Before long, all 32 NFL teams will officially report to training camp in preparation for the 2019 regular season. It will be the beginning of a quest for Super Bowl LIV, and everyone should legitimately feel like they have a chance.
That extends to the players — both rookies and veterans — who will be trying to earn a job or secure a starting position.
It’s easy to point out highly-drafted rookies or fringe players who need to perform well in training camp, but what about players of prominence? Whether they’re coming off injury, switching positions, or just looking to rebound from a poor 2018 season, here are 10 players with the most to prove in training camp.
10. Joe Flacco, QB, Denver Broncos
The Broncos and John Elway are head-over-heels in love with Drew Lock if you listen to them tell the story, so what does that mean for veteran Joe Flacco, who came over from Baltimore after being put on the back burner in favor of a rookie quarterback last season? It must feel like the Twilight Zone for the former Super Bowl MVP. Needless to say, his starting job is anything but a given and a battle will ultimately rage in training camp. Flacco will need to prove he can still sling it at a top-end level, and he’ll have to do that with Lock breathing down his neck. Maybe the Broncos think the competition will bring out the best in Flacco. He seems to think it will.
NFL contracts are often a hot-button issue. People love to debate who’s making too much, too little, who deserves more, and who is overpaid. Some athletes outplay their deals, while others cash in and fail to deliver. Teams obviously try hard to avoid the latter situation, but sometimes things don’t work out as hoped.
With all of that in mind, here’s a look at the worst contract on every NFL team entering the 2018 season.
Arizona Cardinals – Jermaine Gresham, TE
After signing him to two consecutive one-year deals, the Cardinals suddenly decided to invest heavily in Jermaine Gresham, signing him to a four-year, $28 million deal with $16.5 million guaranteed. The $7 million annual salary far exceeds any contract Gresham had previously signed, which is curious considering he hasn’t exceeded 500 yards in a single season since 2012 with the Cincinnati Bengals. Add in that Greshman is now on the wrong side of 30, and it’s easy to understand how he made this list.
- Aaron Colvin, Albert Wilson, Andrew Luck, Avery Williamson, Charles Clay, Demario Davis, DeSean Jackson, Dion Sims, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen, Eric Berry, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamie Collins, Jermaine Gresham, Joe Flacco, Jordan Reed, Jordy Nelson, Justin Britt, Kyle Rudolph, Logan Ryan, Matt Kalil, Menelik Watson, Ndamukong Suh, Randall Cobb, Rhett Ellison, Russell Okung, Tyrone Crawford, Vance McDonald, Vontaze Burfict
Carolina Panthers left tackle Matt Kalil is headed to see Dr. James Andrews about his problematic knee.
Kalil has been dealing with a sore knee during training camp. NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport say Kalil will be examined by Dr. Andrews on Tuesday.
#Panthers LT Matt Kalil will be examined tomorrow by renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, sources tell @RapSheet and me, as he seeks answers for a sore knee that has bothered him during camp. Andrews scoped both of Kalil’s knees in 2015.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 21, 2018
Kalil, 29, was the No. 4 overall pick out of USC in 2012. He spent his first five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before signing a big $55 million deal with Carolina. Though he made 16 starts last year, the Panthers were looking for better play from him this season.
He and the team will hope Dr. Andrews is able to provide more answers about the situation.
- Matt Kalil
Cam Jordan wasn’t content to just walk away with a playoff win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Nope.
After the New Orleans Saints’ 31-26 win over the Panthers, Jordan threw some shade at Panthers lineman Matt Kalil, calling him just a “speedbump” who can’t stop him.
Cam Jordan isn't shy about what he thinks of Panthers LT Matt Kalil: "Let's call him Speedbump — Speedbump McGee."
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) January 8, 2018
Jordan had 3 tackles, a sack, two passes defended and two QB hits in the win. He earned the right to boast.
NFL contracts are often a hot-button issue. People love to debate who’s making too much, too little, who deserves more and who is overpaid. Some athletes outplay their deals, while others cash in and fail to deliver. Teams obviously try hard to avoid the latter situation, but sometimes things don’t work out as hoped.
With all of that in mind, here’s a look at the worst contract on every NFL team.
