Heading into every season there is a group of players that are expected to have productive seasons. Whether it be on a first or second contract, eventually players are put on the hot seat to fulfill their perceived potential. Some players talk a big game, and although fans are inclined to agree with a confident perspective, some guys let delusion cloud reality and their words have no credibility. Nevertheless, it does take time to get accustomed to the pro level, simply beginning with life off the field and financial management. It’s all part of the process, all while the franchise you play for is investing time, money, and putting jobs on the line for each draft and contract extensions.
Alright, let’s get to the players with eyes on them to take the next step in their careers. A decision for a franchise to move on may not come right away, but the plans will be evident in the next couple offseasons, and to some of us, might be long overdue. And yes, this also includes guys that have had success as well, the window of opportunity doesn’t stay open forever. Keep in mind, some players you may think of were kept off this list because of contract extensions, which has rewarded them and bought them more time (like Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford).
New York Giants Quarterback, Eli Manning – clutch in 2 postseason runs hence 2 rings, but interception machine (3 seasons with 20+ INTs) with less than an 80 rating for half his career
Baltimore Ravens Quarterback, Joe Flacco – Featured in offense ahead of Ray Rice, threw more picks than TDs, last 3 seasons under 60% accuracy
Oakland Raiders Quarterback, Matt Schaub – fresh start and reunited with his former QB coach, last season’s struggle was more so mental than physical
St. Louis Rams Quarterback, Sam Bradford – Injury issues throughout career, contract year without competition behind him
Cleveland Browns Quarterback, Brian Hoyer – 1st round rookie behind him, Johnny Manziel’s presence may be too much to watch from the sidelines
Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback, Nick Foles – 2nd year with Chip Kelly, very little ties since he was previously on the roster, if he struggles Mark Sanchez is warming up
Kansas City Chiefs Receiver, Dwayne Bowe – Possession receiver struggled to gain separation for Alex Smith
Miami Dolphins Receiver, Mike Wallace – He will be used as Desean Jackson was with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, but will he remain a distraction?
Houston Texans Running Back, Arian Foster – New coaching staff, continuous injury issues could lose his job
San Diego Chargers Running Back, Ryan Mathews – Contract year for a player with great potential, finally played a whole season last year (through pain)
Dallas Cowboys Running Back, DeMarco Murray – Injury issues, different player as season progresses, durability and pass protection concerns
Indianapolis Colts Running Back, Trent Richardson – former first round pick traded for a first round pick, the load will be split but it’s time for the Crimson Tide to show up
New England Patriots Running Back, Stevan Ridley – a position that benefits from a Hall of Fame QB, he just has to hang onto the football (Adrian Peterson and Tiki Barber stopped fumbling, Rashaan Salaam did not)
New Orleans Saints Running Back, Mark Ingram – Even in a passing offense, the soon-to-be free agent wants to carry the rock hard like he did in the playoffs
Seattle Seahawks Receiver, Percy Harvin – Played 10 games in last 2 seasons, treated cautiously as a big investment but is expected to contribute in defending the title
Who would you add to the list? As a football fan I’m sure you have thought about this, and it very well could be all about perspective.