In the NFL, everyone loves a good comeback story. They forge headlines and find a way to tug at the heartstrings of thousands of fans each year. For a game comprised of violence, aggression, and brute physicality, football manages to give us several stories each year that trigger the emotional side. What makes comebacks so great, is to see a player return to glory after going through so much pain and loss. Stars looking for a resurgence are thrust into the conversation for this award each year, but this season, things appear more interesting than ever. Without further ado, here are 5 compelling cases for Comeback Player of the Year.
The Lions were 3-4-1 with Matthew Stafford under center prior to his season ending injury in week 9. The Lions would go on to lose out the rest of the season, highlighting just how important Stafford is to the team's success. Last season, Stafford was on pace to throw for almost 5,000 yards, a mark which would have put him second to only Jameis Winston's 5,109 passing yards in the season. Stafford was also on pace to throw for 38 touchdown, which would have been the most in the league last season, beating Lamar Jackson's mark by two. Additionally, his completion percentage of 64.3% puts him above other QBs like Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Tom Brady. Had Stafford not gotten injured, he could have had his best season since 2011 and could have possibly helped Detroit challenge for a wild card spot. I have the Lions making the playoffs this year and Stafford's play should help them get there, strengthening his case for Comeback Player of the Year. He certainly has the talent surrounding him to do so with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr, and TJ Hockenson being reliable targets, and the addition of D'Andre Swift in the draft gives Stafford one of the best backfields he's had since entering the league. This could be the year the trend of underrating Matthew Stafford ends.
Last season was long, convoluted, and stressful for Green and the Bengals, as an ankle injury kept him out the entire season. When healthy, AJ green is a top receiver in the league, a status he should no doubt get back to this season considering what he has to motivate him. Not only will Green want to come back strong after only playing in nine games in the past two seasons, but he will be playing for a new contract as well. The Bengals currently have Green playing on the franchise tag, as they were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension prior to the July 15th deadline. In what will be a contract year for Cincinnati's number one receiver, Green should ball out to prove that he's still a top wide out in the league and deserves to get a bag. He will also be catching passes from a new quarterback - Joe Burrow - who made it clear he wants to play with Green. In what he has said about the Bengal's new franchise QB, it's clear that Burrow already has AJ Green's respect: Green looks at Burrow as the leader of the team. Considering one of Burrow's strengths is deep accuracy, it looks like the two will have a great connection and Green should load up the stat sheet, giving him a good chance at the CBPOTY award.
After a brief retirement that saw Gronk slim down, dance alongside the Laker girls, and star on a horrendously unfunny game show on CBS, he's back in the league catching passes from Tom Brady. Unlike the other players on this list, Gronk isn't coming back from an injury, meaning his body has had a longer time to recover from the battering it has taken over the years. Granted, he's not as bulky as he used to be, but being quicker and more agile adds a new dimension to Gronk's game. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has said that he plans on using a lot of two tight end sets, called 12 personnel, as well as 13 personnel. The schemes can produce mismatches, and taking advantages of mismatches have been a core part of Brady and Gronk's success together. Gronkowski has a history of being a match up nightmare for defenses, and it looks like Arian's offense will take full advantage of this. Gronk's best year of his career in terms of receiving yards and touchdowns came in 2011 when he was playing alongside Aaron Hernandez and in Tampa Bay he'll be playing alongside not one but two good tight ends in OJ Howard and Cameron Brate. In this new system, the Brady to Gronk connection should thrive, making a strong case for Gronk as Comeback Player of the year.
I had to show some love to the players on the defensive side of the ball on this list, and Bradley Chubb seems like the most obvious defensive player with a shot at the CBPOTY award. Last season Chubb had only one sack through four games before going down with a season ending ACL injury, robbing him of what could have been a strong second season following an impressive rookie year. What makes me confident that Chubb can come back string is the fact that he's done it before. In high school, Chubb tore the same ACL, which could have dashed his dreams of playing in the NFL, but Chubb was able to overcome the injury. Considering Chubb was able to excel in college enough to become a top five draft pick following a previous ACL tear, he can bounce back in a big way following this one. It will help that Cubb has a defensive mastermind, dubbed an "evil genius" by one of the premier pass rushers in the league, as head coach and one of those premier pass rushers in Von Miller to continue to mentor the 24-year old. If the Comeback Player of the Year is a defensive player, there is a good chance it's Bradley Chubb.
It seems as if Cam Newton has been fighting an uphill battle ever since he decided not to dive on a loose ball in Super Bowl 50 against the Broncos. Since that 15-1 season, Newton has gone an underwhelming 22-23 as the Panthers quarterback and only played in only half the games in the last two regular seasons. Perhaps a chance of scenery is just what Super Cam needs to shine again. New England is a surprisingly good fit for Newton, as their offense can strongly resemble the one Cam took to the Super Bowl four years ago. The Patriots have a solid offensive line and depth at the running back position similar to the 2015 Panthers. New England running backs Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead can churn out similar production to the backs on that Panthers team: Johnothan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, and Fozzy Whitaker. While at first glance the Patriots receiving core may be concerning, it shouldn't be an issue due to the fact that Cam Newton's top receivers were Tedd Ginn, Jr and Corey Brown on that Super Bowl team. This upcoming season could be a renaissance for the Patriots and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, all thanks to Newton of course.