Picking players who need a change of scenery on all 32 NFL teams

Whether due to playing time, friction with teammates or just poor performance, sometimes it’s better for players to move on. We’ve listed the top players in need of a fresh start across the league. Will Antonio Brown[1] make his photoshop dreams come true? Will Cody Parkey[2] kick again? Where will the veteran quarterbacks land? Will Earl Thomas[3] get his Texas wish?

Scan through all 32 teams by division, or click here to jump ahead to your team:

AFC East

TE Charles Clay[4]. When he signed Clay as a transition-tagged free agent in 2015, former Bills GM Doug Whaley thought he was simultaneously improving his team and dealing a blow to the division-rival Dolphins. Instead, the Bills are still feeling the salary-cap effect of Clay’s contract, which included $24.5 million in guaranteed money and was restructured in 2016 to push money later into the deal. Clay is likely to be released this offseason after catching only 21 passes for 184 yards in 2018; his last touchdown catch was in Week 3 of 2017. — Mike Rodak

WR DeVante Parker[5]. The Dolphins have given Parker, their 2015 first-round pick, every opportunity to become their No. 1 receiver, but his underwhelming return and injury-prone four seasons in Miami have been a big damper on his relationship with the team. Much of Miami’s fan base has soured on Parker too, and it seems like a fresh start would be beneficial for both parties. Parker has a $9.4 million fifth-year option that would become guaranteed next month, but it’s a near certainty that Miami will make a roster decision on him before that becomes final. — Cameron Wolfe

DT Malcom Brown[14]. The 2015 first-round draft choice (No. 32 overall) started and made significant contributions to two Super Bowl championship teams, but the Patriots declined his fifth-year option for 2019. That option would have paid him in the $8 million range, which provides evidence that the team views him as more of a two-down player who comes off the field in obvious passing situations. Can Brown be more than that? It’s possible, and finding a scheme that brings that out of him would make sense from his perspective. — Mike Reiss

DL Henry Anderson[15]. This is strictly scheme-related. He enjoyed a career year in 2018 (seven sacks), but he isn’t an ideal fit in the 4-3 scheme that will be installed by new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Anderson has always played his best ball in a 3-4 front, going back to his days with the Colts. He will be a free agent for the first time, and he’s expected to receive offers from three or four teams. — Rich Cimini

AFC North

WR Michael Crabtree[16]. No Raven was in need of a change of scenery more than Joe Flacco[17] and he got just that on Wednesday when he was traded[18] to the Broncos. Crabtree and the Ravens could also benefit from a split. Baltimore would get $4.66 million in cap savings by moving on from the 10-year veteran, who had 54 catches for 607 yards and three touchdowns in 2018. And Crabtree would have the chance to find a more accurate quarterback than Lamar Jackson[19], who electrified the Ravens with his playmaking but was an inconsistent passer. As a starter, only half of Jackson’s passes to wide receivers resulted in completions, better than only the Bengals during that time frame.

TE Tyler Eifert[20]. This one could go either way, as Eifert is scheduled to become a free agent. Due to recurring injuries, Eifert has never played a full season, but it appeared to be a freak accident when he broke his ankle in September. Eifert’s future is less clear than ever. He could attempt to get a fresh start elsewhere or try one more time to come back on a one-year deal. But with all three of the team’s starting tight ends set to become free agents, the Bengals can’t afford to lose everyone. — Katherine Terrell

QB Tyrod Taylor[21]. He came to the Browns expecting to start and lost his job after three games. In Cleveland, he’d be a backup, a role he probably doesn’t relish. He turns 30 in August, still believes he can play and would probably prefer to find a team that will give him a chance. — Pat McManamon



Jeremy Fowler joins SportsCenter to explain what’s next for Antonio Brown after his tweet directed toward Steelers Nation.

