The 2019-20 NFL regular season has come to an end. In the coming weeks, Baltimore Ravens‘ Lamar Jackson is the odds-on favorite to be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. The former Heisman Trophy winner led the Ravens to 14-2 record and the number one seed in the playoffs. Jackson completed nearly 65 percent of his passes with 36 touchdowns, six interceptions, and an awe-inspiring 1,206 yards rushing. Not bad indeed for a running back. The regular season also featured stand out performances from the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Patrick Mahomes, the Carolina Panthers‘ Christian McCaffrey, and the Seattle Seahawks‘ Russell Wilson. But in a league of 32 teams and nearly 1,700 players, for every All-Pro stud, there are duds. So we’ve ranked the five least valuable players of the 2019 NFL regular season.
The Selection Process for the Least Valuable Players
The NFL is a brutal and hard-hitting game. NFL team injury reports read like Pro-Bowl rosters on a weekly basis. For our judging process, we eliminated players who missed substantial portions of the season due to injuries. Therefore the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Ben Roethlisberger and the Carolina Panthers‘ Cam Newton did not make the list. Our ranking analyzed several factors including, pre-season hype, projected win totals, fantasy rankings, and regular season stats. We did our best to come up with a scientific result, but acknowledge that choosing the least valuable players of the 2019 NFL season is somewhat subjective.
If you’re the head coach of an NFL team and your quarterback throws for over 5,000 yards, 33 touchdowns with over a 60 percent completion rate, you should feel good about the season. Unfortunately for Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston also threw for a league-high 30 interceptions. That number is tied for seventh-most in NFL history. He’s the first NFL quarterback to throw more than 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season. It’s a record that a quarterback never wants, especially as he enters free agency.
Winston’s inability to read zone coverage has plagued his NFL career. But more troubling is his lack of self-awareness. At his last post-game press conference of the season, Winston said, “You look at my numbers and I’m ballin’….” Winston continued, “You better check your sheet. If I eliminate those, I’m going to be the best.”
Arians’ patience with Winston has apparently come to end too. Asked by the Tampa Bay Times whether the Bucs could win with another quarterback, he said, “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one, too.’’
Pre-season pick to make the Super Bowl, check. Too many offensive playmakers demanding the ball, check. Hot-headed arrogant quarterback, with a ton to prove, double-check. The Browns’ season may have been doomed before kickoff of Week 1. Mayfield regressed significantly from his 2018-19 rookie season. He threw 21 interceptions and completed less than 60 percent of his passes this season. However, Mayfield’s lack of maturity is more troublesome. The Browns are a dysfunctional organization, with a complicated leadership structure. But if the play on the field were more consistent, all the drama behind the scenes could be overlooked. Mayfield made the drama worse.
For example, the Browns’ disastrous 2019 NFL season ended with a loss to Cincinnati, the league’s worst team. As the Browns came off the field, Mayfield got into a heated argument with fans. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor incident, but the Browns can’t afford this behavior from a franchise quarterback.
3. Odell Beckham – Cleveland Browns
Odell Beckham Jr. was traded from the New York Giants to the Browns in a head-scratching move in the off-season. Together with his former LSU teammate Jarvis Landry, they were expected to create a dynamic wide receiving duo for the Browns’ offense. But a Mayfield-Beckham connection never materialized. He only tallied 74 receptions and scored four touchdowns all season. And Beckham deserves a lot of the blame for the lack of chemistry. Beckham Jr. skipped almost all of the Browns’ voluntary off-season workouts before the season. Those OTAs would have provided the three-time Pro Bowler an early opportunity to learn his new offense. Then Beckham Jr. battled lower-body injuries all-season.
The reason Beckham Jr. makes the list of Least Valuable Players is the rumors reported by Jay Glazer of Fox’s NFL Countdown. Beckham Jr. apparently told opposing teams to “Come and get me” when he greets them in pregame warm-ups. Beckham Jr. denied the reports, but his brand, drama, and dwindling production is making him more of a liability than a plus for his team.
When you’re the quarterback of a 2-14 team, you belong on any list of Least Valuable Players. Dalton and the Bengals started the season 0-8. Bengals’ rookie head coach Zac Taylor benched Dalton for Week 9. The “Red Rifle” did return to lead Cincinnati to its only two victories of the season. For the year, Dalton completed less than 60 percent of his passes and nearly threw as many interceptions as touchdowns. The nine-year veteran also ranked 28th in QBR. The only other quarterbacks with lower QBRs were first-year backups Kyle Allen and Mason Rudolph. The Bengals could have begun a rebuilding process during another lost season, but they refused to trade Dalton or veteran wide receiver A.J. Green before the deadline. Now the Bengals are primed to move on from Dalton and draft their next franchise quarterback.
Antonio Brown is a supremely talented wide receiver, arguably the best in the NFL. But his behavior as a member of the Oakland Raiders and Patriots is baffling. Here’s a timeline of his transgressions and why he is undoubtedly this year’s Least Valuable Player in the NFL:
August 7: Brown is unable to participate in Raiders’ practice due to extreme frostbite on his feet from a cryotherapy chamber.
Throughout August: Brown held out of Raiders’ training camp for much of August in protest of the NFL’s helmet policy. He then filed a grievance with the NFL and threatened to retire at one point due to the helmet issue.
September 4: The four-time All-Pro posted a photo of his fines for missed practices on Instagram, which totaled nearly $54,000. Brown then approached general manager Mike Mayock at practice about the fines. He reportedly called Mayock a “cracker” and had to be separated from Mayock by his teammates.
September 7: Brown returned to Raiders practice on September 6. One day later, Brown asks for release from Raiders in an Instagram post. The Raiders fined Brown more than $200,000 for conduct detrimental to the team. Team ownership also voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his contract. The Raiders then released Brown hours after his IG post.
September 7: Brown signs a one-year $15 million contract with the New England Patriots.
September 10: Britney Taylor, a former gymnast who met Brown while they both attended Central Michigan claimed thatover the last three years, including one “forcible” rape. The investigation is ongoing.
September 15: Brown plays his first, and only game of the season. He tallied four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. However, before Week 3 and facing a deluge of media questions about the accusations made against Brown, the Patriots released the receiver.