0 of 32
Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
For NFL teams, things aren’t always going to go right. For many teams in 2018, the whole season has gone wrong.
When a season doesn’t go as planned, fans and teams often look for someone to blame. That typically ends up being a player who performed poorly.
With this in mind, we’re going to examine the each team’s worst player throughout the 2018 regular season.
We aren’t going to pick on fourth-string cornerbacks who spend most of their time on special teams. By factoring in preseason expectations, player roles, salaries and surrounding talent, we’ll instead focus on the players who have underperformed the most. In some cases, we’ll be looking at players who are plain bad.
Let’s dig in.
1 of 32
Ralph Freso/Associated Press
The Arizona Cardinals signed journeyman quarterback Sam Bradford to a one-year, $20 million deal with a 2019 team option in March. Bradford was supposed to start for most if not all of the season and be a mentor to rookie Josh Rosen.
Instead, he lasted only three games before the Cardinals pulled him for Rosen and eventually released him.
In those three appearances, Bradford went 50-of-80 for 400 yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions and two lost fumbles. That poor performance scuttled Arizona’s plans for Rosen and for the season.
Bradford didn’t last long in Arizona, but the Cardinals didn’t get their money’s worth.
2 of 32
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Edge-rusher Vic Beasley has carried high expectations ever since the Atlanta Falcons drafted him eighth overall in 2015. He broke out with a 15.5-sack, All-Pro campaign in 2016, but he’s been a marginal pass-rusher at best in the two years since.
As Brent Rollins of Pro Football Focus wrote in mid-October, opposing linemen have adjusted to Beasley’s pass-rush moves, and he has not responded: “NFL tackles have been able to sit on Beasley’s speed rush, frequently push him past the pocket and easily keep him from disrupting the quarterback.”
Beasley has 14.0 sacks in his three seasons other than 2016, and he’s a major liability against the run. Given his fifth-year option salary of $12.8 million, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Falcons cut him loose this offseason.
3 of 32
Nell Redmond/Associated Press
Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has the Baltimore Ravens speeding toward the postseason. He wasn’t even their first draft choice in April, though. Before they traded up to select Jackson at No. 32, the Ravens used the 26th overall pick on tight end Hayden Hurst.
Hurst missed the first four weeks of the season with a foot injury, but he’s been disappointing since. He has only 11 catches for 120 yards and one touchdown in 11 appearances this season. Meanwhile, rookie third-round pick Mark Andrews, a fellow tight end, has 30 receptions, 398 yards and three scores in 15 games.
Hurst can redeem himself by taking a leap as a sophomore, but his rookie campaign is nothing to write home about.
4 of 32
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
Tight end Charles Clay was once one of the Buffalo Bills’ most reliable pass-catchers. The eighth-year veteran should have been a nice security blanket for rookie quarterback Josh Allen, but instead, he was largely invisible in 2018.
While Clay hasn’t been plagued by drops—he was credited with zero through eight games, per FoxSports.com—he’s struggled to stay healthy and to get open when he’s been on the field.
In 12 appearances this season, Clay has only 21 receptions for 184 yards and a lost fumble. For a guy who’s carrying a cap hit of $9 million, that isn’t good enough.
Clay was a healthy scratch in Week 16, which seemingly suggests Buffalo is ready to move on.
5 of 32
Mike McCarn/Associated Press
The Carolina Panthers haven’t relied on their backup running backs often this season, as Christian McCaffrey is one of the NFL’s top offensive weapons. It’d be nice to give him an occasional rest, but the underwhelming play of backup Cameron Artis-Payne has made it hard for the Panthers to justify.
Artis-Payne has only three carries, one reception and 26 total yards in eight games this season. That’s horrendous for a guy the Panthers were hoping to showcase after they dumped former backup C.J. Anderson.
Artis-Payne may finally get that opportunity in Week 17 since there’s no reason to risk McCaffrey’s health.
6 of 32
Chris Szagola/Associated Press
The Chicago Bears had no choice but to keep tight end Dion Sims, as $4 million of his $6 million salary became fully guaranteed in mid-March. However, that hasn’t made him any less of a disappointment.
The Bears placed Sims on injured reserve after eight appearances, but he struggled to get on the field before then. With free-agent signee Trey Burton soaking up snaps at the position, Sims caught only two passes for nine yards this season, and he wasn’t an elite in-line blocker, either.
