NFL offseason storylines to watch: Tom Brady retires; Can Eagles retain their free agents?

NFL offseason storylines to watch: Tom Brady retires; Can Eagles retain their free agents?

As the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs prepare for Super Bowl LVII, the 30 non-Big Game teams prepare for the 2023 season. The league still has one game to play before the madness of the NFL’s offseason does begin, especially with free agency less than two months away and the draft less than three months away.

There’s no shortage of drama in the NFL’s offseason either, especially after the free agent frenzy that existed last year. The teams will try to improve their roster to reach the Super Bowl and compete with the Eagles and Chiefs in the future. This free agent season will definitely focus on quarterbacks, as there could be significant movement among signal callers in the league.

With the offseason just a few weeks away, here are the main scenarios to watch:

1. Tom Brady is retiring

For the third time in the past four offseasons, the NFL world revolved around Tom Brady and what he wants to do next season. Brady, soon to be 46, had a few options to consider, including retiring and taking the 10-year, $375 million contract with Fox. He hasn’t announced what’s next, but we know he won’t be playing again.

Brady retired last season, but it took 40 days and he decided to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It seems that this time it will stick.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have played the dance game the past two offseasons, which made Rodgers the highest paid quarterback in the league and the Packers traded their best pass catcher to Davante Adams. With the Packers having Jordan Love entering the final year of his rookie contract, will Green Bay and Rodgers finally decide to part ways?

The New York Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett as their offensive coordinator to try to lure Rodgers out, and the Las Vegas Raiders have Adams in case Rodgers wants to reunite with him. There’s sure to be a bidding war for Rodgers in the commercial market, especially since he has two years left on that three-year, $150 million deal.

3. Will the Ravens sign a long-term deal with Lamar Jackson?

Lamar Jackson’s future with the Ravens is as uncertain as they come, especially since the two sides were unable to reach a long-term agreement before the quarterback’s self-imposed deadline before the season. The Ravens can certainly franchise Jackson this offseason and try to work out a long-term deal, but does Jackson even want to be in Baltimore at this point?

The Ravens certainly haven’t helped Jackson by providing him with pass catchers this season, topping Jackson’s strengths with offense first during his entire tenure with the Ravens. As a result, Baltimore left longtime offensive coordinator Greg Roman and will seek Jackson’s advice on finding a new offensive coordinator.

Jackson’s near-term future in Baltimore looks secure unless the Ravens decide not to pay him the lucrative extension he wants and move on. Then things get interesting about Jackson, about where he wants to play, how much he wants and how much Baltimore can get for him.

4. Where will Derek Carr end up?

The Raiders will leave Derek Carr this offseason, but which team will Carr go to? Will Carr be the consolation prize once the fates of Brady, Rodgers and Jackson are decided – or will Carr be the first domino to fall?

Since Carr has been with the Raiders, the franchise has had the worst scoring defense in the NFL. With Carr getting a second chance with a new franchise, will a more capable defense get the best out of him? Carr was the franchise quarterback the Raiders had been missing since Rich Gannon, but he couldn’t get the Raiders to win the playoffs, even though they were respectable.

How much is Carr worth too? How much will the teams be willing to pay him? With Carr in the market, it will be interesting to know which teams jump on him first.

5. Can the NFC champion Eagles keep all of their free agents?

The Eagles have arguably the best roster in the NFL, rolling their opponents through the regular season and playoffs to qualify for the Super Bowl. Not all of these players are guaranteed to return for the 2023 season, as several key performers are free agents.

James Bradberry, Javon Hargrave, CJ Gardner-Johnson, Miles Sanders, Fletcher Cox, TJ Edwards, Isaac Seumalo and Marcus Epps are the main starters who are free agents next March. That’s a lot of good players the Eagles should keep — and Philadelphia can’t keep them all with the cap space available.

The Eagles will again have to get creative with the salary cap and retain players who are part of the long-term future. This team will definitely not be the same as the NFC Championship team.

6. Who will be the 49ers quarterback next season?

San Francisco essentially made up its mind on Jimmy Garoppolo before the season when the 49ers decided to go with Trey Lance to camp. They reworked Garoppolo’s contract for 2022, allowing him to walk into free agency in 2023. Garoppolo essentially took the job after Lance was injured and lost for the season, only to injure himself mid-season – and replaced by Brock Purdy.

Purdy hurt his UCL in the NFC Championship Game, a blowout that presented the 49ers could be a superstar quarterback a long way from winning the Super Bowl. With Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk in tow, it’s important for the 49ers to maximize all the talent players available to them.

Does San Francisco think Purdy is the answer for 2023, or are the 49ers doubling down on their investment with Lance? With Brady and the other free quarterbacks available, be tempting enough to pass the two?

San Francisco has a tough decision to make, one that will be the difference between winning the Super Bowl or failing in the playoffs.

Saquon Barkley is the creme de la creme among the class of loaded running backs in free agency, but how much will he command from the Giants? Barkley said he doesn’t want to establish the running back market, even though he will be the norm after his best season since his rookie year.

Although Barkley is no longer the same player he was five years ago, he is still a player for opposing defenses to play. The Giants offense has been lost at times without Barkley in 2022, but will New York pay $10 million or more for its best offensive player. The Giants have the ceiling space but have other pressing issues to deal with on offense.

Barkley doesn’t need to be the first domino to fall, but he’ll be in high demand.

8. How much will the 2020 quarterback class earn with extensions?

Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts are all due for lucrative extensions this upcoming offseason, especially with Burrow and Herbert having fifth-year options exercised this year. Hurts doesn’t have a fifth-year option since he was a second-round pick, which means his extension from the Eagles could come sooner rather than later.

Aaron Rodgers earns the highest average annual salary for a quarterback at $50,271,667, which is sure to be surpassed after Russell Wilson received $49 million and Kyler Murray received $46.1 million the previous offseason.

Burrow and Herbert are set to reset the market and Hurts won’t be too far behind them. Tua Tagovailoa will also be in for an extension, with a fifth-year option coming up.

The quarterback market is going to be reset with this talented class.

9. Will teams pay for any of these running backs in this deep free agent class?

There are plenty of talented running backs ready to hit the open market, but how much are these players worth? Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, Tony Pollard, Kareem Hunt, Rashaad Penny, Jamaal Williams, Raheem Mostert, D’Onta Foreman, Devin Singletary, Samaje Perine and Jerick McKinnon are the notable names who will be free agents.

There are plenty of good players available to teams, but will these franchises enter into a bidding war for some of these players? Will teams underestimate some of these fullbacks and let the market play until the draft – or after the draft?

Teams go for any running back they want, but running backs turn out to be better value on a rookie contract instead of paying a player big money on his second contract.

Will it be the same this off-season? There are many good players available.

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