NFL’s ‘clutch’ players identified by ‘Madden NFL 18’ | NFL

EA Sports introduced the concept of “Player Traits” to the Madden NFL video game franchise six years ago in an effort to better differentiate how players perform on the field. At that time, Tim Tebow had just come off an improbable stretch of games as the Broncos’ starting quarterback, culminating in a dramatic overtime playoff win over the Steelers.

The question was how to represent those players who find a way to step up late in games or in the postseason, when the pressure is highest.

The “Clutch” trait was meant to be the answer to that dilemma. Players who are designated as “clutch” receive ratings boosts in the final minutes of close games. Offensive and defensive linemen are not eligible for the trait.

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For the first four years, the trait was handed out to only a select few players. In “Madden NFL 17,” however, the developers at EA Sports relaxed the definition of what made a player “clutch,” seemingly handing out the designation to many individuals who were simply rated highly and considered among the best at their positions. That included players who had never even appeared in a postseason game, and even a rookie kicker.

The choice to do so for the latter backfired, as that kicker was Roberto Aguayo. He had such a poor rookie season and awful training camp that he was recently cut despite the Buccaneers having spent a second-round pick on him.

The biggest head-scratcher with “Madden NFL 18” when it comes to clutch players is once again a rookie for Tampa Bay.

Tight end O.J. Howard, taken 19th in the draft, is the only rookie to have received the trait. Howard had big games in the last two college foortball national championships, but again, he has never taken a regular-season snap in the NFL.

All the other clutch players have firmly established themselves in the league.

62 players return as “clutch” from last year’s game out of 70 total.

(*Making debut as a “Clutch” player)

Tom Brady, Patriots
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Matt Ryan, Falcons*
Drew Brees, Saints
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Andrew Luck, Colts
Derek Carr, Raiders*
Cam Newton, Panthers
Matt Stafford, Lions*
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

Running Backs
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
Marshawn Lynch, Raiders
C.J. Anderson, Broncos

Tight Ends
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Delanie Walker, Titans
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Jordan Reed, Redskins
Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Jason Witten, Cowboys
Antonio Gates, Chargers
O.J. Howard, Buccaneers*

Wide Receivers
Julio Jones, Falcons
Antonio Brown, Steelers
A.J. Green, Bengals
Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
Jordy Nelson, Packers
Dez Bryant, Cowboys
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Julian Edelman, Patriots
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
Jermaine Kearse, Seahawks*

Von Miller, Broncos
Luke Kuechly, Panthers
Khalil Mack, Raiders
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks
Justin Houston, Chiefs
Sean Lee, Cowboys
NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
Thomas Davis, Panthers
Terrell Suggs, Ravens
Brandon Marshall, Broncos
Lavonte David, Buccaneers
Derrick Johnson, Chiefs

Aqib Talib, Broncos*
Chris Harris Jr., Broncos
Malcolm Butler, Patriots
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
Josh Norman, Redskins
Richard Sherman, Seahawks

Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Eric Berry, Chiefs
Eric Weddle, Ravens
Harrison Smith, Vikings
Devin McCourty, Patriots
Reshad Jones, Dolphins
Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals
Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles
T.J. Ward, Broncos
Kurt Coleman, Panthers

Justin Tucker, Ravens
Matt Bryant, Falcons*
Dan Bailey, Cowboys
Adam Vinatieri, Colts
Steven Hauschka, Bills

Bryan Anger, Buccaneers*
Sam Koch, Ravens
Chris Jones, Cowboys

Lost “Clutch” status this year: Tony Romo (retired), Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Stewart, Jimmy Graham, Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith (retired), Demaryius Thomas, Clay Matthews, Darrelle Revis, Vontae Davis, Graham Gano, Stephen Gostkowski, Josh Brown, Roberto Aguayo, Pat McAfee (retired), Dustin Colquitt

DL | LB | DB | Rookies

Leading the way with the most clutch players, a whopping seven of them, is the Broncos. They’re followed by the Seahawks with six and the Cowboys, Patriots and Panthers all with five.

The only teams without any clutch players are the Jets, Browns, Jaguars, Rams and Bears.

Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at, is co-founder of the sports gaming site, hosts the “Press Row Podcast” and can be reached on Twitter@Pastapadre.

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