Every year there are NFL players who progress in their development and sometimes take the league by storm. On the opposite end, there are players who regress.
Regression doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a diminishing talent, but rather, it could be a product of a variety of factors. There could be coaching staff changes, scheme changes, a decreased role or any number of things contributing to regression. Sometimes it’s all of the above, and sometimes it really is just time to call it a career.
Here’s a look at 10 NFL players who could, for one reason or another, regress in 2019.
10. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
After a wildly impressive 2018 campaign in which he tossed 35 touchdowns at a rate of 8.2 percent, it would be hard to imagine Wilson falling off a cliff. However, when considering that the aforementioned 8.2 percent touchdown rate was the seventh-highest in NFL history, it’s unlikely Wilson is capable of repeating or improving upon that number. And despite the added presence of rookie second-round pick D.K. Metcalf, the Seahawks don’t exactly boast an impressive cast at wide receiver or tight end, so it stands to reason that Wilson will regress simply because his career-best performance in 2018 is unsustainable.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in an unfamiliar position heading into 2019, as Las Vegas oddsmakers consider them an underdog to win the AFC North behind — believe it or not — the Cleveland Browns. It does not sound like Ben Roethlisberger sees it that way, however.
While speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Roethlisberger was asked for his thoughts on the Steelers being viewed as underdogs. He didn’t exactly say the team is embracing that role.
Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers perceived as underdogs: ‘We're still the Pittsburgh Steelers.' pic.twitter.com/N4E0I3oCSD
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 11, 2019
“I’ve been here a long time,” Roethlisberger said with a smirk. “We’re still the Pittsburgh Steelers. We’re still gonna go out and try to win every football game. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the big one, but if everyone puts forth the effort that we all think we can with the talent we have in this room, we feel confident we can be pretty good.”
There are obviously a lot of question marks surrounding the Steelers this year after the departures of both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. However, they’re confident James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster can continue to be productive, and head coach Mike Tomlin has implied he feels the team will be better off without Brown and Bell.
Even if they don’t want to admit they are underdogs behind the Browns, Roethlisberger and his teammates would be wise to make the most of that perception.
It’s safe to say that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is a fan of his quarterback.
Smith-Schuster, the newly-anointed No. 1 wide receiver for the Steelers, made perfectly clear his support of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with a Twitter post on Saturday afternoon that seemed timed to send a message.
That’s my Quarterback… pic.twitter.com/wr0Nn14H25
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) May 25, 2019
Every comment Smith-Schuster makes out of the blue about Roethlisberger is going to look like shade at this point. It’s in stark contrast to Antonio Brown, who seems to comment on every public comment anyone from Pittsburgh makes about him after his acrimonious departure to Oakland.
The relationship between Brown and Smith-Schuster also turned toxic after the trade. It may be that the Steelers wide receiver is just pumping up his quarterback, but given the circumstances of the offseason, it’s always going to look like more than that.
Ben Roethlisberger says he has tried to settle any issues that exist between him and Antonio Brown, but his former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate does not seem interested in hearing what the quarterback has to say.
In an interview with KDKA in Pittsburgh on Monday, Roethlisberger publicly apologized to Brown for going too far in his criticism of him, particularly when he blamed Brown for an interception in a game against the Denver Broncos last year. Big Ben then explained on Tuesday that he has tried to bury the hatchet with Brown in private, but the new Oakland Raiders star won’t respond to his calls or texts.
Ben Roethlisberger on how he processed the messy divorce with Antonio Brown: He never gave me the chance to apologize. pic.twitter.com/2DiRQJ3cWW
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 21, 2019
“I would have loved to have had the chance to talk to him,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why I said (Monday), whatever I did to offend him, I apologize for it. I tried to do that in person, talk to him. He wouldn’t allow me to.”
Roethlisberger sounds like he is being sincere, but Brown does not seem to be buying it. Shortly after Ben’s interview aired on Monday, Brown sent a cryptic tweet that many believe was a direct response.
Last season was not the first time Roethlisberger had criticized Brown, as he also called him out for pouting two years ago. The two were at odds the next season over the national anthem, and then they had their infamous altercation at the end of last season.
Perhaps Brown and Big Ben will hug it out one day, but now obviously is not the time.
Did Antonio Brown respond to Ben Roethlisberger with a tweet sent on Monday? That’s what some are thinking.
During an interview with KDKA in Pittsburgh that aired in two parts, Roethlisberger apologized for going too far in his criticism of Brown. The Steelers quarterback said sorry for blaming Brown for an interception and apologized if the criticism ruined their relationship.
Not long after Roethlisberger’s comments were publicized online, Brown sent the following tweet that said “two face.”
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) May 20, 2019
He sent another follow-up tweet:
Lil fans ex players media people stop monitoring my life making comments on me I got bigger fish to fry! Focus on God #CallGod
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) May 20, 2019
KDKA, which aired the Roethlisberger interview, thinks the tweet was intended for Roethlisberger.
The relationship between Brown and Roethlisberger has been frayed for a while. Big Ben called out Brown for pouting two years ago. The two were at odds the next season over the national anthem, and then they had their infamous altercation at the end of last season.
Brown forced his way out of Pittsburgh and got traded to the Oakland Raiders this offseason, while the Steelers extended Roethlisberger’s contract. The two players will be going their separate ways moving forward after nine seasons as teammates.
Ben Roethlisberger thinks he could have done some things differently during the final season of his doomed relationship with Antonio Brown.
The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback apologized for going “too far” with some of his criticism of Brown, particularly after a November game against Denver when Roethliberger publicly criticized the receiver’s route running.
Ben Roethlisberger's first comments to @KDPomp and @KDKA on Antonio Brown: "I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards him. I genuinely feel bad about that and I'm sorry. Did I got to far after that Denver game? Probably…"
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) May 20, 2019
Roethlisberger continued on AB: "That's the thing about media and social media, As soon as you say 'sorry' it only goes so far. You can't take it back. And I wish I could because if that's what ruined our friendship and relationship, I'm truly, genuinely sorry about that."
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) May 20, 2019
Roethlisberger’s leadership style is frequently public and sometimes confrontational, and that clearly grated on Brown. After the season ended, the wide receiver went scorched earth on Roethlisberger before his eventual trade to Oakland. Nobody should be holding their breath for Brown to accept Roethlisberger’s apology at this point.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have settled their new contract with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the deal is for two years and worth $63 million.
The #Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger signed a 2-year extension worth $63M, source said. That’s the base value on his two new years.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 24, 2019
That is roughly the going rate for an elite quarterback. It was widely known that this deal was pretty close to getting done over the last day or two, and the two sides have been optimistic about reaching it for a while.
Roethlisberger threw 34 touchdowns last season and a league-leading 5,129 passing yards. At age 37 and having considered retirement in the past, it’s fair to wonder if this two-year deal will be his last.