The start of training camp is just around the corner and it will be a pivotal moment before the 2020 NFL season. When young players, including rookies from the 2020 NFL Draft class, hit the field a new wave of talent will shake up the league and send countless veterans to the bench.
For some NFL starters who will lose their jobs this season, the shoe will be on the other foot for the first time in their careers. Just a few years after being the players who pushed veterans out of the lineup to become recognized starters, now it will be their turn to watch their job slip away.
Of course, starting spots won’t be lost to rookies alone. NFL teams care about results and after seemingly impressive talent failed to impressed in 2019, organizations brought in fresh faces to challenge for spots in the lineup. Let’s take a look at five NFL veterans who could lose their starting jobs this season.
Kerryon Johnson, running back, Detroit Lions
Coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft, many expected Kerryon Johnson to quickly take over in Detroit’s backfield and thrive. Expectations were pretty high for him going into his rookie year, but Johnson largely delivered. While he only received 118 carries, the explosive runner averaged 5.4 yards per carry and racked up 854 total yards. He seemed destined for a breakout season heading into 2019 with a larger workload on the horizon.
Unfortunately, the 5-foot-11 running back can’t seem to stay on the field. After dealing with shoulder and hamstring issues in college, he went on injured reserve after just eight games in 2019 due to a knee injury. Johnson has now missed 14 games in his first two seasons and the Lions just with the No. 35 pick. We’re betting on Swift’s talent to steal Johnson’s role, an unfortunate result for a player who once showed such promise.
Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears
Just think, a year ago, many considered Mitchell Trubisky a sleeper candidate for the NFL MVP. The Bears were coming off an incredible season and the former No. 2 overall pick showed tremendous growth in his second year with a 95.4 quarterback rating, 3,222 passing yards and 27 total touchdowns. The Bears found their franchise quarterback and this team was a betting favorite to win the Super Bowl.
Instead, Trubisky repeatedly fell flat on his face. He took alarming steps back as a passer and didn’t resemble a player any organization would trust as its starter. The Bears became so desperate this offseason that they traded for Nick Foles. We’re not expecting Foles to be good enough to turn Chicago back into a playoff team, but he is an upgrade over Trubisky. The decisions to pass on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson will haunt this organization for decades and this season will likely end with Ryan Pace’s termination.
Denzel Perryman, linebacker, Los Angeles Chargers
When the Los Angeles Chargers traded back up into the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, many expected the move would be for an offensive tackle. Instead, after giving up their second- and third-round selections, the Chargers snagged linebacker Kenneth Murray. The moment the pick came in, Denzel Perryman likely started sweating.
The Chargers are giving Murray the responsibility of leading the defense with play calls and communication. It doesn’t happen often, but it demonstrates how much the organization believes in him and is willing to move on from Perryman. At this point, the best hope for Perryman might be a trade out of Los Angeles. Otherwise, the former second-round pick won’t be seeing the field a lot in 2020.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, Miami Dolphins
There is no reason any quarterback should have been remotely successful with the Miami Dolphins. Yet, despite being surrounded by the NFL’s worst supporting cast, Fitzpatrick played at a high level. The Harvard graduate, known as Fitzmagic, completed 62% of his passes with 20 passing touchdowns and 3,529 yards through the air. Oh, he also ran in four scores and rushed for over 240 yards.
Sadly, the fun is likely coming to an end next season. Fitzpatrick could start the 2020 season as Miami’s starter, especially if Tua Tagovailoa isn’t ready to earn the job, but he won’t last for long. The Dolphins love Tua and before long, Fitzpatrick will be holding the clipboard and mentoring Miami’s franchise quarterback.
Le’Veon Bell, running back, New York Jets
The New York Jets regret giving Le’Veon Bell his massive contract every single day. While New York’s offensive line was a laughing stock this past season, Bell also looked like a shell of his former self. Just a few years removed from first-team All-Pro honors, the 28-year-old ran like he was 10 years older and rarely seemed happy.
The Jets couldn’t trade him this offseason because no team will touch his contract. So, after upgrading the offensive line, Adam Gase brought in one of the players he loves most. Frank Gore might be approaching 40, but he can still move remarkably quick. Given how much Gase loves Love, we wouldn’t be surprised if this turns into a committee backfield.