The Texans need JJ Watt to stay healthy. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL team's most indispensable veteran

Football is the ultimate team sport, but there are certain veterans teams wouldn't be able to win without. Here's a look at the most indispensable veterans on each team who have at least three years of NFL experience.

 
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Arizona Cardinals: Chandler Jones, DE

Arizona Cardinals: Chandler Jones, DE
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

For all the offensive weapons Arizona has going into 2020, its defense remains a work in progress. One area the Cardinals annually don't have to worry about is Jones' spot, as an elite pass rusher. He's recorded double-digit sacks in six of the last seven seasons and is coming off a career-high 19 sacks and his second All-Pro designation.

 
2 of 32

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, QB

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, QB
Sergio Estrada / USA Today Sports Images

Ryan remains one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league, now 12 seasons into his career. He had another very good year in 2019 for the very good Falcons offense, throwing for 4,466 yards and 26 touchdowns despite taking 48 sacks. The 2016 MVP continues to make the Atlanta offense go.

 
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Baltimore Ravens: Mark Ingram, RB

Baltimore Ravens: Mark Ingram, RB
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images

At this point, the Ravens probably wouldn't lose much on the field if Ingram went down, considering their depth at running back. Still, Ingram visibly became a leader last season after Baltimore signed him, and he had quite a year with 1,018 yards rushing and 5.0 yards per carry. He made a clear difference for the top rushing offense in the league.

 
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Buffalo Bills: Jerry Hughes, DE

Buffalo Bills: Jerry Hughes, DE
Rich Barnes / USA Today Sports Images

Buffalo's defense has created an identity under head coach Sean McDermott, and Hughes remains one of the key cogs. He's been in Buffalo for seven seasons, missing only one game, and has consistently contributed as a pass rusher. Hughes is hoping to rebound from a sub-par 2019 season in which he had 4.5 sacks and nine quarterback hits.

 
5 of 32

Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB

Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images

Few teams build their offense around the running back in the modern NFL, but the Panthers have done just that recently. McCaffrey led the league with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns last season, averaging 5.9 yards per touch and touching the ball a league-high 403 times. It's clear the Panthers offense would be lost without the versatile running back.

 
6 of 32

Chicago Bears: Khalil Mack, OLB

Chicago Bears: Khalil Mack, OLB
Quinn Harris / USA Today Sports Images

The Bears traded a haul to get Mack from the Raiders in 2018, and he's been at the center of one of the league's top defenses over the last two seasons. The sack artist has made the Pro Bowl in five consecutive seasons and has recorded a total of 21 sacks over the last two years for Chicago.

 
7 of 32

Cincinnati: Carlos Dunlap, DE

Cincinnati: Carlos Dunlap, DE
Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images

For all the struggles Cincinnati has faced in recent seasons, Dunlap continues to produce. The veteran has at least 7.5 sacks in seven consecutive seasons and 17 sacks total over the last two years. The defensive line remains one of the few strengths of the Bengals roster.

 
8 of 32

Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Landry, WR

Cleveland Browns: Jarvis Landry, WR
Scott Galvin / USA Today Sports Images

While Odell Beckham gets most of the accolades, Landry was more productive for the Browns last season. The sure-handed veteran notched his third career 1,100 yard season and has at least 900 yards receiving in five straight years. He was one of the few Browns players on offense who didn't disappoint.

 
9 of 32

Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB

Dallas Cowboys: Jaylon Smith, LB
Matthew Emmons / USA Today Sports Images

Smith fell to the second round of the 2016 draft due to a major leg injury, but he's been everything the Cowboys could have hoped for and more. He made his first Pro Bowl last season, keeping the team's defense together despite Leighton Vander Esch's injury, with 142 tackles on the season.

 
10 of 32

Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB

Denver Broncos: Von Miller, OLB
Jake Roth / USA Today Sports Images

A former Super Bowl MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Miller made his eighth Pro Bowl in his ninth NFL season last year. It was a relatively disappointing 2019 season for Miller with only eight sacks, which says a lot about the high standard that he's set in Denver.