Since just over $300,000 of Sims’ 2019 salary is guaranteed, he’s likely played his last game with the Bears.
7 of 32
Bryan Woolston/Associated Press
In the offseason, the Cincinnati Bengals attempted to improve one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Beyond drafting center Billy Price at No. 21 overall, Cincinnati signed former New York Giants offensive tackle Bobby Hart to a one-year, $1.05 million contract in February.
The Bengals line has been better, but not by much. Cincinnati has allowed 33 sacks through 15 games, seven fewer than it did last season.
Hart has been regularly beaten by both speed- and power-rushers in pass protection. When he isn’t getting blown by, it’s often because he’s being penalized. He’s been flagged 14 times this season, including nine times for false starts.
Injuries have derailed Cincinnati’s season, but mistakes from players like Hart haven’t helped.
8 of 32
Ron Schwane/Associated Press
If it’s hard to recognize rookie offensive lineman Austin Corbett as the Cleveland Browns’ worst player, we understand. Corbett hardly ever sees the field. A tackle in college, Corbett is making the transition to guard, and he’s struggled.
“Having played four years at left tackle, I had a lot of things that were set technique-wise,” Corbett said, per Dan Labbe of Cleveland.com. “So I carried some of those over to guard when you don’t need [them]. Doing that can get you in bad positions sometimes.”
Cleveland initially tried to move Joel Bitonio to tackle in order to start Corbett. However, the Browns decided the line would be better with undrafted rookie Desmond Harrison at left tackle and with Corbett on the bench.
When Corbett struggled, the Browns turned to former draft bust Greg Robinson. Corbett has never entered the equation, even though the Browns drafted him to be a significant piece of their offensive line rotation.
Corbett has been far from that as a rookie.
9 of 32
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press
Before acquiring Amari Cooper in late October, the Dallas Cowboys tried fielding a patchwork receiving corps with underwhelming results. Tavon Austin, who the Cowboys traded for in April, was part of it.
Austin has game-breaking speed that can add an explosive element to any offense. What he doesn’t have is reliability, consistency or, well, natural receiver ability.
While Austin did have a few big plays early in the season, he wasn’t someone Dak Prescott could count on. He had seven catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns in six games before suffering a groin injury that has kept him out ever since.
The Cowboys may get Austin back before the postseason, but fans shouldn’t expect him to be a premier weapon. He’s little more than a hit-or-miss gadget player.
10 of 32
David Zalubowski/Associated Press
The Denver Broncos traded for safety Su’a Cravens in the offseason to add some depth to their secondary. However, Cravens hadn’t played since 2016 and has been a major disappointment in his NFL return.
Cravens has been a liability on the field—he’s easily baited by opposing quarterbacks and receivers alike—and he’s had trouble even getting on it. He didn’t appear in a game until Week 9, and he was a healthy scratch in Weeks 15 and 16.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph claimed to be playing his best players against Cleveland in Week 15, which Cravens did not appreciate.
“If you think you can do better without me, that’s cool,” Cravens said, per Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post.
It seems like Denver can.
11 of 32
Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
Florida cornerback Teez Tabor ran a disappointing 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 combine, but the Detroit Lions decided to take a chance on him in the second round anyway. Former Pro Bowl cornerback and fellow Florida alum Joe Haden also had a disappointing 40 time coming into his draft, after all.
But unlike Haden, Tabor hasn’t been able to overcome his lack of burst.
The 21-year-old has regularly been burned in pass coverage. As a result, he has frequently been left out of the defensive game plan. While Tabor has appeared in 11 games this season, he’s started only four and has yet to record a pass defended in the NFL.
Tabor was a healthy scratch in Week 16 and has only 22 tackles on the season. That’s bad for any defender, let alone a second-round pick.
12 of 32
Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Linebacker Nick Perry was one of the Green Bay Packers’ most underrated defenders in 2016 and 2017. However, he struggled to adapt to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense this year, and he was more often a liability than an asset.
Before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury in November, Perry had only 24 tackles and 1.5 sacks in nine appearances.
“Nothing’s changed about my play,” Perry said on Nov. 30, per Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. “But there’s a lot of different moving pieces now.”