WR Antonio Brown[22]. This one’s easy, though Le’Veon Bell easily could slide into this spot. As if photoshopping himself into a San Francisco 49ers jersey wasn’t enough of a signal, Brown officially made his trade demands clear with a farewell video posted Tuesday. The Steelers were exploring a trade for Brown even before his recent domestic dispute in South Florida. The Steelers will miss Brown’s playmaking but could reset the passing game with JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington. — Jeremy Fowler[23][24][25][26]

AFC South

RB Alfred Blue[27]. The running back is headed to free agency after playing in all 16 games for just the second time in his five-year career. Lamar Miller, the primary back, had 60 more rushing attempts than Blue, despite playing two fewer games. A fresh start might give Blue a better chance to be a team’s featured running back. — Turron Davenport[28]

QB Jacoby Brissett[29]. Brissett didn’t do anything wrong in 2018. He basically did everything right. He was a great backup to Andrew Luck and supporter of his teammates. He started taking part in the defense’s celebrations in the end zone after a turnover. Brissett, who started 15 games in 2017, needs a new team because he deserves the opportunity to be a starting quarterback in this league. That isn’t going to happen with the Colts because Luck proved last season that his surgically repaired right shoulder is healed, and there’s a chance he’ll be an MVP candidate next season. — Mike Wells[30]

QB Blake Bortles[31]. The Jaguars made a mistake by signing him to a three-year extension through 2020 after he posted the best season of his career in 2017. Bortles couldn’t maintain that level of play (which shouldn’t be a surprise since he has been a streaky player throughout his career), and he struggled badly after a hot start last season. He has thrown 103 TD passes in five seasons, but it’s clear he isn’t the Jaguars’ QB of the future. He might not ever be an elite QB, but he can be a solid backup — somewhere else. — Mike DiRocco

OL Quinton Spain[32]. The shift from a power running scheme to a gap scheme didn’t bode well for the 6-foot-5, 335-pound offensive lineman. A lot of the pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota came from the interior. Spain was benched after the first half of the Titans’ Week 13 game against the Jets. He’s more of a people mover who would benefit from being in a scheme that utilizes man-on-man blocking. Fellow guard Josh Kline is another player who could use a change of scenery, but Spain is set to be a free agent, and Tennessee will likely replace him with an interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft. — Turron Davenport[33][34]

AFC West

CB Bradley Roby[35]. Roby, the Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2014 draft, was supposed to show in 2018 that he was ready to be a starter after Aqib Talib was traded. It didn’t work out that way. He had likely his worst game as a pro in a loss to the New York Jets — he was a key defender on three Jets touchdowns — and an inconsistent season overall. He wasn’t always assignment-sound, and by the end of the season, he had his effort questioned by Monday Night Football analyst Jason Witten. Roby is set to be an unrestricted free agent, and he will move on at a high-demand position in the league. The Broncos put him in a prove-it situation, so he knows their plans to re-sign him likely hinged on a far better season than he had. — Jeff Legwold[36]

LB Tanoh Kpassagnon[37]. He appears unlikely to fulfill the potential the Chiefs believed he had when they drafted him in the second round in 2017. Last year, the Chiefs felt compelled to trade up to draft Breeland Speaks, who plays the same position. He was a healthy scratch for two of the final three games in the regular season and one in the playoffs. — Adam Teicher[38]

CB Jason Verrett. The TCU product tore his Achilles tendon during a conditioning drill the day before training camp, forcing him to miss the entire 2018 season. Verrett has missed 65 of a possible 80 games in five seasons with the Chargers and hasn’t played a full season since being selected in the first round of the 2014 draft. Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, Verrrett is a Pro Bowl player when healthy but might stand a better chance of displaying his talent in new surroundings. — Eric D. Williams[39]

CB Rashaan Melvin[40]. A much ballyhooed free-agent signing last spring, Melvin quickly ran afoul of coach Jon Gruden when he tweeted on Oct. 15 that he was “frustrated and upset … tired of it” while pledging that he was “done trying to change my style. It’s not me. Back to what I know and what got me here!” Gruden’s response? “Melvin is on his seventh team, I think. He’s had different techniques. Maybe he’s confused.” Melvin, who signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Oakland and had one interception, started the Raiders’ first five games, was inactive for two after his social media diatribe, came off the bench for seven and started the final two. But with the dual emergence of Gareon Conley and Daryl Worley at cornerback, along with his frustrations, Melvin could use a change of scenery, unless he’s amenable to a different role. — Paul Gutierrez[41][42]

NFC East

DT David Irving[49]. He has played in 10 of the past 32 games because of suspension or injury. As talented as he is — he has eight sacks in those 10 games — he’s unreliable. He entered 2018 with a four-game suspension for violating the substance abuse policy and needed a big season in a contract year. He suffered a high ankle sprain in practice in November and never returned. He was not around the facility much as he dealt with off-field personal issues and was not diligent with his rehab. When he worked out for Jerry Jones and the front office late in the season, he was out of shape. Jones loves a good deal, and he could get Irving back for next to nothing, but if the Cowboys want the “right kind of guy” around, they need to let Irving become another team’s problem. — Todd Archer

