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How former Arizona Wildcats fared during the 2021 NFL season

arizona-wildcats-nfl-season-highlights-rob-gronkowski-nick-folk-2021 Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NFL regular season is in the rearview mirror. Here is how all former Arizona Wildcats fared around the league this year.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gronk fought through a gruesome midseason injury to wind up with another fantastic year, one that he and the Bucs hope is far from over. Arizona’s favorite tight end finished the regular season with six touchdowns, 802 receiving yards and 55 receptions. He was targeted on 86 passes, 11th most of all NFL tight ends despite missing five games.

Gronk ended the regular season by hitting $1 million in incentives with a little help from Tom Brady.

The Buccaneers face the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card round on Sunday.

Nick Folk, K, New England Patriots

Folk went from barely making the Patriots roster out of training camp to turning in one of the best regular seasons of his career. The veteran kicker has made 36 of 39 field goal attempts and is tied for the NFL lead in points at 150. Folk’s 92.3 field goal percentage is almost 10 percent better than his career average. He’s been automatic from less than 50 yards, making all 31 of those attempts. From 50+ yards, he’s 5 of 8.

The Patriots visit the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

Dane Cruikshank, CB, Tennessee Titans

Cruikshank has had a breakout season for the Titans, recording 43 total tackles and one forced fumble. Cruikshank played in 14 regular season games, starting four. The majority of his snaps have come on special teams, but he’s also played 10 or more snaps on defense in 12 of the Titans’ games.

Tennessee is on a bye week as the top seed in the AFC. The Titans will face the lowest remaining seed in the divisional round.

Roy Lopez, DT, Houston Texans

Lopez had a stellar rookie season, starting in 15 games for the Texans. Lopez progressed as the year went on and finished strong, recording nine tackles in the last two games. On the season, Lopez had 31 tackles, tied for 12th most on the team, and one sack.

Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears

Foles made one appearance this season but made it count, leading Chicago to a comeback Week 16 victory over Seattle. In the 25-24 win, Foles completed 24 of 35 passes for one touchdown and also produced a go-ahead 2-point conversion.

Foles enters the last year of his contract in 2022, and it’s doubtful he’ll compete for Chicago’s starting quarterback role. Perhaps the Bears, under new management, will consider trading the 33-year old.

J.J. Taylor, RB, New England Patriots

2021 was supposed to be a breakout year for Taylor, but he never got the opportunity to take the next leap as an NFL running back. Taylor’s sophomore season ended with 19 carries for 37 yards and two touchdowns in five appearances. Taylor’s last game came in Week 10 against the Cleveland Browns, when he ran the ball six times for 11 yards.

The highlight of Taylor’s season came in a Week 7 win over the New York Jets, when he ran for two goal-line TDs.

Taylor is under contract with the Patriots for one more season.

Gary Brightwell, RB, New York Giants

The rookie running back finished the year with one carry for four yards in New York’s Week 3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Brightwell also had a Week 1 reception for six yards in the Giants’ defeat to the Denver Broncos.

Brightwell ended the year on the injured reserve due to a neck injury he suffered on special teams in Week 15 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Will Parks, S, New York Jets

Parks fought his way back into the NFL, signing with the Miami Dolphins in early December before being acquired by the Jets ahead of Week 16. In three games with the Jets, Parks recorded seven tackles and played 109 snaps, mostly on defense.

Parks will look to capitalize on his late season production with the Jets as he enters the 2022 offseason as a likely free agent.

Patrick Onwuasor, LB, Las Vegas Raiders

Onwuasor, who began his career at Arizona before transferring to Portland State, has played in six games with Las Vegas this season. All but one of his 93 snaps have come on special teams.

Onwuasor has not played since Week 16 and was listed as inactive ahead of the Raiders’ regular season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers. It will be a surprise if he plays in Las Vegas’ playoff game against Cincinnati on Saturday.

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, LB, San Francisco 49ers

The Tucson native has impressed in his sophomore season, earning 29 total tackles in 16 appearances. DFF has played in a majority of San Francisco’s special teams snaps but has also filled in on defense when needed.

The 49ers will take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Jace Whittaker, CB, Arizona Cardinals

Whittaker has appeared in two games for the Cardinals, including Week 5 against San Francisco when he recorded three tackles. Whittaker most recently played in Week 17 against Dallas, appearing in four defensive snaps.

The Cardinals face the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night to wrap up Wild Card weekend.

Tony Fields II, LB, Cleveland Browns

Fields, who transferred to West Virginia for his final college season, played in 10 games for the Browns this season, recording four total tackles. Fields missed a couple games late in the season due to COVID but appeared in Cleveland’s final game, a win over Cincinnati. All of Fields’ snaps came on special teams.