NFL 2015: The Nine Biggest Offseason Topics
The NFL season isn’t five days old and here we are, looking toward the Combine, free agency and the Draft. Before you know it, OTAs and training camp starts. Here is a look at the most pressing questions of the 2015 season – even before it really gets underway.
WILL PEYTON RETURN?
The question that is weighing on everyone’s mind in Denver and the NFL. Will the league’s best marketing tool and the greatest regular season quarterback in history return to the Mile High City to make another run at a Super Bowl title?
If Manning returns, and I do believe that will happen, this is probably a one and done scenario. At times last season, age began to creep up on him and the team. With a new coach and coordinators, this season could be a playoff season, but also a failure for Manning and the boys.
THE JOHNNY MANZIEL CIRCUS
Now that Manziel has proven he wants to be an NFL quarterback by checking himself into a rehabilitation facility – which is what every good NFL signal caller does – how will this affect the Cleveland Browns and their treatment of the drama queen?
It is my belief No. 2 will enter and exit and still have issues trying to wrestle the starting job away from anyone who the Browns sign (Mark Sanchez) or re-sign (Brian Hoyer). Manziel is proving to be all style and not a whole lot of substance.
And although the Browns only lost nine games last season, the improvements to the team had nothing to do with Johnny Football.
THE DALLAS COWBOYS
Now that the team has found the formula to win and claim the NFC East, can the Dallas Cowboys not only keep the same recipe for success, but also sign their key free agents and remain one happy family.
We all knew Dallas was a soap opera waiting to happen, but winning and making the playoffs just muddled things a bit. Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray are not the only free agents this team must consider.
Doug Free will be a major re-sign if they can get him under contract. Do not be surprised if Tony Romo restructures his contract to help ease some of the cap space for this team to work deal for both offensive stars and their right tackle.
DO THE PATRIOTS REPEAT?
Las Vegas already has the Seattle Seahawks as the favorite to win Super Bowl 50, but New England is not that far behind. At 37 years old, is this the start of another run for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick? I strongly argue that is not the case.
There is too much parity in the AFC and too many variables like the Packers and Cowboys to even think New England can waltz back into the championship and win it again. Time, age, injuries and luck all play a huge part of this process. The law of averages say this will not happen.
I don’t like the idea of the pass on the 1-yard line, but it happened, and yes I do understand it.
That does not take away from it being a really bad call. That said, Seattle must regroup and make it happen again. There is only one problem, there is not much this team can do to make improvements to the roster.
The moves are not as pressing as most teams, but there are some cap issues in Seattle and Russell Wilson is in line to make substantial coin from his $600,000 he made this season. Seattle will be right there in the middle of it all and a solid Super Bowl contender, but the team must get its house in order and continue to build through the NFL Draft to remain the blueprint of NFL success.
ROGER GOODELL’S LEGACY
Right now, he is perceived as a man who is only out for himself, which does not bode well for the NFL.
If there is anyone out there who learned a few lessons during the NFL season, it was certainly the commissioner. He needs to be more hands on with key issues, stand up and become more accountable for his actions and above everything else, admit when he is wrong.
I do realize the is a certain amount of ego that goes into being a commissioner of the biggest sports league in the world, but there is also some humility that comes with it. Goodell must learn to play well with others and right the wrongs of a league getting out of control.
NEXT IN LINE
Who is the next great quarterback in this league? Aaron Rodgers is clearly the best of the bunch now, but joins the elite?
Andrew Luck is certainly in line and Matthew Stafford is a borderline pick. Don’t count out Ryan Tannehill and the 2014 rookies like Teddy Bridgewater, Derrick Carr and Blake Bortles will have a chance to prove how good they can be this season.
The 2015 year will also be a proving ground of sorts to see if Drew Brees is starting to slip and if Matt Ryan can become Ken Stabler in the Falcons offense. There is not a shortage of good, solid, young passers in this league.
ON FIELD TALENT, OFF FIELD ISSUES
The talents of Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Josh Gordon cannot be denied, but their off-field issues with family violence and substance abuse cannot be denied. Like I have said before, when discussing other players as well who have made poor decisions of late and have not only cost their teams, but themselves, this is an NFL problem.
The Vikings will probably look to re-sign Peterson and Rice will find a home somewhere as a backup because running back talent is scarce in this league. Gordon has to deal with his demons and get his mind straight (Along with Manziel). I am curious to see what happens with Justin Blackmon, Greg Hardy and other players who have legal actions pending. This offseason could be more about who stays out of trouble more than who gets into trouble.
THE JAMEIS WINSTON PROJECT
What happens to a quarterback who is coming off one of the greatest runs in college history but has a background that is as sketchy as any in the NFL right now?
If you take away the off-field issues, Jameis Winston is every bit Randall Cunningham and John Elway put together. But in this day of domestic issues and character, there will always be concerns even if the kid is trying harder than ever to correct himself.
I don’t give Winston a pass on anything. What I do think is that he becomes the top pick in the NFL Draft and Lovie Smith attaches himself to Winston to make sure the Buccaneers franchise is in good hands, and feet for the next decade.