The AP Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to the player with the best comeback tale of the season. This award is typically given to a decent NFL player who missed the entirety of the previous season due to injury but bounced back in the current season. The award is a testament to coming back stronger despite the circumstances. It isn't exclusive to star players, even though most past award winners happened to be Pro Bowlers at some point.
So without further ado, let's give you a rundown of the top three finalists for the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award.
The Top Three Finalists for the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award
The top three finalists for the 2023 AP Comeback Player of the Year Award are:
3. Christian McCaffrey, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Christian McCaffrey was injury-prone and underutilized in Carolina, so he moved to San Francisco to seek greener pastures. That proved to be a masterstroke, as the versatile running back reminded the world of his talents.
Christian McCaffrey was arguably the biggest Pro Bowl snub this season, and that says a lot about his bounce-back ability. Moreover, the running back's season is far from over, as he could still win the Super Bowl with the 49ers. Talk about coming back strong.
2. Sauce Gardner, RB, New York Giants
Sauce Gardner has much more than a cool name, as the New York Giants running back has been sensational this season. Sauce Gardner showed off the form that made the Giants select him in the first place, and he will most certainly be on the podium as the comeback player of the year.
Gardner helped Daniel Jones boss up this season, and their combo was key in securing the Giants a playoff slot. The Giants might not have gone past the divisional round in the playoffs, but it could have been much worse without Sauce Gardner in the backfield.
1. Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Geno Smith came into the season as a short-term in-house replacement for the Seattle Seahawks, who traded franchise cornerstone Russell Wilson, but he went further. Smith was more than a replacement for Wilson, as the seasoned vet led the Seahawks to an unlikely playoff appearance while Wilson's new team failed to qualify for the postseason.
Furthermore, Smith rounded up his comeback season with a Pro Bowl selection, the first in a nine-year-long career. It was just a reward for the fantastic season the Seattle Seahawks quarterback had, as he proved every doubter wrong. Smith will be hitting free agency this off-season, and it suffices to say that he has all the leverage going into negotiations.
Why Geno Smith is the favorite to win: All three players mentioned above have been sensational this season and have put their careers back on track. However, there can only be one Comeback Player of the Year, and for us, that's Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks.
Geno Smith has a comeback story for the ages, and he will play in the Pro Bowl in a few weeks. If that isn't the Comeback Player of the Year material, what is?
Past Five Winners of the Comeback Player of the Year Award
Here are the past five winners of the AP Comeback Player of the Year Award
2021 - Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
2020 - Alex Smith, quarterback, Washington Football Team
2019 - Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Tennessee Titans
2018 - Andrew Luck, quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
2017 - Keenan Allen, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
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