Every year in the NFL, dozens of rising young players become superstars while veteran stars begin to fade. Here are 10 particular well-established vets who are likely to decline rapidly in 2020.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: It’s already happened, but I think we’re about to get an extended, in-depth look confirming Big Ben’s demise. The league’s 2018 interception leader completed just one of his 11 deep pass attempts before suffering a season-ending elbow injury early in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady: It’s also already happened, but not for a full season. Brady’s strong start to 2019 made his numbers look okay, but he completed just 57 percent of his passes, averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt, and posted an abysmal 80.8 passer rating in the second half of his age-42 campaign. He might be toast.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry: It’s just impossible to sustain what Henry had going when he compiled 1,273 rushing yards in an eight-game span en route to the AFC Championship Game last year. He’s a hard-nosed runner who no longer has right tackle Jack Conklin and is likely to come back to earth while playing under the franchise tag.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: Hate to say it, but it has to happen eventually, and the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer caught just 14 passes in Arizona’s last four games in 2019. Look for this to be the first sub-700-yard season of Fitzgerald’s amazing career.
Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper: Still not sure I trust Cooper, who could get comfortable with that lucrative new contract. With Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb there, that would be dangerous.
Pittsburgh Steelers OT Alejandro Villanueva: He started to crack in 2019, missing the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2016. The two-time Pro Bowl selection turns 32 in September.
Denver Broncos edge Von Miller: The numbers slipped last year, and that trend could continue as 2018 first-round pick Bradley Chubb returns and emerges.
Detroit Lions LB Jamie Collins: It’s often not a good sign when the Patriots decide you’re no longer worth it. Collins is on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a poor second half to the 2019 campaign.
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman: There’s a good chance his 2019 success was an aberration. Cornerbacks just have a lot of trouble holding on beyond the age of 32.
New England Patriots S Devin McCourty: The 32-year-old intercepted five passes as a 16-game starter in 2019, but zero of those picks came in the final nine games of the season. He could be running out of gas, and it doesn’t help that he’s lost of ton of support on both sides of the ball.