Young stars are on the rise around the NFL. That’s primarily true at quarterback where the likes of Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson are showing out.
But much like we see every season, other stars that have been around a while are fading.
From a high-priced free-agent signing in New Jersey to one of the greatest players in the history of the NFL, here’s a look at 10 stars around the league who have largely disappeared this season.
Le’Veon Bell, running back, New York Jets
It turns out that sitting for an entire season while being a running back in the prime of your career was not the best career decision. Months after signing a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the Jets, Bell has been a downright bust.
The 27-year-old veteran heads into Week 14 averaging 3.2 yards per rush and on pace for less than 800 rushing yards on the season. Those are some disastrous numbers. They also apparently had the Jets listening to trade offers for him this past October.
Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
Like pretty much every member of the Eagles, Cox is having himself a down season. Featured on a pass rush that’s a surprising 11th in the league with 34 sacks, this four-time Pro Bowler has not held up his end of the bargain.
Cox, 28, is on pace for 11 quarterback hits and five sacks. This would represent his worst numbers since all the way back in 2014. In fact, Cox tallied 34 quarterback hits and 10.5 sacks last season. Set to count $23.85 million against the cap in 2020, Cox is seemingly in the process of disappearing.
Marcus Mariota, quarterback, Tennessee Titans
We’re not even sure at this point that Mariota is a starter-caliber quarterback in the NFL. He was benched for Ryan Tannehill back in Week 6. All the Titans have done since is win five out of six. Given how much press followed Mariota from Oregon to the NFL heading into the 2015 season, this is a mighty big fall from grace.
The numbers tell us a story of a quarterback who has disappeared from relevance over the past three seasons. That span has seen the former No. 2 overall pick tally 31 touchdown passes compared to 25 interceptions while boasting an 85.9 rating in 35 games. Now set to become a free agent, we have no idea what the future holds for Mariota. It just likely won’t be in Nashville.
Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
Goff’s Week 13 performance against a horrible Cardinals defense notwithstanding, the former No. 1 pick has regressed leaps and bounds over the past calendar year-plus. It comes after the Rams handed him a four-year, $134 million deal, and threatens to derail Los Angeles’ Super Bowl window.
Goff has put up 22 total touchdowns and 26 turnovers in his past 17 regular-season starts. That’s more than a full season of ineptitude from the quarterback. It also comes following a 19-game span in which Goff accounted for 46 touchdowns and 13 turnovers. Ouch!
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, Cleveland Browns
Ugly. That’s the best way to describe Beckham’s first season in Cleveland. The All-Pro receiver disappeared during a Week 13 loss against the Steelers that pretty much ended the Browns’ playoff hopes. That game saw him catch 3-of-6 targets for 29 yards. That’s not what you expect from one of the game’s most-talented receivers.
OBJ is now on pace to catch 76 passes for less than 1,100 yards and three touchdowns this season. Those are decent numbers, but they are not what we saw from him in New York. It’s now an open question whether Beckham Jr. will be one-and-done in Cleveland. No one could have imagined that a few short months ago.
Todd Gurley, running back, Los Angeles Rams
Regression has been the name of the game for a Rams team that’s now battling for its playoff lives. Whether it’s usage or a nagging injury, Gurley has certainly played a major role in that recently.
Dating back to last season, Gurley has gained less than 800 rushing yards at a clip of less than 4.1 yards per rush in his past 13 games. These are not numbers you’d expect from a running back playing under a four-year, $57.5 million contract.
Philip Rivers, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
Regression. It has been eye-opening to see just how much Rivers has struggled in 2019 after putting up a career-best performance last season. The 37-year-old signal caller appears to be in the twilight of his career, and the hope is that it doesn’t get too embarrassing.
Rivers is on pace for 23 touchdowns compared to 20 interceptions on the season. Given he averaged 30 scores and 14 interceptions over the course of the past 11 seasons, the writing seems to be on the wall here. We just hope that Rivers doesn’t hang on to this career for too long.
Khalil Mack, EDGE, Chicago Bears
Let’s qualify this for a second. Two members of his former Raiders team, Maxx Crosby and Benson Mayowa, head into Week 14 having recorded more sacks than Mack. The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year currently has 6.5 quarterback take downs.
While sack numbers are not the end all be all, Macks’s numbers are down clear across the board. He’s racked up just 10 quarterback hits and five tackles for loss. Sure the five fumbles Mack has forced is tremendous. However, he’s nowhere near the dominating player we saw in his first season with the Bears.
Devonta Freeman, running back, Atlanta Falcons
Freeman just has not been the same player since Atlanta signed him to a then record-breaking five-year, $41.25 million extension back in August of 2017. The former Pro Bowler missed all but two games to injury last season, and has been a shell of his former self thus far during the 2019 campaign.
The 27-year-old back is averaging just 3.4 yards per rush and is on pace for an astonishinly low 675 rushing yards. Given his bloated contract, it’s now at the point that Atlanta might move on from Freeman altogether after the season. Given he averaged north of 1,450 total yards from 2015-17, this is a dramatic fall from grace.
Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots
To be clear, we fully expect Brady to prove naysayers wrong as the season progresses and heading into the playoffs. He’s done this over and over again throughout one of the greatest careers an NFL player has ever seen.
However, the numbers back up the claim that’s he’s in the back end of his career. The regression is as clear as day.
The 42-year-old future Hall of Famer has accounted for 13 touchdowns and seven turnovers over the course of his past nine starts. He boasts an 88.2 quarterbak rating during that span, which ranks outside of the top 20. Father Time catches up with everyone. It appears that Brady is no different.