Sports

NFL players going into decline in 2021

Decline usually comes early in the NFL, and these 25 players are starting to see their play diminish. Here’s a look at 25 players seeing a decline going into 2021.

 

1 of 25

Odell Beckham, WR, Browns

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Beckham is coming off a major knee injury, but he struggled before getting injured last season with only 23 receptions for 319 yards in seven games. A long history of injuries has taken its toll on Beckham as he approaches age 30.

 

Antonio Brown, WR, Buccaneers

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Brown struggled to find work last year due to off-field issues, but he was productive after joining the Bucs with 483 yards in eight regular-season games. While still a very talented a productive receiver, he’s not at the same level we saw in Pittsburgh.

 

Calais Campbell, DT, Ravens

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Campbell has aged more gracefully than any defensive lineman in recent memory, but age has started to show over the last two seasons. He has a combined 10.5 sacks over that time after tallying double-digit sacks in 2017 and 2018.

 

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Browns

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After signing late, Clowney played only eight games for Tennessee last year and failed to record a sack. He’s struggled with injuries over the last two years but is hoping to rehab his value at age 28 in Cleveland this year.

 

5 of 25

Landon Collins, S, Washington

Landon Collins, S, Washington

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Collins signed with Washington for big money in 2019, but his play hasn’t matched what he did early in his career with the Giants. He played only seven games last season due to injury and has a total of one interception in the last three years.

 

Carlos Dunlap, DE, Seahawks

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Now in his early 30’s, Dunlap was traded to Seattle from the Bengals last year and is being used in more of a pass-rushing situational role. He was able to record six sacks last year, but that’s a far cry from his production in Cincinnati.

 

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

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The decline seems to have started for Elliott, who had a career-low 4.0 yards per carry last season. After leading the league in rushing yards per game in each of his first three seasons, Elliott has had trouble keeping up the pace.

 

Jared Goff, QB, Lions

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Goff is only five seasons into his career, but his decline was apparent with the Rams before getting traded in the offseason. He failed to reach 4,000 yards passing last year and could continue to have trouble this year with minimal receiving options.

 

Melvin Gordon, RB, Broncos

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Gordon had a strong first season with Denver, just short of 1,000 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. The production was still far from his peak with the Chargers, and the Broncos drafted Javonte Williams to lighten the workload this season.

 

A.J. Green, WR, Cardinals

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Green received significant money from the Cardinals this offseason despite a clear recent decline in Cincy. He struggled through foot and ankle injuries in 2018 and 2019 before reaching only 523 yards in 16 games last year. Green is far from the player we saw early in his career when he had six 1,000 yard seasons in seven years.

 

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts

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The Colts brought back Hilton despite consecutive years of decline. He had only 762 yards receiving in 15 games last season and barely produced early in the year. Hilton is hoping to have a bounce back with new quarterback Carson Wentz.

 

12 of 25

Mark Ingram, RB, Texans

Mark Ingram, RB, Texans

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After a 1,000 yard rushing season in 2019, Ingram rode the bench for much of last year in Baltimore. His yards per carry average was down to 4.2 yards, but that didn’t stop the Texans from signing him in the offseason. The veteran will now be part of a running back committee with David Johnson and Phillip Lindsay.

 

DeSean Jackson, WR, Rams

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Jackson’s decline has been long due to injuries, but he remains a formidable deep threat when he’s on the field. Unfortunately, Jackson has played a total of eight games over the last two seasons, but the Rams are hoping he can stretch the field in 2021.

 

14 of 25

Chandler Jones, EDGE, Cardinals

Chandler Jones, EDGE, Cardinals

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Jones was an All-Pro in 2019 with 19 sacks, but he played only five games last year due to injury. He’s hoping for a rebound, and the addition of J.J. Watt could help.

 

Julio Jones, WR, Titans

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Jones was traded from his long-time home of Atlanta to Tennessee in the offseason. While still very productive last year with 85 yards per game, Jones played only nine games due to injury. He could see his workload decrease in his new home with A.J. Brown on the opposite side of the field and elite running back Derrick Henry carrying the load.

 

16 of 25

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys

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Lawrence is a two-time Pro Bowler but has seen his stats decline sharply over the last two seasons. He had only five sacks in 2019 and 6.5 sacks last season after the Cowboys paid him a large contract.

 

Sony Michel, RB, Patriots

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Knee issues plagued Michel in college and now in the NFL. He played only nine games last season, and the former first-round pick will have to fight for snaps this year in a deep backfield.

 

Von Miller, OLB, Broncos

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Miller saw his sacks decline to only eight in 2019, and he missed all of last season with an ankle injury. Now age 32, the Broncos are unlikely to get the reliable sack production from Miller that they have in the past.

 

19 of 25

Mitch Morse, OC, Bills

Mitch Morse, OC, Bills

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Morse has been one of the most consistent centers in the NFL since entering the league in 2015, but injuries have been an issue for part of his career. He missed two games due to concussions last year and took a pay cut in the offseason.

 

Patrick Peterson, CB, Vikings

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The Cardinals finally moved on from Peterson after he struggled over the last two years, a stretch that included a PEDs suspension. The cornerback-needy Vikings signed Peterson in the offseason, hoping he has a rebound in him at age 31.

 

Robert Quinn, OLB, Bears

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Quinn struggled last year after signing with the Bears, recording only two sacks in 15 games after tallying 11.5 sacks with the Cowboys in 2019. Chicago is hoping for a rebound season at age 31.

 

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Vikings

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Richardson was recently cut by the Browns but found a home in Minnesota. A star early in his career, Richardson has become more of a role player on the interior in his early 30’s.

 

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Buccaneers

Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Suh was a superstar early in his career with the Lions. Now in his mid-30’s, he’s more of a role player with the Bucs but still productive, recording six sacks last season. Tampa Bay hopes he still has something left as they look to repeat their Super Bowl victory.

 

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

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A chronic ankle injury was partially why Thomas played only seven games last season, and he had a career-low 63 yards per game when he did play. The loss of Drew Brees is likely to keep Thomas’ stats down again this year, though he’s hoping for better health.

 

Andrew Whitworth, LT, Rams

Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports Images

Whitworth is one of the oldest players in the NFL, entering his age 40 season. He still starts at left tackle for a contending Rams team but played only nine games last year due to injury. He could be entering the final year of his career, with the hope that he can be a solid protector of Matthew Stafford‘s blindside.


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