While there are different pieces in Green Bay’s defense, Perry’s play has fallen off dramatically in the new system. He didn’t come close to living up to the $10.75 million cap hit he carries this year.
13 of 32
Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
The Houston Texans offensive line is one of the worst pass-blocking units in the NFL. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks, but he’s been sacked a NFL-high 56 times this season.
Left tackle Julie’n Davenport, a 2017 fourth-round pick, has been the weak link of Houston’s line, which is saying something. He has struggled with both edge-rushers and with penalties this season. He’s been flagged 15 times so far this season, second-most in the NFL.
“Yeah, he’s struggling,” head coach Bill O’Brien said of Davenport in September, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “We’ve got to work with him and keep getting better.”
Davenport could be a massive liability for the Texans in the postseason.
14 of 32
Darron Cummings/Associated Press
The Indianapolis Colts have battled back from a 1-5 start to the season to the cusp of the playoffs. They’ve done so largely because of quarterback Andrew Luck, who is playing at an MVP-caliber level.
Imagine how much better Luck would be if Ryan Grant wasn’t one of his starting receivers.
Grant has been limited to one catch or fewer in five different games and has 25 or fewer receiving yards in each of his last eight games. He shows positive flashes at times, but they’ve been few and far between.
That isn’t enough production for a starter who signed a one-year, $5 million contract in the offseason.
15 of 32
John Raoux/Associated Press
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ entire 2018 season has been a disappointment. But the biggest disappointment—and the Jaguars’ worst player—has been quarterback Blake Bortles.
After Jacksonville gave Bortles a three-year, $54 million extension in the offseason, he rewarded the team with a dreadful season. He’s completed 60.8 percent of his passes, has 14 turnovers to go with 13 touchdown passes and was benched in favor of Cody Kessler.
The Jaguars turned back to Bortles in the second half of their Week 16 win over the Miami Dolphins, but he’s the biggest reason for their crash back to earth this season.
16 of 32
D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press
The Kansas City Chiefs traded a fourth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in August 2017 for 2016 second-rounder Reggie Ragland. He worked his way into the starting lineup and has 80 tackles this season, but that number misleading.
Ragland is a big part of why the Chiefs are easy to attack in the middle of the field. Many of his tackles have come as he’s chasing ball-carriers. Browns and Colts fans who watched D’Qwell Jackson rack up stats in his heyday can relate.
The former Alabama standout misses far too many open-field tackles, and he’s a liability in pass coverage as well. He’s a big reason why Kansas City’s defense could cost the team in the postseason.
17 of 32
John Cordes/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Chargers might have the most complete roster in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have flaws. For example, they have struggled to run the ball on the interior for stretches this season, even though they a quality running game overall.
According to Football Outsiders, the Chargers rank 18th in the NFL when running between the center and the guard, averaging 4.39 adjusted line yards per carry. Part of the problem has been second-year guard Dan Feeney.
The 2017 third-round pick frequently gets overpowered at the point of attack. The same is often true in passing situations, which has left L.A. vulnerable to interior pressure.
That was a major issue during the Chargers’ loss to the Ravens in Week 16, which may have cost them the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
18 of 32
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Cornerback Marcus Peters has a reputation for being a ball hawk, but a number of his interceptions have come because opposing quarterbacks regularly test him. Peters is overly aggressive, and he gets beaten for big plays just as often as he makes them.
The Los Angeles Rams have learned that the hard way since they traded a 2019 second-round pick to acquire him in March.
“Aside from the Rams’ game against the San Francisco 49ers, where he wasn’t targeted all game, Peters has allowed a passer rating of 100.0 or more in six of eight games when he’s the primary defender in coverage,” Ben Cooper of Pro Football Focus noted in early November.
If Peters’ poor play ends up costing Los Angeles in the playoffs, he’s going to look like one of the worst investments of 2018.
19 of 32
Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Wide receiver Leonte Carroo has largely been a disappointment since the Miami Dolphins drafted him in the third round in 2016. The Rutgers product has produced career highs in receiving yards, total yards and has tied his career high in touchdowns this season, but that was a low bar to clear.
In eight appearances, Carroo has only two receptions for 94 yards and one touchdown and one carry for 14 yards. He hasn’t touched the ball in each of his last four games.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill missing five games because of a shoulder injury didn’t help Carroo, but one of his two catches this season came with Brock Osweiler under center.
