We have officially reached the “quiet” portion of the offseason. Yes, there will be a schedule release on Thursday, minicamps, some signings and cuts here and there, and even Madden ratings, which the NFL will hype to continue the football conversation. But the non-stop chaos of free agency and the draft is behind us.
What else should we be keeping an eye on? Let’s take a look at some potential upcoming storylines.
7 Biggest NFL Offseason Storylines
1. Big-Money QB Extensions
We’ve already seen the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts (five years, $255 million) and the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson (five years, $260 million) sign mega-deals this offseason. But two more quarterbacks still wait: The Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert.
While Hurts and Jackson signed five-year deals, it will be interesting to see if Herbert and Burrow do the same. Remember both of them still have two years remaining on their deals, so any new contract will be tacked on top of that (Hurts had one year, and Jackson had none).
Players (and especially agents) prefer to keep the years low, so they can get back to the negotiating table sooner as the cap and the quarterback market continue to skyrocket. The Chargers and Bengals are family-owned franchises, so they likely will push for more years.
2. Will Chiefs Adjust Mahomes’ Contract?
Speaking of long-term contracts, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes did just that when he signed a 10-year extension in 2020. That contract is the most team-friendly deal in NFL history when looking at all the details, including the cash flow.
Regarding average annual value (AAV), Mahomes is the seventh-highest-paid quarterback in the league and will be ninth if/when Herbert and Burrow finalize their deals. The chances of the Chiefs ripping up the deal and doing a new one are doubtful. Adding more money on the backend or elsewhere to make the AAV higher could be an option the two sides explore.
3. Will Franchise-Tagged Players Get Extended?
Six players were franchise tagged in March, and two so far – Jackson and Washington Commanders DT Daron Payne – have gotten long-term deals: The remaining four are New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley, Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard, Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs and Jacksonville Jaguars TE Evan Engram.
The deadline to reach long-term agreements is Monday, July 17th. Deadlines spur action in this league, so knowing what will happen is difficult. But here’s how I’ll put the four situations as of today: Engram and the Jaguars have had productive talks, and there has been optimism to get something done eventually.
Barkley and the Giants have been in an on-and-off negotiation that, at times, has gotten rocky. With Pollard, the Cowboys historically have waited closer to the deadline before trying to strike a deal. And it’s unclear where things stand with Jacobs and the Raiders.
4. Will Cardinals Offload Hopkins?
There’s no hiding the Arizona Cardinals were open to moving DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. They even gave him permission to find a trade partner to help facilitate a deal. But no deal came to fruition, mainly because of his contract.
Hopkins is due $19.45 million in base salary this season, and no team was willing to take on the contract and give up a draft pick. Could he end up playing in Arizona and make his full contract there? Sure. But Arizona is clearly in a rebuilding phase, and keeping him around wouldn’t make much sense.
Eating some of the contract to help a deal could be a possibility. Arizona could also wait for an injury to happen elsewhere during training camp.
5. Will Owners Pass Flex Scheduling for Thursday Games?
Commissioner Roger Goodell strongly pushed this during the March owners’ meetings in Phoenix. Simply put, the league wants the ability to move late-season games from Sunday to Thursday, with a 15-day advance notice, to assure better matchups for Amazon, which is paying $1.2 billion per season.
Talks in March were ultimately tabled to the May meetings after there weren’t enough votes for the proposal to pass. The league needed 24 votes and only had 22 owners who would vote yes. Goodell has had the last two months to get those two votes. Owners are set to meet in Minnesota on May 22-23. We’ll see what happens, but I would not be surprised if it gets past the finish line.
6. When Will Purdy Be Ready to Play Again?
Brock Purdy underwent right elbow surgery on March 10th, and his timetable to return was about six months, which would be around the season opener. But the San Francisco 49ers were told they’ll have a more concrete timeline after three months.
By then, Purdy is anticipated to start a throwing progression program, and doctors will better understand his progress. For now, the 49ers added Sam Darnold on a one-year, $4.5 million deal in free agency (with upside to $11.5M), and they still have former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance, who has been mentioned in trade rumors this offseason.
If all goes well with Purdy – and that’s a big if – then what happens with Lance will be an interesting storyline to follow.
7. Will Dan Snyder Era in Washington Finally End?
A group led by Josh Harris, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils, reached a preliminary agreement to buy the Commanders from Dan and Tanya Snyder for $6.05 billion in April.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said prior to the draft that progress is being made and expects an announcement to come in May. The NFL is familiar with Harris, a finalist in the bidding for the Denver Broncos last year, so the league has done most of the necessary background work. The league meetings in Minnesota could be when owners vote.