With the 2023 NFL regular season coming to an end, half of the league will turn their attention to the playoffs, while the other half will turn their primary attention to who to draft and which players will be available in free agency. Zero games are played from March to August, but seasons can be won or lost during this period.
Last offseason was a very strange one: Tom Brady retired for the second time, Aaron Rodgers was traded to the New York Jets, the New Orleans Saints traded Sean Payton to the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers traded up for the No. 1 overall pick. choose. What is going to happen this year?
Below, we’ll analyze 10 unique predictions for the 2024 offseason. Let’s start with the backup quarterback market.
10. The backup QB market explodes
A total of 61 different quarterbacks have started this season, which ranks seventh most all-time. Some teams – such as the Cleveland Browns – are able to recover from losing their starter at the most important position. But there are other teams that completely fell apart like the Jets. That No. 2 quarterback is obviously important. Just look at the Indianapolis Colts, who lost their starter for the year in Week 5, yet free-agent pickup Gardner Minshew has kept them in the playoff race.
The general manager is paying attention to this and is making a budget for it. This time in free agency, the backup quarterback market is going to be hot. Last year, Jacoby Brissett of the Washington Commanders was the highest-paid backup at $8 million, although he was in a battle for the position with Sam Howell. It’s probably fair to say that the highest-paid backup was a former Commander in Taylor Heinicke, who signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency ($7 million AAV).
This offseason, many backup quarterbacks will be paid $10+ million as their services will be desired by multiple teams. Some quarterbacks who could be attractive options in free agency are Ryan Tannehill, Brissett again, Tyrod Taylor, Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston, Drew Lock, Minshew, and Mason Rudolph.
9. Another player changes sides in the Chiefs-Bengal rivalry
Last offseason, we saw Patrick Mahomes’ blindside blocker Orlando Brown Jr. switch sides and take his talents to rival Cincinnati. This offseason we will see the opposite. A Bengal turncoat.
The Chiefs’ 2023 campaign highlighted Mahomes’ weapons. Travis Kelce hasn’t been as explosive, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Sky Moore are all averaging less than 20 receiving yards per game. Rashee Rice was drafted, but he can’t play the passing game alone. One of the best wide receivers in this free agency class currently plays ball in Cincinnati, and that’s Tee Higgins.
With the contract the Bengals have given Joe Burrow and potentially willing to give to Ja’Marr Chase, it seems likely Higgins will play elsewhere in 2024. He’s worth good money that Cincinnati may not be willing to pay. My prediction is that the Chiefs will come in immediately and sign a soon-to-be 25-year-old receiver to pair with Mahomes.
Higgins caught 67 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season in 2020, then cleared 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. Injuries have caused him to miss time in 2023, but that shouldn’t impact his market too much.
8. Ben Johnson rejects Panthers, hired by Chargers
Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson decided to delay a head coaching job to return to Detroit last offseason. He was a candidate for consideration by a handful of teams, including the Panthers. Last January he was supposed to give an interview with Carolina, but he canceled the interview and decided to stay. This offseason, it is expected that Johnson will be a popular candidate on the head-coaching market.
The 37-year-old was born in Charleston, South Carolina, went to high school in Asheville and attended college in Chapel Hill. Bringing back the “Carolina Kid” to revitalize the Panthers is something that many would be hoping for, but that doesn’t happen. Johnson looks at the state of the Panthers franchise, says no thanks and accepts another opportunity on the West Coast with Justin Herbert and the Chargers.
7. The real RB revolt begins, as some consider a position change
One of the major storylines last offseason concerned the running back position, and how the league views them in the current era. Six players were given the franchise tag last year: a quarterback, a tight end, a defensive tackle and three running backs. The three running backs were the only players who did not agree to long-term deals before the July 17 deadline. Despite impressive campaigns, running backs were not getting paid. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor signed a three-year, $42 million extension that includes $26.5 million guaranteed, but Zack Moss has been just as good.
If you thought last year was dramatic with the running back position, just wait until this year. Here are some players who will be looking for new lucrative deals in free agency: Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, JK Dobbins, AJ Dillon and the aforementioned Moss. Is any team going to step up and pay the kind of money some of these stars want? I guess not.
This offseason, the running back is going to take the next step toward forming his own union after lacking legitimate interest on the open market. Some like Barkley and Pollard will also consider switching to receiver. I would love to see Derrick Henry as a pass rusher, but that’s probably a bit of a reach.
6. NFL makes major kickoff change
In 2022, the NFL implemented a new fair catch rule on kickoffs, where returners could call for a fair catch behind their own 25-yard line, and the ball would be placed on the 25-yard line. This offseason, the league will make a very different change, taking the Kickoff format from the XFL.
In the XFL, teams start at their own 30-yard line. Players on the kicking team, excluding the kicker, line up on the receiving team’s 35-yard line. On the receiving team, each player lines up five yards to the returner’s line at their own 30 yards. Only the kicker and returner are allowed to move before the ball is fielded, and the ball must be kicked across the 20.
