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ESPN’s Barnwell: Michael Floyd a player with everything on the line in rest of season

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) during an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

To say Michael Floyd has struggled this season, especially when compared to what expectations were, would be an understatement.

Now in his fifth season, the former first-round pick was coming off a solid campaign in which he caught 52 passes for 849 yards and six touchdowns, and figured to be even better — especially given that he is set to become a free agent in the offseason.

Yet, Floyd has not been better. In fact, he has arguably taken a step back, struggling with drops as well as failing to come down with some of the contested catches he’s know for making. In eight games, he has caught just 19 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns.

His issues have been well documented, and because of his down year, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell put the Notre Dame product on his list of players and coaches with everything on the line in the second half of the 2016 season.

The writing is on the wall in Arizona for Floyd, who has lost his starting job to J.J. Nelson and is battling another injury, this time to his hamstring. Floyd’s role with the team has decreased with the ascension of John Brown, and it appears unlikely that the Cardinals will sign Floyd to an extension before he hits unrestricted free agency for the first time this offseason. Even if Floyd isn’t staying in Arizona, he can echo the sentiments of fellow Cardinals first-rounder Beanie Wells and play the rest of the way as an audition for the league’s 31 other teams. (Floyd, unlike Wells, might want to keep that sentiment to himself.)

Nobody doubts Floyd’s talent, and he has had stretches of production, including a run last year with five 100-yard games in six weeks. In a free-agent market perpetually starved for impact talent at wide receiver, Floyd could make a lot of money over the next few years. If he struggles to get healthy and has to treat 2016 like a washout season, he might have to settle for a one-year deal and rebuild his market before hitting free agency again after the 2017 season. If he does make it back into the lineup and produces, though, teams like the Eagles and Bears could rightfully see him as a target for a long-term deal this offseason.

When asked about Floyd recently, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has offered support, saying he believes the receiver is going to have a really big second half.

As for whether or not Floyd’s impending free agency has factored into his inconstency, while the receiver has said in the past it’s impossible not to think about, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer does not think it’s the reason.

“I expect this second half, Mike to have as big of a year as any receiver could,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not down on his confidence; he’s not down on confidence. I was talking to somebody today. He had two unbelievable days of practice. I think he’s going to explode in the second half and people have doubted and have said negative things about a couple individual plays. But that’s not Mike.

“Mike is a game-changing player. Mike’s going to make plays that win games for us. I don’t know how many, but it’s going to be a lot. We have a lot of football left. So, I like where Mike is. I like where his head’s at, I like where his practice is, I like where his focus is, his leadership. I couldn’t be happier with Mike right now.”

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