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Sunday, February 16, 2020

10 NFL players whose jobs are in jeopardy

Eli Manning

The NFL is a business — a sometimes ruthless business — and things can change overnight. For most players, the presence of another player at their position is a signal that rough seas could lay ahead, which is what makes the NFL Draft both exciting and stressful for some.

If free agency doesn’t lead to job changes, the draft often does. Here’s a look at 10 other players who find their jobs in jeopardy.

10. Karl Joseph, S, Oakland Raiders

The Raiders did not pick up the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Karl Joseph, which is a potential sign of things to come. The team also inked fellow safety Lamarcus Joyner to a four-year, $42 million deal before selecting Alabama’s Johnathan Abram in the first round of the draft, leaving very little room at a suddenly crowded position. Not only would that series of moves seems to indicate Joseph’s job is on the line, but it could very well indicate that his career in Oakland is on the line.

9. Ryan Allen, P, New England Patriots

Allen was among the heroes of Super Bowl LIII despite not generating the attention of Tom Brady and others, but that could turn out to be his final moment with the Patriots. Bill Belichick & Co. spent a fifth-round pick on Stanford’s Jacob Bailey, which signals a serious competition at the very least, but potentially more. With punters often available as undrafted free agents, New England clearly saw something in Bailey that made them decide not to risk waiting on him for later, so the writing appears to be on the wall for Allen.

8. Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Arizona Cardinals

Nkemdiche has been somewhat of a disappointment for the Cardinals, which is why it was unsurprising that they declined his fifth-year option. However, his time in Arizona may come to an end sooner than 2020 after the team went out and selected Boston College’s Zach Allen in the third-round of the draft. It’s clear the Cardinals are trending away from Nkemdiche, but the real question is how soon the two part ways. Nkemdiche’s job is not only on the line given Allen’s presence, but it could spell an early exit in Arizona.

7. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Agholor has never eclipsed 770 yards receiving nor has he reached double-digit touchdowns, so with the return of DeSean Jackson and the addition of second-round rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, his time in Philly could be winding down. Entering 2019, Alshon Jeffery and the aforementioned Jackson are considered the starting two, which leaves Agholor to battle things out with Arcega-Whiteside for playing time. As the rookie continues to grow and feel more comfortable in the offense, Doug Peterson & Co. are likely to be more inclined to go with their young gun, meaning that Agholor’s window is rapidly closing.

6. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

McCoy played well for the Bills from 2015-2017, but suffered a sharp decline in 2018, potentially signaling the downhill spiral that generally hits running backs in their 30s. Of course, that didn’t stop the Bills from going out and signing veteran Frank Gore, which gives Buffalo the oldest backfield in the NFL, as well as TJ Yeldon. They also added running back Devin Singletary in the third round of the draft. Singletary becomes the freshest legs on the team posing a threat to not only McCoy, but potentially Gore as well.

5. Alex Smith, QB, Washington Redskins

Smith was dealt a bad hand when he suffered a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that paralleled that of Joe Theismann, which set in motion a series of events that may lead to his ousting in Washington. Not only did the Redskins acquire Case Keenum in a trade, but they also selected Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the draft. Needless to say, even if Smith miraculously can find perfect health in time for Week 1, there’s a strong chance his starting job will belong to someone else.

4. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings

Rudolph is in the midst of a minor standoff with the Vikings over his current contract and that came on the heels of rampant trade rumors, which is enough to lead many to believe that the tight end’s time in Minnesota could be drawing to a close. Whether that comes in 2019 or 2020 remains to be seen, but either way, the multi-dimensional Irv Smith Jr., whom the Vikings took in Round 2 of the draft, is poised to infringe upon Rudolph’s targets. Eventually, Smith will take Rudolph’s job outright, so it’s really a matter of when and not if.

3. Joe Flacco, QB, Denver Broncos

In his final season with the Ravens, Flacco lost his job to rookie Lamar Jackson, ultimately paving the way for his Baltimore exit. With the Broncos, Flacco was back under center and poised to start in Week 1, but then came the NFL Draft. And for the second consecutive year, Flacco had to sit back in silence as his eventual replacement was selected — this time by way of Missouri’s Drew Lock, who was taken in the second round. John Elway & Co. have both praised Lock and insisted he was their guy all along, and if that’s true, Flacco’s new lease on life has an expiration date and it’s not that far off.

2. Solomon Thomas, DE, San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers insist that Thomas is part of their future plans, but with over-priced talent littering their defensive line and Nick Bosa being selected No. 2 overall in the draft, something eventually has to come to a head. Thomas has under-performed since being selected No. 3 overall in 2017, so his job should be in jeopardy for that reason alone. And with Bosa now in the picture, Thomas is left battling things out with Dee Ford, whom the team acquired via trade in April. Currently, Thomas is the odd man out on their depth chart, so his starting job may have already been lost. The only question remaining is how far he slides.

1. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants

The Giants will start Manning under center in Week 1 barring an injury, but that’s not to say that his job and career aren’t in jeopardy with the presence of rookie first-round pick Daniel Jones. Jones is reportedly picking up the offense very quickly and looked good in minicamp, while Manning got off to a slow start in OTAs, tossing two picks over his first six attempts. Should Manning struggle at all early in the season or the Giants fail to win any games, the Eli era in East Rutherford could come to a swift and unceremonious end.



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