LB B.J. Goodson[50]. The Giants traded for veteran middle linebacker Alec Ogletree last offseason. He’s a similar player to Goodson, the Giants’ fourth-round pick in 2016. That left Goodson as a part-time player this past season and limited his production and growth. With the Giants committed to Ogletree financially this season, Goodson might be better off on another team. — Jordan Raanan[51]

CB Ronald Darby[52]. He tore his ACL in November and started just half the team’s games the past two seasons due to injury. The Eagles might choose to ride with their young draft picks in Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas rather than re-up Darby, who is set to become a free agent. Just 25 years old and with plenty of speed and ability, Darby should have some suitors. — Tim McManus[53][54][55]

LB Zach Brown[56]. He was a starter for most of the past two seasons, and the Redskins re-signed him last offseason, though it was far from a unanimous decision in the organization. Brown was eventually benched, done in by missing too many practices for what they termed “illnesses.” That allowed rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton a chance to show his progress in practice and led to Brown’s benching. He still played a role in sub packages, but he told the media that he saw the “writing on the wall.” Both sides could use a change in this situation. Getting rid of Brown would save the Redskins $5.75 million in cap space (with a pre-June 1 release). — John Keim[57]



Rex Ryan doesn’t have sympathy for Bears kicker Cody Parkey missing the potential game-winning field goal against the Eagles.

NFC North

K Cody Parkey[58]. Yes, you can look at the kick that bounced off two posts (and the “Today” show appearance after) that eliminated Chicago from the playoffs as the main reason he needs to be in a new place, but it goes beyond that. Parkey missed seven field goal attempts and three extra points in the regular season, including three field goals from inside 40 yards and six from inside 50 yards. Soldier Field might be an incredibly difficult place to kick, but that type of work from inside 50 yards is just poor. — Michael Rothstein

DL Kerry Hyder[59]. A breakout player in Detroit in 2016 who missed all of 2017 with an Achilles injury, Hyder never seemed to fit with the Lions in 2018. He remained on the roster but was active for just seven games (with one sack). He was a healthy scratch most weeks — a long way from his eight-sack 2016. It’s tough to know if he has any of his burst remaining because the Lions just opted not to use him. An aggressive 4-3 team might be best for him — or going where coaches are familiar with his game. — Michael Rothstein

OLB Nick Perry[60]. The Packers hoped his 11-sack season in 2016 wasn’t a fluke. It looks like they were wrong. Injury issues returned the past two seasons, when he combined to miss 11 games. His 2018 season ended after nine games (and just 1.5 sacks) because of a knee injury. He already has collected $28 million of a five-year, $60 million deal. He is owed a $4.8 million roster bonus on March 16, and it’s hard to imagine the Packers paying it, even though they’re thin on edge rushers. — Rob Demovsky

WR Laquon Treadwell[61]. The Vikings gave it their best shot, but the Treadwell experiment never panned out the way they hoped. At this rate, it seems highly unlikely that Minnesota will exercise Treadwell’s fifth-year option for 2020. Although the franchise is up against the salary cap and would incur around $2.5 million in dead money to cut the former first-rounder, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Treadwell offered the Vikings little trade value when they explored moving him prior to roster cut-down day in 2018 and at the trade deadline. He was even benched (a healthy scratch) in favor of undrafted free-agent receiver Chad Beebe in Week 16 vs. Detroit. While there’s time for him to turn around a career that has yielded 56 receptions for 517 yards and a touchdown in three seasons (including a team-high 5 drops in 2018), it’s in the best interest of both sides to part ways. — Courtney Cronin[62]

NFC South

RB Tevin Coleman[63]. Although Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff previously said he could see a scenario in which the team signed Coleman to pair with Devonta Freeman into the future, that scenario seems highly unlikely. The Falcons gave Freeman an extension through 2022 worth $8.25 million per year, so they probably won’t pay Coleman. He likely will land a lucrative deal elsewhere, with a chance to be the primary back with his explosive ability. — Vaughn McClure[64]

