Ever since A.J. Green destroyed him in Week 1 and Marquise Goodwin burned him for a touchdown on Thursday Night Football one week later, New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has earned the “washed” label from just about everyone.
Sometimes, reports of a player’s demise are presumptuous; Tom Brady and Brent Grimes can attest to this. However, in Revis’ case, it looks like the proclamations are appropriate.
Revis makes this list, but he isn’t the only NFL veteran whose arrow is pointing downwards this season. The players on this list have been quality starters in the past, but they are now dragging their teams down with poor performances. In some cases, the team has found other options. In others, such as with Revis, the team is forced to trudge along with an underperforming—and sometimes expensive—player.
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Jets 28-3. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Darrelle Revis, CB — New York Jets
For the longest time, fantasy players would sit their best wide receiver, regardless of how good he was, when Darrelle Revis was on the docket. That’s because, at least 95 percent of the time, Revis would shut down the opposition’s best receiver, immediately taking away what a passing game did best. It’s why Bill Belichick brought him in for a season and it’s why Revis won a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots. It’s also why Rex Ryan enjoyed a great deal of success with Revis on his side, as the former Pitt star allowed Ryan to enjoy great liberties with his blitzes.
This year, Revis has been one of the worst cornerbacks in the league and fantasy owners might want to start targeting him in matchups. That said, Revis might not be the biggest problem for the Jets in pass defense. Just last week, Mike Wallace torched the Jets with ten receptions on 13 targets, but he spent most of his time burning Buster Skrine and the safeties.
That one game by Wallace doesn’t change the fact that Revis has been bad, and it’s worth noting that the Jets didn’t trust him enough to cover Wallace. Instead, he had an easy matchup against Breshad Perriman, who has done nothing this season (though it’s not like the Ravens have given him much of a chance).
Revis has looked better than he did in the first two weeks of the season, but even he knows that the end is coming. The cornerback admitted that his body is “breaking down” and the likes of Nnamdi Asomugha can attest to the fact that being a shadow corner week-in and week-out isn’t conducive to a long career.
Now 31 years old, Revis has just one pass defended this entire season. His career-low entering 2016: nine.
Oct 23, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis (98) reacts after fielding a fumble by Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) and returning it for a touchdown during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Indianapolis won 34-26. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mathis, OLB — Indianapolis Colts
Age hasn’t caught up to Dwight Freeney, now on the Atlanta Falcons, as he remains one of the league’s best pass rushers year after year. Meanwhile, his former partner-in-crime, Robert Mathis, has suddenly become one of the league’s least effective players this season.
Mathis, a six-time Pro Bowler and Defensive Player of the Year candidate in 2013, bounced back from a torn Achilles tendon last season to record seven sacks. Along with Jerrell Freeman, Vontae Davis, and Mike Adams, Mathis was one of the lone bright spots on a Colts defense that finished 25th in points per game allowed.
The Colts defense looks even worse this year, and they are 28th in points per game allowed. Things could even get worse, because unlike last year, they don’t have a single capable edge rusher. Erik Walden has five sacks. But, as you would expect, this is a mirage.
Without Mathis playing well, the Colts have no good options at outside linebacker. Trent Cole‘s placement on the injured reserve stings, because it forces Mathis to play on every snap. Mathis has been in the league since 2003, so he might not be at the stage of his career where he can play 40+ snaps per game.
Through seven appearances, Mathis has just one sack and nine tackles.
Sep 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive back Antonio Cromartie (31) looks on against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lions won 39-35. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Antonio Cromartie, CB — Free Agent
Antonio Cromartie is a free agent, but he has recent ties to both of the other players on this list. Briefly, Cromartie was partnered with Darrelle Revis on the New York Jets and he played with Robert Mathis and the Indianapolis Colts earlier this season.
