Laughably, many people thought that Ryan Leaf had more upside than Peyton Manning in 1998. The San Diego Chargers drafted him with the second-overall pick and felt smug about it. But this turned into one of the biggest disasters in franchise history. Leaf had three seasons in San Diego but it didn’t work out (via Sportskeeda).
He threw 13 interceptions with just two touchdown passes in his rookie year. Then his sophomore season was a write-off because of injuries. Finally, the Chargers went 1-15 in 2000 before they released him. Leaf also had drug problems and lacked maturity. This hurt the Chargers a lot because Eli Manning later refused to play for them.
If the Rams had the best version of Finnegan, he wouldn’t be on this list. But his level dropped to a different stratosphere when he joined as a free agent in 2012. The former Titans star became one of the league’s top defensive backs. Wear and tear began to take their toll on his body but the Rams ignored the warning signs.
They awarded him a massive $50 million contract because they believed he would be a difference-maker. In the end, he was but not in the direction that they hoped. Finnegan barely survived for two seasons in Missouri before they released him. It was a remarkable fall from grace but sometimes this happens in the NFL (via SBNation).
Dan Marino retired in 1999 and left the Dolphins with a massive hole in their offense. Most people thought that they were finally going to address this all-important position in 2001 but they went in a different direction. Instead of drafting a Marino replacement they went for a cornerback in Jamar Fletcher. Nobody expected this because Drew Brees was on the board and made sense for Miami.
But they overlooked the future Saints icon and allowed him to go to San Diego. They didn’t need a cornerback but to make matters worse, Fletcher played like garbage. He played six games in three seasons because he failed to oust their two Pro Bowlers. It was a waste of a selection and horrendous front office management (via USA Today Sports).
It was never going to be easy for Troy Williamson after the Vikings drafted him in 2005 The media essentially forced him to be hyped up as the next Randy Moss and this placed a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Minnesota traded the legendary but outspoken Moss to the Raiders that same season and expected Williamson to be a ready-made replacement (via Star Tribune).
But that isn’t what transpired because Williamson was nowhere near the same level. Also, it seemed like he didn’t care and made excuses for being garbage. Naturally, this turned the fanbase against him and Vikings fans regard him as arguably their worst player ever. His impact was minimal and he only spent three seasons with the team before joining the Jaguars.
Dowling is a reminder that Bill Belichick doesn’t always get it right. Many Pats fans probably forgot that he even played for the franchise but that’s not a surprise. The franchise drafted him in 2011 with the first pick of the second round. But he failed to make any meaningful impact on the team after a disappointing spell.
He played in two games in his rookie season before injuries abruptly ended his year. That was the story of his NFL career because he never reignited it. After the Patriots cut him from their roster he bounced around practice squads. But he failed to convince a franchise that he had what it took to make it at the top (via NESN).
Heath Shuler had a staggering college career with the Tennessee Volunteers. He broke records as if they had an expiring date and almost won the Heisman Trophy. This attracted Washington but he didn’t deliver for the franchise. But it didn’t dissuade the Saints from signing him in the open market because they thought his career would recover (via USA Today Sports).
However, the future North Carolina representative became arguably their worst player ever. He signed a seven-year contract worth $17.5 million at the time. But he only stayed for a season as he threw a pair of touchdowns with 14 interceptions. Turf toe afflicted him and he retired soon after. It was a shame because he was a genuine college star but couldn’t make it in the NFL.
It’s not entirely fair to include Joe Pisarcik on this list. The infamous fumble that all Giants fans remember wasn’t entirely his fault. We’re talking about the Miracle at the Meadowlands when the Giants had a chance to win. If Pisarcik took a knee, the clock would run down and time would have expired. But that’s not what happened as Bob Gibson demanded a handoff.
That moment destroyed Pisarcik’s career because he lost control of the ball. However, his overall record with the franchise wasn’t great and he only survived for two seasons with them. He had a better record in Canada with the Calgary Roughriders. But his NFL career didn’t go the same way (via Sports Illustrated).
Wilson is one of the Jets’ most recent quarterbacks but he’s already arguably their worst player. The problem is that they put massive faith in him in 2021. They selected him instead of Justin Fields or Mac Jones in a stacked QB class. This was after they meaninglessly won the last two games of the 2020 season to ruin their shot at the number one overall pick and Trevor Lawrence. Meanwhile, they didn’t have a reliable veteran to sit behind him (via Mirror).
