It’s one of the harshest realities for a professional athlete to face. Every year, a slew of new players enter the NFL. With them, veterans must accept diminished roles or even retirement. Some players retire before it reaches this point, but others don’t get the memo until it’s too late.
With a promising rookie class joining teams across the NFL, a few well-known players may find themselves as free agents or forced retirees before the first game of the regular season begins.
Torrey Smith, Carolina Panthers
The wide receiver famously took less pay to remain with the Carolina Panthers in 2019. However, after the team paid Chris Hogan and promoted DJ Moore, Torrey Smith could still find himself as the odd man out if they decide to move on. With a diminished role that does not justify his pay, Smith may need to look elsewhere for a resurgence.
Kenneth Dixon, Baltimore Ravens
Although he’s only played three years in the NFL, Kenneth Dixon hasn’t shown an ability to consistently impress. Because of this, he may need to spend some time on another team and prove his worth, as the Ravens appear poised to move on with several other running back options.
T.J. Yeldon, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills have loaded up on running backs both young and old. Because of this, T.J. Yeldon may soon be out of the job in Buffalo. Drafted in 2015 by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 25-year-old hasn’t met expectations. While not necessarily a death wish for his career, Yeldon will have to prove his worth if he wants to be a starter wherever he ends up.
Artie Burns, Pittsburgh Steelers
Determined to stay with his current team, the cornerback is putting in extra time not only on the field but off it. This hasn’t gone unnoticed with the Steelers. However, with the addition of cornerbacks Steven Nelson and Justin Layne, Artie Burns may need to prove himself on another team.
Greg Joseph, Cleveland Browns
Kickers can have some of the greatest longevity in the NFL. But this doesn’t mean they always have job security. With the Browns drafting Austin Seibert, things aren’t looking good for Greg Joseph’s future in Cleveland.
Terrelle Pryor, Jacksonville Jaguars
Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor is viewed as a contingency plan in Jacksonville. With the Jaguars expecting their core to be healthy by the start of the season, Pryor could find himself either out of the league or playing for a new team as the roster is cut down to size.
Cardale Jones, Los Angeles Chargers
The quarterback hasn’t ascended his spot as the No. 3 quarterback for the Chargers. With the addition of Tyrod Taylor, as well as some young talent, it appears like Cardale Jones is a likely candidate to be cut when the Chargers submit their final roster before the 2019 season.
Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings declined to pick up Laquon Treadwell’s fifth-year option, indicating he will be a free agent after this coming season. Because of this, if the wide receiver doesn’t impress the team at training camp, he could be an easy option to cut if he is not up to snuff with the other players.
Richie Incognito, Oakland Raiders
Although the offensive guard has already retired, Richie Incognito is trying to make an NFL comeback. However, his reputation, age, and rust from retirement could make it hard for the Oakland Raiders to justify bringing him back. However, if he does perform well, he may actually have a place in the league, if not in Oakland.
Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
A former college standout, Geno Smith has had a rough go in the NFL. And with Russell Wilson staying put, the quarterback may soon find himself out of the job. With Paxton Lynch on the roster as well (after the trade for Brett Hundley), it’s safe to say one or both may soon be gone.