The impending restricted free agent is likely on his way out of Miami.
20 of 32
Mark Black/Associated Press
The Minnesota Vikings spent a first-round pick on Mississippi wideout Laquon Treadwell in 2016. They’ve since grown to regret that decision.
Treadwell has set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s been good. He’s caught 34 passes for only 295 yards and one touchdown in 14 games.
In their Week 16 win over the Lions, the Vikings sat Treadwell in favor of undrafted wideout Chad Beebe.
Minnesota owes Treadwell just over $3 million in guaranteed money for 2019, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be back next season.
21 of 32
Elise Amendola/Associated Press
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has looked like a shell of himself this season. The Patriots were supposed to have insurance in the form of Dwayne Allen, who they acquired from the Colts in March 2017 for a fourth-round pick.
Instead, Allen has been a total non-factor.
In 12 appearances this season (including seven starts), Allen has caught a mere three passes for 27 yards. He wasn’t much better in 2017, catching 10 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Those are terrible numbers for a pass-catching tight end, even before factoring in his 2018 salary of $3.38 million.
22 of 32
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press
Ken Crawley started 13 games at cornerback for the New Orleans Saints last season, and he played well more often than not. Heading into 2018, there was legitimate reason for optimism with him and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore returning.
It didn’t take long, however, for the Saints to identify Crawley as the weak link in the secondary.
He gave up too many easy completions and had zero value in the slot or on special teams. That’s largely why the Saints traded for cornerback Eli Apple in late October, and it’s why Crawley hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 12.
Now that New Orleans has secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, we may see Crawley in the meaningless Week 17 finale against Carolina. Then again, Crawley is set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason, so the Saints may continue to make him a healthy scratch.
23 of 32
Paul Sancya/Associated Press
The New York Giants offensive line has been one of the worst in the NFL this season.
Rookie running back Saquon Barkley has been phenomenal, but that’s due to his own talent, not the guys blocking for him. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants rank first in open-field rushing yards but 26th in adjusted line yards, which basically means Barkley has had to create his own space more often than not. Quarterback Eli Manning has also been sacked a career-high 46 times.
Ereck Flowers, who the Giants drafted ninth overall in 2015, was a huge part of the problem. He started the first two games of the season before New York benched him for former undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler. He appeared in three more games before the Giants decided to release him.
Flowers is now playing inconsistent ball for the Jaguars, but he’s at least been able to hold onto his starting job in Jacksonville.
24 of 32
Seth Wenig/Associated Press
The most impressive thing Hue Jackson did as head coach of the Browns was turn Terrelle Pryor into a 1,000-yard receiver in 2016. In the two seasons since, the Ohio State product has struggled with injuries and middling on-field production.
The Jets took a chance on Pryor, inking him to a one-year, $4.5 million deal in the offseason. However, he never developed into a reliable target for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, and New York decided to dump him after he tallied 14 catches and 235 yards in six appearances.
The Bills picked up Pryor, and he played in two games for Buffalo before he was again released. No one has picked him up since.
25 of 32
D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press
Jon Gruden has made brought in some questionable players since he became head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Cornerback Daryl Worley is one of them.
Worley was suspended for the first four games of the season for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. He has since locked down a starting job opposite Gareon Conley, but he’s regularly been the weak spot in the secondary.
Worley played the last several games while dealing with a shoulder injury, and the Raiders defense has played better in recent weeks. However, the 23-year-old has only 10 tackles and one pass defensed since Week 11.
If Worley turns the corner next year, he might not do so with with the Raiders, as he’s set to be a restricted free agent in the offseason.
26 of 32
Michael Perez/Associated Press
In late October, the Philadelphia Eagles traded a 2019 third-round pick to the Lions to acquire wideout Golden Tate. The move made sense, as the Eagles needed to add a downfield element to the passing attack with Mike Wallace sidelined by a broken leg.
Instead, Tate has struggled to adapt to the Eagles offense and has largely been a non-factor in the passing game. In seven games, he has only 26 receptions, 245 yards and a touchdown, and he’s played fewer than 40 percent of the team’s snaps in each of the past three weeks.
