NFL Analysis


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6 Most Important NFL Observations From Latest Offseason Workouts

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow makes a throw during OTAs on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at the Kettering Health Practice Fields outside of Paycor Stadium.

Most NFL teams are off for the rest of the summer and will report for training camp in late July.

However, a few teams across the league recently held offseason workouts. Here are the six biggest stories coming out of those offseason practices this week:

6 Important OTA Takeaways

1. Bengals Using Extreme Caution with QB Joe Burrow

Joe Burrow needs no introduction. He is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks and is one of the few who can go toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes in big games. However, his injuries are starting to pile up, and now he is dealing with a hand injury that had to be surgically repaired this offseason.

The Cincinnati Bengals gave Burrow a rest day once a week during OTAs, but eyebrows were raised when the star quarterback did not practice on Tuesday or Wednesday last week. While there is nothing to suggest that a setback has occurred, it is evident the Bengals are being cautious with their star quarterback.

The NFL season is three months away, and there is no need to overwork Burrow during voluntary OTAs. However, it's clear the Bengals will have to carefully manage Burrow's workload for the remainder of the year, even into the season.

Zack Martin prepares to block Fred Warner
Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports.

2. Cowboys' Zack Martin Teases Retirement After 2024 Season

Zack Martin is set to enter his 11th NFL season, and the All-Pro guard hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. But that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about the future. Ahead of mandatory minicamp, Martin discussed that the 2024 season could be his last.

Martin's contract expires after the year, and he'll turn 34 in November. While he could easily play another three to four seasons at a high level, it's clear Martin doesn't want to overstay his welcome. At this point, it would be a minor shock if he played beyond the 2024 season.

3. Saints Planning To Use Taysom Hill Even More This Season

If you thought the Taysom Hill experiment was finished, think again. Not only are the New Orleans Saints planning to keep Hill's role in the offense, but it seems like they expect to feature him more than ever.

In a recent article by John Hendrix of SaintsNow, the Saints are using Hill even more in the backfield, giving him traditional running back touches:

Folks. I don't know how else to put this, but the Taysom Hill element to this Saints offense has major potential. Today we saw him being used as a halfback more and more. He had three plays where he was the running back and took tosses to the left and right…He was even a singleback on one of the reps. New Orleans is using a lot of motion involving Hill, including that speed motion that will surely confuse some defenses. This could get really fun really fast.

John Hendrix, SaintsNow

Hill saw the most touches of his career in 2023, racking up 33 receptions and 81 carries for a combined 692 yards and six touchdowns. While it's tough to envision Hill getting more work in 2024 at age 34, that appears to be the plan in New Orleans.

Can the Saints find a way to make him even more effective? At what point does it not make sense to feature an older player at this career stage? Time will tell, but the Saints appear to be leaning into making Hill a featured part of their offense again this season.

Treylon Burks
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) catches a pass against Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (9) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.

4. Two Former First-Round Wide Receivers Find New Roles

It's never great for a former first-round wide receiver to see a significant change in their role early in their career. But sometimes, that can help save a career.

Look no further than Darrius Hewyard-Bey, who transitioned from a top-10 pick at wide receiver to a special teams ace. Heyward-Bey flamed out at wide receiver but ended up playing 10 years in the NFL because he was an exceptional gunner.

Treylon Burks could be the latest first-round pick to have a similar transition. After two disappointing seasons at wide receiver, the Tennessee Titans are using him more on special teams as a gunner during OTAs. While it isn't ideal for his long-term outlook at receiver, it's a move that could help him get a helmet on gamedays.

Another receiver making some noise is N'Keal Harry, who is transitioning to tight end with the Minnesota Vikings. Harry is a former first-round pick by the Patriots (2019 NFL Draft) and has combined to catch 19 passes since the start of the 2021 season.

It's clear Harry doesn't have the twitch and route-running ability to win at wide receiver, but the Vikings believe he could make their 53-man roster as a tight end. He's turned some heads during OTAs and could be the next wide receiver to transition to tight end.

5. Eagles Installing New Offense Under OC Kellen Moore

The Philadelphia Eagles needed to change their offense, which is why Kellen Moore was brought in this offseason. Rather than just tweaking the offense, Moore is installing a brand-new system. According to Jalen Hurts, the offense is "95 percent" new, emphasizing more timing-based routes for the wide receivers.

The Eagles finished seventh in points per game last year (25.5 PPG), but the offense tanked starting in December. They averaged just 18.8 points per game in the season's final seven games (including playoffs), and Hurts saw a major decrease in his production and efficiency.

The plan for Moore's offense is to get Hurts under center more and emphasize the run game. When Moore was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator, Dallas was near the top of the league in first down run rate. Expect some early struggles for the Eagles' offense, but it will be more balanced than in previous seasons.

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) gestures at the line of scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports.

6. Two Star Wide Receivers Miss Mandatory Minicamp

Now that Justin Jefferson has signed a mega deal with the Vikings, CeeDee Lamb and Brandon Aiyuk are the next in line. However, Lamb and Aiyuk were selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and are set to play on the fifth-year options.

Both star receivers missed their team's respective minicamps and are subject to significant fines.

Lamb and Aiyuk both hope to sign deals for more than $30 million per year, but neither player has had much traction. Lamb is likelier to sign a deal right away. His numbers are close to Jefferson's, and the Cowboys have no one else on offense who can handle his workload. While a deal might not be imminent, there is no real concern that it won't get done eventually.

>> READ: In-Depth Look At Lamb's Potential Extension

Aiyuk's situation is a little different and much more complicated. The 49ers are already paying a huge contract to Deebo Samuel and just signed Jauan Jennings to a nice deal. It's also interesting that the 49ers spent their first-round pick on Ricky Pearsall, which could indicate their eventual plans for Aiyuk.

There have been plenty of trade rumors surrounding Aiyuk this offseason, and those won't go away until he signs a new contract or is dealt. Still, expect these negotiations to carry through the summer and for things to get messy if neither player is signed before training camp starts.