Whether you’re a young player who hasn’t lived up to expectations or a veteran who hasn’t reached contract level, some players have more to prove each year than others.
Here are the players from each team in the AFC East who have the most players to prove, both offensively and defensively.
Offense: Josh Allen, quarterback | As far as talent goes, Allen doesn’t have to prove anything. At 6-foot-5 and 238 pounds, Allen has the fourth-most total yards (21,496) and sixth-most total touchdowns (138) by a quarterback since entering the league in 2018. . Additionally, Allen is in the top three for MVP. He’s had voting rights in two of the last three seasons, but his recent playoff performance has put a dent on his resume.
In the regular season, Allen led the league in turnovers with a 59.3% passing percentage and three interceptions in two postseason games. His ineffective play in the divisional round resulted in star wideout Stephon Diggs lashing out at him on the sideline. This issue has since been “solved”, but Allen He claims the incident was overblown, but if this season ends in a similar fashion, there could be big changes in the offseason.
Defense: Dorian Williams, linebacker | Buffalo saw its defensive anchor, former first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds, leave the team as a free agent. Replacing the 10th-most tackled player in the NFL since he was drafted in 2018 isn’t easy, but the Bills have an interesting option in Williams, a rookie linebacker with a 4.4 speed.
Williams led the Tulane Greenwave in tackles (131) and sacks (5) last season and closed out his career with 17 tackles against USC in the Cotton Bowl. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler expects Williams to have an “immediate impact” on Buffalo’s defense this season. Still, if he doesn’t show promise as a rookie, the team could put a hefty draft budget on the linebacker next year.
Offense: Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback | Considering he’s been one of the better quarterbacks in recent years, the Dolphins quarterback doesn’t rank on the list based on his stats, but rather because he can’t stay healthy. Tagovailoa has been cut off from college by his hip injury and has missed nine games in three seasons due to various ailments.
ESPN’s Mike Clay and Seth Walder ranked it as the 4th best player in the NFL, but after building one of the best rosters on paper, Miami needs Tagovailoa on the field to play. is. If he can’t stay on the field or lead the Dolphins to their first playoff victory since 2000, the question will be whether an extension is worth it.
Defense: Xavier Howard, cornerback | Last offseason, Howard signed an extension to become the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL at the time, but his initial return wasn’t encouraging. The two-time leader in interceptions in the league missed only one pass last season and gave up 100 or more yards in coverage three games.
Playing alongside newcomer Jalen Ramsey will likely mean more targets coming in for Howard, and if 2022 continues to struggle, Miami will be ready next offseason. may be forced to relocate. If the Dolphins choose to trade Howard after June 1, 2024, there will only be $8.8 million in dead money. The decision also paves the way for a starting role for 2023 second-round pick Cam Smith.
new england patriots
Offense: Mack Jones, quarterback | No player may have a more important season of his career than Jones. trade negotiations Jones’ 2,997 passing yards ranked 18th among quarterbacks in the preseason, and he finished 23rd in passing touchdowns (14) and 11 toss interceptions.
With the entire offense in turmoil under Matt Patricia, now the Eagles’ senior defensive assistant coach, Jones couldn’t be blamed for last season’s troubles alone. Having a capable playcaller in OC Bill O’Brien puts Jones in an advantageous position to enter a third season of his comeback. But if his performances and demeanor mirror those of last season, it’s unlikely that the fifth-year option will be exercised next offseason.
Defense: Team’s New Free Safety | The Patriots went into a season for the first time since 2009 without Devin McCourty patrolling the secondary. The longtime team leader has missed five games in a 13-year career. The Patriots will hold an open competition to replace him. A notable contender is third-year starter Kyle Duggar, along with veterans Jabril Peppers and Adrian Phillips.
Duggar, Peppers and Phillips were each rated among the top 20 safety players last season by Pro Football Focus. Still, Patriots beat reporter Evan Lazar said 2021 sixth-round pick Joshua Bledsoe could be a player to watch in this tournament, pegging him as a potential breakout candidate. I believe there is. Despite the abundance of options, if one safety doesn’t emerge as a long-term piece, it could be a position that needs to be tackled early in the 2024 NFL Draft.
new york jets
Offense: Mekhi Becton, Offensive Tackle | The Jets’ Super Bowl hopes rest on the performance of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer isn’t playing for his career like Becton did this season. The 11th overall pick in 2020 has appeared in 15 career games, including one in the past two seasons when he has struggled with multiple knee injuries.
The injury and weight issues forced New York to decline a fifth-year option, but Becton reshaped and lost weight this offseason. 50 lb. Perhaps Becton’s new physique will have a positive impact on his performance, free him from the draft-bust label and earn him a second contract with the Jets.
Defense: Karl Lawson, defense end |
Lawson In order to remain with the team, he had to rebuild a three-year, $45 million contract he signed in 2021. The once-precious acquisition made his Jets debut in 2022 after missing last season with a torn Achilles tendon, and managed seven sacks, albeit less effectively.
Going into the final season of his contract, Lawson will be named as a starter, but must exceed expectations to remain in New York. The Jets have a young option to succeed Lawson in 2024. The Jets traded up 26th overall defensive end Jermaine Johnson in the 2022 NFL Draft and spent another first-round pick on edge rusher Will McDonald earlier this year.