This meant Wilson had a rough rookie year with a lot of interceptions. However, fans gave him the benefit of the doubt because it was a transitional period. But his sophomore year saw him make ridiculous decisions with no maturity. Finally, the franchise decided to move on from the controversial quarterback.
Jerome McDougle offered the Eagles three sacks in five seasons after they drafted him in 2003. We don’t know why he stayed on their roster for so long but somehow he stuck around. Perhaps he was great in the locker room but he didn’t do much on the playing field. It’s bizarre but that’s why he’s the worst player in Philly football history.
Crazily, the Eagles traded up to draft McDougle after he impressed for the Hurricanes. But he became one of the biggest busts in Philly history. He failed to hit the lofty heights that they expected after they pursued him. McDougle also played for the Giants but only played four times for them (via CBS Sports).
It may seem ludicrous to include a Super Bowl winner on this list but the Steelers won it despite Limas Sweed. He had an electrifying career with the Texas Longhorns. Only an injury prevented teams from taking him in the first round of the 2008 draft. But analysts confidently predicted that he was a steal and a future all-time great.
Fans remember his horrible drop in the AFC Championship game as he fell short of expectations. Eventually, he dropped down their roster and became the seventh-choice wideout. Every year we see a college star fail to deliver at the highest level. This is just the clear difference between the two levels (via The Sportster).
Jenkins arrived in San Francisco as a first-round pick with a big reputation. They drafted him in 2012 after a stunning college career with Illinois. He broke records during his time with the Fighting Illini. But he spent most of his time on the bench during his time as a Niner. Fans expect first-rounders to contribute quickly but he didn’t do anything.
It says a lot that he dropped the only pass that came his way during his rookie season. Jenkins also played in a Super Bowl but didn’t do anything except run around a bit. If they won, he would surely be the worst player with a ring in history. They didn’t lose because of him but it didn’t help that he was useless (via NBC Sports).
We almost went for Aaron Curry as Seattle’s worst player but instead, we’re going to talk about another former linebacker. Brian Bosworth arrived in Oregon as one of the most polarizing college players ever. He had a lot of talent but his personality rubbed some people up the wrong way. Bosworth shocked football when he signed a 10-year contract with the franchise.
They also guaranteed him a rookie-record amount of money. Bosworth had a decent first season but only spent two years with the team. He had a degenerative shoulder problem and knew about this before he agreed to his deal. He wasn’t the worst player but they expected so much more from him (via Fansided).
Evan McPherson shows how important a kicker can be to a team. But they rarely go before the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Astonishingly, the Bucs traded up for Roberto Aguayo in 2016 after his record-breaking college career. They thought that the most accurate kicker in NCAA history would guarantee points for the franchise.
Instead, he became a miserable flop and was one of the worst busts in their history. He missed more field goal attempts than any other kicker before Tampa Bay released him. Many people think that elite kickers don’t have to change their game for the NFL. But the pressure was too much for Aguayo (via Clutchpoints).
The Titans thought that they pulled off a coup when they drafted Isaiah Wilson in 2020. Wilson had a great career with the Georgia Bulldogs and it looked like a great decision. But he went off the rails when he became a professional and is arguably their worst player ever. The offensive tackle had more arrests than appearances in his only NFL season.
There was an insane highway chase that saw him turn into a Nascar driver. Meanwhile, he had a DUI and other possession-related charges in 2021. Finally, the Titans gave up and traded him to Miami. But they showed him the door after two weeks. The Giants also invited him to their practice squad but nothing came of it (via N.Y. Post).
Albert Haynesworth became one of the NFL’s most important players during his time with the Titans. This prompted the Redskins to offer him a massive package to join them. Haynesworth signed the $100 million deal after they guaranteed half of the money. This was a massive mistake because he immediately became their worst player.
The defensive tackle ballooned in size after spending too long at the buffet. He failed conditioning tests and failed to show up to preseason. His lack of commitment was almost inspiring because he didn’t care at all. There’s no denying that he had talent but Washington never saw it on the playing field (via The Athletic).