In the ideal world of the NFL, all players would certainly love the opportunity to hand pick heir own team. Some guys such as this year’s Super Bowl winners are probably content with the status quo.
On the other hand, many talented playmakers are stuck in the mud with their current teams. This makes the chances of achieving postseason success nearly impossible for many hard-working players.
Currently, the NFL has a quarterback who just passed for over 5,000 yards for the fifth time in his career. But, his team is nowhere near to getting itself to the playoffs. Along with this veteran quarterback are many other players paddling upstream in similar boats.
The following list covers some offensive playmakers who would definitely benefit from switching teams.
1. DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Houston Texans
Watching quarterback Brock Osweiler shy away from passing to Hopkins in 2016 was unbearable for all parties involved. Hopkins is an elite pass-catcher who should not have to suffer from the poor decision made by the Texans to trust Osweiler as a starter.
Even he knows this.
Spoke w/DeAndre Hopkins, who had choice words about Brock Osweiler: "[As a WR], your play is dictated by others' play." #Texans
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) February 1, 2017
Hopkins’ targets dropped from 192 to 151 in 2016. As a result, Hopkins caught a career-low 51.7 percent of his passes. He finished the season with 78 receptions for 954 yards and only four touchdowns. This was down from his 1,521-yard, 11-touchdown 2015 campaign.
Clearly, the major monkey wrench to Hopkins’ production was Osweiler. Hopkins has one more season left with Houston since the Texans picked up his fifth-year option last spring.
Just imagine if the New England Patriots had been successful attempting to trade for Hopkins this past October (more on that here). Hopkins would be a deserving Super Bowl champion. An achievement that is nowhere close to happening on Hopkins’ current team.
2. Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles Rams
Gurley is a talented running back saddled to last season’s lowest-scoring offense. The Rams averaged a pathetic 14 points per game in 2016. Constantly playing from behind, the Rams simply had minimal opportunities to run the ball.
As a result, Gurley’s numbers dropped dramatically from his rookie year. In 2015, Gurley rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns at a pace of 4.8 yards per carry in just 10 games. This past year, Gurley managed a mere 885 yards and scored only six times. His average yards per tote was a meager 3.2.
Gurley deserves better, right? Unfortunately, he was caught in the crossfire of revolving door of lackluster quarterbacks and the changing of a head coach. Unless a trade is struck, Gurley has at least two more years left on his contract with the Rams.
But fans of Gurley’s can surely dream of him playing on a more productive offense. It just might not happen for some time now. That’s the unfortunate reality of the situation.
3. Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Detroit Lions
Will Stafford ever get his Lions past a Wild Card playoff game? If not, would Stafford have a better shot at a Super Bowl if he was to inherit a different team?
That is an interesting topic of debate. The Lions will always face tough divisional competition in that of the Packers as long as Aaron Rodgers is playing. In house, the Lions have other challenges. Their run game ranked 30th in 2016 and the defense finished 18th.
This, despite the fact that Stafford passed for 4,327 yards, the sixth-highest in the league last year.
What if Stafford had the opportunity to play for the aforementioned Texans? He would be working with a top-ranked defense and an offense that sported the 12th-best rushing offense in 2016. Plus, Stafford and Hopkins would be golden.
Stafford was the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, and he is currently signed with the Lions only through 2017. Stafford will be up for a raise considering the hefty contracts other quarterbacks have recently inked.
The time will come when both Stafford and the Lions have to think about what is best for their individual futures. A Super Bowl might not be in the cards for Stafford unless a change of scenery is on the horizon.
4. Torrey Smith, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
Smith is only 28 years old, but he has had an exhausting two-year run with his 49ers. He is currently wasting away his talents buried on a team that has won only seven of its last 32 games. How unfortunate.
Recently, Smith has been a topic of trade rumors linked with the Philadelphia Eagles, per NJ.com.
