man catching brown football on stadium

The National Football League is a league that moves incredibly quickly. If players don’t perform, past performance doesn’t matter, and they’ll be left behind. The league is relentless and ruthless, and players who don’t reach expectations can be cut by their long-time teams or underpaid as free agents. Even fans can turn on their former favorites.

Checking the odds on the best betting sites, most teams favored to perform well this year have elite players who raised the bar yearly. But what about the players in desperate need of a strong year? Certain players’ financial futures and job security depend on their performance this season. Let’s look at who those players are.

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield had a stunning fall from grace. After being the first-overall pick, leading the Browns back to the playoffs, and looking like a franchise QB, Mayfield’s career has swiftly declined. He is now on his 4th team and locked into a quarterback battle with the completely untested Kyle Trask. If Mayfield can get the starting job for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he’ll have great wide receivers to throw to. If he can perform at a high level and showcase the talent that made him the 1st pick, this might not be his last starting chance. But if he can’t, this could be the last we see of Mayfield as a starter.

Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor is in an unfortunate position just because he is a running back. Taylor had one of the best running back seasons of the past few years in 2021-22 as a first-team All-Pro. His production declined last year due to injuries, but he is likely one of the five best backs in the league. However, unless he has a monstrous season this year, he will not likely receive the money he wants to make. Running backs have not been paid lately, and the Colts seem unlikely to give him the raise he wants. He’ll need a year like 2021-22 to secure that deal.

Jamal Adams

At one point, Jamal Adams was one of the best young defensive players in the league. He made the All-Pro team three times and was signed to a huge contract by the Seahawks. Injuries have taken the wind out of his sails, as he has played just 25 games in the past three seasons. There is no certainty that he will be cleared to start the 2023 season, either. If Adams can’t get healthy and return to the level that was previously expected of him, he could turn into one of the worst contracts in the NFL.

Jordan Love

The pressure is astronomical on Jordan Love because of who he plays after. The Packers quarterback pipeline has consisted of three people in the past several decades: Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and now Jordan Love. Love is taking over from Rodgers for his first years as the Packers’ starter, and there is a lot of mystery about what kind of player he will be. Comparisons to Favre and Rodgers will be abundant, but if Love shows he isn’t a high-caliber starter in his 4th year in the league, the Packers could replace him.

Chase Young

Chase Young is another player who was a high draft pick, shined very brightly, and rapidly fell off. Young was drafted second overall and won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020. However, since then, he has played 12 games and gotten 1.5 sacks, a result that the Washington Commanders certainly can’t be happy with. The team recently declined his fifth-year option, meaning he will be a free agent at the end of this year. He is healthy, so if he can have a dominant season, he will enter free agency as a 25-year-old who will receive a massive raise. If he falters, he’s going to be a low-priced flier.

Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr.’s career has had highs that far exceed most players. He was at one point considered to have the greatest start to a wide receiver career, appearing on the covers of magazines and video games. However, numerous injuries have led to Beckham bouncing around the league, and he has only played 21 games since 2020. He is starting fresh on the Baltimore Ravens on a one-year contract and will catch balls from Lamar Jackson, one of the game’s most dynamic players. If this partnership works, it will result in a lucrative future for Beckham.

Jawaan Taylor

Jawaan Taylor is unique on this list because he has already received a massive extension. After several mediocre years in Jacksonville, the Kansas City Chiefs felt willing to gamble on Jawaan Taylor. They signed him to a four-year, $80 million contract to protect Patrick Mahomes and let star left tackle Orland Brown walk out the door. This move is puzzling, as Brown would’ve likely accepted a similar contract. Now, Taylor will have a lot of expectations to deliver for the team as Mahomes blindside protector. This is a massive role for a highly competitive team, and the league will pay close attention.

Kadarius Toney

Kadarius Toney has not performed at the level expected of a first-round pick, and the New York Giants cut bait with him very quickly. They traded Toney in the middle of his second season, seemingly seeing enough out of him. Toney improved slightly on the Kansas City Chiefs, playing a solid role in their Super Bowl win. Now, he might have the opportunity to seize a major role as a key target for one of the game’s great quarterbacks. The Chiefs are shallow at wide receiver, and Toney seems likely to see more looks from the team. If he can deliver, he could step into a massive job upgrade. But if he struggles, he could be running low on chances.

Jeff Okudah

Jeff Okudah was drafted third overall by the Lions in 2020, and the team hoped they were receiving a shutdown corner. Injuries and poor performance have changed that outlook. Okudah was dealt for just a fifth-round pick in the offseason and is now an Atlanta Falcon. Luckily, the secondary is shallow there, and Okudah has a likely chance at securing a starting role. He will play opposite one of the best young corners in the game, A.J. Terrell, and could resurrect his career. While he was recently injured, his chances of coming back early are high, and this could be a major step forward in a year for the young cornerback.