32 NFL players who need a change of scenery

Mario Williams done in Buffalo? The Giants moving on from Jason Pierre-Paul? DeMarco Murray leaving Philadelphia after one disastrous season? NFL Nation reporters pick a player who needs a change of scenery for all 32 NFL teams.


Buffalo Bills: There isn't a bit of hesitation on this question -- it's Mario Williams. The four-time Pro Bowl defensive end voiced his concerns last season about how he and other defensive players were being used in coach Rex Ryan's scheme. Williams' production dropped off dramatically, and he's widely expected to be released in the coming weeks. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews was once disgruntled and wanted out of Miami in 2015. It appears Matthews, an unrestricted free agent, will likely get his wish this offseason. He earned the starting job out of training camp last summer despite long odds. He had a solid season with 43 receptions, 662 yards and 4 touchdowns before suffering season-ending rib and chest injuries in Week 12. But with 2015 first-round pick DeVante Parker projected to start next season, Matthews likely will look elsewhere to find a starting opportunity. -- James Walker

New England Patriots: A year after putting up career-high numbers (74 catches, 953 yards, 7 touchdowns), wide receiver Brandon LaFell slipped to No. 4 on the depth chart in the AFC Championship Game, and he wasn't targeted. LaFell had just 37 catches for 515 yards and no touchdowns in 2015. Entering the final year of his contract, his fit in New England in 2016 is uncertain. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Former starting quarterback Geno Smith is a classic example of a player who could benefit from a fresh start. The fan base turned on him in 2014, and he never got a chance for redemption because his jaw was broken by a teammate's fist and he lost his job to Ryan Fitzpatrick, who enjoyed a career year. Smith has some physical talent, but he doesn't appear to have the mental makeup to thrive in a place like New York. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens: Left tackle Eugene Monroe has failed to give the Ravens any reason to have faith in him. He has missed 16 games (including the playoffs) since signing a five-year, $37.5 million contract (with an $11 million signing bonus) before the 2014 season. Monroe only started and finished three games in 2015. Joe Flacco suffered his season-ending knee injury when Monroe's replacement, James Hurst, was pushed back into the franchise quarterback. Monroe isn't a Pro Bowl blocker, but he has talent. It might be easier for him to get his career on track elsewhere. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals: Although he hasn't voiced displeasure with the Bengals, cornerback Leon Hall, the team's first-round pick in 2007, seems the most in need of a new environment. The 31-year-old is one of the Bengals' 15 unrestricted free agents, and he's likely headed for a pay cut if he re-signs. His current deal paid him $9.75 million per year. In the five seasons since signing it, Hall has had two season-ending Achilles tears, and the Bengals have drafted two corners in the first round. With those young players emerging, Cincinnati is unlikely to agree to a massive, long-term contract this time around. He may be on the downside of his career, but Hall can still help someone's team. -- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo was the sixth pick in the 2013 draft, but he has never found a position on the defense. The Browns have used him as a pass-rusher and as a drop linebacker and can't seem to settle on what to do with him. He could use a fresh start with a new team that can take advantage of his skills. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers: Cornerback Brandon Boykin entered his fourth NFL season eyeing an explosion into free agency, hoping to showcase versatility as a slot cornerback who is effective on the outside, too. Instead, the former Eagle was traded to the Steelers, who played him about a quarter of their defensive downs in 2015. Boykin should still have a healthy market in free agency, and he'll take advantage. Here's to guessing he goes elsewhere in 2016, though his experience in Pittsburgh was positive overall. Another Steelers corner who could use a change of scenery is Cortez Allen, who has had a rough two years since signing a long-term extension. He struggled in the first year, then missed 15 games in 2015 with a knee injury. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans: Safety Rahim Moore started in Denver, but the Broncos let him go in free agency last spring. The Texans signed Moore, and he was their starter until Week 7. After that, he was inactive for every game. He called it mortifying. In the right situation, though, he can contribute. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts: This shouldn't come as a surprise, but it's Dwayne Allen. The fourth-year tight end talked like a player who knew his time in Indianapolis was up at the end of the season. He believed he wasn't used correctly in the offense, which was in reference to having to stay in and help block more instead of run routes because of the struggles of the offensive line. Allen had only 16 receptions and one touchdown last season. The Colts are more likely to try to re-sign Coby Fleener than Allen. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars: Defensive end Chris Clemons had just three sacks in 2015 and didn't give the Jaguars what they needed from the LEO (pass-rushing end) position. Coach Gus Bradley said Clemons still played the run pretty well, but that spot has to generate pressure on first and second downs, and Clemons didn't get it done. He's 34 years old and could latch onto a Super Bowl contender as a situational player, but his time in Jacksonville is likely over. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans: Running back Bishop Sankey could use a change of scenery, and that may be good news for him because he could have a hard time making the team. The first running back drafted in 2014 (No. 54 overall), he has been a major disappointment. The general manager who picked him, Ruston Webster, is gone. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos: Tailback Ronnie Hillman led the Broncos in rushing yards (863) and rushing touchdowns (seven), but he also has the misfortune of being eligible for the open market in the same year as the Broncos have key players on defense like linebacker Von Miller, defensive end Malik Jackson, linebacker Danny Trevathan and safety David Bruton Jr. The dollars in the Broncos' budget can go only so far. While the Broncos like Hillman's potential explosiveness, he averaged 2.5, 1.5 and 0.0 yards per carry in the Broncos' three postseason games. So Hillman could find himself looking elsewhere for an opportunity in an open market that isn't always kind to running backs. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs drafted running back Knile Davis in the third round in 2013 with the hope he could be Jamaal Charles' eventual replacement. That doesn't look like it will ever happen. Davis hasn't developed into the versatile back coach Andy Reid wants for his offense, and fumbling has been a frequent problem. Davis was passed on the depth chart by Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware after Charles' season-ending injury last season. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have two: cornerback D.J. Hayden and wide receiver Rod Streater. Hayden has been wildly inconsistent since being taken No. 12 overall in the 2013 draft. Going somewhere else as just another low-profile guy might be the best move for all involved as the Raiders look to revamp their secondary. Streater, meanwhile, was a jewel in the rough as an undrafted rookie in 2012, catching a combined 99 passes for 1,472 yards and seven TDs his first two seasons. The past two years, though, he has caught just 10 passes for 92 yards and one TD in four games. He played in just one game last season, falling behind Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Andre Holmes in the Raiders' wide receiver rotation. -- Paul Gutierrez

