Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
From the New York Jets, we develop an interesting question on whether Le’Veon Bell was a product of the Steelers’ system.
The question could have played a role in the lackluster market that he got in free agency after the summary of his holdout. One thousand four hundred and seventy total yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018 is what the second-year back James Conner accounted for in that season.
As Pittsburgh’s lead back, the figures are not far away from what Bell put up in every year. Currently, in a flesh offensive system with a less experienced quarterback, it is possible that he will not be able to repeat the All-Pro figures he got in Pittsburgh.
Antonio Brown, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders
The question that we ask ourselves is whether Brown’s success was a product of having Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback. There’s every reason to suggest Brown will struggle with Derek Carr in Oakland. He caught a seven-year low 61.9 percent of his targets last season. On the other hand, Carr struggled to get the ball down the field and to the outside under Jon Gruden in 2018. The weak supporting cast in Oakland won’t help matters either. Don’t be surprised if Brown’s numbers nosedive in 2019.
Richard Sherman, cornerback, San Francisco 49ers
Despite not recording a single interception in his first season with the 49ers, Richard acted the part of a shutdown cornerback. He yielded less than 20 receptions and a completion rate below 50 percent last year. Those are the typically elite numbers we’ve come to expect from this potential Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, Sherman’s lack of play-making ability hurt a 49ers defense that recorded just two interceptions in total last season. Now that San Francisco addressed the opposite corner this offseason, teams may be more compelled to throw at the 31-year-old defensive back this season. Richard expects a drop-off from last year’s numbers as more passes come his way.
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers was punished in 2018 behind a Packers offensive line that yielded seven-year high 49 sacks. It led to a multitude of injuries. As a result, it would be smart for Green Bay to start looking for a future franchise quarterback behind the 35-year-old Rodgers. Indeed, Rodgers will still play at an elite level when on the field. Our concern is on the battering he has taken recently, and likely to make again in 2019, will impact his ability to suit up for 16 games this season.
J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston Texans
Watt has more than proven to be right there with Aaron Donald as the most impactful defender in the NFL if he continues being healthy. Last season, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year recorded 25 quarterback hits, 16 sacks, and a league-high seven forced fumbles. That said, it was just the first time since 2015 that Watt played as many as five games in a single season. It’s difficult to expect both a repeat in production and health from the 30-year-old defensive lineman in 2018.
Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
It is pretty possible that we have already seen Goff’s best if the end of last season is any indication. He threw seven touchdowns compared to eight interceptions over his final eight games Playoffs included. The Rams decided against extending him this offseason; move critics will suggest the team may think Goff has already hit his ceiling.
Gerald McCoy, defensive tackle, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
McCoy failed to show up for voluntary workouts earlier in the offseason, and the team was reportedly open to trading him. At this moment, we are not even sure McCoy will be a member of the Buccaneers next season. At 31 years old, the six-time Pro Bowler is already past his prime. Regardless of where he plays next year, he’ll need to reverse a disturbing downward trend in production.
Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Minnesota Vikings
According to Pro Football Focus, Rhodes ranked fifth among Vikings cornerbacks in coverage last season. It was surprising to see Minnesota retain the 28-year-old Rhodes, despite a trying 2018 season and $13.3 million caps hit in 2019. Mike Hughes stated in 2018 that given that Minnesota continues to exhaust high-round picks on corners, it would not be shocking if Rhodes’ leash in 2019 is short.
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers
The trio of Antonio Brown, Big Ben, and Le’veon Bell put up some astounding numbers during their time together in Pittsburgh. We are expecting all three to struggle in 2019 now that this future Hall of Fame group is no longer together. That includes Roethlisberger, who is entering his Age-37 season, threw a league-high 16 interceptions in 2018 and is now missing his two prime weapons in Brown and Bell.