The NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame have released the 2010s All-Decade Team, honoring the game’s greatest players from 2010 to ’19.
While everyone who made the team is certainly deserving of a place on the roster, there are several players whose performance during the past 10 years also made them worthy of the prestigious honor. Consider the 10 names below as the guys who were just on the cusp, the next to get the call if spots opened up.
Drew Brees, QB
New Orleans Saints (2010-2019)
Pro Bowls: 9
Offensive Player of the Year: 1
It’s a shame there is only room for two quarterbacks on this team, because Brees will undoubtedly be in the
Pro Football Hall of Fame and deserves to be on this squad. He earned his lone
Super Bowl triumph in the previous decade, but his play continued at the same premier level throughout the 2010s, earning
Pro Bowl honors in every season but 2015, landing second-team All-Pro selections in 2011 and 2018, and topping 5,000 yards passing four times. His
Saints made the playoffs six times in the 2010s, finishing 7-9 in each of the four other years. Perhaps Brees’ performance has been taken for granted by some because he’s been so steady and consistently elite for much of the last 15 years. A
Super Bowl victory — something All-Decade Team members
Tom Brady and
Aaron Rodgers both secured in the 2010s — might have pushed him over the top.
A.J. Green, WR
Cincinnati Bengals (2011-2019)
Pro Bowls: 7
Green began his NFL career in 2011 and strung together five straight seasons of 1,000-plus receiving yards, hitting double-digit touchdowns in three of those five. His 1,000-yard streak ended in 2016 when he came up 36 yards shy of the mark despite playing in just 10 games. He bounced back in 2017, posting a 1,078-yard, 8-touchdown campaign before an injury-riddled 2018 season limited him to only nine games. Even after missing all of 2019 due to injury, Green’s numbers during the decade rank among the best at his position.
Terrell Suggs, Edge
The gold-jacket-worthy Suggs was a staple for a
Ravens team that suffered only one losing season during the nine years he spent in Baltimore over the past decade. The former first-round pick aged like a fine wine, entering the 2010s just shy of 27 years old and proceeding to rack up 81.5 sacks over the next 10 seasons. Of his 37 career forced fumbles, 21 came during the past decade, including seven during his Defensive Player of the Year-winning 2011 season. Suggs’ sack total alone should’ve earned him significant consideration for this list, as should his 15 QB hits in 14 playoff games to go along with two
Super Bowl rings.
Reid has been one of the most consistent coaches in the NFL during the decade, earning bonus points for turning a moribund
Chiefs franchise into a perennial contender by posting a winning record in every season in which he’s been in Kansas City. In fact, he’s won more games in his seven seasons at the helm than the
Chiefs won in the 11 before his arrival. And, of course, he snapped the franchise’s 50-year
Super Bowl drought (and his own 20-year dry spell) in 2019. His two career
Super Bowl appearances match All-Decade Team member Pete Carroll’s number (though one of Reid’s came in the 2000s), while both made crucial franchise-changing QB decisions that have worked out incredibly well. Few have been as dependably successful or produced as many head coaches as Reid, with his fingerprints all over today’s NFL.
Cameron Wake, Edge
Wake got a late start to his NFL career, spending two seasons in the CFL before signing with the
Dolphins at 27 years old. The pass rusher spent the majority of his U.S.-based football days in Miami, where he recorded double-digit sacks five times from 2010 to ’17. His 21 tackles for loss and 14 QB takedowns in 2010 (second-highest to the 15 he posted in 2012 at age 30) aptly capture his game-changing ability. He led the
Dolphins in sacks in six of his nine seasons with the team during the 2010s and ranks second in team history with 98 (behind Jason Taylor’s 131). Wake’s continued excellence well into his 30s really magnifies his worthiness for this team.
DeMarcus Ware, Edge
Ware recorded at least 10 sacks in four of his seven campaigns during the decade. The edge rusher remained a force even as he got older, hitting double-digit sack totals twice after turning 30 years old. He capped his career by earning
Pro Bowl honors in 2014 and ’15, winning a
Super Bowl in the latter season before retiring after 10 games played in ’16. Although Ware didn’t play the full decade, he was a premier player up until his retirement.
Indianapolis Colts (2012-2019)
Pro Bowls: 4
This one might seem a little surprising, but let me explain. Hilton posted 1,000-plus receiving yards five times in eight campaigns, including a league-leading 1,448 yards in 2016. He scored 25 touchdowns from 2012 to ’19 and successfully replaced beloved
Colts wideouts Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis. Hilton’s 15.6 yards per reception (ninth among pass catchers with at least 200 receptions during the decade) stands as proof of his big-play ability, and while he has more football left in him, his resume — which includes four
Pro Bowl selections — is strong enough to earn him consideration.
Dallas Cowboys (2010-2017)
Pro Bowls: 3
Things tailed off significantly for Bryant, who attempted a comeback with the
Saints in 2018 before a torn Achilles in practice derailed his anticipated return before it could get off the ground. But his statistical output as the No. 1 receiver for one of the most visible franchises in sports is undeniable. Bryant racked up at least 1,200 receiving yards in three of his eight seasons, catching 73 touchdown passes in that span. And though his
Cowboys failed to make a deep postseason run during his time in Dallas, he was among the best receivers in the NFL at his peak.
Whitworth was a stalwart for the
Bengals during their run of five straight postseason appearances during the decade. Cincinnati hasn’t had a winning season, let alone sniffed the postseason, since he left in 2017. The four-time
Pro Bowl selectee brought that same level of dependability and leadership with him when he joined the
Rams as a free agent, earning his second first-team All-Pro nod at the age of 36. Hard to imagine L.A.’s high-flying offense from 2018 operating as effectively without Whitworth securing
Jared Goff‘s blindside. Although you can’t blame the committee for the four guys it chose over him (
Joe Staley, Joe Thomas), I’m comfortable saying Whitworth would’ve been a first alternate on the squad.
Dallas Cowboys (2010-17, ’19)
Pro Bowls: 5
Witten broke 1,000 yards receiving twice in the decade (2010, 2012), serving as a reliable target for both Tony Romo and
Dak Prescott in nine campaigns over the past 10 years. After spending a year in retirement (2018), Witten returned to continue his streak of at least 500 receiving yards and 3 TDs in nine consecutive seasons played. It’s not a slight for Witten not to have made the team — Rob Gronkowski and
Travis Kelce were absolutely deserving of their spots on the roster. But it’s worth recognizing that no other tight end came within 40 catches of Witten during the decade.
Follow Nick Shook on Twitter @TheNickShook.