Comeback Player of the Year
Tom Fox/Dallas News

Comeback Player Of The Year Candidates For The 2021 NFL Season

With the 2021 NFL season only a few months away, speculation as to who will walk away with what accolades at season’s end is starting to gain traction. Coming off the 2020-2021 season which saw multiple star players see their seasons cut short due to injury, the Comeback Player of the Year will be one of the more interesting award races to keep an eye on. We look at a few players who will immediately be in the conversation for CPOTY come September 9th.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Prescott was off to a more than solid start to his 2020 season, but was derailed in Week 5 due to an ankle injury that would force him onto the sidelines for the rest of the year. Having undergone two ankle surgeries since October, Prescott is debatably in the best position to succeed as soon as he steps back on the field if he can stay healthy. With one of the league’s best offensive lines when healthy to go with elite weaponry in every skill position on the offensive side of the ball, Prescott should pick up right where he left off in 2020, and could be looking forward to a career year for the veteran quarterback.

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Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers

A defensive player has not won the Comeback Player of the Year award since 2015 when Eric Berry made his return after battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but Nick Bosa could change that by season’s end. Having won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2019 after recording nine sacks and generating 25 QB hits, Bosa looks to return to the field alongside Dee Ford and others who will be making their return after San Francisco saw their roster deplete due to injuries. If this roster can stay healthy, expect the 49ers defense to be just as dominant as they were during their 2019 Super Bowl run, with Bosa leading the way.

Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Burrow was off to a solid rookie campaign before suffering a season ending injury in Week 11, even despite having to deal with one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Though the future looks promising for Burrow as Cincinnati did just about all it could in the offseason to help revamp its o-line, including using three draft picks on offensive lineman and signing former Pro Bowler Riley Reiff. With the amount of talent surrounding Burrow for the 2021 season, including former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, there is nothing keeping the former Heisman winner from having a breakout sophomore campaign.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

A workhorse in the NFL since entering the league in 2017, the injury bug bit Christian McCaffrey hard throughout the 2020 season. Only appearing in three games, McCaffrey was still able to produce 225 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the season. With Sam Darnold getting a fresh start and the offseason signing of underrated receiver David Moore to pair with DJ Moore among others, McCaffrey has a chance to consistently produce the ridiculous stat lines that got him that hefty contract extension he signed last April.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

How can you not include Saquon Barkley on this list? An incredible talent ever since he stepped foot in MetLife Stadium, yet Barkley only put up 94 scrimmage yards last year due to an ACL tear he suffered in Week 2. Having had to deal with one of the worst offensive lines in the league for the entirety of his young career, a fresh Saquon with a full training camp to get the offense settled sounds like a recipe for big numbers from the fourth year back. Yet, it will be interesting to see the workload Barkley is given if his offensive line continues to not perform.

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