Gage isn’t a bad player by any means and he’ll likely do reasonably well in Tampa Bay. But they’re paying him to be more than an above-average wideout and we’re not sure he’s at that level. This is indeed an inflated market but he’s one of the real beneficiaries in this case.
There’s no chance that Gage ousts Mike Evans in the pecking order. Gage will get his targets but he has a lot to prove, especially once Chris Godwin returns from a torn ACL. They’re paying him $30 million across three years which seems like a lot considering his role. Perhaps he’ll step up and live up to his contract (via Tampa Bay).
Few players received as much hype as Lawrence before the 2022 season. The Jaguars leaped at the chance to use the first overall pick to select him in the NFL Draft. But he endured a tumultuous spell in a shocking situation with Urban Meyer as they blew his rookie season (via The Ringer).
Now the franchise is in a more stable condition so it’s time for Lawrence to live up to expectations. But those hopes are so high it may be impossible for the former Clemson star to achieve them. That’s not his fault but he has a lot to prove to justify the price the Jaguars paid for him.
The Chargers hope that Mack will rekindle his career in L.A., but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. Mack was one of the best defensive players in the league and that’s why Chicago paid a premium for his services. He had one good season in the Windy City but didn’t live up to the hype.
His season sack totals declined every year as he failed to meet the franchise’s expectations. There are hopes that he recaptures his form in a new location and situation. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to place too much hope in him when he’s not producing (via The Spun).
Adams is one of those players who aren’t as good as he thinks he is. The Seahawks star hasn’t been brilliant for the past two seasons compared to his reputation. His numbers picked up a bit in 2021 compared to 2020 but why would things improve with Drew Lock at quarterback after Russell Wilson left?
The safety had his worst season ever concerning receiving yards and touchdowns allowed. Adams must step up now that the team is in transition. This is likely to be a lost year for the Seahawks and they may seek a coaching change at the end of the year (via The Athletic).
In another life, Hurts is still sitting on the bench behind Carson Wentz. However, the latter’s career meltdown catapulted Hurts into the spotlight as he became an NFL starter. He has a strong arm but had a mediocre season in 2021/22. Now it’s time for him to step up and stake his claim before the Eagles move on.
2022 wasn’t the best year to enter the draft and pursue a quarterback. It’s through there was a carousel of veterans but Philly didn’t enter the market. Hurts must live up to big expectations if he plans to remain the Eagles’ starter for the long term (via Clutchpoints).
The Dolphins paid a premium to secure the services of Edmonds after the running back departed Arizona. With this in mind, most fans expect him to be a starter because he’s earning that kind of money. However, they shouldn’t bet on it because his output for the Cardinals suggests they’re overpaying him.
Edmonds spent his time in Phoenix as a rotational player. Yes, he secured plenty of touches but he never sealed his status as a key player that his hype suggested before last year. Only time will tell if he can do that in Miami and maybe the change of scene will improve his chances. But we have our doubts about him (via Palm Beach Post).
Golladay was the first to admit that his first season with the Giants wasn’t good enough. He didn’t live up to “Big Blue’s” hopes and must change things around quickly. However, it remains to be seen if he’s capable of that. He didn’t make a single reception between Weeks two and 11 in 2021.
That was very disappointing because he arrived with a big reputation. Some blame must be placed on Daniel Jones’s shoulders because he’s not at the level the Giants require. But it’s up to a top receiver to make those catches and Golladay didn’t do it (via SB Nation).
Elliott is one of the highest-paid running backs in the NFL but he isn’t justifying the Cowboys’ commitment to his huge contract. That’s because he hasn’t produced the same numbers since his best year in 2018. Injuries to Elliot and quarterback Dak Prescott played a role in his declining production.
That wasn’t under his control but his attitude is a problem. He failed to step up as a leader when Prescott suffered a brutal injury in 2020. Then the following season he had his problems but fans began to lose patience. Many think they’ve already seen the best of him (via Sportskeeda).
Tagovailoa has no excuses this season after the Dolphins invested a lot of capital in his weapons. However, the Hawaiian may struggle to justify his spot as Miami’s starting quarterback. The reality is that he may not have the talent to lead a franchise as the Dolphins dreamed.