San Diego Chargers: He already shaved his gnarly beard after three seasons, and Eric Weddle will likely get a new team as well in 2016. The All-Pro safety bristled when Chargers' brass refused to offer him a contract extension this summer. Making matters worse, the team fined Weddle $10,000 for staying on the sideline during halftime of the Chargers' final home game against the Dolphins to watch his young daughter perform in a cheerleading routine. They placed him on injured reserve for the final game of the season. Weddle, 31, still has gas left in the tank and likely will sign with a playoff contender once free agency begins in March. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys: Technically, cornerback Morris Claiborne will be given the chance for a change of scenery because he will be a free agent in March, but last season he said numerous times he wants to stay in Dallas. The Cowboys made a bold move up in the 2012 draft to take Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. They said he was their highest-ranked defensive back since Deion Sanders. In four seasons, he recorded three interceptions, and has been unable to play a full slate of games, missing time because of a concussion and hamstring, knee and ankle injuries. When he played, he was solid, but he could never live up to the expectations of the No. 6 pick. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants: It's not that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul doesn't love the Giants or that they haven't been supportive of him since his fireworks accident. He does, and they have. But the past year has been so traumatic in so many ways for Pierre-Paul that it's probably best for him to find a fresh start somewhere and just hit the reset button. Everyone wishes him well, especially after the graceful way he conducted himself upon his return. But the Giants need a pass-rush overhaul and a defensive rebuild. Pierre-Paul is better off going somewhere else as a part of an established pass rush than trying to be the anchor for a rebuilding defense. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles: Running back DeMarco Murray could certainly benefit from a change of scenery after a nightmarish first season with the Eagles. The NFL's leading rusher while with Dallas in 2014, Murray never fit in coach Chip Kelly's offense in Philly. Will Kelly's departure create enough of a change in scenery? The cap implications of trading or releasing Murray put a lock on most possible escape hatches. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins: This one is obvious: quarterback Robert Griffin III. He'll get his wish quite soon, most likely via his release by March 9. Griffin hasn't helped himself with his lack of development, but he also has paid the price for his popularity, with every word parsed for meaning and every action dissected. To get his career back in order, he'll be best served doing so in another city where the focus won't be as intense as it was in Washington. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears: Tight end Martellus Bennett is ready to move on. He is a talented, two-way tight end who played three productive years in Chicago (208 catches for 2,114 yards and 14 touchdowns). But he failed to ingratiate himself to the new coaching staff in 2015, missing the entire voluntary offseason workout program over a contract dispute and later publicly questioning his role on offense. Bennett ended the year on injured reserve with fractured ribs. A former Pro Bowler, Bennett wants a new deal. Unfortunately, the Bears likely have no interest in signing him to an extension. The best bet is that Bennett is either traded or released this offseason. Both sides are ready for a clean break. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions: Linebacker Kyle Van Noy gained a lot of attention after the Lions traded up to get him in the second round in the 2014 draft. But Van Noy has been unable to get on the field during his first two seasons with the Lions, even though the team clearly had less-than-complete players at linebacker last season. In 1½ seasons, Van Noy has played 125 defensive snaps and made only 11 tackles. He could still receive an opportunity with the Lions, but it feels like that window might be closing. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers: With the Packers intent on moving Clay Matthews back to outside linebacker, it probably means there's not room for Mike Neal and/or Nick Perry. General manager Ted Thompson may re-sign one of them -- Neal seems like the safer bet -- but not both. For Perry, the former first-round pick who never quite lived up to his draft billing, his best chance to become a bona fide starter might be elsewhere. When healthy, Perry has been productive, but injuries have dogged from the beginning. He has never played in all 16 regular-season games, while Neal, once viewed as injury-prone himself, has been the more reliable player of late. Neal has played in every game each of the past three seasons. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings would have to pay Mike Wallace $11.5 million under the terms of his current contract for 2016, and if he were to return, it's likely it would be with a restructured contract. For a variety of reasons, the Vikings didn't establish Wallace as a downfield threat as they'd hoped in 2015, and after a 39-catch, 473-yard season, he could decide to find a new team rather than restructure with the Vikings. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons: Defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman, a former second-round draft pick, is a talented player who is strong enough to push anyone around. But the fact that Hageman doesn't always play disciplined football in coach Dan Quinn's scheme might make Hageman a better fit elsewhere. He could thrive in a different scheme. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers: This one is tough because the Panthers spent three years trying to perfect the culture of the locker room, and they believe they got it right for their Super Bowl run. There is no player you could call a virus in the locker room. But because of his 2016 salary cap figure ($15 million and change) and age (almost 30), I'll go with defensive end Charles Johnson. He has been a leader, but the Panthers need to become younger and better at that position. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints: Because cornerback Brandon Browner reportedly has been informed of his release, I'll go with New Orleans' other free-agent bust from last year, running back C.J. Spiller. The Saints barely used him, with coach Sean Payton explaining that he lacked his usual explosion after a minor knee surgery in the summer. Spiller has a fully guaranteed roster bonus of $1.55 million due this year, and the Saints would save only $1.7 million by cutting him. There's a chance they'll keep Spiller around to see if he can return to peak form. But if they don't envision him playing a bigger role, they should let him go. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After four 1,000-yard seasons in a row, wide receiver Vincent Jackson caught just 33 passes for 543 yards and three TDs this past season. He has just five TD catches in the past two seasons combined. That's not enough production for a player who is scheduled to count more than $12 million against the salary cap in 2016. The Bucs can save $9.8 million by cutting him. -- Mike DiRocco