According to Cromartie’s wife, the former star cornerback was released for protesting the national anthem. While I’m the type of person who likes to get up-in-arms when institutional racism is trivialized or not taken seriously, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Cromartie has played for a different team in each of the past three seasons and that’s because he just isn’t very good anymore. It seems like the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, and Indianapolis Colts all signed Cro in an effort to catch lightning-in-a-bottle—or maybe they just thought they had the coaching staff or scheme in place to slow the inevitable.
The veteran Cromartie has taken plenty of wear and tear in this league. He’s not the same, electrifying playmaker he used to be when he graced the San Diego Chargers secondary from 2006-09. He’s no longer the shutdown corner from his first season with the Jets.
At 32 years old, Cromartie now qualifies as over-the-hill in NFL terms and the Colts released him because he stunk. His final game with the Colts came in Week 4 against the rival Jacksonville Jaguars and he’s a big reason why they lost that game. The four-time Pro Bowler is a big name, but it’s hard to see him being an asset for any team at this stage of his career. He hasn’t recorded an interception since 2014, so playmaking ability can no longer be touted as a trump card.
Sep 11, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans receiver Andre Johnson (81) drops a pass against the Minnesota Vikings at Nissan Stadium. The Vikings won 25-16. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Andre Johnson, WR — Tennessee Titans
Darrelle Revis is a sure-fire, future Hall of Famer and one of the best cornerbacks to ever take the field. The same can be said of Andre Johnson at the wide receiver position, but you have to wonder if he should have called it quits after the 2014 season.
Johnson signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015, hoping to chase a Super Bowl ring with the likes of Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Frank Gore. Instead, the Colts went 8-8 and were 24th in the league in scoring offense and Johnson was forced to play without Luck for most of the season.
You can make the argument that Johnson was the least effective skill position player in the Colts offense, as he could do little on his 77 targets. He looked way past his prime, which was surprising considering that he performed reasonably well in his final season with the Texans. In 2014, Johnson drew tough assignments away from DeAndre Hopkins and moved the chains effectively.
For some reason, the Tennessee Titans decided to take a flier on Johnson after already retaining 2015 disaster Harry Douglas, who was even worse than Johnson that year. Johnson’s play has slide to new lows this season, but at least he did give fans a cool game-winning catch in Week 2.
Outside of a pair of touchdown catches, Johnson hasn’t been worth playing. He has a 40.9 percent catch rate and, for my money, he is the worst wide receiver in the NFL right now. At one point, the Titans were choosing between Johnson and fellow over-the-hill, former elite wideout Roddy White. While passing on both would have been the correct answer, I doubt White would have been worse than this.
Oct 16, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) tackles Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) as he runs the ball during the first half at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Ahmad Brooks, OLB — San Francisco 49ers
Ahmad Brooks has never been one of the NFL’s most fearsome edge rushers, but he used to be a great partner for Aldon Smith, back when Smith was an elite member of the San Francisco 49ers star-studded defense.
In 2016, Brooks seems like a relic of the 49ers glory days under Jim Harbaugh and he sure as heck plays like one. It’s funny how everyone talks about Colin Kaepernick‘s decline in play over the years, but Brooks has gone relatively unscathed in the criticism department.
Having a reputation as a good outside linebacker tends to do that, but it’s time to admit that Brooks is a liability. Nobody on the 49ers has been providing much of a pass rush and it won’t get better with Aaron Lynch potentially out with a high-ankle sprain.
Brooks’s numbers look okay (2.5 sacks, three passes defended, 20 tackles), but numbers have flattered him for a few years now. He had six sacks in 2014 and 6.5 in 2015, but he hasn’t been as good as he was from 2011-13, or even all that close to that level.
Since Brooks might be seen as something of a late bloomer, it’s easy to forget that he’s 32 years old. Not everyone can be like Dwight Freeney and succeed as an edge rusher for a lengthy amount of time. Brooks is on the decline, and he’s making plenty of mistakes out there for the 49ers defense. Eli Harold and Tank Carradine haven’t stepped up, though, so the 49ers will have to continue to play an up-and-down outside linebacker who, at this stage of his career, is usually “down.”