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The NFL's most irreplaceable players, ranked

Imagine the Houston Texans without Deshaun Watson playing quarterback?
Imagine the Houston Texans without Deshaun Watson playing quarterback?
Walter Sharp
Modified 20 Nov 2020, 19:30 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

There are only a handful of NFL players who cannot be adequately replaced by their franchises.

Every team in pro sports adheres to the "next man up" philosophy -- when one player goes down, another steps up -- but the reality is that some players are much harder to replace than others. While there will always be someone there to fill their spot in the lineup, they cannot always match their impact.

Let's take a look at the five NFL players that cannot be replaced.

5. Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)

The Minnesota Vikings have found their next Adrian Peterson. Cook has rushed for 3,058 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in his career with the Vikings. The Vikings running back would add 1,103 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

Minnesota's backup running back, Alexander Mattison, has 788 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in his career with the Vikings. Mattison has not played as long as Dalvin Cook but has not shown the same impact as Cook. Mattison has not been productive in the passing game for the Vikings. It will take a lot of work for Mattison to produce the same numbers in the next three years.

4. DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona Cardinals)


DeAndre Hopkins was part of the most insane trade in the NFL in recent years, when the Houston Texans inexplicably sent the All-Pro receiver to the Arizona Cardinals this past offseason.

Hopkins played a huge part in the success of the Texans offense. DeAndre Hopkins would rack up 8,602 receiving yards and 54 touchdowns in his career with the Texans.

Texans QB Deshaun Watson would lean on Hopkins a lot to make plays for their offense. Without Hopkins, the Texans have gone from the playoffs last season to one of the NFL's worst teams this season.

Since joining Arizona, Hopkins has already helped young quarterback Kyler Murray improve his numbers. Hopkins has 861 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns so far this season.

3. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)

Patrick Mahomes has done remarkable things since being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. The young quarterback has won an NFL MVP, a Super Bowl MVP, and a Super Bowl championship in a short period of time.


The Kansas City Chiefs have already proved that Patrick Mahomes is not replaceable by signing him to an unheard-of contract this offseason: a 10-year deal worth up to $503 million.

Mahomes is backed up in Kansas City by veteran quarterback Chad Henne. Henne has been around the NFL and has played for three different teams. Chad Henne has thrown for 12,990 passing yards, 58 touchdowns and 63 interceptions.

Henne has passed for more yards than Mahomes, but the 101 touchdowns and 19 interceptions that Mahomes has racked up makes it tough for Henne to be a good replacement.

2. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)

It is not a secret that Russell Wilson is the motor to the Seattle Seahawks offense and they go as far as he takes them.

Some can argue that Wilson is the most irreplaceable player in the NFL. He has taken a group of young wide receivers and made stars out of them.


During his time in Seattle, Russell Wilson has passed for 32,523 yards with 255 touchdowns and 78 interceptions. Wilson has added 4,318 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns.

Russell Wilson has had an amazing NFL career. Wilson is backed up by veteran quarterback Geno Smith. Smith has passed for 6,182 yards with 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. It will definitely take Seattle a long time to replace Wilson once he walks away from the NFL.

1. Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)

The Houston Texans have taken everything away from Deshaun Watson and he is still producing great numbers.

Watson has proven week after week that he is the Texans' offense. Since being drafted by the Texans, Watson has passed for 12,255 yards with 89 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. The young quarterback has rushed for 1,466 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Deshaun Watson is backed up by AJ McCarron. McCarron had a successful college career but has not continued that success in the NFL. AJ McCarron has passed for 1,153 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

If the Houston Texans were to lose Deshaun Watson to injury or retirement they would be lost on offense. The impact that he has on their franchise is why he is the most irreplaceable player in the NFL.

Published 20 Nov 2020, 19:30 IST
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