Twenty of the league’s 32 teams began their offseason in early January, some of them coming much closer to sniffing the playoffs than others. Owners, front office personnel and coaches (the ones who weren’t fired) will evaluate their own rosters as they look toward the draft and free agency.
Which players will get the most scrutiny? A lot of the guys appearing on this list, who contributed more than a fair share to their team’s troubles.
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Arizona Cardinals -- Chandler Catanzaro, K
The Cardinals offensive line has holes and so does the secondary but Catanzaro struggled through a rocky campaign with four missed XPs and two crucial field goal misses. Not one to mince words, head coach Bruce Arians said he supports Catanzaro but didn’t shy from giving his kicker a verbal boot in the rear. “The kicker just needs to kick it through the two poles, and we'd be 5-2," Arians said after Catanzaro missed a potential game winner against Seattle in Week 7, after going wide left on an earlier potential winner against New England in the team’s opener.
Baltimore Ravens -- Marc Trestman, former offensive coordinator
Makes sense to identify the guy the Ravens blamed themselves, ex-offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Trestman got the axe after the Ravens offense badly struggled to begin the season, using a dink-and-dunk approach, rarely taking deep shots (which irked Joe Flacco) and abandoning the run even when it was successful behind a pretty good offensive line.
Buffalo Bills -- Marcell Dareus, DT
In year two of his massive 6-year, $96.5 million contract (and the biggest cap hit on the team), the sometimes dominant nose tackle got popped for a missed drug test (treated the same as a failed test) in August and had to serve a four-game suspension to open the season (the Bills went 2-2 without him). Dareus injured his hamstring after his reinstatement and didn’t make his season debut until Week 8, playing a total of only 39 percent of Bills snaps on the year. Buffalo really could have used him up front for the full season.
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Carolina Panthers -- Mike Remmers, LT/RT
Remmers was certainly not in an enviable position, having to switch from right tackle to left tackle after starter Michael Oher went down early in the season. Nevertheless, he really struggled on the blind side, particularly against speedier edge rushers during Carolina’s disappointing Super Bowl hangover season.
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Chicago Bears -- Tracy Porter, CB
The Bears defense saw improvement this season from young players like safety Harold Jones-Quartey and linebacker Leonard Floyd, but the veteran Porter struggled badly in coverage down the stretch. On Jan. 16, the cornerback wrote on Twitter, “This season is still haunting me; wasn't a good showing by me or our team. Any opportunity I get going forward WILL be taken advantage of.”
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Cincinnati Bengals -- Mike Nugent, K
The once-reliable kicker caught a bad case of the yips or simply lost his former dependability this season, which proved very costly in three consecutive games in Weeks 8, 10 and 11, two losses and a tie. “It just drives me crazy to have a poor performance that contributes to a loss,” Nugent said. “That’s the second time that’s happened this year – that I’ve contributed enormously to a loss. If I did what I was brought here to do, we’d have two fewer losses in my opinion.” After six missed extra points on the season, Cincy decided to move on from the kicker in mid-December and signed Randy Bullock.
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Cleveland Browns -- Everybody and nobody
It’s hard would be unfair to single out anyone in Cleveland in what was clearly a rebuilding year in which no one realistically expected to contend for the playoffs. Credit the players for playing hard and competing every week despite starting their campaign 0-14.
The Browns certainly need to find their quarterback of the future or even just a better one for the present. Maybe blame head coach Hue Jackson for not sticking with rookie QB Cody Kessler, who actually showed some promise during limited action. Jackson instead gave Robert Griffin III an extended look. The Browns have five picks in the first 65 in April’s NFL draft (including No. 1 and No. 12 overall) as the youth and hopefully talent infusion continues.
Denver Broncos -- Donald Stephenson, RT
The Broncos wanted Stephenson to be their starting right tackle and he got every opportunity to lock up the position after signing a 3-year, $14 million contract. But the 27-year-old consistently got beat in pass protection and didn’t run block well, either. Eventually head coach Gary Kubiak gave Ty Sambrailo a shot, but he couldn’t get the job done either and their shortcomings did a lot of damage to a struggling Denver offense.
Indianapolis Colts -- Jonotthan Harrison, G/C
A slew of injuries on the offensive line thrust reserve lineman Harrison into action at center and left guard where he struggled mightily. No surprise that the Colts frequently sieve-like offensive line struggled to find consistency given the amount of combinations up front. All told the unit allowed 44 sacks and 128 quarterback hits. “We’ve talked, it seems about every week in here, the continuity you would obviously love to have at that position up front, we haven’t had that,” offensive coordinator Rob Chuzinski said. “That is no excuse. We have to find a way with the guys who are going in.”