 
11 of 32

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB

Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford, QB
Cary Edmondson / USA Today Sports Images

The Lions crumbled after Stafford suffered a midseason back injury last year. Up to that point, the offense was excellent, led by Stafford's 2,499 yards passing and 19 touchdowns in eight games. While he's made only one Pro Bowl in 11 seasons, Stafford has led a consistently productive Lions offense during his career.

 
12 of 32

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, QB

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, QB
Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images

The Packers seem to take Rodgers' talent for granted at this point, as he made his eighth Pro Bowl last season despite so-so talent around him. Rodgers threw for more than 4,000 yards and 26/4 TD/INT during the regular season as the Packers went 13-3 in the regular season, and he's 113-60-1 for his career in Green Bay.

 
13 of 32

Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE

Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE
Kevin Jairaj / USA Today Sports Images

Watt is the longtime face of the Texans franchise, winning three Defensive Player of the Year Awards in nine seasons. Injuries have been a big factor for Watt in recent seasons, and the defense has been noticeably different when Watt has been out of the lineup.

 
14 of 32

Indianapolis Colts: T.Y. Hilton, WR

Indianapolis Colts: T.Y. Hilton, WR
Douglas DeFelice / USA Today Sports Images

For all the changes the Colts offense has gone through over the last two years, Hilton remains one of the few constants. The three-time Pro Bowler has averaged 15.6 yards per catch for his eight-year career, but he missed much of last season due to injury, playing only 10 games. The explosiveness of the Colts offense was clearly impacted when Hilton was absent.

 
15 of 32

Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB

Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack, LB
Bob Donnan / USA Today Sports Images

The Jaguars roster has undergone a huge face-lift recently, with few impact veterans remaining. Jack is still on the roster though, having played his fourth NFL season in 2019, and Jacksonville missed the linebacker when he was out for five games. Jack remained productive with 66 tackles after recording 107 tackles for the team in 2018.

 
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Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, S

Kansas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, S
Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

The elite Chiefs offense has plenty of contributors, but the team's 2019 Super Bowl run wouldn't have been possible without an improved defense. Along with Frank Clark, Mathieu was a newcomer and catalyst who made a big difference with his second All-Pro campaign. He's shown the versatility to play both cornerback and safety and was also one of the vocal leaders on the team.

 
17 of 32

Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr, QB

Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr, QB
Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

Carr is often criticized for his lack of elite play, but his NFL production in six seasons is undeniable. He's made three Pro Bowls and had his second consecutive 4,000 yard season in 2019 despite mostly mediocre weapons around him. Carr set career highs, completing 70.4 percent of his passes and posting a 100.8 Passer Rating.

 
18 of 32

Los Angeles Chargers: Keenan Allen, WR

Los Angeles Chargers: Keenan Allen, WR
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images

Allen is one of the NFL's great wide receivers and route runners, showing consistently elite production when healthy. He's made three straight Pro Bowls and finished last season with 104 catches for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns. The Chargers are hoping he can eventually build rapport with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.

 
19 of 32

Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald, DT

Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald, DT
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images

Donald is arguably the most unblockable defensive lineman in the game, winning three Defensive Player of the Year Awards in six seasons and recording 72 sacks over that time. He's also been an All-Pro in five consecutive seasons, helping the Rams defense build consistency despite changing personnel.

 
20 of 32

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
Vincent Carchietta / USA Today Sports Images

Fitzpatrick could lose the starting job in Miami to rookie Tua Tagovailoa at some point in 2020, but his contribution last year and potential help in teaching Tagovailoa are notable. The veteran led the Dolphins to five wins in 13 starts last season despite a team that was seemingly tanking, and Fitzpatrick generated positive offense with more than 3,500 yards passing and 20 touchdowns. With a franchise still rebuilding, his contribution shouldn't be understated.

 
21 of 32

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins, QB

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins, QB
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images

Cousins was often criticized in Washington for his failure to win big games, but he changed the narrative last year by beating the Saints in the playoffs. He's had a winning record in four of the last five seasons and is coming off a highly efficient 2019 season in which he threw for 3,603 yards and 26/6 TD/INT in 15 games.

 
22 of 32

New England Patriots: Julian Edelman, WR

New England Patriots: Julian Edelman, WR
Paul Rutherford / USA Today Sports Images

With a receiving corps that struggled last season, Edelman came up big for the Pats. He finished the season with 100 catches for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns. He's also contributed as a punt returner for much of his career and will likely be new starter Jarrett Stidham's go-to receiver this season.

