While there is no football to watch until August, there is still plenty of fascinating things to take notice of in the NFL. Here are the 5 biggest questions of the 2018 NFL offseason, and what I the answer to those questions will be.
Question #1: Where Will Kirk Cousins sign?
Kirk Cousins is about to get PAID by a team. Arizona, Cleveland (of course), Denver, New York (Jets), and Minnesota seem to be the primary candidates for Captain Kirk. Arizona has an amazing player on offense in David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald is still balling in his mid 30s. The Cards seem like the forgotten candidate. Unless they fall in love with a QB in the draft and trade up for him, look out for Arizona in the Kirk Cousins chase. Cleveland is coming off another miserable season marred by an inept offense and an inefficient defense. Could Kirk finally be the answer? The Browns have a bunch of cap room, but I question whether Kirk would want to play for such a dysfunctional franchise.
The Broncos seem to be the most popular candidate, and for good reason. John Elway can’t possibly be happy with the QB play last season. Plus, he’s gone all in on a QB before. The Jets snuck out 5 wins in a year everyone thought they would tank. Well now they might want to get Kirk, since a team ahead of them in the draft might get their QB. Case Keenum was a legend in Minnesota for a week, but he was ultimately unable to bring home the Lombardi. With Pat Shurmur gone, the Vikes might look to get Cousins as well. But where do I think Cousins will sign? The Broncos make the most sense to me, as the Vikings division is bound to be more competitive with Aaron Rodgers coming back and the possible rise of Mitch Trubisky.
Image Courtesy: Mark Tenally/AP
Question #2: What teams will take a QB in the draft?
The 2018 NFL Draft is very QB-heavy, and it happens to be that many NFL teams need a QB. Here are the QB needy teams, and whether or not I think they’ll take a signal caller.
Cleveland Browns: Yes
The Browns may be a player in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, but ultimately I see them taking Sam Darnold with the #1 pick. Enough moneyball. Time to finally solve your team’s QB issues.
New York Giants: Yes
As a Giants fan, I’d rather they take Saquon Barkley (Ezekiel Elliott without the attitude issues), than find Eli’s successor. However, Eli is getting old, and the Giants got Pat Shurmur to develop a new QB. I am a huge Eli fan, but I ultimately think the Giants will go QB in the 2018 draft.
Denver Broncos: No
I already addressed that I think they get Kirk Cousins. If they don’t, look out for them nabbing a QB at #5.
New York Jets: Yes
Josh McCown is old, Bryce Petty is Bryce Petty, and second round pick Christian Hackenberg hasn’t played a single down in his NFL career. Time to find a new QB (unless you want to go with Hackenberg?)
Miami Dolphins: No
They still have to give Ryan Tannehill a fair shot.
Cincinnati Bengals: Yes
This one may be surprising, as the Bengals seem to love stability. That’s why they resigned Marvin Lewis, much to the disgust of Bengals fans. However, I think they will look to find a challenger to Andy Dalton after another disappointing season.
Arizona Cardinals: Yes
Carson Palmer has retired, time to find a new franchise QB. Considering that they’ll probably get the 4th, 5th, or even 6th QB off the board unless they trade up, they might sign a bridge QB to start ahead of their rookie for a season.
Los Angeles Chargers: No
Phillip Rivers is still good. They should be looking for talent to build around him to compete in the AFC. Start filling out that soccer stadium with some Chargers fans.
Buffalo Bills: Yes
They have shown all the signs that they want to move on from Tyrod Taylor. They have two first round draft picks in a row, and will likely be taking a QB with one of them.
Jacksonville Jaguars: No
I don’t think they’re ready to move on from Bortles after his performance in the playoffs. Plus, all the first round caliber QBs could be off the board by the time they pick.
Minnesota Vikings: No
Question #3: What rule changes will the NFL make?
The NFL loosened their celebration rules last season, much to the delight of most fans. But one of the biggest problems with the NFL last year is confusion over the catch rule (and the fact that so many calls seemed to favor the Patriots). Commissioner Roger Goodell wanted input from 5 hall of fame receivers on the catch rule, and said in an interview with Colin Cowherd that one of the WRs stated “fans want catches”. I fully expect there to be some rule change regarding catches this offseason. In addition, I think touchbacks on punts could be moved up to the 25 as well, considering the NFL seems to be discouraging returns due to safety issues. As for kickoffs, they could take this video’s suggestion and just get rid of them altogether.
Question #4: Will the Steelers tag Bell, sign him, or let him go?
Le’Veon Bell turned 26 a few days ago. If the Steelers were to sign him for four years, they get four years of pre-30 year old Bell. That means they get him at the age before RBs tend to slow down. Even if he’s asking for a high price, I think Pittsburgh should do it for the sake of stability. Bell will keep this team contending for a championship, plus Bell has expressed that he doesn’t want to be franchise tagged. The most convincing argument in favor of franchising Bell (or just letting him go) is that Pittsburgh has the fourth worst salary cap situation in the league, and getting a deal done with Bell will ultimately be too expensive.
I would still figure out a way to sign Bell if I were Kevin Colbert, and I think they will sign their franchise cornerstone this offseason. If Bell is in fact let go however, who will sign him? To me, the Bucs would be the favorite due to their favorable cap situation and the fact that they let go of Doug Martin. Other potential suitors could include the Colts, Jets, Redskins, and Lions.
Question #5: What team will overspend in free agency, leading to criticism from some and the label of “Offseason Champions” by others?
There’s always that one team that dishes out the dough in free agency. Last year, that team happened to hail from Cleveland, Ohio. While the Browns o-line additions in J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler might ultimately pay off, the Kenny Britt signing was nearly as disastrous as their Dwayne Bowe signing. In 2016, it was my New York Giants who went on an offseason spending spree. It worked for them that year. 2017? Not so much, and Jerry Reese got the axe because of it (and not building an o-line, but that’s off topic). This year, I can see the 49ers being the team that opens up the wallet. Now that they have their franchise QB in Jimmy Garoppolo, they want to build a stacked roster around him. And they just so happen to have the second best cap situation in the league.
All in all, the 2018 offseason should be an interesting one. NFL fans such as myself are anxiously awaiting the answers to these questions.