By: Steven Tauro April 5, 2020
While the NFL season is months away, teams are shaping up their rosters to compete for a Super Bowl. Free Agency and the NFL Draft allow teams to bring in new talent or add competition to a specific position(s). In most cases, players are paid and valued to perform for the organization they play for, but in some scenarios it doesn't pan out the way we all want. These players need to perform in 2020 to keep their job going forward.
Derek Carr QB Las Vegas Raiders
While it may seem the media continuously picks on Derek Carr, the Las Vegas Raiders keep giving us reason too. Marcus Mariota was added to the quarterback room at the start of Free Agency and the team has been rumored to trade up for the position every year since Gruden was in office. It is clear that Carr hasn't played to the Raiders expectations, but we will see if he can meet those in the 2020 season.
Jared Goff QB Los Angeles Rams
A year removed from the Super Bowl and we are looking at a completely different Rams team. Todd Gurley has officially been released after being compensated as one of the best running backs in the game, and Jared Goff could soon be in the same boat. 2019 was certainly a down year for the former 1st Overall Pick and the Rams need improved quarterback play in 2020 to be reminded he's their future.
Will Fuller V WR Houston Texans
One of the top speedsters in the NFL can't find a way to stay on the field for 16 games. Fuller is one of Deshaun Watson's favorite targets in an offense that desperately calls for his presence. With the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller would be expected to pick up the load, but with his injury history, that's a lot to ask. Fuller's rookie contract is running up and if he can't show the Texans organization that he can consistently play healthy football, he may be somewhere else after 2020.
Nate Solder LT New York Giants
Nate Solder did a great job protecting Tom Brady's blind side for a number of years and seemed to have lost his touch. The New York Giants and Daniel Jones specifically need to see improved play for the team to be at its best. According to Pro Football Focus, Solder allowed the 2nd most sacks in the league with 11, and that's without accounting for pressures, hits, and penalties. Nate did say he would switch to another offensive line position if needed, but hopefully his play is improved enough where it isn't a concern.
Khalil Mack OLB Chicago Bears
While this may seem like a surprise, Khalil Mack has one of he biggest contracts in the league. In 2019, Mack only put together 9 sacks. Couting for 26 million against the cap, the Bears need more production from Khalil or they can spend the money improving many other positions on their team.
Mohamed Sanu WR New England Patriots
Sanu was acquired for a second round pick from the Patriots in 2019. After showing out for 10 receptions, 81 yards, and a Touchdown against the Ravens in Week 9, he disappeared. Once the season concluded, Sanu required ankle surgery. Regardless of the injury, New England invested a top pick for some production from Sanu. If the WR doesn't start performing quick he will be made available.
Jared Cook TE New Orleans Saints
Jared Cook has been a household name in the NFL. Playing for multiple teams through the years, Cook is viewed as an experienced starter at the back end of his career. The Saints have been searching for a consistent Tight End to fit in the offense since Jimmy Graham left. While Cook flashed on occasion, a younger and cheaper option will be likely if his play doesn't improve in 2020.
Evan Engram TE New York Giants
Engram is a great Tight End in the NFL but he just can't stay healthy. The Giants are growing impatient and need improvement at the position if the trend continues. While the Giants as a whole have underperformed, with a new Head Coach in Joe Judge and new staff assistants across the board, the old days of the Giants are over. Engram needs to be on the field for 12 games in 2020 to be a part of Big Blue going forward.
Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3aM7jEC
Derek Barnett DE Philadelphia Eagles
Former 1st round pick, Derek Barnett had big expectations coming out of the draft as one of the top pass rushers in the class. Those expectations haven't matched the play just yet. While the Eagles are looking for improved defensive play as a whole, look for Barnett in a make or break year. If Barnett fails to show his worth in 2020 he could be playing for a different team in the future.
Solomon Thomas DE San Francisco 49ers
Another top pick finds his way on this list, Solomon Thomas was drafted 3rd overall and can't flourish in that 49ers defense. We've seen guys like Buckner, Armstead, and Bosa get after the passer frequently playing for DC Rob Saleh, but not Thomas. If Thomas can't find a way to get after the passer in 2020, especially with Buckner being a Colt, expect his exit from the Bay.
Olivier Vernon DE Cleveland Browns
As part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, the New York Giants shipped Vernon to the Browns to help bring in Safety Jabrill Peppers and Offensive Guard Kevin Zeitler. The Browns Defensive End, Vernon, is now the biggest contract for the Browns in 2020 and the play hasn't matched the contract for quite some time. This is Vernon's last chance to prove his worth as a pass rusher for the Browns since he is a free agent after the season.
Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3aM7jEC