Aside from the slew of rookies who are looking to make their mark on the NFL during the 2016, there are a handful of players with more than two years experience who could be facing the end of their careers should they fail to have a standout year.
Editor’s note: Second year players were omitted as most didn’t participate much of their rookie 2015 seasons and need to prove themselves worthy of a multi-year career in the league.
Terrelle Pryor (QB -> WR, Browns)
As a quarterback, Pryor was bounced around the league for several years before making the transition to wideout ahead of the 2015 season. In a move that seemingly jump-started — and saved — his career, saw him spend some time on the Bengals offseason roster, only to finally be picked up — released and picked back up -- by the Browns.
Now the Browns have a new head coach in Hue Jackson, someone very familiar with Pryor and his unique skill set and ability. Jackson worked with the quarterback during his time in Oakland with the Raiders, and was particularly confident in Pryor’s ability to be an offensive deep threat for the team.
Pryor will be heading into his second season in his new position, and this will make or break his chances of continuing on in the league. Last year, he had only one reception for 42 yards in the three games he was active. His future as a quarterback is bleak, but can he earn a roster spot as a wideout for the foreseeable future?
DeVier Posey (WR, Broncos)
Posey spent his first three seasons in the NFL down in Houston with the Texans before being used in a trade with the Jets. He didn't land on the final 53-man roster, but found himself signed again in the 2016 offseason to the defending Super Bowl champs, Denver Broncos.
The wideout saw most of his targets come in his first and second years in the league, playing in 25 of 32 games for the Texans, and recording 22 receptions for 272 yards, but no touchdowns. Used on special teams throughout his term with the team, his 2014 season included only one reception for 30 yards.
Heading into his fifth season in the league, fourth on roster, Posey is looking to stick somewhere. Denver’s offense is going through a big transition with the retirement of Peyton Manning and several trades, and if Posey can stick out enough to see playing time this fall, he could still have a shot at a decently long career in
Chimdi Chekwa (DB, Dolphins)
Another former Buckeye who spent the 2015 season watching from home, defensive back Chekwa spent the first four years of his career with the Raiders — and Ohio State teammate Terrelle Pryor — playing in only 32 games. He had a varying success, with 51 total combined tackles and four passes defended during his time out West.
Now heading to the East Coast, Chekwa will get one more shot to contribute to a secondary, and the Dolphins can use all the help they can get. With a very young group of cornerbacks, Miami brought in a few veterans who are almost assuredly getting a roster spot come fall. The former Buckeye will be competing with former Legion of Boom member Byron Maxwell and Isa Abdul-Quddus -- who signed a multi-year deal with the team.
Daniel “Boom” Herron (RB, Bills)
Sometimes the legacy of players stays in college, and without a breakout year by Buckeye favorite Booooom Herron, his chance to shine in the NFL might come to an end. In only his fifth year in the league, the running back has been bounced from team to team, and back again.
After being drafted by the Bengals in 2012, he spent only one year with the team before heading to Indianapolis. In his first year with the Colts, Herron made his value known during the postseason where he became one of the main targets for an injured offense — he went on to play in all 16 games in 2014. Amassing only 351 yards during his second season with the team wasn’t enough to keep him there; Herron was released and started the 2015 season as a member of the Bills.
Buffalo needed the running back to fill in for injured LeSean McCoy. As soon as the former Eagle was back to full health, the team released the running back — who then re-signed with the Colts. That’s right, two teams in 2015 -- two different offenses and a severe lack of consistency. Yet again, the Colts let the Buckeye go after the season, only for him to go and re-sign with the Bills.
Jake Stoneburner (TE, Dolphins)
The tight end spent some time hopping from practice squad to active roster in 2015, but ended up active for 11 games. Despite entering the league in 2013, he wasn’t signed to a team in 2014, which left him eligible for the practice squad in Miami.
Stoneburner looked good enough in the preseason, he earned playing time during the three of the first four regular season games — even scoring 2 touchdowns on five receptions for 47 yards. After Week 5, neigh was heard from the tight end, but he’s done enough to show that he’s a reliable red zone target and could contribute to a rebuilding Dolphins offense.