In the NFL, all players and coaches face some level of pressure to perform at a high level.
However, big-name players around the league go through a different kind of pressure during the offseason. They have to answer a barrage of questions from the media about their job security and potentially compete to secure a lead spot on the depth chart. When it comes to the pressure that comes with being in the spotlight, the same holds true for coaches.
While several individuals could lose their jobs before or during the 2022 campaign, we’ve focused on those whose seats are hottest because of the importance of their position (quarterbacks and head coaches), draft pedigree or uncertain status on the depth chart.
Who’s under the spotlight to perform with their role, short- or long-term job security or roster spot potentially on the line? Let’s first take a look at a handful of honorable mentions, followed a mix of players and coaches on the watch list going into the 2022 season.
Those on the hot seat are listed in alphabetical order.
K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge, Jacksonville Jaguars
K’Lavon Chaisson probably lost his starting job once the Jacksonville Jaguars selected Travon Walker with the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft. The Georgia product has exclusively lined up at outside linebacker through organized team activities.
Still, Chaisson has a chance to reinvent himself under a new coaching staff after logging 50 tackles, six for loss, two sacks and 20 pressures through two seasons. The LSU product made plays as a stand-up pass-rusher on the collegiate level, which may help him break out in an odd-man front. If not, the Jaguars may look to part ways with the 2020 first-rounder before his fourth season.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott has seen a decline in his touch volume since 2018. While he’s still productive on the ground and as a pass-catcher, the Dallas Cowboys have a backup running back in Tony Pollard who looks primed for a breakout 2022 season.
In 2021, Pollard racked up 1,056 scrimmage yards. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry compared to Elliott’s 4.2 yards per rush attempt. Though the three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro battled through a hamstring injury last year, we could see something closer to a 50-50 timeshare if his backup continues to produce at a more efficient rate.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
As of now, Jalen Hurts doesn’t need to look over his shoulder at a promising rookie who’s going to challenge him for the starting job. However, if the third-year quarterback shows little improvement with the addition of Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Brown, the Philadelphia Eagles could look for a new franchise player in next year’s draft.
In the meantime, the Eagles have a serviceable backup in Gardner Minshew, who has started in 22 games through three seasons, throwing for 41 touchdowns and 12 interceptions with a 63.2 percent completion rate.
Kenneth Murray Jr., LB, Los Angeles Chargers
As a rookie, Kenneth Murray showed flashes as a downhill defender, recording 107 tackles, five for loss and a sack. However, he struggled mightily in coverage, allowing an 83 percent completion rate and a 112.9 passer rating.