lead back that could flirt with the 1,000 yard mark, they might be severely disappointed.
4 Paul Richardson (WR) - Washington Redskins
Paul Richardson has never been a consistent threat at receiver, but he can occasionally make a big play down the field. Richardson finally had somewhat of a breakout season in 2017, as he caught six touchdown passes, while catching 44 passes and cracking 700 yards. Richardson is more of a solid no.3 option who could be a threat in the red zone, but with Washington's depth chart as is, Richardson will be expected to do more than what he's been expected to do thus far. To give Richardson a five year deal (worth $40 million) over just one decent season seems a little overboard.
3 Kirk Cousins (QB) - Minnesota Vikings
It's not that Kirk Cousins is going to be bad in Minnesota. Cousins is going to the most talented team he has ever been on after years of suffering with a mediocre roster in Washington.
The Vikings signed Cousins to a three year deal with 100% of the $85 million being guaranteed.
Cousins is coming in expected to be the missing piece to Minnesota's journey to the Super Bowl and because of the huge expectations, there's just no way in believing the Vikings will be able to win a Super Bowl in the short term. They have the most difficult schedule in the NFL in 2018 and it's hard to picture Cousins out-dueling Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North.
2 Doug Martin (RB) - Oakland Raiders
The Raiders already brought in a big name in Marshawn Lynch last offseason, but coming off retirement, Lynch appeared to have missed a step in Oakland last year. The Raiders felt they needed to add some depth and they added Doug Martin to the fold, who has shown some promise in his career but always had trouble staying healthy and consistent in Tampa Bay. With the Raiders, he moves to a more talented offense overall and Jon Gruden is going to place a heavy focus on the running game. However, it's hard to think that Martin will be able to stay healthy for a full season and rebound after several down years.
1 Terrelle Pryor (WR) - New York Jets
Terrelle Pryor had a surprisingly good season in Cleveland a couple of years ago, cracking the 1,000 yard receiving mark after making a successful conversion from quarterback to receiver. He landed a one-year prove it deal in Washington last year and his numbers plummeted. If he was looking for a bounce back season, it's a little curious as to why he chose the New York Jets, as it's hard to picture him going back over the 1,000 yard mark. The Jets will be fielding Josh McCown to start the season and will likely turn to Sam Darnold at some point. Pryor would've been better off signing on to a team with an established franchise QB.