NFL free agency is set to get going in about a month. It’s going to be an absolutely crazy time around the gridiron world with a ton of top-end free agents set to hit the open market.
Though, things are certainly going to take off before then. How is the Tom Brady situation going to play out? What about a trade market that promises to be robust? We could see former Pro Bowlers Derek Carr and Jameis Winston both dealt.
The backdrop here is the Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas and the 2020 NFL Draft being held near their new home. These are among the craziest storylines for the 2020 NFL offseason.
Tom Brady’s first foray into free agency
For the first time in his legendary 20-year-old career, Brady is going to test the free-agent waters. The six-time Super Bowl champ has been linked to the Las Vegas Raiders with the team reportedly set to offer him a two-year, $60 million contract. It’s still crazy to think about. Brady potentially moving on from Bill Belichick and Co. after one of the most successful runs in sports history. The backdrop here being potential regression on the part of the 42-year-old quarterback.
I am increasingly interested to see how this situation plays out. Can New England make a last-ditch effort to re-sign Brady before the start of free agency? If not, it’s going to be one heck of a media circus once the tampering period starts around the NFL on March 16. Could we in fact see Brady in another uniform in 2020? What a crazy story that would be.
Absurd amount of league-wide cap room
Cash is going to by flying around at a record clip this coming free-agent period. According to Over the Cap, 14 teams have $50-plus million to spend. Some of the figures are absolutely crazy.
- Miami Dolphins: $89.39 million
- Indianapolis Colts: $86.16 million
- Buffalo Bills: $82.19 million
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $79.89 million
- Dallas Cowboys: $77.30 million
Those who are not in great cap situations are going to struggle both remaining viable for free agents and retaining their own players. Meanwhile, the teams listed above have a real opportunity to make some noise. Who is going to end up with buyer’s remorse? That’s the biggest question here.
The Dallas Cowboys’ quandary
One of the teams with a ton of cap room, it’s not what it seems in Big D. The Cowboys have two big-time free agents in that of quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper. As it relates to Prescott’s contract situation, things have drawn on a while and are extremely complicated.
If Dallas is forced to place the dreaded franchise tag on Prescott, it could potentially lead to Cooper’s departure in free agency. He would almost undoubtedly hit the open market with cash flowing in his direction at nearly every turn. Dallas must get something done with either Prescott or Cooper over the next month. Otherwise, free agency is not going to be fruitful for this team.
Patrick Mahomes’ record-breaking extension
This reigning Super Bowl MVP is going to have multiple Brinks Trucks backed up for him this summer. Eligible for an extension for the first time, Mahomes is looking at a record-breaking contract. Not only that, he’s going to absolutely shred what we thought was a never-ending market of increased salaries from the quarterback position.
Mahomes, 24, has put up 76 touchdowns compared to 18 interceptions while averaging a crazy 303 yards per start throughout his young career. A starting-off point at $40 million annually with $120-plus million in fully guaranteed cash has to be in the cards here. In fact, we would not be shocked if Mahomes earned $45-plus million annually, resetting the market by roughly $10 million. The details are going to be jarring.
The quarterback market
I focused on Brady before. That’s not even close to the extent of what promises to be a crazy quarterback market once March comes calling. Former NFL MVP Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers is joined by fellow former Pro Bowler Derek Carr on the trade block. What happens with these two signal callers will have a dramatic trickle-down effect.
Free agency is just as crazy. Future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers and the Chargers have agreed to part ways with one another. How is his free-agent tour going to play out? It’s not guaranteed Drew Brees returns to the Saints in 2020. If he does, what will the market be for the electric Taysom Hill? Heck, former top picks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will be looking for new homes this spring. Get your popcorn ready, it’s going to be an absolute blast.
2020 NFL Draft
The first major NFL event in Las Vegas since the Raiders’ official relocation to the desert metropolis will be this year’s draft in April. The league has some huge plans for what promises to be the biggest draft in NFL history. We’re not even kidding on that front.
The backdrop here is Las Vegas having two first-round picks and likely looking for a new quarterback under center. Just imagine if the draft takes place with one Mr. Tom Brady as the face of the Raiders’ organization. So many storylines to focus on here. Either way, the three-day event on the Vegas strip is going to be fun.
Drama in Minneapolis
The Vikings had a false hope of contention heading into the NFC Divisional Playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers. They were coming off an upset road win over the Saints and thought a trip to the NFC Championship Game could be in the cards. What followed was one of the most inept offensive performances in recent playoff history.
Minnesota now heads into the offseason with major questions and major drama. Is star receiver Stefon Diggs happy? Will Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook hold out for a lucrative pay day? Is Mike Zimmer really ready to blow up an aging and talented defense? There’s so many storylines in the Twin Cities heading into the offseason. I’m interested to see how everything plays out here.
South Beach dreaming
Flush with almost $90 million to spend against the cap and three first-round picks, these Dolphins are going to be the talk of the NFL water cooler in both March and April. Can Brian Flores’ squad rebuild on the fly after a somewhat surprising 2019 season?
It starts at quarterback. Primarily linked to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft, recent reports suggest that the Fins might be higher on Justin Herbert. While that could be a smokescreen, it’s possible this changes up the top of the draft. Meanwhile, Miami has a ton of cash to spend in free agency. Will it change the dynamics of free agency around the NFL? All eyes are on the Dolphins right now.
Getting to work in Santa Clara
Fresh off one of the greatest turnarounds in NFL history and an epic Super Bowl collapse, the San Francisco 49ers head into an important offseason. They have just one selection in the first four rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft and under $20 million to spend in free agency.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this team navigates through the offseason. Will general manager John Lynch and Co. go all in with a blockbuster trade? Will the 49ers be able to retain top-end free agents and add to their budding young core? The answers to these questions will dictate how the NFC looks in 2020.
The Panthers’ plans
Signing former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to a seven-year extension is a clear indication that Carolina is in it for the long haul. New owner David Tepper has made that clear on more than one occasion. The abrupt retirement of future Hall of Fame linebacker Luke Kuechly only adds to this.
The backdrop in Carolina is the future of former NFL MVP Cam Newton. He seems to be as good as gone. Where will Newton land? Will the Panthers pull off a major trade ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft to find a long-term replacement? There’s so many questions here. So many storylines. It’s one of the things I will be paying attention to during the spring.