Hall of Shame: Every NFL Team’s Worst Player Ever

Darren - April 14, 2023

Hall of Shame: Every NFL Team’s Worst Player Ever

Darren - April 14, 2023

Thousands of athletes have played in the NFL, mostly because the average length of a pro football career is only about three-and-a-half years. NFL fans remember the great players, but what about the bad ones? They deserve recognition too, at least in some form. So today we’ll look at every NFL franchise’s worst player ever and decide who truly helped these teams become the worst in the sport.

First, however, let’s clarify that we’re talking about players who arrived with big reputations and carried a lot of expectations. We’re not talking about backups that nobody cares about but rather players who disappointed amid sky-high hype like Ryan Leaf. With this in mind, let’s start pulling names out of the trash can.


Arizona Cardinals – Clyde Duncan

There’s little doubt that Clyde Duncan was the worst player in the Cardinals’ history. The wide receiver arrived in 1984 after he starred for the Tennessee in college. His electrifying performances for the Volunteers prompted Arizona to make him a first-round pick. But this proved to be a massive mistake because he was one of the biggest draft busts ever.

Tennessee Volunteers

Duncan failed to deliver for the franchise with just four receptions in two seasons. The Cardinals expected more than a single touchdown from their first-rounder. But he failed to acclimatize to the NFL and never exploded into life. Even when he joined the Browns after the Cardinals released him, he flopped and retired in 1987 (via USA Today Sports).

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Atlanta Falcons – Tony Smith

It’s a straight shootout between Tony Smith and Aundray Bruce for the dishonorable title of the Falcons’ worst player. Both of these men were terrible draft picks but Smith was arguably worse. That’s because the Falcons traded Smith’s former Southern Mississippi teammate Brett Favre for a first-round pick and brought this useless running back into the fray.

CBS Sports

Technically, they didn’t use that pick on Smith but it shows their front office’s lack of foresight. Smith survived for three seasons in the NFL with a total of 343 career yards. Severe injuries curtailed his effort to make a comeback and he went to the CFL. Smith was a major disappointment because the fans believed he had a lot to offer (via Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

Pro Football History

Baltimore Ravens – Kyle Boller

Ravens fans should look away now because they won’t want to remember this man. Kyle Boller is the worst player in their history as well as one of the NFL’s most disappointing quarterbacks. Nothing gets people more excited than a first-round QB draft pick because they think he’ll be the future of the franchise (via Fansided).

Baltimore Ravens

Boller spent five seasons in Baltimore but was only the starter for one. Eventually, Steve McNair replaced him because Boller didn’t have what it took to lead the team. His injury record wasn’t good but he also had more turnovers than an insomniac. Anybody who complains about Lamar Jackson should remember these dark days and count their blessings.

The Guardian

Buffalo Bills – Vontae Davis

The Bills Mafia witnessed some garbage players throughout the years. Aaron Maybin was terrible while Nathan Peterman was completely out of depth. But they pale in comparison to Vontae Davis, because he broke Bills’ hearts. The cornerback arrived in 2018 after agreeing to a five-million-dollar contract (via Washington Post).

CBS Sports

Nobody expected him to retire in the middle of their first game of the season, but that’s exactly what he did. He said that he realized that football wasn’t for him anymore. But it’s still amazing that he went through preseason and failed to repay everybody’s faith. He had the talent but he didn’t have the commitment others showed.


Carolina Panthers – Jimmy Clausen

Clausen helped the Panthers to eventually draft Cam Newton because he was such hot garbage. The quarterback is arguably the worst player in their history. NFL scouts had concerns about his attitude and that’s why he fell to the second round in 2010. But the Panthers picked him and installed him as their starter over Matt Moore.

CBS Sports

But Clausen had a shocking relationship with star receiver Steve Smith. In the end, he started 10 games in his three seasons with the franchise. He threw three touchdown passes to nine interceptions. The Panthers moved on from the former Fighting Irish star and he spent the rest of his career as an NFL backup (via Pro Football History).


Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon

Former Bears GM Ryan Pace put Mike Glennon in a crazy position by throwing money at the young quarterback. Glennon shrugged his shoulders and put pen to paper as he instantly became a multimillionaire. But he didn’t deliver for Chicago because the NC State product wasn’t a bonafide NFL starter. Somehow, the Bears didn’t recognize this after he was a backup in Tampa.