WR Devin Funchess[65]. He went from No. 1 receiver to start the 2018 season to being phased out down the stretch in favor of first-round pick DJ Moore and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel. An unrestricted free agent, Funchess never really fit into a Norv Turner offense that relies on a lot of quick, high-percentage passes, but he’s still a capable receiver who can play in multiple spots. He had one of the best catches of the year this past season. He just won’t be worth what he’ll likely demand in free agency. — David Newton[66][67]

QB Teddy Bridgewater[68]. I hate saying this because it would be such a great fit for both Bridgewater and the Saints if they could “save” Bridgewater to eventually replace Drew Brees. But unless Brees gives some sort of assurance that he’s going to play only one more year, Bridgewater is ready to be a starter now that he has proved he is healthy. There aren’t too many obvious openings around the league. But Miami, Jacksonville and perhaps the New York Giants, Washington or Denver could make sense among other possibilities. — Mike Triplett[69]

WR DeSean Jackson[70]. This is a no-brainer, even with new head coach Bruce Arians expressing his desire to keep Jackson. Jackson has one year left on his deal and is due $10 million next season (none of it guaranteed), but he has not been able to establish the necessary chemistry with Jameis Winston on the deep ball, and his frustration only grew this past season when Winston regained his starting job and Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched. There are some within the Bucs’ organization who aren’t ready to give up on this, but considering the Bucs have only $15 million in cap space heading into 2019 and a ton of other needs, a trade and unloading a big contract while allowing Jackson a fresh start seems like a win-win. — Jenna Laine[71][72]

NFC West

C A.Q. Shipley[73]. He signed a one-year extension in August after he tore his ACL to keep him on the roster in 2019. But Shipley, who before his injury was one of the most reliable Cardinals the past few seasons, might not have a place on the roster with the emergence of center Mason Cole, who took his spot post-injury. Cole was drafted in the third round to be the center of the future, which came sooner than everyone expected. There are two scenarios in which Shipley could see the field in 2019: The Cardinals ask Cole to play guard for a year or two and reinsert Shipley as the starting center or Shipley moves to guard. If neither of those scenarios plays out, Shipley might be better suited for a starting center job elsewhere. — Josh Weinfuss[74]

QB Sean Mannion[75]. Mannion, a third-round pick in 2015, is a pending free agent and has spent his four seasons in the NFL serving as a backup for Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Jared Goff. It’s unlikely that Mannion would elevate to a starter for another team, but he still could benefit from a change of scenery. Mannion had a lackluster preseason for the Rams, and confidence about whether he could fill in for Goff wavered. In four seasons, Mannion has completed 33 of 53 passes for 258 yards, with an interception. — Lindsey Thiry[76][77][78]

LB Malcolm Smith[79]. One of the first free-agent signees of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era, Smith has never been fully healthy in his two seasons with the team and has offered little production because of it. Smith played in just 12 games over two seasons with 35 tackles and is scheduled to count almost $5.5 million against the cap in 2019. The 49ers have some intriguing young players at linebacker and should be on the lookout for more in the offseason, which makes it hard to envision Smith returning, barring a significant salary reduction. — Nick Wagoner

S Earl Thomas[80]. This is an easy call with all the drama of the past 13 months. It started with Thomas tracking down Jason Garrett after a Christmas Eve game in 2017 and telling the Cowboys coach to “come get me” if he were to become available. It continued with Thomas holding out last offseason as he sought an extension or a trade, returning for the opener, then declining to take part in a few practices. It ended with Thomas flipping the bird toward the Seahawks’ sideline in Arizona after breaking his leg. An extension would have been plausible had Thomas stayed healthy and continued to play at his All-Pro level in 2018. He picked off three passes in four games before he was hurt and has been a pillar of Seattle’s defense in the Pete Carroll era. But his middle finger felt like a final goodbye for one of the greatest Seahawks of all time. — Brady Henderson


