A regular season has come and gone in the NFL. The 17 weeks football fans look forward to each year have already passed us by. It seems like just yesterday that training camps were taking place around the country and rosters were being set, as fans anxiously awaited opening night. A lot has happened in the last couple months, including Syracuse alumni setting records as veterans while others made a roster for the first time as rookies. Here is everything you need to know about the Orange in the NFL during the 2019 season.
Of the eight seasons Chandler Jones has been in the NFL, none have been as impressive as his 2019 campaign with the Arizona Cardinals. The defensive end finished with a career high 19 sacks, just 3.5 away from Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record. Jones also tallied 53 tackles and 8 forced fumbles, the most he’s forced in a season. His outstanding play led to a Pro Bowl selection, which is the third time he has been invited in his career. Jones’ play could also justify an all-pro team, but those teams have not been released yet.
Riley Dixon had a career year with the New York Giants. In his fourth season, he posted career bests in yards per punt (46), punts inside the 20-yard line (29), and fewest touchbacks (2). Dixon also signed a three-year contract extension worth $8.7 million, making him one of the highest paid punters in the league.
Zaire Franklin took a step back this season with the Indianapolis Colts. The second-year linebacker saw the field on 17% of the defensive snaps last year, but was never on the field defensively this year. Franklin’s role was diminished to just a special teamer in 2019. In the limited role he had this season, he recorded only 6 tackles, compared to 29 last in 2018.
Justin Pugh continued his professional career after Syracuse this season down in Arizona with the Cardinals. It was his second year dawning red. The offensive lineman had one of his best and most efficient seasons in the league. Pugh started all 18 games and was in for 99% of the team’s offensive snaps. He was also only called for three penalties all season, one of the best marks of his entire career.
After being one of Syracuse’s most dangerous pass rushers in recent history and being drafted by the New York Giants, Chris Slayton spent the majority of the 2019 season on the practice squad. It wasn’t until last week that he was promoted to the active roster, but even then he was inactive when his team faced the Eagles on Sunday. According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, the Giants only moved Slayton up to the 53-man roster because other teams were interested in signing him off the practice squad.
Jamal Custis was without a job for the majority of the season. He first signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in May. His contract included more than $100,000 in guaranteed money, but he wasn’t able to make it past roster cuts and onto the 53-man roster. Custis remained unemployed until mid-December when the wide receiver signed a practice squad contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He never got bumped up to the active roster, but he did sign a reserve/future contract with the Steelers this past Monday, meaning he has a chance in Pittsburgh in the future.
Cody Conway began the season in the warm south, but is finishing it in the blistering cold north. The lineman started with the Tennessee Titans, but was placed on injured reserve due to an undisclosed injury. He and the Titans reached an injury settlement and parted ways in August. Then in November, Conway traveled north and signed a practice squad contract with the Green Bay Packers. He is still there and has not been moved up to the active roster.
Amba Etta-Tawo is another former SU player who didn’t play at all during the 2019 season due to injury. The wideout signed with the New York Giants in July and was going to be an important offensive piece due to injuries and suspensions of other key playmakers. But that plan fell through after Etta-Tawo tore his Achilles during training camp in August.
Steve Ishmael was set to play an important role on the outside for the Indianapolis Colts. Two weeks before the season started, the Colts’ all-pro quarterback, Andrew Luck, out-of-the-blue retired, leaving the team with a huge gap on offense. The Colts needed a lot from their receivers to help out their new starting QB, Jacoby Brissett. Unfortunately, Ishmael wasn’t able to help. He didn’t play a snap all season due to a season-ending knee injury he suffered during training camp before the 2019 campaign began.
Koda Martin didn’t see the field in 2019. The offensive lineman was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Los Angeles Chargers in the off season. He was then put on the injured reserve for an undisclosed issue. Martin stayed there for a couple weeks, but then was waived by the team. The Chargers brought him back about a month later, but the Texas-native was still on the IR. Martin remained there for the entire season.