Glennon signed a three-year contract worth $45 million and only played four games. They gave him a lot of cash but he didn’t repay the franchise on the field. It’s no surprise that their fanbase hates him now. That’s not Glennon’s fault because he was never at the level they required. Nor is it shocking fans resented Pace for making this decision (via Sports Illustrated).

Oregon Live

Cincinnati Bengals – Akili Smith

Sometimes a bad draft pick can change the course of a franchise for decades. That’s exactly what happened with the Bengals after they chose Akili Smith in 1999. Insanely, the Saints offered nine draft picks because they wanted Ricky Williams. But the Bengals refused and went for Smith instead. We admire their decisiveness but there’s no denying he was a spectacular bust.

Cincinnati Enquirer

Smith started 17 games across three seasons in Cincinnati. He threw just five touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He didn’t even play for the team until they resolved a contract holdout. Needless to say, he disappointed and enraged the fans with his horrible return. The quarterback was the worst player in Cincy history (via SBNation).

Cleveland Browns – Johnny Manziel

Cleveland has had their fair share of garbage players but one man stands out even more than the rest. Johnny Manziel didn’t care about football and that’s why the Heisman winner takes home the prize. At least, Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn tried to do their best. But Manziel had more parties than touchdown passes during his first season with the Browns.


Every NFL fan knows about Manziel’s well-documented drug and alcohol problems. Then there were domestic abuse accusations and Manziel crashed out of football. It was sad because he had massive potential but failed to take this amazing opportunity seriously. Now he’s one of the biggest draft busts in sports history (via The Sportster).


Dallas Cowboys – Mike Vanderjagt

There are several candidates for the worst player in Cowboys history. But let’s talk about Mike Vanderjagt, whom Peyton Manning once described as ‘that idiot kicker.’ Historically, Dallas went to the dime store to pick up kickers. But they changed their approach when Vanderjagt became available and paid him a lucrative contract.

Pro Football History

He became one of the worst free agents ever with five high-profile missed kicks. He arrived in Texas with a massive reputation but tarnished it by the time he left after a season. Vanderjagt attracted negative headlines for his misses and his big mouth. ‘America’s Team’ was happy to see him exit (via ESPN).


Denver Broncos – Daryl Gardener

Recency bias might cause fans to point the finger at Russell Wilson after his nightmare first season in Denver. But then there’s Tebow, who had one of the wackiest careers ever. But they don’t come close to Daryl Gardener who is surely the worst player in Broncos history. He arrived with a massive reputation but departed with a cloud over him.

New York Times

The defensive tackle built a strong reputation during his days in Miami. This prompted the Broncos to offer him a $35 million contract to lure him to the “Mile High City”. He had 15 tackles for the franchise before a pair of scandals killed his career. First, there was a parking lot fight and then he head-butted his girlfriend in another horrible act (via Bleacher Report).

Colorado Athletics

Detroit Lions – Jordan Dizon

There are a few players that we could talk about here. Top picks Mike Williams and Joey Harrington had terrible careers with the Lions. But the former contributed some points while the latter was in an unwinnable situation. However, Jordan Dizon represents everything that was wrong with the franchise over the past few decades (via USA Today Sports).


The former Colorado linebacker had a great career with the Buffaloes. This prompted the Lions to gamble and take him in the second round of the 2008 draft. He struggled with the step up to the NFL despite his best efforts. Then an injury brought his career to an early end. It was a stupid decision by the Lions to waste a decent pick on him.

Bleacher Report

Green Bay Packers – Tony Mandarich

Warning klaxons should blare when people talk about a draft prospect potentially being one of the best. It rarely works out the way they predict as the Packers discovered when they got Tony Mandarich. He built a massive reputation for himself at Michigan State and Green Bay thought they pulled off a coup.

Detroit News

In the end, Mandarich was out of the league after three seasons with minimal impact. He took more steroids than a racehorse and spent more time seeking publicity than playing football. The offensive lineman is the worst player to pull on a Green Bay uniform. Every wannabe NFL scout should study him before they take a real job (via BVM Sports).

New York Times

Houston Texans – Brock Osweiler

The reality that the Broncos didn’t fight to keep Brock Osweiler should have been a warning sign to the Texans. They signed him as a free agent in 2015 and handed him a massive $72 million contract. Houston also guaranteed about half of this money but didn’t know that this would be a costly mistake (via Clutchpoints).