In seven games with the Lions, Tate had 44 catches, 517 yards and three scores. He also played at least 70 percent of Detroit’s snaps in every game prior to the trade.
Tate is in the final year of his contract, and it’s hard to envision the Eagles keeping him beyond this season.
27 of 32
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
Even though they held a 2.5-game lead in the AFC North after Week 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in real danger of missing the playoffs. The poor play of kicker Chris Boswell deserves no small part of the blame.
Boswell, who received a four-year, $16.8 million extension in August, has cost the Steelers at least two games this season. He missed a potential game-winner in overtime against the Browns in Week 1, and he missed two field goals in a three-point loss to the Oakland Raiders in Week 14.
For the season, Boswell has missed seven of his 20 field-goal attempts and five of 48 extra-point attempts. That bad kicking could cost the Steelers a playoff spot.
28 of 32
Tony Avelar/Associated Press
It isn’t easy to come in as an inexperienced backup and perform well in the NFL. However, former undrafted rookie Nick Mullens has made it look relatively easy with the San Francisco 49ers this season.
Mullens took over for an injured C.J. Beathard in Week 9 and immediately got San Francisco its second win of the season against Oakland. He’s won twice more since then, has a passer rating of 91.2 and has the Niners playing competitive ball.
Either Mullens is a perfect fit for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, or Beathard was just bad. We’re siding with the latter.
Beathard completed only 60.4 percent of his passes, had 10 turnovers to go with eight touchdown passes and failed to win a single game in his six appearances.
29 of 32
Alex Gallardo/Associated Press
After years of being a weak link, the Seattle Seahawks offensive line has improved this season. It has still allowed too much pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson (who has been sacked 45 times), but it has been better at run blocking.
2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi has looked better, too, but he still isn’t playing particularly well. He continues to struggle with power at the point of attack and has trouble with nimble pass-rushers coming off the edge.
According to Football Outsiders, Seattle ranks 21st when running off right tackle, averaging 4.05 adjusted line yards per carry.
Ifedi has only one year remaining on his contract, and he’s running out of time to prove that he deserves to be a long-term part of the team.
30 of 32
Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent the 38th overall pick on USC running back Ronald Jones in the 2018 draft. The early returns haven’t been encouraging.
In eight games this season, Jones has 23 carries for 44 yards (a 1.9 yards-per-carry average) and one touchdown. He’s also caught seven passes for 33 yards.
That’s all the Buccaneers have gotten out of their second-round pick.
Jones has struggled to read the field and identify open running lanes, and it isn’t as though he’s getting any better at it. He hasn’t even touched the ball since Week 13.
31 of 32
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has struggled to develop into the same dangerous downfield passer in the NFL that he was at Oregon. That’s in part because of a receiving corps that lacks talent aside from Corey Davis.
Wideout Tajae Sharpe has been part of the problem.
Sharpe showed promise as a rookie in 2016, catching 41 passes for 522 yards and two touchdowns. However, he’s struggled to gain separation this season and has regularly been a non-factor.
Sharpe has been held to no more than one catch eight different times this season. In total, he has 26 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
32 of 32
Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
The Washington Redskins were eliminated from playoff contention with their loss against the Titans on Saturday. They likely would still be in the mix if not for quarterback Alex Smith’s season-ending broken leg.
They also likely would still be in the mix if they had never given Mark Sanchez a shot, let alone a start.
Sanchez appeared in two games this season and started in a Week 14 loss to the New York Giants. In those two games, he went a combined 19-of-35 for 138 yards with zero touchdowns, three interceptions, one fumble and a passer rating of 28.0.
He was so bad that Washington turned to Josh Johnson, who wasn’t signed until December and hadn’t played since 2013.
Johnson has played far better than Sanchez. He scored two garbage-time touchdowns against the Giants and has gone 40-of-64 for 499 yards, three touchdowns, three picks, one rushing score and a passer rating of 82.7.
Would the Redskins have beaten either the Eagles or the Giants—the two teams Sanchez faced—had they used a quarterback like Johnson instead? It’s impossible to tell, but they would have had a better chance.
Winning even one of those games would have kept Washington in the playoff hunt. But thanks to Mr. Butt Fumble himself, the Redskins will sit at home in January for the third straight season.
All contract information via Spotrac.