Jacksonville Jaguars -- Blake Bortles, QB
Bortles was an abject disaster this season -- an interception or pick-6 waiting to happen. His mechanics are shot and his confidence apparently rattled. The new Doug Marrone-Tom Coughlin regime in Jacksonville have to be wondering if he’s their guy.
Los Angeles Rams -- Jeff Fisher, former head coach
Finally, after Week 13 when Fisher reached the cusp of becoming the all-time leader in losses for a head coach, owner Stan Kroenke pulled the plug. It may have had something to do with star running back Todd Gurley venting about the team’s “middle school offense,” or Fisher’s failure to develop rookie QB Jared Goff -- who didn’t show much of anything in his 7 games as a starter (all losses).
Minnesota Vikings -- T.J. Clemmings, LT/RT
More broadly, blame whomever spiked Minnesota’s punch with the injury bug. But specifically, Clemmings, thrust into the starting left (and right) tackle spot after both Matt Kalil and Jake Long went down, was dismal. The slow-footed Clemmings operated like a turnstile for an offensive line that nearly got Sam Bradford decapitated and couldn’t get any sort of push for the league’s worst rushing attack.
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New Orleans Saints -- James Laurinaitis, LB
The Saints tried to repair its nonexistent defense during last year’s free agency period with the veteran linebacker, but unfortunately Laurinaitis proved totally ineffective before getting shut down with a quad injury in mid-November. Laurinaitis took an injury settlement and the Saints turned to Craig Robertson, who showed some promise and projects as a 2017 starter.
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New York Jets -- Darrelle Revis, CB
The very well compensated 31-year-old cornerback was a regular burn victim throughout the season. The dissidents have officially overrun Revis Island. He showed up for the season overweight and after a ho-hum outing against the Rams, explained his struggles by saying it’s “Because I’m old.” Now Revis thinks the Jets should continue paying his robust salary in a show of “class.” He shouldn’t count on it.
Philadelphia Eagles -- Nelson Agholor, WR
The Eagles receiving corps was one of the worst units in the league, tallying 24 dropped passes and probably three times as many mental lapses (unofficial statistic). Philly’s 2015 first-round draft pick, Agholor, reeled in barely half of his targets for only 36 catches and just 365 yards in 15 games played. The only game he missed? Head coach Doug Pederson made him a healthy scratch as a wake-up call.
San Diego Chargers -- Orlando Franklin, LG
The now-Los Angeles offensive line line needs a makeover, which is really disappointing given that the team thought it was shoring up the left guard spot with a 5-year, $36.5 million deal for Franklin and another pretty rich contract for right tackle Joe Barksdale, who also struggled this season. So perhaps plame the general manager for poor talent evaluation.
San Francisco 49ers -- Jed York, owner
Head coach Chip Kelly is gone after one season, general manager Trent Baalke is gone and CEO/owner Jed York is still calling the shots for the talent-lacking roster because “you don't dismiss owners," as York put it after canning Kelly. "I'm sorry but that's the facts, and that's the case.”
It’s not clear if anyone wants the vacant head coaching job as candidates Josh McDaniels and Tom Cable recently withdrew from consideration. The Niners have since reportedly zeroed in on Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is currently focusing on getting Atlanta to the Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Chris Conte, FS
Conte is not very athletic, not a great (or good) tackler and just not a starting-caliber NFL safety. That became more obvious this season when reserve safety Keith Tandy filled in for the injured Conte and flourished in the role. Going into 2017, Tandy projects to replace the secondary’s weakest link, Conte, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Tennessee Titans -- Perrish Cox, CB
Opposing wide receiving found a matchup against the Titans -- and specifically Cox -- as an opportunity to pad their stats this season. Of 115 qualified cornerbacks graded by ProFootballFocus, Cox graded out 114 with a 34.9 score. By late November when the Titans were gearing up for a run at the division title, the team had seen enough, cutting Fox in favor of practice squad DB and 2016’s “Mr. Irrelevant” Kalan Reed.
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Washington Redskins -- Ziggy Hood, DT
This could also go to relatively ineffective and higher paid defensive line-mate Ricky Jean-Francois but Hood got overpowered too often as the nose tackle for a lackluster Redskins rushing defense. Playing on a one-year deal, the eighth year lineman registered a lowly 40.5 grade from ProFootballFocus.