What will the 2019 NFL season bring for these 5 stars?
Le’Veon Bell, running back, New York Jets
Was Bell a product of the Steelers’ system? It’s an interesting question, and one that could have played a role in the lackluster market he found in free agency after the conclusion of his holdout. Second-year back James Conner accounted for 1,470 total yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
Those numbers aren't far off from what Bell put up annually as Pittsburgh's lead back. Now in a new offensive system with a less-experienced quarterback, it's very possible that Bell won’t be able to replicate the All-Pro numbers he produced in Pittsburgh.
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers
The trio of Big Ben, Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown put up some astounding numbers during their time together in Pittsburgh. Now that this future Hall of Fame group is no longer together, we’re expecting all three to struggle in 2019. That includes Roethlisberger, who is entering his Age-37 season, threw a league-high 16 interceptions in 2018 and is now missing his two prime weapons in Brown and Bell.
J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston Texans
If healthy, Watt has more than proven to be right there with Aaron Donald as the most impactful defender in the NFL. Last season, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year recorded 25 quarterback hits, 16 sacks and a league-high seven forced fumbles.
That said, it was just the first time since 2015 that Watt played as many as five games in a single season. It's difficult to expect both a repeat in production and health from the 30 year old defensive lineman in 2018.
Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
If the end of last season is any indication, it's quite possible that we’ve already seen Goff's best. Playoffs included, he threw seven touchdowns compared to eight interceptions over his final eight games. The Rams decided against extending him this offseason, a move critics will argue suggests the team may think Goff has already hit his ceiling.
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Injuries. We previously wrote that it would be smart for Green Bay to start looking for a future franchise quarterback behind the 35-year-old Rodgers. He was punished last year behind a Packers offensive line that yielded a seven-year high 49 sacks. It led to a multitude of injuries.
Sure, Rodgers will still play at an elite level when on the field. We’re just concerned that the battering he’s taken recently, and likely to take again in 2019, will impact his ability to suit up for 16 games this season.