Smith has three seasons left on a five-year deal he signed with San Francisco in 2015. But it is obvious this marriage is not working out. Multiple times throughout the past two seasons, Smith would be wide open and his quarterback wouldn’t even notice.
— Trontent Channel 1 (@TrontentCh1) November 1, 2015
Smith’s targets dropped from 62 to 49 in 2016. During the 12 games in which Smith played, he caught just 40.8 percent of his passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns. If he could only get his hands on the ball, Smith would be a legitimate scoring threat. He has averaged over 17 yards per catch in his career and led the NFL in that category back in 2015.
Smith would be a tremendous upgrade at receiver for Carson Wentz should a trade with Philadelphia actually play out.
5. Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings
If Peterson can stay healthy, he seems to still have what it takes to carry a major run game for a team in need. It is unfortunate that Peterson’s current offensive line could not help present this opportunity.
Peterson’s last season went nothing like his 2015 return to the Vikings. Instead of the 1,485 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns put up that year, Peterson went from getting stuffed at nearly every attempt to out for several weeks with a knee injury. He suffered a torn meniscus last September.
Peterson is now presumably healthy, and in January mentioned three teams he is interested in joining. He might just get his wish considering he is slated to account for $18 million against the Vikings’ cap in 2017.
Peterson turns 32 in March but could still contribute at a high level if fully healthy. Unlike some other players stuck on their current teams, Peterson may actually find a new club to call home.
6. Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Fitzgerald is loyal to the bone to a Cardinals team that drafted him back in 2004. He is one of the hardest working and all-around genuine NFL personalities in the league.
The one thing missing before Fitzgerald finally decides to hang up his jersey is a Super Bowl ring. Fitz competed in one Super Bowl in 2008 when the Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Since, his team made the playoffs in 2009, 2014 and 2015. The Cardinals had an off-year in 2016 and missed the postseason. Fitzgerald will be 34 years old at kickoff this September, but his age has yet to creep up.
The veteran receiver was a rock star the last two seasons, tallying 216 catches, 2,238 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is under contract for only one more year, so his window of opportunity to get to another Super Bowl with the Cardinals is starting to close.
The downside for Fitzgerald is Carson Palmer, whose performances regressed in 2016. Fitz would have a better chance at the big game catching passes from a guy like Brady.
7. Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints
Yes. We are actually featuring Brees on this list. Brees’ contract with the Saints voids after the 2017 season unless he and the team reach terms for an extension.
At the rate the Saints are playing, Brees will retire as a one-time Super Bowl champion. It is not for lack of effort on Brees’ side that his team has failed to make the playoffs for the last three years.
Something is not adding up when Brees is passing for 5,208 yards and 37 touchdowns and the team is winning only seven games. That is exactly what happened in 2016. Brees also completed 70 percent of his passes during this time.
He led the league in passing yards but unfortunately had little to show for it other than that personal accomplishment.
Envision Brees quarterbacking for the Denver Broncos. They could definitely use an upgrade and Brees would be equipped with a much more efficient defense. This is where the Saints fall short.
Brees should still have a few good seasons left and likely will retire as a Saint. But it does make for an interesting conversation starter.
8. Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Patterson will remain with the Vikings if the team picks up his fifth-year option. Since the Vikings chose him in the first round of the 2013 draft, Patterson has offered a mixed bag of results. He is talented and ridiculously fast, and has had some great performances on special teams.
The Vikings utilized Patterson on offense more in 2016 for the first time since his rookie season. Patterson caught 74.3 percent of his targets and tallied 52 catches for 453 yards and two touchdowns. In kick returns, the fourth-year receiver piled up 792 yards including a 104-yard run and one touchdown.
With speed like that, Patterson could play running back, which is something he said he would love to do (more on that here). Either way, Patterson could use a change. It doesn’t seem that the Vikings are inclined to offer him that much of larger role on offense.
If they don’t keep him around in 2017, surely Patterson would thrive on another team. That much really isn’t up for debate at this point.