Which five NFL stars will see their productivity fall off a cliff in 2020?
Father Time is undefeated, especially in the NFL.
Very few things are as humbling as the game of football. Not everyone wants to get him or have another man try to burrow through your soul. It’s a test of fortitude and mental toughness. Skill and athleticism may have gotten you this far, but they call it the Not For Long league for a reason. Nobody plays at the highest of levels forever.
It happens every year. We have grown accustomed to certain players being stars for the last decade or so. They’ve made Pro Bowl after Pro Bowl and probably a few All-Pro teams along the way. Odds are, they have may have done enough to earn potential Canton enshrinement, or at the very least, be a Ring of Honor guy if the team he’s best associated with is into that sort of thing.
As guys venture on the wrong side of 30, or rapidly approach 40, their athleticism and skill set inevitably decline. Peyton Manning was leading the league in passing in 2013 and two years later his arm couldn’t make anything more than basic throws in 2015. Even for great players like Manning, when it fades, it fades quickly.
So as we look across the NFL landscape, there will be more than a handful of stars from yesterday who will begin to show they just don’t have it any more. We can chalk them up to being regression candidates, but we know one simple thing: The best days of ball are clearly behind them. When you fall off a cliff physically, you don’t exactly recover from that.
Here are five NFL players who are major regression candidates for 2020.
Andrew Whitworth has been a consistently strong offensive tackle in the league for well over a decade. The former second-round pick out of LSU by the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2006 has earned four Pro Bowl nods and made two All-Pro First Teams, including his first season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. However, he has been worse each year he’s been in Los Angeles.
Whitworth re-upped with the Rams on a head-scratching three-year, $30 million contract this past spring. And you wonder why Rams general manager Les Snead is always have issues with the salary cap. Though Whitworth was a great player, he’s turning 39-years-old in December 2020. He will be under contract through his 41st birthday. This isn’t going to end well.
Whitworth may have a future in broadcast media and staying in Los Angeles is probably the best avenue for that. However, he’s one injury away from seeing his illustrious career fade before our very eyes. Whitworth still needs another Pro Bowl and another deep playoff run to ensure eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame status, but he’s not getting any younger.
An advantage to his success up to this point has been health. In 14 NFL seasons, Whitworth has missed three games. That’s it. While he may have another injury-free season, a downward trend in production will be the last thing the Rams offense will want to see. If Whitworth isn’t playing near a Pro Bowl-level, that’s awful news for quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams’ playoff chances.