The NFL offseason is officially underway, and the next few months will shape next year's contenders. There's quarterback additions to be made and incoming prospects to evaluate. Some teams are facing more questions than others, but all 32 clubs will make important decisions that will directly affect how next season goes.
Below, we will rank the top six most interesting teams to follow this offseason, and explain why we should be paying attention to them. These six teams either have new head coaches who could hit the ground running, quarterbacks who could be on the move or a surplus of first-round picks. Let's jump in.
After 18 seasons, Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made the decision to hang up his cleats. That means the Steelers have a huge hole to fill on offense. In-house candidates to replace Big Ben include Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins, and they may be the favorites to win the job even though they probably shouldn't be.
Last month, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport said it would be "un-Steelers-like" to see general manager Kevin Colbert and his front office package together several first-round picks in attempt to trade for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. But, the quarterback position is the most important in football and the Steelers could be seen as an intriguing landing spot due to their coaching staff, defense and weapons. Why not throw their hat in the ring?
Rapoport says the Steelers are likely to add a quarterback in the draft, and that could mean taking one in the first round. It goes without being said, but this decision is important not only for 2022, but the future of the organization in general.
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Are the Giants poised for a quick turnaround? This team dealt with a high number of injuries last season and now have hired an offensive-minded head coach in Brian Daboll who had a hand in turning Josh Allen into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. That bodes well for Daniel Jones, who is awaiting a decision on his fifth-year option. Also, New York holds two of the top seven picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Depending on who they add, the Giants could be a lot better in 2022.
The Colts had a roster that was set to compete in 2021, but they were handicapped by the quarterback position. Indy gave up a third-round pick and what became a first-round pick for Carson Wentz, but it's possible he could be out after just one season. The Colts are undecided on keeping Wentz, as ESPN reported that they're likely to trade or even release him. After watching his performance in the regular-season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars, it's possible the Colts will move on and be aggressive in trying to find a new signal-caller this offseason.
The Colts are again in the top 10 when it comes to cap space, and it's worth keeping an eye on what they do in free agency. Indy is poised to go after a big fish when it comes to the wide receiver position or maybe left tackle.
Is it possible the Buccaneers could be rebuilding this offseason? Not only did they lose their quarterback in Tom Brady, but they have many important free agents looking for new deals such as Chris Godwin, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ryan Jensen, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Carlton Davis, Alex Cappa and Jordan Whitehead. With Brady now retired, could we see somewhat of a mass exodus? It will be fun to see how the franchise handles this offseason in who they decide to retain in free agency and what quarterback they will chase.
The Brady storyline in itself will be interesting to follow as well. There are reports that Brady's relationship with head coach Bruce Arians soured towards the end and that his ex-Patriots peers don't believe Brady is actually walking away from football for good. To be continued.
Speaking of Wentz, that trade gave the Eagles another first-round pick, bringing their grand total to three. That's right, the Eagles have three first-round picks in this year's draft -- all in the top 20. Any team that has three first-round picks is going to improve immediately. Let's just look at CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson's most-recent mock draft for example. He has Philly taking Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker, Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams and then Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean. All three were playing in the national championship game and all three are immediate-impact guys (when Williams recovers from his torn ACL).
The Eagles improved from 4-11-1 to 9-8 this past season under Nick Sirianni, winning six out of their final eight games to make the playoffs. We aren't yet sure if Jalen Hurts is the franchise quarterback, but he had some good moments in his first full season as starter and possesses the weapons needed to contend. Depending on how it goes in free agency, this team should be favored to make the playoffs again next season.
This one should be obvious. The Aaron Rodgers situation is the No. 1 story this offseason, as the quarterback who has won MVP two years in a row is mulling retirement, or even leaving the franchise that selected him with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. If Rodgers leaves or retires, Green Bay would take a massive step backwards as a team, and leave the NFC North wide open.
Unfortunately for the Packers, Rodgers is not the only star they have to worry about this offseason. Wide receiver Davante Adams is a free agent, and he's going to sign a top-dollar contract with someone if he can avoid the franchise tag. The Packers could also lose one of their most important defensive contributors in De'Vondre Campbell, and the wide receiving corps as a whole could be torn down, as Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a free agent and Allen Lazard is a restricted free agent. It's going to take convincing Rodgers to return and creative cap efforts for the Packers to retain their contender status.