Published On: Mon, Jun 18th, 2018

Top 10 NFL journeymen

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theScore’s NFL Top 10 is a two-week series in which editors take a look at football’s best, worst, and most interesting, highlighting everything from the overpaid to the most versatile and marketable.

Top 10 NFL Series
Journeymen Under 6-feet tall (Jun. 19)
Versatile (Jun. 20) Never scored TD (Jun. 21)
Overpaid (Jun. 22) Ringless vets (Jun. 25)
Born outside U.S. (Jun. 26) Small-school (Jun. 27)
Undrafted (Jun. 28) Marketable (Jun. 29)

The NFL is often defined by its transience, and the nature of the league – with its constantly shifting rosters – rarely allows players to stay with one team for the duration of their careers. For some players, a change of scenery is all they need before truly fulfilling their potential. For others, they can need longer to settle into a groove.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 NFL journeymen. For the purpose of this list, a journeyman must be on at least his fourth team as of June 18.

10. Josh McCown, QB, Jets


Previous teams: Cardinals, Lions, Raiders, Panthers, Bears, Buccaneers, Browns

A truly great season has eluded McCown, which is why he’s not ranked higher. The Jets are the eighth team the soon-to-be 39-year-old has suited up for over 15 seasons. His 13 starts in 2017 tied a single-season career best, though he’s failed to finish with a better record than the 6-7 McCown led the Arizona Cardinals to in 2004. He’s spent his career as either a stop-gap starter for a rebuilding team or a high-end backup for a team without a solidified first stringer. He served as a player-coach to end the 2017 season, opening the door to a potential quick post-career transition into a sideline role.

9. Case Keenum, QB, Broncos


Previous teams: Texans, Rams, Vikings

If it weren’t for Keenum’s career-best season in 2017, there’s a strong chance he wouldn’t be in consideration for this list. After bouncing around the league primarily in a backup role, Keenum exploded with the Vikings, completing 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,547 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions, all while steering the team to the NFC Championship Game. Keenum signed a two-year contract worth $36 million with the Broncos in March, and it’s now on him to prove 2017 wasn’t an anomaly.

8. Benjamin Watson, TE, Saints


Previous teams: Patriots, Browns, Ravens

Watson, a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year Award, has been valuable for several teams because of not only his on-field play, but also the leadership and quality locker-room presence he provides. The former first-round pick of the Patriots returns to the Saints for his 14th season. He’s been extremely reliable and durable, logging at least 12 games every season since his rookie year.

7. Torrey Smith, WR, Panthers


Previous teams: Ravens, 49ers, Eagles

Smith has never been a genuine No. 1 receiver, but he’s elite at one skill: drawing pass interference penalties downfield. With an ability to beat defenders off the line and skillfully draw contact on 50-50 balls, Smith has carved out a lane for himself as a dependable second receiver, doing it while playing major roles on two championship-winning teams. Although his production has tailed off in recent years (his last 1,000-plus-yard season was back in 2013), Smith has a chance to reignite his career after being traded to the Panthers in March.

6. Mike Wallace, WR, Eagles


Previous teams: Steelers, Dolphins, Vikings, Ravens

Wallace has had an inconsistent career. The 31-year-old has posted three 1,000-plus-yard campaigns, but he was released by the Minnesota Vikings after a 2015 season with just 473 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He rebounded the next season with the Ravens by recording 1,017 yards on 72 receptions, then his 748 yards on 52 grabs in 2017 was still solid enough to earn a one-year free-agent deal with the Super Bowl champion Eagles.

5. Dion Lewis, RB, Titans


Previous teams: Eagles, Browns, Colts, Patriots

It’s hard to imagine Lewis’ career before he took off with the Patriots. The shifty running back became a valuable part of Bill Belichick’s offense before signing with the Titans. Lewis is the embodiment of the modern back. The fifth-round pick in 2011 is adept at finding room between the tackles, and he can also serve as a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield. After signing a four-year contract worth $20 million with Tennessee this summer, Lewis will be expected to play a major role in the offense and star with a larger opportunity.

4. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions


Previous teams: Buccaneers, Patriots, Steelers, Eagles

Blount will turn 32 years old late in the 2018 season, and he’ll hope to continue a late-career resurgence. An undrafted free-agent signee of the Buccaneers out of Oregon, Blount is a reigning back-to-back Super Bowl champion – first with the Patriots, and then with the Eagles – and has three total rings in his career. The brutal nature of the running back position has prevented him from cashing in on solid performances at a later age. His last three contracts have each been for just one season, with neither topping $2 million per year, according to Over The Cap.

3. Sam Bradford, QB, Cardinals


Previous teams: Rams, Eagles, Vikings

Bradford was selected first overall in 2010, and he’s had a non-linear career trajectory. After being named the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Bradford’s stint with the Rams was marred by injuries. He joined the Eagles in 2015, logging a strong season before being traded to the Vikings. During the 2016 season, Bradford was efficient, but he suffered a knee injury that limited his 2017 appearances to two games. Then he signed with the Cardinals in the offseason, and although the veteran will be pushed by rookie Josh Rosen, Bradford has every opportunity to revive his career.

2. Brandon Marshall, WR, Seahawks


Previous teams: Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, Jets, Giants

Marshall has as many Pro Bowl honors as he has teams on his resume. The 34-year-old has recorded 1,000-plus receiving yards with four teams, but he’s been released by both the Giants and Jets in consecutive offseasons. After having to wait for his new contract deep into free agency, Marshall found an ideal fit with the Seahawks. He’ll likely serve as the No. 2 option behind Doug Baldwin and receive plenty of red-zone looks.

1. Aqib Talib, CB, Rams


Previous teams: Buccaneers, Patriots, Broncos

It feels somewhat unnatural to give Talib the journeyman label, as Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics show he’s still one of the NFL’s premier cornerbacks. But he’s bounced around the league a bit, partly due to off-field issues. Talib has established himself as arguably the most physical defensive back at the line of scrimmage, and he has a penchant for ripping balls out of the air with the same fluency as snatching chains (sorry, Michael Crabtree). After being traded to the Rams, Talib will line up alongside Marcus Peters to likely form one of the most dangerous cornerback pairings in the NFL.

Top 10 NFL Series
Journeymen Under 6-feet tall (Jun. 19)
Versatile (Jun. 20) Never scored TD (Jun. 21)
Overpaid (Jun. 22) Ringless vets (Jun. 25)
Born outside U.S. (Jun. 26) Small-school (Jun. 27)
Undrafted (Jun. 28) Marketable (Jun. 29)

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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