The first NFL action of the 2020 season takes place this summer. Training camps will bring players and coaches together in real life for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the nation in March.
Things will look a heck of a lot different this year than we’ve ever seen before. The preseason may be truncated. Teams have their work cut out to provide the space needed to practice distancing in an NFL locker room. There will be so much going on outside of the normal.
That said, there are still some big football-related questions. Here’s what we’ll be watching for this summer when training camps kick off.
Where will Cam Newton sign?
This offseason has been weird because of COVID-19. Players who are coming off of injuries and/or surgeries have not had as easy a time as they would have in years past. Because of this, and because Newton reportedly isn’t interested in signing as a backup, he remains unsigned.
The tricky part now is that teams, for the most part, are already set at the quarterback position. The leading team favored to sign Newton needs a quarterback, but it doesn’t have the money necessary to sign him.
A former MVP who remains one of the most dangerous playmakers in the league when healthy, Newton deserves another chance to start. But unless an injury forces someone’s hand, it appears he may have to settle for a backup role this summer.
Can Tua Tagovailoa beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick?
The latest information coming out these days about the health of Tua Tagovailoa indicate he’ll be more than healthy enough to play right off the bat in 2020. In fact, the word “miraculous” was used to describe his rehabilitation process following season-ending hip surgery last November.
Tagovailoa has never shied away from big pressure. He wowed as a true freshman at Alabama, took the starting job from one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts, and put up jaw-dropping stats as the Crimson Tide’s starter for two years. He’s also one of the most talented pure passers to enter the NFL in years (watch this).
So, will he start the season under center, or on the bench? The Dolphins will have a fascinating quarterback competition unfolding this summer.
Are the Bears Nick Foles’ team now?
When the Chicago Bears traded a fourth-round pick for Nick Foles, the move reeked of desperation. It also signaled without a shadow of doubt that the franchise has lost faith in former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. Even more telling was the fact that the Bears also declined the fifth-year option of Trubisky’s rookie contract.
So, does all that mean that Foles will be the man to lead Chicago’s offense? Not so fast. Trubisky has approached the coming competition in the proper way and recently said he still feels like it’s “my team.” So at the least, we’re in for a heated competition this summer in the Windy City.
Can Tyrod Taylor stave off Justin Herbert?
The AFC West may end up becoming one of the strongest divisions in the NFL this season. All four teams have playoff potential. The Chargers are coming off a brutal 2019 campaign that saw them win just five games. But this team has a stacked defense and offensive playmakers that can dominate their opponents.
At this point, the only thing standing in the way of a playoff berth is winning quarterback play. To that end, they have two worthy candidates to start this fall — veteran Tyrod Taylor and No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert out of Oregon. All signs point to Taylor starting early this season, and there is a general sentiment that the Chargers would rather he played all year. But if Herbert can press the veteran early and shows leadership players trust, he could make things very interesting this preseason.
Which players will hold out?
Whether he follows through or not, we already know that Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is set to hold out this summer without a “reasonable” contract extension. It seems like at least one running back holds out every summer, and Cook has millions or reasons to do it given his status as a former second-round pick.
So who else might join Cook with an extended stay at home this summer? We delved into that a bit recently. Two big names that stand out are New York Jets safety Jamal Adams and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Will Colin Kaepernick get signed?
For the past few years, it’s been understood by most in the industry that Kaepernick just wouldn’t be signed. Quite simply, he was blackballed from the league due to his peaceful protests during the national anthem throughout the 2016 NFL season.
The league has recently shifted in terms of how it publicly views player protests, Black Lives Matter, and there is a large expectation that many NFL players will take a knee during the anthem this coming season. With all that in mind, it seems like the next logical step would be for the league to make sure that Kaepernick gets a legitimate chance to earn a roster spot.
So now we get to find out if the NFL is going to walk the walk after it talked the talk.