Arizona Cardinals: Veteran inside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon lost the starting job when he missed nearly all of training camp with injuries. Yes, he has a rap as being injury-prone, but he was relatively healthy during the season -- partly because he rarely played. He needs an opportunity to win a starting job and show he can still play at the level he once reached with the Falcons. That won't happen with the Cardinals, who start Kevin Minter. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams: Defensive end Chris Long has been the heartbeat of the locker room for many years and is the team's longest tenured player (eight seasons), but his production has dropped off in the past two years because of injuries, and he's due to count more than $14 million against the salary cap next season. That means keeping him might come only after a pay cut, something Long has said he'd be open to. Making such an arrangement work might be difficult and the 30-year-old has made it clear he's at a point in his career where winning is his top priority. As hard as it might be to let him go, it might be best for both parties to go their separate ways so the Rams can plan for the future and Long can seek a more successful situation. -- Nick Wagoner

San Francisco 49ers: Two words: Colin. Kaepernick. Oh, I know all about how Chip Kelly is supposed to be the one who can "fix" Kaepernick, and even Hall of Famer Steve Young had some soul-searching advice for the dual-threat quarterback to fall on the sword, own his missteps of the past few seasons and ask Kelly for help. But the report that came out during Super Bowl week that had Kaepernick not only wanting out of Santa Clara but wanting to go to the Jets was a clear sign that he just might need a fresh start elsewhere. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks: On passing plays in 2015, Bruce Irvin dropped into coverage 30.5 percent of the time, according to Pro Football Focus. The outside linebacker deserves credit for developing into a versatile player, but he would probably prefer to line up on the edge every snap and get after the quarterback. That's not going to happen if he re-signs with the Seahawks as a free agent. Instead, Irvin might be best served to find a home on another team where he can focus solely on rushing the passer. -- Sheil Kapadia