  1. ^ Antonio Brown (www.espn.com)
  2. ^ Cody Parkey (www.espn.com)
  3. ^ Earl Thomas (www.espn.com)
  4. ^ Charles Clay (www.espn.com)
  5. ^ DeVante Parker (www.espn.com)
  6. ^ Key offseason dates and priorities » (www.espn.com)
  7. ^ Experts predict: Answering top questions » (www.espn.com)
  8. ^ Ranking the top 50 NFL free agents » (www.espn.com)
  9. ^ Meet the offseason quarterback market » (www.espn.com)
  10. ^ Top free-agent decisions for all 32 teams » (www.espn.com)
  11. ^ Biggest offseason needs for every team » (www.espn.com)
  12. ^ Predicting QB Nick Foles’ future » (www.espn.com)
  13. ^ More NFL coverage » (www.espn.com)
  14. ^ Malcom Brown (www.espn.com)
  15. ^ Henry Anderson (www.espn.com)
  16. ^ Michael Crabtree (www.espn.com)
  17. ^ Joe Flacco (www.espn.com)
  18. ^ when he was traded (www.espn.com)
  19. ^ Lamar Jackson (www.espn.com)
  20. ^ Tyler Eifert (www.espn.com)
  21. ^ Tyrod Taylor (www.espn.com)
  22. ^ Antonio Brown (www.espn.com)
  23. ^ Le’Veon Bell (www.espn.com)
  24. ^ officially made his trade demands clear with a farewell video posted Tuesday (www.espn.com)
  25. ^ JuJu Smith-Schuster (www.espn.com)
  26. ^ James Washington (www.espn.com)
  27. ^ Alfred Blue (www.espn.com)
  28. ^ Lamar Miller (www.espn.com)
  29. ^ Jacoby Brissett (www.espn.com)
  30. ^ Andrew Luck (www.espn.com)
  31. ^ Blake Bortles (www.espn.com)
  32. ^ Quinton Spain (www.espn.com)
  33. ^ Marcus Mariota (www.espn.com)
  34. ^ Josh Kline (www.espn.com)
  35. ^ Bradley Roby (www.espn.com)
  36. ^ Aqib Talib (www.espn.com)
  37. ^ Tanoh Kpassagnon (www.espn.com)
  38. ^ Breeland Speaks (espn.go.com)
  39. ^ Jason Verrett (www.espn.com)
  40. ^ Rashaan Melvin (www.espn.com)
  41. ^ Gareon Conley (www.espn.com)
  42. ^ Daryl Worley (www.espn.com)
  43. ^ 49ers have lots to consider in Brown sweepstakes (www.espn.com)
  44. ^ Scenarios for Cardinals to trade top pick (www.espn.com)
  45. ^ Packers could move on from Perry, others (www.espn.com)
  46. ^ Kyler could land Jets a draft windfall (www.espn.com)
  47. ^ Who needs a change of scenery? (www.espn.com)
  48. ^ NFL draft: Mock drafts, prospects and more (www.espn.com)
  49. ^ David Irving (www.espn.com)
  50. ^ B.J. Goodson (www.espn.com)
  51. ^ Alec Ogletree (www.espn.com)
  52. ^ Ronald Darby (www.espn.com)
  53. ^ Jalen Mills (www.espn.com)
  54. ^ Sidney Jones (www.espn.com)
  55. ^ Rasul Douglas (www.espn.com)
  56. ^ Zach Brown (www.espn.com)
  57. ^ Shaun Dion Hamilton (www.espn.com)
  58. ^ Cody Parkey (www.espn.com)
  59. ^ Kerry Hyder (www.espn.com)
  60. ^ Nick Perry (www.espn.com)
  61. ^ Laquon Treadwell (www.espn.com)
  62. ^ Chad Beebe (www.espn.com)
  63. ^ Tevin Coleman (www.espn.com)
  64. ^ Devonta Freeman (www.espn.com)
  65. ^ Devin Funchess (www.espn.com)
  66. ^ DJ Moore (www.espn.com)
  67. ^ Curtis Samuel (www.espn.com)
  68. ^ Teddy Bridgewater (www.espn.com)
  69. ^ Drew Brees (www.espn.com)
  70. ^ DeSean Jackson (www.espn.com)
  71. ^ Jameis Winston (www.espn.com)
  72. ^ Ryan Fitzpatrick (www.espn.com)
  73. ^ A.Q. Shipley (www.espn.com)
  74. ^ Mason Cole (www.espn.com)
  75. ^ Sean Mannion (www.espn.com)
  76. ^ Nick Foles (www.espn.com)
  77. ^ Case Keenum (www.espn.com)
  78. ^ Jared Goff (www.espn.com)
  79. ^ Malcolm Smith (www.espn.com)
  80. ^ Earl Thomas (www.espn.com)