Agent’s Take: Ten offensive rebounding candidates who want to prove they still belong – CBS Sports

Agent's Take: Ten offensive rebounding candidates who want to prove they still belong - CBS Sports

Each season, a different set of players face crossroads or have something to prove for various reasons. The most common reasons have to do with age, contract or salary cap concerns, injury, poor performance or off-field issues.

Here are 10 offensive players who aren’t quarterbacks who fit into one of those categories to watch in 2022.

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Elliott has trended in the wrong direction statistically since becoming the first running back in league history to sign a $100 million contract. The two-time rushing champion signed a six-year, $90 million contract extension, making him the NFL’s highest-paid running back, shortly before the start of the 2019 regular season to end a long preseason standoff. Elliott, who had two years remaining on his rookie contract, set new standards for running backs with $50,052,137 in total guarantees and $28,052,137 fully guaranteed at signing of the deal.

Elliott averaged a career-low 58.9 rushing yards per game last season. Before Elliott gets his contract extension, he averaged 101.2 rushing yards per game. Elliott wasn’t Dallas’ most effective rusher last season. It was Tony Pollard, who some believe is the best running back on the Cowboys’ roster.

If that proves to be the case this season, it’s hard to imagine Elliott back with the Cowboys in 2023. It would likely be necessary to part ways with Elliott to retain Pollard, who is in a contract year. There is already speculation that Elliott will be released next offseason regardless of what happens with Pollard.

Elliott is scheduled to earn $10.9 million on a $16.72 million salary cap hit in 2023. The Cowboys would have $11.86 million in dead money, a cap hit for a player no longer on a team’s roster, letting Elliott go unused post-June. 1 name.

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Thomas missed the 2021 season after suffering a setback in rehabilitation from the ankle surgery he had that June. The Saints were already frustrated with Thomas for waiting until several weeks before training camp to undergo surgery on a left ankle injured during the 2020 season.

The 2020 season was also difficult for Thomas. He was the subject of trade rumors after a one-game suspension for a practice altercation with a teammate and limited to seven regular-season games because of the ankle sprain.

Thomas has been an afterthought in the best wide receiver discussions with the emergence of several younger players at the positions over the past two seasons. In 2019, Thomas’ last healthy season, he set the singles record for receptions with 149 and was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

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Barkley’s stellar rookie season, in which he led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage (combined rushing and receiving yards) and earned 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in the process, seems like a distant memory. He had a lackluster 2021 in his return from the 2020 season where he was limited to two games due to a torn right ACL. Barkley had 593 rushing yards with 3.7 yards per carry in 13 games last season. The second overall pick in the 2018 draft is in jeopardy of his five-year rookie contract, averaging $7,682,350 per year, which includes his current $7.217 million option-year salary, being the largest deal of his NFL career.

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Robinson’s contract year when he played under a $17.88 million franchise tag left a lot to be desired. The 2021 season was Robinson’s worst NFL campaign (other than 2017 when he tore his left ACL in the Jaguars‘ season opener). Robinson had 36 catches for 410 yards with one touchdown in 12 games, which can be partially attributed to an injury-plagued season where he never established chemistry with rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

However, the Rams signed Robinson to a three-year, $46.5 million contract (worth up to $48 million through incentives) with $30.75 million fully guaranteed. Robinson can opt out of the third year in 2024 after reaching 2,201 combined receiving yards in 2022 and 2023. The Rams count 2021 as an anomaly because Robert Woods, who tore the ACL in his left knee during practice last November, was traded to the Titans in a salary dump move to accommodate Robinson’s signing.

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Stanley turned a 2019 All-Pro campaign into a five-year, $98.75 million extension worth up to $100 million in incentives with record guarantees for an offensive lineman’s contract through the middle of the 2020 season. There is a little over $65.5 million in total guarantees where a little over $58.8 million was fully guaranteed at signing.

Stanley has only played in two games since then. He suffered a season-ending left ankle injury that required surgery two days after signing his contract. Stanley started the first game in 2021 before later undergoing additional surgery on the ankle during the season. Stanley was recently activated from the physically unable to perform list. A return to anything close to his previous level of play would be a big boost to the Ravens.

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Golladay was the recipient of the largest 2021 contract for a catcher after the lions declined to appoint him as a franchise player. He signed a four-year, $72 million contract (worth a maximum of $76 million through incentives) with $40 million in guarantees after various injuries limited him to five games in 2020. The 2019 Pro Bowl participant had 37 catches for 521 yards and zero touchdowns in 14 games last season. Golladay likely has to thrive this season in new head coach Brian Daboll’s offensive system or there won’t be a third year in New York, even though his $4.5 million third day of the 2023 league annual roster bonus (coming March 17) has become fully guaranteed this. part of March

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Smith exceeded most reasonable contract projections when the Patriots signed him to a three-year deal averaging $12.5 million per year in 2021 free agency. He set a record for the most money fully guaranteed in a tight end contract with $31.25 million.

Smith did not come close to living the old saying of “to whom much is given, much is expected.” He only had 28 catches for 294 yards and one touchdown in 16 games last season while taking 47.64% of New England’s offensive snaps (525 out of 1,102 games). Among tight ends, Smith was 34th in the NFL in receptions and 31st in receiving yards. With another season like 2021, Smith won’t be around in 2023 to collect his $12 million salary.

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The Browns signing Conklin to a three-year, $42 million contract paid big dividends in 2020, as he earned All-Pro honors. A dislocated left elbow and torn right patellar tendon limited Conklin to a career-low seven games last season. Conklin took a $4 million pay cut from $12 million to a fully guaranteed $8 million in which he can earn the money back through playing time incentives during the offseason. He recently indicated that he would like to stay in Cleveland beyond this season. Conklin could reap the benefit of a right tackle market that took off dramatically in 2021 with a return to his 2020 form this season. Four right tackles signed deals averaging $17 million or more last year.

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Hot interest in free agency led Smith-Schuster to return to Pittsburgh on a one-year “trial” deal worth $8 million last season. He reportedly sought more than $15 million a year on the open market.

Smith-Schuster didn’t prove much when a left shoulder injury sidelined him for the regular season after five games. He had 15 receptions for 129 yards without any touchdowns in those games. Smith-Schuster returned for a wild card playoff game against the Chiefs in which he had five catches for 26 yards.

There was less interest in Smith-Schuster during free agency this year than in 2021. He signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Chiefs worth up to $10.75 million in incentives. The Chiefs recently modified his contract so he can earn an additional $510,000 as his $510,000 per-game roster bonus ($30,000 for each game active) was increased to $1.02 million ($60,000 for each game active).

Smith-Schuster has a tremendous opportunity in Kansas City because there is no established No. 1 wide receiver with the trade of Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. He could be positioned for the big payday that eluded him in free agency next March with a very productive 2022 season.

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Engram’s disappointing 2021 campaign with the Giants, where he caught 46 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns, didn’t stop him from receiving a one-year, $9 million deal from the Jaguars that includes $8.25 million fully guaranteed. He can earn as much as $10 million in incentives. The base value of the deal is not much less than the $9.293 million it would cost the Giants to designate Engram as a transition player.

Engram could be in the right place to prove himself for 2023 free agency. New Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson’s offense with the Eagles was strict friendly. During his five seasons as head coach in Philadelphia, Zach Ertz averaged close to 80 catches per year, including setting the NFL single-season receptions record for a tight end with 116 in 2018.

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