The least valuable player of every NFL team in 2015
By WILL LAWS
Every year, the NFL's 32 teams hold a fancy end-of-season banquet to gather all their players one last time as a collective unit. Food is eaten, drinks are consumed and awards are handed out to commemorate special individual performances. The most coveted of these awards is the team's Most Valuable Player award.
Of course, there's no recognition for players on the other end of the spectrum. Who wants to be given a trophy for being a team's Least Valuable Player, even if it's all in good fun? Certainly not professional football players, who tend to be a prideful bunch.
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And why shouldn't they be? NFL players work extraordinarily hard to ascend to the summit of their sport. Still, that doesn't mean the guys who don't carry their weight are excused from public criticism.
PointAfter wanted to explore the concept of identifying every NFL team's Least Valuable Player. While a team's MVP can readily be identified by most casual observers, choosing a deserving LVP requires quite a bit more research.
For this exercise, PointAfter has emphasized players who received plenty of playing time in 2015 and actively made their teams worse as a result. In some cases, bloated salaries accentuated how poorly someone played, since the club would have been better served using their salary to shore up other weaknesses on the roster.
Players are ranked in reverse order of their season grades from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), a trusted player evaluation site used by NFL teams. We'll count down to the lowest-graded player on the list.
Notes: All salary data is courtesy of Spotrac. "Qualified" players were on the field for at least 25 percent of their unit's snaps.
#32. Chicago Bears: Eddie Royal
PFF grade (position rank): -50.6 (40th)
2015 salary cap hit: $825,000
The center position was cursed with injury for the Chargers in 2014, as San Diego became the first team since the AFL-NFL merger to start five players at the position. Robinson was the last player to take over at the position then, and was pressed into duty again this season after Chris Watt fell victim to the injury bug in Week 3.
Robinson stayed healthy for the rest of 2015, but that didn't exactly help the Chargers. He graded out negatively in PFF's system during all of San Diego's games, giving up a position-high eight sacks, the most by any center since 2008. PFF also anointed him as the second-worst run blocker at his position.
Truthfully, the entire Chargers team was an injury-plagued mess once again. Only one player — right tackle Joe Barksdale — graded out positively on the season, and he was still ranked as the league's 30th-best tackle. Meanwhile, three of San Diego's guards ranked among the bottom 15 of the NFL's 82 qualified guards.
Melvin Gordon was basically hung out to dry during his rookie season. Though his average of 3.5 yards per carry was dreadful, he elicited 34 missed tackles, a top-10 mark in the NFL. If the Chargers are going to contend anytime soon, they'll need to find some linemen who can stay healthy and productive. Otherwise, the waning years of Philip Rivers' prime will be wasted.