Arizona Cardinals – Jermaine Gresham, tight end
The Cardinals put an emphasis on re-signing tight end Jermaine Gresham and as a result, may have drastically over-paid for him. He hasn’t had over 460 yards receiving since 2012, has seen his catch rate hover around 60% in each of the previous two seasons and hasn’t scored more than two touchdowns since 2014. Those are mediocre numbers at best for a player signed to a four-year, $28 million contract with $16.5 million guaranteed.
Atlanta Falcons – Brooks Reed, defensive end
Brooks Reed is not exactly a bad player — he’s a high-motor guy who plays a very defined role. Of course, when the Falcons signed him to a five-year, $22 million deal in 2015 they expected much more. Instead, what they’ve gotten for $9 million guaranteed is 42 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 28 games.
Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco, quarterback
When the Ravens signed Joe Flacco to a monstrous $120.6 million deal in 2013, many foresaw potential issues looming. However, at the time, Flacco was coming off of a magical postseason run that culminated with a Super Bowl XLVII victory. He had earned his money. But in 2016, facing a massive cap number, Baltimore was forced to extend Flacco with a three-year, $66.4 million deal. Now under contract through 2021, Flacco has cap hits above $24 million beginning next year and throughout the remainder of his deal, large dead cap numbers that render him uncuttable and guarantees that make him untradeable. Arguably, it’s the worst contract in the NFL.
- Allen Hurns, Brian Cushing, Brock Osweiler, Brooks Reed, Coby Fleener, DeAngelo Hall, Dre Kirkpatrick, Jabaal Sheard, Jermaine Gresham, Joe Flacco, Justin Houston, Logan Ryan, Luke Joeckel, Marcell Dareus, Marvin Jones, Matt Kalil, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Glennon, Mo Wilkerson, Ndamukong Suh, Randall Cobb, Rhett Ellison, Riley Reiff, Robert Ayers, Russell Okung, Sean Smith, Stephon Gilmore, Tavon Austin, Tyrone Crawford, Vance McDonald, Vinny Curry
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had a little rookie hazing prank up his sleeve on Thursday.
Ponder tweeted the photo you see above and said he found the items in teammate Matt Kalil’s locker. He added, “I hope you’re okay bud.”
Preparation H and Tucks are medications used to treat hemorrhoids.
Kalil, a rookie offensive tackle who was drafted fourth overall in April, wrote back “nice setup lol.”
At least he took it well. A word to the wise, Ponder: You don’t want to get on the bad side of a guy who protects you during games, much less one who is 6’6″ and 300+ pounds.
UPDATE: As CJ Fogler pointed out, Ponder’s tweet was likely payback for this one from Kalil.
H/T SbB Live
Matt Kalil was the Vikings’ first-round pick (No. 4 overall) in April’s draft, and he’s wasting no time trying to prove his value. The former USC offensive lineman apparently has been going after sack master Jared Allen pretty hard in practice, even frustrating the defensive end, according to Tom Pelissero.
Allen is entering his ninth season in the league and told PFT Live he doesn’t have time to deal with a rookie.
“I’m too old to deal with overzealous rookies right now,” Allen told PFT Live. “Keep your hands out of my face, don’t grab my jersey and we won’t have to fist fight.”
While Allen initially seemed bothered by Kalil, he later downplayed a rivalry with the rookie during an interview with NFL Network’s “NFL AM.”
“If I’m worrying about beating him every day, I’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Allen said. “I’m trying to get myself ready for the season. … I’ve had to put a couple moves on him. We did a short-yardage drill yesterday, and I could see him foaming at the mouth ready to come off and take my head off, and ‘Whoops, you missed!’ So … but we’ve been having a good time.
“If I beat you some way and you want to know why, just ask,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to work together, a lot of people been trying to build this hype up between me and him. I told him, I said — I’ve been telling everybody — don’t worry about beating me, you don’t play me. You’ve got 16 other guys you have to worry about. I think he’s going to be all right.”
Allen may be downplaying his problems with Kalil, but it’s clear the rookie got to him. And it’s understandable why he would bristle; Kalil played him well. Allen needs to get over that, respect Kalil, and realize that this will only be better for the team.