This format not only encourages kick returns, but eliminates the high-impact collisions that tend to occur during – or at least before – kickoffs.
There’s talk of the NFL borrowing from the XFL…
5. The NFL attaches itself to the UFL
Just last month, the USFL and XFL announced that they are, Maybe this would give both former leagues a better chance of survival, but what would really help would be the NFL associating itself with the UFL and adopting it as a “farm league” of sorts. This is something that will guarantee the survival of the “Spring League”, but it is much more than that.
This potential marriage only makes sense if it makes dollars and cents. At least, that’s probably how the NFL sees it. But, they have been won over by the UFL’s pitch, including the mandate of the NFL being a “minor league” that gives NFL decision makers a major say in how the league is run and then the simple fact that the UFL controls the playing field. Could serve as a way to test different ideas when it comes to football games, whether it’s potential rule changes or how to broadcast the game altogether.
4. Michael Penix is included in the top five
Washington’s quarterback has been one of the best college football players over the past two seasons. The Indiana transfer was one of the AP Comeback Players of the Year in 2022 after throwing for 4,641 yards, 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and somehow followed that up with 4,648 yards, 35 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a College Football Playoff appearance last season. Went. , In the semifinals against Texas, Penix threw for 430 yards and two touchdowns. Now, the 23-year-old player has a chance to become a national champion.
Penix became the first quarterback since Mahomes to throw for 4,500 yards in consecutive seasons. As far as the prospect is concerned as to what his calling card is, everyone will claim it is “sleight of hand talent”. What is “arm talent”? It is capable of throwing the football anywhere on the field, even off the stage. I’d say it’s that kind of arm talent that can turn a good quarterback into a great one.
After two dominant seasons and a college football championship, Penix’s stock has declined.
3. Bills interim OC gets head coaching gig
When the Bills fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey after an embarrassing loss to the Broncos, many saw him as a sacrificial lamb for larger issues in Buffalo. Given how the Bills have performed since then, that narrative has evaporated. If you want a good example of a sacrificial lamb, look back at how the Panthers handled Dorsey’s eventual replacement, Joe Brady, a few years ago.
In 2021, the Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady after a 5–7 start. It did nothing to spark the Matt Rhule-led Panthers, who did not win another game that season. With Brady, people forget everything that happened before Rhule got rid of him.
As a 30-year-old first-year offensive coordinator in the NFL, Brady helped produce two 1,000-yard receivers while the Panthers were struggling with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Carolina’s offense wasn’t good by any means, but everyone knew who “Brady the Broyles Award Winner” was, given that he had a hand in the greatest offense in college football history at LSU the previous year. I’m of course talking about the magical 2019 season where the Tigers went undefeated and Burrow won the Heisman. After his first NFL season, the young Brady received interview requests from several teams interested in hiring him as their main man. A head coach!
There is no doubt that Brady has helped the Bills offense since being promoted. Entering Week 17, the Bills had averaged 158.4 rushing yards per game since taking over in Week 11, which was second in the NFL. Buffalo also ranks seventh in the NFL in scoring, averaging 28.2 points per game since Week 11. My crazy prediction is that the Falcons, who fired Arthur Smith, will snatch up Brady as head coach at the age of 34.
2. Bill Belichick is traded to Washington
I am not the creator of this theory, as this was the first time this potential move was mentioned publicly Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, But I’ve been thinking about this for several months.
Many are expecting the New England Patriots to part ways with veteran head coach Bill Belichick this offseason, but it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be fired, and it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll retire, considering that That’s how close he is to Don Shula’s record. This means he is being traded! NFL media reported a few months ago that Robert Kraft would likeWhich makes sense.
No, the 71-year-old Belichick will not get a first-round pick on the market. I don’t know what either side will do in terms of a Day 2 or 3 pick, but new Commanders owner Josh Harris will be looking to make a great move after parting ways with Ron Rivera. This would definitely be pretentious.
1. Tom Brady and the Patriots face off for Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh led Michigan to three consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and a No. 1 seed this year. His potential return to the NFL has been the subject of rumors for several years, and this offseason will be no different. You never know what Harbaugh is going to do, but my prediction is that he’ll allow some “wooing.”
Enter the Las Vegas Raiders and Patriots. Has Antonio Pierce done enough to get a full-time job in Vegas? Yes. Will the attackers hand it over to him immediately? Probably not. As far as the Patriots are concerned, the guess is Belichick won’t be involved one way or the other, and I’ve already sent him up to Washington.
Brady’s status as the Raiders minority owner has not yet been finalized, but it could potentially happen this offseason. The Michigan graduate will go to work recruiting Harbaugh, but so will Robert Kraft. Brady and the Patriots will face off for the first time off the field in a dramatic recruiting battle that will ultimately come to nothing, as Harbaugh will remain at Michigan.