Osweiler suffered a staggering 27 sacks in his single season as Houston’s starter. He threw 15 touchdown passes with 16 interceptions. They managed to offload him to Cleveland with his mad salary cap too. They drafted a genuine blue-chip prospect in Deshaun Watson but they didn’t make the most of him either.

Sports Illustrated

Indianapolis Colts – Carson Wentz

The Eagles once thought that Carson Wentz was the answer to their franchise QB prayers. But his form dramatically declined after 2019 so they traded him to the Colts. Indy hoped that they would revitalize the ailing star but that’s not what happened. He became even worse during his brief time on their roster (via NBC Sports).

Sporting News

Franchise Owner, Jim Irsay said that Wentz’s inconsistency was a major issue. That’s why they moved him on and allowed him to join the Commanders. Then they brought in a veteran QB in Matt Ryan and thought that they had the answer. Ryan’s form immediately plummeted and they even benched him for the rookie Sam Ehlinger.


Jacksonville Jaguars – Nick Foles

it’s difficult to identify the Jaguars’ worst-ever player because there are two clear options. Blake Bortles was a high first-round pick disaster, but Nick Foles had a nightmarish season as well as a ludicrous contract. Bortles played more games and showed glimpses of potential. But the Jag’s commitment to him meant that they passed on Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.


Meanwhile, Foles signed an $88 million contract after he became an unlikely Super Bowl MVP. But he only played four games without a single win. Finally, Jacksonville sat him and played sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew instead. Foles had a lot of injury problems but this was a horrendous signing (via SBNation).

Focus On Sports

Kansas City Chiefs – Todd Blackledge

We’d love to be edgy and choose somebody instead of Todd Blackledge as the Chiefs’ worst player ever. However, it’s impossible given his record with the franchise and the context around it. Blackledge was a member of one of the most stacked quarterback classes ever after he won a championship with Penn State. Then he became the second QB to go after John Elway.

Kansas City Star

This meant that the Chiefs overlooked future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. These men evolved into two of the greatest signal-callers in NFL history. Meanwhile, Blackledge barely played for the Chiefs across five seasons with the franchise. He threw 26 touchdowns and spent most of his time as their backup (via Larry Brown Sports). The Chiefs spent the next several decades looking for a true franchise quarterback before they finally found Patrick Mahomes.


Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders – JaMArcus Russell

The NFL changed its rules after the Raiders gave JaMarcus Russell a massive contract in 2007. Finally, the highly-rated prospect signed a $68 million deal after a dramatic holdout. But the franchise didn’t receive much value for their money. Most people regard him as one of the biggest draft busts in history (via USA Today Sports).

NFL Spin Zone

He threw more interceptions than touchdown passes in his 31 games for Oakland. Meanwhile, they missed out on future icons like Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. Yes, they needed a quarterback but the dysfunctional franchise ruined him. This was a horrible period for the franchise because Al Davis kept lighting dumpster fires.

Sports Illustrated

San Diego/L.A. Chargers – Ryan Leaf

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).

New York Times

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.

CBS Sports

St. Louis/L.A. Rams – Courtland Finnegan

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).


Miami Dolphins – Jamar Fletcher

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.

Wisconsin Badgers

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).

Bleacher Report

Minnesota Vikings – Troy Williamson

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).

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.


New England Patriots – Ras I Dowling

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).

The Tennessean

New Orleans Saints – Heath Shuler

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).

The Tennessean

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.

Elite Sports NY

New York Giants – Joe Pisarcik

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).

Pro Football Network

New York Jets – Zach Wilson

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).

Sky Sports

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.

CBS News

Philadelphia Eagles – Jerome McDougle

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).


Pittsburgh Steelers- Limas Sweed

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).

Bleacher Report

San Francisco 49ers – A.J. Jenkins

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.

SF Gate

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).


Seattle Seahawks – Brian Bosworth

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).

Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Roberto Aguayo

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.

Tampa Bay Times

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).

Sports Illustrated

Tennessee Titans – Isiah Wilson

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.

New York Post

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).

Bleacher Report

Washington Commanders – Albert Haynesworth

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.

Sports Illustrated

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).