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Five Players with Their Careers on the Line

While professional sports may seem objective due to the heavy emphasis on stats, there are many players who have a massive impact on a team without putting up impressive numbers.

On the other hand, there are just as many, if not more, players that stay employed solely on their reputation. There are many players who are playing for their careers this season, and I will outline them.

5. Julio Jones

Jones’ fall off has been swift and merciless to say the least. Jones went from being a perennial 1,000-yard receiver and pro bowler to the production of a number two receiver at best. At this juncture of his career, it has been three years since his last 1,000-yard season and the injuries just keep piling up.

Jones has played in just 29 of a possible 50 games the last three seasons. He has yet to be signed by a team this offseason, and if he does, it could be the last chance to show that he still has what it takes to be a serviceable receiver in this league.

4. DeAndre Hopkins

Much like Jones, Deandre Hopkins went from top-five receiver to just another guy with the snap of a finger. Hopkins has posted less than 1,100 yards in three of the last four seasons and has also dealt with a plethora of injuries.

After signing a two-year $26 million contract with the Tennessee Titans yesterday, it’s time for Hopkins to prove once again that he is an elite receiver. The Titans are counting on him to keep the defense honest so running back Derrick Henry can thrive. If Hopkins flops again in Tennessee, this may be the last NFL contract he gets, or at least his last big payday.

3. Carson Wentz

Back in 2017, Carson Wentz set the league on fire leading the Eagles to an 11-2 record, throwing 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions before his unfortunate season ending injury. He seemed destined for greatness, but now that season looks like a flash in the pan.

After throwing only 35 interceptions in his first four years with 14 coming in his first season, he has thrown 31 interceptions the last three seasons. Throw in the fact that he has knocked his team out of the playoffs two years straight with laughable performances, the end of the road is staring Wentz in the face.

He is yet to sign with a team, and he could very well never get another chance to start again. He must show maturity and become a veteran presence as a backup if he wants to potentially save his career and stay in the NFL.

2. Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield received overwhelming praise and hype coming out of college, but he has never really lived up to expectations. Mayfield set the rookie touchdown record at the time in his first year which pushed the Browns to go all in and trade for Odell Beckham Jr.

This would prove to be a mistake however as the quarterback-receiver duo never seemed to develop a chemistry. A deep playoff run to the AFC Championship Game after Beckham tore his ACL would all but seal the receiver’s fate in Cleveland. Since that season, Mayfield has not been able to recreate the magic.

He will be playing for his fourth team in two seasons and if he does not return to 2020 form, his days as a starter may very well be over.

1.     Ezekiel Elliot

Ezekiel Elliot, more commonly known as Zeke, established himself as a top-five running back in his rookie season, something that is unheard of in the modern NFL. He smashed opposing defenses each week finishing the season with over 1,600 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He finished a little under 200 yards shy of the all-time rookie rushing record.

Zeke has an infamous holdout in 2019, opting to stay and train in Cabo instead of attending training camp, forcing the Cowboys’ hand to give him a lucrative new deal. He would rush for a respectable 1,357 yards and 12 touchdowns that season. However, his production and overall impact would plummet in the years following.

Elliot barely surpassed 1,000 yards just once in the past three seasons. The past two seasons he had been taking a backseat to emerging star Tony Pollard, leading to Zeke’s release from the team this past offseason.

He has also not been signed this offseason and he may never be a feature back again. Recurring questions about his off-field behavior and weight may make teams hesitant about even signing him, let alone making him their starting running back.

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