Many critics say that he doesn’t have sufficient arm strength. There’s also the fear that Tyreek Hill will fail to live up to the hype after his arrival from the Chiefs. If these two men fail to fire it will be a serious blow to Miami’s ambition this season (via Miami Herald).
The Broncos believe that they will be a contender in 2022 after securing the services of Wilson. It’s a huge statement of intent because he has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL for a decade. But it remains to be seen if he can lead them to a deep playoff run.
He has a lot of expectations to live up to and anything less than this will be a failure. The Broncos gave up a lot because they want to win now and saw the difference a decent QB can make to a franchise. However, some people question if he can handle the pressure that will come if things start badly (via The Shadow League).
The Bears need Jackson to get back to his previous elite level after a couple of disappointing seasons. He was one of the best safeties in the league but his form dropped off badly after he signed a new contract. In short, Jackson isn’t playing as the fans expected but his salary has a serious impact on the cap.
He didn’t snatch a single interception in 2021 and only forced a single fumble all season. That’s simply not good enough for a player of his standard but the question remains if he can turn it around. Chicago believes so but he will have to live up to the hype that he created (via AL.com).
Tannehill belongs in the same category as the likes of Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr. Nobody is quite certain about how good he is and thinks his teammates may make him look better. Meanwhile, he didn’t have his best year in 2021 so the Titans drafted Malik Willis (via Tennessean).
Tannehill enters 2022 playing for his future. He knows that the starting shirt is his to lose because Willis isn’t ready for the NFL. But the Titans will be ruthless if he doesn’t buck up his ideas and live up to their expectations. But can Tannehill get back to his earlier form and silence the doubters?
Jones remained a free agent at the time of writing after the Titans released him in 2022. He was one of the best receivers in the NFL for a decade but his form plummeted toward the end of his time in Atlanta. That’s natural for wideouts as injuries and age combine with unforgiving effects (via Zone Coverage).
But it does make life complicated for Jones as he searches for a new franchise. Realistically, it may be best if he retires because it’s unlikely that he’ll recapture the brilliance of his youth. He can’t live up to his most productive days in Atlanta, so maybe it’s time to hang up his cleats.
Wilson carries the hopes of Gang Green, but that’s like holding a grenade after pulling the pin. The young quarterback endured a tough rookie season and requires a confidence booster. However, it remains to be seen if coach Robert Saleh is the man to get the best out of his QB.
Saleh says that there’s no expectation for Wilson to be Tom Brady in his sophomore year. Nonetheless, they’ve invested a lot in his protection and weapons. They want him to succeed but there are no guarantees that Wilson can reach the level they require of the former second overall pick (via N.Y. Post).
Cooper is no longer one of the best receivers in the NFL but nobody told the Cowboys when they paid him a fortune. Finally, they realized the errors of their ways and offloaded him to the Browns. Cleveland fans became excited because they saw the shiny coat of paint without looking at the engine.
Jerry Jones thought that it was a good idea to give him a $100 million extension but this cost the Cowboys a lot of money. He didn’t represent value and now he’s the Browns’ problem. Maybe he’ll play well but it will be difficult for him to live up to those massive contract (via Cleveland.com).
Ryan spent 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as their starting quarterback. He helped them to forget about losing a generational talent in Michael Vick and he should have been a Super Bowl winner. But the franchise went into stark decline over the past couple of seasons and he’s now a Colts player.
The Colts like a veteran QB and hope he’ll offer more than Philip Rivers a couple of seasons ago. Ryan is one of the oldest players and it’s difficult to teach new tricks to veterans. That’s ultimately why Aaron Rodgers stayed in Green Bay because he knew it would be a massive risk to leave (via L.A. Times).
Let’s start with the positives first because we don’t want to be completely negative. Brown has a good relationship with Cardinals’ quarterback, Kyler Murray, from their days together at the University of Oklahoma. However, there are doubts over whether he fits the bill as a top receiver (via Arizona Sports).