 
23 of 32

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, QB

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, QB
Derick E. Hingle / USA Today Sports Images

Brees's efficiency shows a quarterback aging like a fine wine, leading the NFL in completion rate in three consecutive seasons. He completed 74.3 percent of his passes with 27/4 TD/INT in 11 games during the 2019 regular season. Although the Saints were able to win without Brees in the lineup early last season, the offense was at full tilt only when he was on the field.

 
24 of 32

New York Giants: Leonard Williams, DE

New York Giants: Leonard Williams, DE
Brad Penner / USA Today Sports Images

The Giants have high hopes for Williams with a front seven that leaves much to be desired. The veteran disappointed with only a half-sack in eight game after the Giants acquired him in the middle of 2019, but he's often proved dominant during his career. With the loss of sack leader Markus Golden, there will be more pressure on Williams to produce in 2020.

 
25 of 32

New York Jets: Jamison Crowder, WR

New York Jets: Jamison Crowder, WR
Vincent Carchietta / USA Today Sports Images

The Jets offense has undergone more changes in 2020, but Crowder is hoping to build on what was a solid 2019 season. He had 78 catches for 833 yards as New York's top receiver, rebounding from an injury-plagued season in Washington. With Robby Anderson gone, Sam Darnold and the Jets will be counting on Crowder even more this year.

 
26 of 32

Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Kelce, OC

Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Kelce, OC
Bill Streicher / USA Today Sports Images

The Eagles have sported one of the top offensive lines in football over the last several seasons, spurring their strong offense. Kelce has been their most consistent member over that time, being named an All-Pro in three consecutive seasons and making all 16 starts in five consecutive seasons. With his recent consistency, Kelce is putting himself in the conversation for the Hall of Fame.

 
27 of 32

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, QB

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, QB
David Butler II / USA Today Sports Images

Big Ben's value to the Steelers was felt last year when the team lost him in Week 2. Pittsburgh's offense struggled for much of the year after Roethlisberger led the NFL with 5,129 yards passing in 2018. Fans are happy to see him healthy entering 2020 training camp.

 
28 of 32

San Francisco 49ers: Richard Sherman, CB

San Francisco 49ers: Richard Sherman, CB
Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports Images

The 49ers defensive line got most of the attention with its overall defensive improvement last season, but Sherman's play was also key. The longtime Seahawk made his fifth career Pro Bowl, showing his former ability with three picks during the regular season. San Francisco's defense is counting on Sherman again this year at age 32.

 
29 of 32

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson, QB

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson, QB
Joe Nicholson / USA Today Sports Images

Wilson has consistently led a Seahawks offense that has otherwise lacked star power recently, making four Pro Bowls in the last five seasons with a Passer Rating well above 100 in each of the last two years. During Wilson's eight-year career, Seattle has a winning record in every season and Wilson has never missed a game.

 
30 of 32

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady, QB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady, QB
David Butler II / USA Today Sports Images

The Bucs have yet to truly meet Brady, but the expectation is that he will make a considerable impact for an offense that couldn't hold onto the ball last season. The six-time Super Bowl champ struggled at times in New England last season but has great weapons surrounding him with his new team as he enters his age-43 season.

 
31 of 32

Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry, RB

Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry, RB
Thomas J. Russo / USA Today Sports Images

Henry has emerged as the centerpiece of Tennessee's offense over the last two seasons and particularly last year. He led the NFL with 303 carries, 1,540 yards rushing, and 16 rushing touchdowns, but that's only part of the story. During Tennessee's three playoff games, Henry had a total of 83 carries for 446 yards and two scores as the Titans advanced to the AFC championship. The former Heisman Trophy winner really did put the Titans on his back.

 
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Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB

Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, OLB
Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images

Few defensive players in the NFL have been as consistent or underappreciated as Kerrigan has been over the last nine seasons for Washington. Kerrigan's streak of at least 7.5 sacks in every season ended last year due to injury, but he still had 5.5 sacks in 12 games. With the addition of first-round pick Chase Young garnering attention from opposing offensive lines, Kerrigan could get even more advantageous opportunities to get sacks next season.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.


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