Top 10 NFL Veterans With the Most To Lose in the 2024 NFL Draft

Some NFL veterans will be on pins and needles watching the 2024 NFL Draft, hoping their team doesn't add a talented rookie capable of taking their job.

For talented college prospects, the 2024 NFL Draft represents the beginning of their journey as professional football players. But some current NFL veterans might not be looking forward to next week’s three-day event.

This year’s draft picks, especially those selected in the first round, will enter the NFL intent on claiming someone else’s job. While most of the veterans on our list aren’t in danger of being outright released based on who their team adds in the draft, many players could lose a starting role or see decreased usage, which could inhibit their contractual asking prices down the line.

Which NFL veterans have the most to be worried about as the 2024 NFL Draft approaches?

10 NFL Players Who Could Be Impacted by the 2024 NFL Draft

Gardner Minshew, QB, Las Vegas Raiders

While Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce has claimed that 2023 fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell will compete to return as the Raiders’ starter, Gardner Minshew will probably have a leg up after signing a two-year, $25 million deal with $15 million guaranteed in free agency.

However, Las Vegas could also go in a different direction by walking away with a Day 1 or 2 QB in the draft. Although the Raiders might have trouble trading up for one of this year’s top four quarterback prospects, they could target Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. or Oregon’s Bo Nix. If LV adds either signal-caller, Minshew will return to his gig as one of the league’s best backup QBs.

Jacoby Brissett, QB, New England Patriots

Jacoby Brissett may well be the NFL’s top QB2 — at least, assuming the Patriots use the No. 3 overall pick on a new quarterback. Brissett will be relegated to backup duty if New England selects Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy as expected.

But if the Pats trade back or take WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Brissett could become a full-time starter for just the third time in his eight-year pro career. Brissett started 11 games for the Cleveland Browns in 2021 and ranked eighth in QBR. That type of production will be challenging in New England’s offensive environment, but there’s a world where Brissett uses the 2024 campaign as a springboard to a multi-year pact in 2025.

Rico Dowdle, RB, Dallas Cowboys

This really should say “Dallas Cowboys backfield.” Rico Dowdle would probably be the club’s starting RB if the season began today, but Deuce Vaughn, Royce Freeman, and Malik Davis could all be in line for touches if the Cowboys don’t add another back before Week 1.

MORE: Cowboys Among NFL’s Most RB-Needy Teams in 2024 Draft

In that scenario, maybe Dowdle becomes a surprise breakout candidate en route to a larger free agent deal in 2025. But almost everyone — mock drafters, betting markets, those inside the league — seems to think the Cowboys will target a running back on Day 2. Whether it’s Trey Benson, Jonathon Brooks, or Braelon Allen, Dowdle and Co. figure to have competition in Dallas.

Mike Williams, WR, New York Jets

The Jets handed Mike Williams a one-year, $10 million deal after he was released by the Los Angeles Chargers, hoping the veteran can stay healthy enough to serve as a high-end WR2 behind Garrett Wilson.

New York is all-in on the 2024 season, and Williams has a lot at stake, too. After signing a one-year deal, Williams needs a productive campaign in order to land one more lucrative free agent contract.

Gang Green could add a WR like Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze, or TE Brock Bowers, with the No. 10 pick, all of whom would reduce Williams’ target share in his Jets debut. Williams surely hopes New York takes an offensive tackle instead.

Zay Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

After failing to re-sign free agent Calvin Ridley, the Jaguars seem likely to target a wide receiver in the draft’s first two rounds. LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. or Texas’ Adonai Mitchell might be options if they’re still on the board at pick No. 17, while Ja’Lynn Polk (Washington) or Keon Coleman (Florida State) stand out as Round 2 options.

Assuming Jacksonville selects an early-round pass catcher, Zay Jones might be headed for the bench. Christian Kirk is locked in as Trevor Lawrence’s slot receiver, and Gabe Davis won’t lose his starting job after signing a three-year, $39 million deal this offseason. Jones would become the Jags’ WR4 and might even be a dark horse summer release candidate.

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

Darius Slayton isn’t present at the Giants’ offseason work as he holds out for a new contract. On Thursday, general manager Joe Schoen said he hadn’t discussed an extension with Slayton, who is scheduled to collect $6.4 million in cash this season.

MORE: Will the Giants Sign Another Veteran RB This Offseason?

New York might try to trade up from No. 6 overall to land a quarterback. Failing that, Schoen will likely roll with the best available receiver when Big Blue’s spot rolls around. Whether the Giants land Harrison, Nabers, or Odunze, Slayton is probably about to lose whatever leverage he had.

Braxton Jones, OT, Chicago Bears

The Bears don’t necessarily need to add a starting-caliber offensive lineman with the ninth overall pick. But GM Ryan Poles could take advantage of a potentially historic OT class by grabbing Olu Fashanu or Troy Fautanu after selecting Caleb Williams at the top of the draft.

Former fifth-round pick Braxton Jones had an outstanding rookie year in 2022 before taking a step back while dealing with injuries last season.

Chicago seems likelier to prioritize a wideout or edge rusher with its second first-round choice. Still, Jones would be negatively affected if the club goes with a Round 1 tackle prospect.

Trey Pipkins III, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh will have plenty of options in his first draft as the Chargers’ head coach, but offensive line has dominated the conversation in Los Angeles.

Although the Bolts could take Harrison to bolster their depleted WR corps, no one will be surprised if Harbaugh instead prefers Notre Dame’s Joe Alt or another offensive tackle at No. 5.

Rashawn Slater isn’t about to lose his starting job for the Chargers, meaning right tackle Trey Pipkins III would likely be benched after making 31 starts over the past two seasons.

NFL teams are always searching for OL depth, so Pipkins — due just $13 million in salary through 2025 — could fetch L.A. a late-round pick in a trade.

Tyler Smith, G, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys need offensive line help this offseason, and Tyler Smith is their skeleton key. He could stick at left guard after earning second-team All-Pro honors in 2023. However, Smith could also shift to left tackle to replace Tyron Smith if Dallas finds a left guard starter in the draft.

The 10 highest-paid offensive tackles earn an average salary of $19.464 million. The guard market exploded this offseason, but the 10 highest-paid left guards still earn $15.125 million on average. Tyler Smith should want to become Dak Prescott’s blindside protector.

Clark Phillips III, CB, Atlanta Falcons

Fourth-round rookie CB Clark Phillips III was a healthy scratch for most of the 2023 season until becoming a full-time starter opposite AJ Terrell in Week 14. He shined in his first four starts, allowing just 12 catches for 129 yards and no touchdowns on 29 targets.

Phillips struggled in a season-finale rout, giving up six catches for 100 yards and two scores, but Atlanta had to be mostly pleased with his production.

KEEP READING: Top 10 Players Who Could Be Traded During the 2024 NFL Draft

Still, new Falcons head coach Raheem Morris and DC Jimmy Lake didn’t have a hand in drafting Phillips last year. Atlanta could be interested in first-round corner prospects like Alabama’s Terrion Arnold or Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, either of whom would instantly take Phillips’ starting job.

Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s all-new Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls — lone wolf or with your friends!

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