It's tempting to pencil Powell in as the Jets' featured ballcarrier ahead of the 2018 season when considering teammate Matt Forte (knee) is a likely candidate to be released this offseason. However, it seems prudent to temper any and all expectations of that notion coming to fruition until after the team's running back corps is settled, as the Jets reportedly believe Powell is most effective when he doesn't need to consistently carry a heavy workload. There's thus a strong possibility the team adds backfield competition through either free agency or the draft. Meanwhile, 2017 sixth-rounder Elijah McGuire will return alongside Powell and should remain involved in the offense to at least some degree.
The Texans will save roughly $8 million against the cap by releasing Cushing, who has performed well below his paygrade the past few years and was suspended 10 games this past season for his second violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Making this an even easier decision for Houston was the emergence of 2017 rookie linebackers Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole, who evidently combined to make Cushing expendable. The 2009 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year will finish his time in Houston as the Texans' all-time leading tackler and will certainly draw interest from other organizations at a reduced price when he hits the open market.
Though the Chiefs have already announced that they will void the linebacker's contract for 2018, Johnson isn't ready to cease pursuit of his first Super Bowl championship. The veteran noted that while he prefers to keep serving in a starting role regardless of where he lands this offseason, but indicated that his main focus is to win a championship. If that's the case, Johnson may have to settle for a decreased role if he joins a playoff-contending club, given that he saw his productivity decline in his final year with the Chiefs. Over 15 regular-season appearances in 2017, Johnson tallied 71 tackles, his lowest output in the category for any season in which he has played at least 13 games since 2009.
Shazier remains in the initial stages of his rehab from the scary spinal injury he suffered Dec. 4 against the Bengals and it has yet to be determined if he'll be able to play football again. The Steelers should have a better idea about his long-term outlook as he progresses during the next few months of rehab, but Colbert is optimistic that the linebacker will remain involved with the organization in some capacity regardless if he receives clearance to resume his playing career or not. After signing his fifth-year team option last April, Shazier is guaranteed $8.5 million in 2018 whether he returns to the field or not.
Colbert's goal aligns with Bell's own wishes, as the soon-to-be 26-year-old said after the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs Jan. 14 that he's eager to avoid a repeat of last offseason, when he sat out all of training camp while angling for a long-term deal before ultimately accepting a $12.1 million franchise tag. Though Bell would be projected to earn a slight pay increase if he were tagged again, the high attrition rate for NFL running backs makes it more appealing for him to work out a long-term contract in order to gain more financial security. Bell should have plenty of leverage in negotiations after amassing 1,946 total yards in 15 games last season to boost his average to 128.9 yards per game since the beginning of the 2013 campaign, far and away the top mark among running backs over that span.
With Rivers, a 2017 third-round pick, having more than a calendar year to recover from a serious knee injury, it appears promising that he won't face many restrictions in training camp or the preseason. Given New England's need to add young athletes to the front seven, Rivers could carve out a decent-sized role in the team's defensive-line rotation next season.
Spriggs' second NFL season was almost entirely spoiled by injuries, with a hamstring tear suffered in the season opener forcing him to spent nine games on injured reserve. He was later designated to return in the second half of the season and started four games at right tackle before dislocating his kneecap on the first drive of the Packers' Week 16 loss to the Vikings. Though he didn't require surgery to address the injury, Spriggs' rehab will span several months and could hurt his chances of earning a roster spot with the Packers during camp.
Amerson was cut by the Raiders earlier in the month, which makes him eligible to sign before free agency officially commences. He will stay in the division by joining the Chiefs on a deal with escalating incentives. The 26-year-old was drafted in the second round by the Redskins in 2013, but he joined the Raiders in 2015 after being claimed off waivers. His 2017 season ended following a foot injury in Week 7. It remains to be seen what type of role he will have in Kansas City, but he will look to impress once offseason activities begin.
The injury resulted in the 2016 first-round pick missing the entire 2017 campaign, though it appears the guard has been healthy for quite some time. Garnett said his knee procedure was "just a cleanup," and added that he's since dropped 20 pounds and reduced his body-fat percentage in an effort to get in better shape for the upcoming season. He'll likely compete with Laken Tomlinson and Erik Magnuson (foot) for a starting role at guard during training camp.
The reason for Barron's surgery isn't clear, as he wasn't known to have hurt his shoulder. Regardless, the veteran linebacker is expected to be healthy in time for training camp.