The NFL offseason is by far the most intriguing of all sports leagues, probably a big player on why the game is so much more popular than other professional sports league. With the exception of a couple of weeks in May, the NFL consumes fans with storylines that give us all we can handle.
This offseason is sure to not disappoint with some big name free agents potentially hitting the open market, no solidification at the top of the 2013 NFL Draft, and teams vying to get under the cap.
Here’s … storylines that are sure to affect late April’s draft.
Joe Flacco gets paid or does he?
Peter King opined his thoughts on the Joe Flacco contract situation. It’s the single biggest story of the NFL offseason with Flacco coming of one of the more memorable playoff runs for the position. It wasn’t long before the Ravens run in the playoffs that fans were questioning Flacco’s existence in Baltimore and whether or not to keep him. A month and a Super Bowl win later and fans are questioning how much money it’s going to take to keep Flacco a Raven.
Ozzie Newsome has his work cut out for him and will earn his paycheck this offseason. Flacco isn’t the only cog in their free agent wheel. With Ed Reed looking for one more contract to his play his days out in Baltimore, Paul Kruger looking to cash in on his pass rushing success, and Dannell Ellerbe looking to fill the Ray Lewis void it’s going to be an offseason to pay attention to in Baltimore.
Flacco is looking for megabucks which could eliminate at least two of the other three big fish in the pond for Newsome. Baltimore’s trademark defensive persona could be taking a hit at the cost of a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. King’s MMQB article on the situation pointed to the potential of a team (mostly the Browns) opening up their draft pick wallet to dole out two first rounders for the services of Flacco. I share that sentiment and if it isn’t the Browns it will be one of the quarterback starved teams in the NFL.
The only clean solution is to re-sign Flacco to a backend loaded contract that may make him the richest quarterback in the NFL. We’ll be eagerly awaiting the outcome on this one as it’s likely to shape the top of the draft.
Quarterbacks, quarterbacks, and more quarterbacks
It’s a quarterback driven lead so there’s no doubt that our top two storylines will be about the position. Here’s a rundown of all the teams in need of a quarterback. Remember if you don’t have a franchise quarterback your always on the search for obtaining one.
Kansas City: Matt Cassel is done in KC and Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi are left on the roster. Coming away with a QB is paramount Andy Reid and Company.
Jacksonville: It appears they will hitch their wagons to Blaine Gabbert/Chad Henne for another season. Can’t blame them with this year’s draft class but they can’t feel good about competing with those two at the helm.
Oakland: Carson Palmer and Terrelle Pryor appear to be headed for a full fledged QB controversy. Neither is the answer so they could be in the market for a free agent signal caller or take one in the draft, especially if they elect to cut Palmer’s hefty contract.
Philadelphia: Nick Foles played admiringly in 2012 but I’m not sure they are willing to hinge their future to Foles. With the added dynamic of Chip Kelly in the fold this water is murky to say the least.
Cleveland: Mike Lombardi and the Browns organization haven’t given Brandon Weeden a vote of confidence. On the flip side, Lombardi bashed the Weeden selection. Jimmy Haslem all but said they will bring in a veteran to compete with Weeden in camp. Adam Caplan linked them to two intriguing names in Chase Daniels and Brian Hoyer. Could be a darkhorse for Alex Smith but I’m not sure of his fit in Norv Turner’s system.
Arizona: Kevin Kolb played pretty well before his season-ending injury. The rest of the quarterback roster was abysmal, until they brought in the aforementioned Hoyer who played well with three weeks preparation. The Cardinals could bring in competition for Kolb by re-signing Hoyer and could still draft a QB in the first three rounds of the draft.
Buffalo: Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the answer in Buffalo and is being paid like the productive starter that he is not. I don’t know that they cut him but they will certainly be looking at bringing in competition in some form or fashion. King cited them as a team willing to part with the cash and picks for Flacco.
New York Jets: The Jets quarterback situation was a mess in 2012 and clearing that up has to be priority one in New York. Cutting Sanchez doesn’t help them from a financial standpoint and it appears he will compete for the job. They are a strong possibility to bring in a veteran and/or drafting a quarterback early.
Tennessee: Maybe a longshot with Jake Locker in toe but Locker has a lot to prove. Matt Hasselbeck could be a cap casualty leaving them with Rusty Smith and Nathan Enderle as backups. They can’t feel comfortable with that given Locker’s injury history. Bringing in a veteran appears to be the best option for Tennessee but they could take a mid-round flyer on a second tier QB.
San Diego: Phillip Rivers has looked very average (maybe below average) over the last couple of seasons. His inability to avoid costly turnovers has cost the Chargers in the win column. He’s the quarterback of the now, but may not be the quarterback of the future unless he can revert back 2010 form.
Tampa Bay: Mark Dominik has made it clear that he wants to increase the competition for incumbent Josh Freeman. It appears that Freeman will have the 2013 season to prove whether he’s the future or not. I would expect Tampa to bring in a veteran and draft a guy in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft to develop.
Dallas: Tony Romo’s struggles to get this team over the hump have been widely publicized. They have nothing on the roster in terms of development potential and should look to the draft for a young signal caller to groom.
Minnesota: Christian Ponder was up and down in 2012. He will be in Jake Locker territory as he has to prove he can take the bull by the horns at the position and lead this team deep in the playoffs. 2013 will be a huge season for Ponder as he looks to take the step forward. Bringing in a veteran would be a wise move as it appears Joe Webb isn’t ready to be a capable backup.
Houston: Houston is looking like competitors for the long haul. The question is can Matt Schaub be the guy to get them to the Promised Land. That remains to be seen but they could be players in the draft to find a young signal caller should Schaub falter next season. T.J. Yates showed promise in 2011 but may not be ‘the guy’.
Darrelle Revis’ a Jet?
The Jets have to get out of salary cap hell? One possibility is trading off Darrelle Revis and his dollars. Not wise in my book but it’s a strong possibility. Trading Revis could leverage the Jets to pick up a quarterback with a pick or in a trade. Coming off an ACL and what could be healthy contract demands could keep his value reasonable (early day two pick) so teams with a healthy cap number could be willing to part with a pick or two for Revis.
What will the Vikings do with Percy Harvin?
Percy may have outworn his welcome in the Twin Cities. His latest blowout with Leslie Frazier may have forced Rick Spielman’s hand with the talented but troubled wide receiver. Compound his explosive personality with his migraine history and you have all the makings for an offseason trade. This impacts the draft in two ways;
- First, the Vikings have no depth at the position. Trading away the only weapon leaves them in a real bind for a team looking to help out their young quarterback. Drafting a wide receiver in round one was a real possibility before the Harvin trade rumors. It becomes a necessity if they trade away Harvin.
- I would look at a Brandon Marshall-esque deal for Harvin. A second in 2013 and a conditional second in 2014 should fetch someone Harvin. Possible suitors could consist of Miami, New England, San Francisco, and St. Louis. Miami makes a ton of sense with an extra second rounder and a major need at the position. St. Louis also strikes my fancy as Jeff Fisher has taken in head cases before with success. They have an extra first from the RGIII trade and need a game breaker at the position. San Francisco is set to lose Ted Ginn and Randy Moss and the slow development of 2012 1st rounder A.J. Jenkins leaves them a prime candidate to pull off a deal. Adding Harvin to that offense is certainly intriguing. New England makes sense but I’m not sure that Bill will part with the bounty for him with limited picks this year.
The Percy Harvin situation is certainly one that intrigues draft fans as it could go a long way in shaping team needs and multiple picks being packaged and sent in another direction.