Historic Super Bowl yadda, yadda, yadda … Tom Brady’s the greatest yadda, yadda, yadda … Heartbreak for Atlanta yadda, yadda, yadda. The fact is, 30 fan bases didn’t have a rooting interest in the game (beyond spite). And since fans are selfish creatures that only care about their own teams, it’s time we return to tailoring content to that which everyone can complain about equally.
Free agency matters to every NFL team. You could lose a favorite player, or gain a wily vet who’s certain to put you over the top. And while just as many signings bottom out as succeed, now is not the time of year for speculating on future success. It’s a time of hope for every non-Patriots franchise. So here’s some odds and props for how the offseason’s biggest storylines could shake out.
As long as there is a suitable starting quarterback on the market, that player is going to be the highest paid. It doesn’t matter that Le’Veon Bell and Eric Berry might be the very best at what they do, because the market value for running backs and safeties is far lower. Kirk Cousins is, like, the 15th-best quarterback in the league, and that still means he’ll get upwards of $20 million a year.
It would be so Buffalo to let the most effective passer they’ve had since Jim Kelly walk out the door because Doug Whaley offered him an absurd deal. While there’s almost no way he plays with the team next season under his current contract, he and the Bills could renegotiate a deal that pleases both sides. Then again, depending on what happens with Cousins and Tony Romo (see below), Taylor could end up being the most attractive quarterback on the open market. Why settle for less to stay in Buffalo?
The franchise’s leading rusher is headed for release if he is unable to agree on a restructured deal. Due for a $6 million roster bonus if he’s still with the team on March 11, the Vikes have a tough choice to make on a running back that has played in just 21 games over the past three seasons. It already sounds like both teams from his home state of Texas are trying to court him, but will things really progress to the point where Peterson won’t be wearing purple and gold?
Ha ha ha ha! There’s no way this relationship continues. Jump aboard the Brian Hoyer train, Bears fans!
Don’t expect this one to get resolved any time soon. The Cowboys will want to find fair value on the trade market, and if that can’t be accomplished, releasing Romo after June 1 gives the team more cap flexibility. The teams most in the market for a 37-year-old former All-Pro quarterback figure to be the ones who are ready to win but for their pivot. Argue for Alex Smith or Trevor Siemian as much as you want, the Chiefs and Broncos are more dangerous teams with Romo under center.
As for the cross-state team, Romo and the Texans are a perfect match, except for the albatross that is Brock Osweiler’s guaranteed contract. Acquiring Romo’s deal would mean over 20-percent of Houston’s cap space for next season would be devoted to the quarterback position alone.
Ten players were tagged last year, and a few of them could be in line for a repeat. Kansas City won’t want to part with Berry, nor will Washington want to let Cousins hit the open market. Throw in contract conundrums like Trumaine Johnson, Stephon Gilmore, Martellus Bennett, Kawann Short, Chandler Jones, Jeffery, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Bell, and that number should be close to last year’s franchise tag total.
Shocker! The Spendin’ Skins are the favorite to blow the most money in free agency once again. Sure, that’s mostly because Cousins’ new contract figures to be the biggest one handed out this offseason, but even after that, Washington will need to sign basically an entirely new defensive line. Can’t you just see Dan Snyder throwing the checkbook at Calais Campbell?
Beyond that, Jacksonville and Chicago are candidates for another big spending spree. Then there’s San Francisco, which needs to start accumulating NFL-level talent by any means necessary if Kyle Shanahan is going to stand any chance in his first season.
Finally, the Colts are an interesting candidate. Indianapolis has missed the playoffs the past two seasons and seems to be wasting the prime of Andrew Luck’s career by surrounding him with little to no talent. New GM Chris Ballard will be expected to make some big moves in his first year at the helm.
The Packers pass rusher turned 37 last month, and while he did notch 7.5 sacks last season, he’s at the point in his career where one-year deals are just about all that will come his way. Peppers stormed the league with his freakish athleticism back in the day, but as old age creeps up, only a James Harrison-like will can combat Father Time. Is Peppers willing to give it another go-around in an attempt to win his first title? And even if he is, will anyone want to sign him?
The Falcons biggest (or only) story of Super Bowl week didn’t appear to be a distraction come game time, as Freeman averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Now entering an offseason where Atlanta has no pending free agents of great importance, management certainly has plenty of time to negotiate with the team’s lead back. Whether they’ll feel the need to get a deal done or not remains the question.
Freeman still has one year remaining on his rookie contract, so the back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher is coming at a steal. But with over $32 million projected in cap space this offseason, Atlanta has the means to pay Freeman like a top back, and quell any potential discontent in the locker room.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].
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