The problem is that Arizona is paying him like one of the best in the business. Wideouts are indeed enjoying the benefits of an inflated market now but that means some franchises are overpaying. Brown must live up to his lucrative contract but his past productivity suggests he’ll fail.
Watkins has a tough task after stepping into Davante Adams’ massive shoes in Green Bay. The wideout is receiving massive paychecks from the Packers but time will tell if he justifies them. However, some people believe that he’s one of the most overrated players in the league.
That’s because he only caught a single touchdown in 13 starts for the Ravens in 2021. Now he must adjust his style to a new system and another quarterback. He’ll be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers but that means there are no excuses if he fails to live up to the hype (via The Cold Wire).
Kelce has been a Hall of Fame-caliber player for the Chiefs and also plays an important role as one of star quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ best friends. His presence at the franchise must help the quarterback stay happy and hit new heights. But Kelce took a lot of damage in 2021 and may be deteriorating.
Remember, he’s entering his mid-thirties so he’s no longer a spring chicken. Furthermore, the 33-year-old no longer has Tyreek Hill to draw opposing defenses away from his stretch of field. This is a massive blow even if Hill isn’t the player he once was either. Kelce is aging and that’s just the reality of the situation (via N.J.). He also has a ton of pressure on his shoulders as he and Mahomes move on to life without ‘The Cheetah.’ Defenses will key on Kelce as the Chiefs’ main weapon this year, and that could cause his numbers to decline.
Some people think that the Chiefs won a Super Bowl despite Andy Reid’s presence rather than because he was their coach. These critics question some of his decisions as well as those of G.M. Brett Veach. Adding Le’Veon Bell was one big waste of time while Smith-Schuster may be another.
Smith-Schuster hasn’t done anything exciting in the past couple of years. He has a catchy first name that makes it easy for people to remember him. But he only played five games in 2021 with very low production. In short, he most likely is not the man to replace the outgoing Tyreek Hill (via Fansided).
Bill Belichick has forgotten more about football than most people reading this will ever know. However, that doesn’t mean that he does everything right and doesn’t deserve criticism. He opted to make Chattanooga’s Strange the school’s first-ever first-round pick.
However, the center is already 24 and may struggle to adapt to the rigors of the professional level. We know that Belichick has spotted talent before that nobody else has. But this would be one of the biggest surprises. Nonetheless, Strange has a lot to live up to (via USA Today Sports).
Pickett was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. The Steelers opted to keep the local star in Pittsburgh and chose him to replace Ben Roethlisberger. However, rookie QBs rarely prosper and it’s difficult to see Pickett succeeding in his first year.
Yes, he knows the stadium well after spending his college career there and the fans want him to do well. But Pickett’s limitations are causing alarm bells to ring. Meanwhile, Malik Willis was the best QB on paper in the draft so the Steelers may have chosen the wrong man (via CBS Sports).
There was a time when Peterson was one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL. But it feels like those days are a distant memory because he’s no longer an elite performer. He would indeed benefit from having better teammates but he’s still on the decline.
The reality is that Peterson’s best season came when he was 25. However, he’s now on the wrong side of 30 and it feels like it’s a vain hope that he’ll bounce back. Perhaps he’ll prove his doubters wrong but he’s facing an uphill battle as he grows older (via The Athletic).
Nobody knows if Watson will even play in 2022-23 because of his controversial legal issues. The NFL may choose to suspend the controversial quarterback after allegations of disgusting sexual misconduct. However, this didn’t stop the Browns from throwing a massive fully-guaranteed contract at the former Texans star.
What we do know is that Watson hasn’t played football for two years. Even if he does step onto a field on opening day rust will likely affect him. There’s a good chance that he’ll fail to live up to the hype because it’s been so long since he threw a ball in anger (via The Guardian).
York’s inclusion on this list may come as a surprise because he is a kicker. But that’s because the Browns put him in a strange position by selecting him in the fourth round. This was much earlier than expected because Cleveland had other needs that they could have filled.
Instead, they went for the former LSU star and surprised their fanbase in the process. York had a good college career but there are no guarantees that he’ll succeed in the NFL. Many great NCAA kickers failed to live up to expectations after signing a professional contract (via Yardbreaker).
The Panthers put a lot of faith in McCaffrey when they made him the highest-paid running back in history back in 2020. However, he has endured an injury-hit nightmare since he signed that record $64 million extension. McCaffrey barely featured for the franchise since then (via The Athletic).
It’s a shame because he has so much talent and it’s not an attitude problem. But McCaffrey’s body is letting him down and that’s not something that he can bounce back from easily. He may never be the same dependable, dynamic presence as before and will struggle to live up to Carolina’s hopes.
Cousins is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL today because nobody can agree on how good he is. Some people point to the statistics and say he’s one of the most underrated quarterbacks. But others insist that he underwhelms and isn’t the leader a franchise needs to succeed.
However, the reality is that Cousins has never helped the Vikings to a meaningful playoff run. It appears as though that’s unlikely this season again because of the competition. Cousins will fail to live up to the hype that his fans are building him up with (via Fansided).
Beckham became one of the biggest stars in the NFL when he broke out in New York. But the exciting wide receiver will struggle to live up to his early hype as his career sputters out. It may seem crazy saying this after he captured a Super Bowl ring with the Rams but his contribution was minimal.
He wasted several seasons of his career with the Browns as injuries wracked his progress. Now he faces an uncertain future with another franchise after leaving Los Angeles. Only time will tell where he ends up but he’ll miss most of the season as he recovers from injury (via FOX News).
The Titans lost a proven performer when they traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles. The upside was that Brown isn’t the player he once was and they avoided paying a $100 million extension. However, they didn’t land a direct replacement when they drafted Burks.
At least, he’s not capable of bringing Brown’s peak levels of productivity yet. We’re not saying that he won’t eventually live up to Mike Vrabel’s expectations but it’s unlikely to happen in his rookie year. Nonetheless, he’s likely to receive a baptism of fire (via Arkansas Razorbacks).
Few players carry the weight of a franchise like Henry who is one of the most important players in the league. However, Mike Vrabel’s Titans had a disproportionate dependency on their star running back and ran him into the ground. It was no surprise when he finally succumbed to injury in 2021.
Unfortunately, the level of punishment that he’s absorbed is unsustainable. It may be that this is the season where Henry’s output declines because his body is paying the price. He may prove us wrong and we hope so because he’s so exciting. But it wouldn’t be a shock if his numbers went off a cliff (via Fansided).
The Giants’ selection of Robinson makes complete sense if they mixed up his name and meant to choose somebody else. Otherwise, there is no justification for picking the former Kentucky season so early. Now he must live up to expectations that it’s unlikely he can meet.
There were many better options available but the Giants still opted for the lightweight receiver. He’ll need to pack on the pounds and hit the weight room before the new seasons because NFL defenses will eat him for breakfast. It’s one of the weirdest picks in recent years (via The Sportster).
There were three blockbuster trades during the offseason in 2022. There was Russell Wilson’s move to the Denver Broncos from Seattle and Davante Adam’s move to the Raiders after several years with the Green Bay Packers. But Hill’s departure from Kansas City to Miami was just almost as big. However, there are doubts about his ability to succeed in the Sunshine State.
One part of this is the reality that Tua Tagovailoa is not Patrick Mahomes regardless of the brash claims the he is Hill has been making on his podcast. It will be difficult for Hill to achieve high productivity with the polarizing third-year quarterback pulling the strings. Meanwhile, Hill isn’t as young as he once was and his speed could decline in Miami (via FOX News).
Brady is the most successful NFL player and the greatest quarterback in history. However, he’s also 44 and this may be the season that catches up with the iconic star. Fans have indeed been saying that for the past decade about Brady but it’s a risk.
Furthermore, Brady’s commitment is questionable after he appeared to retire at the end of the 2021-22 season. His partner in crime, Rob Gronkowski also quit the sport for good for now so this may take his production down a tick. The Buccaneers signed longtime tight end Kyle Rudolph but that’s a tough ask to expect him to replace Gronk’s role. Star wideout Chris Godwin is also still recovering from a last-season torn ACL. Brady may not live up to the hype but he’s already sealed his legacy, unlike others on this list (via theScore).