Ten NFL offseason storylines to watch: What will Tom Brady decide? Can Eagles retain their free agents?

    As the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs prepare for Super Bowl LVII, the 30 teams not playing in the Big Game are preparing for the 2023 season. The league still has one more game to go before the craziness of the NFL offseason begins, especially with free agency less than two months away and the draft less than three months away. 

    The NFL offseason won’t be short of drama either, especially after the free agent frenzy that existed last year. Teams will try to ante up to improve their roster to each the Super Bowl and compete with the Eagles and Chiefs going forward. This free agent season will certainly focus on the quarterbacks, as there may be significant movement among signal callers around the league.

    With the offseason just weeks away, these are 10 storylines to keep an eye on going forward:

    For the third time in the last four offseasons, the NFL world will revolve on Tom Brady and what he decides to do next season. The soon-to-be 46-year old Brady has a few options to consider, including actually retiring and taking the 10-year, $375 million contract with Fox. 

    Brady did retire last season, but that lasted for 40 days and he decided to return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Going back to Tampa Bay appears unlikely for Brady, so there will be a few options available. What about the Las Vegas Raiders, San Francisco 49ers or Miami Dolphins? Are those franchises enough to entice Brady to play another season — or two? 

    This offseason will be a crucial one for Brady and the franchises that are a quarterback away from being Super Bowl contenders. Any team that gets Brady will be getting several players with him. 

    Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have been playing the dancing game for the last two offseasons, which has led to Rodgers being the highest-paid quarterback in the league and the Packers trading away his best pass catcher in Davante Adams. With the Packers having Jordan Love entering the final year of his rookie deal, will Green Bay and Rodgers finally decide to part ways?

    The New York Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett as their offensive coordinator in an attempt to lure Rodgers and the Las Vegas Raiders do have Adams in case Rodgers wants to reunite with him. There will certainly be a bidding war for Rodgers on the trade market, especially since he has two years remaining on that three-year, $150 million deal. 

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

    Lamar Jackson’s future with the Ravens is as uncertain as they come, especially as both sides were unable to come to a long-team deal prior to 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 didn’t help Jackson out in providing him with pass catchers this season, going with Jackson’s strengths with a run-first offense for his entire Ravens tenure. Baltimore moved on from longtime offensive coordinator Greg Roman as a result and will seek Jackson’s input on finding a new offensive coordinator. 

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

    4. Is Sean Payton going to return to coaching for the 2023 season?

    There were only five head coaching jobs available this offseason and one of them has been filled (Carolina Panthers). The Houston Texans may have their head coach in DeMeco Ryans (and Sean Payton wouldn’t have considered that anyway), leaving just three options available.

    The Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals have been the two teams to talk to Payton and the Indianapolis Colts didn’t even interview him. Does Payton want to lead any one of these franchises or will he wait another year for more openings and a better gig?

    The TV money is hard to ignore, considering what’s currently available. Payton will also command an incredible salary to lure him to their team, plus the draft compensation heading to the New Orleans Saints on top of things as he’s still under contract. 

    These teams interested in Payton — and Payton himself — will have to make a decision soon. 

    5. Where will Derek Carr end up? 

    The Raiders will be moving on from Derek Carr this offseason, but which team will Carr be going to? Will Carr be the consolation prize after 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 the worst scoring defense in the NFL. With Carr getting a second chance with a new franchise, will a more competent defense get out the best in him? Carr was the franchise quarterback the Raiders lacked since Rich Gannon, yet couldn’t get the Raiders a playoff victory even though they were respectable.

    How much is Carr worth too? What will teams be willing to pay him? With Carr on the market, it will be interesting to find out which teams make the jump at him first. 

    6. Can the NFC champion Eagles retain all their free agents?

    The Eagles arguably have the best roster in the NFL, steamrolling their opponents through the regular season and the playoffs in advancing to 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, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Miles Sanders, Fletcher Cox, T.J. Edwards, Isaac Seumalo, and Marcus Epps are the key starters who are free agents this coming March. That’s a lot of good players the Eagles would have to retain — and Philadelphia can’t keep them all with the cap space available. 

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

    7. Who is going to be the 49ers quarterback next season?

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

    Purdy injured his UCL in the NFC Championship Game, a blowout which showcased the 49ers may be a superstar quarterback away 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 skill players at their disposal. 

    Does San Francisco think Purdy is the answer for 2023 or do the 49ers double-down on their investment with Lance? With Brady and the other free agent quarterbacks available be tempting enough to move on from both? 

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

    Saquon Barkley is the cream of the crop among the loaded running back class in free agency, yet how much will he command from the Giants? Barkley has said he doesn’t want to set the market for running backs, even though he will be the standard after his best season since his rookie year. 

    While Barkley isn’t the same player he was five years ago, he’s still a player opposing defenses have to key on. The Giants offense was lost without Barkley at times in 2022, yet will New York pay $10 million or more for its best offensive player. The Giants have the cap space, but have other pressing matters on offense to address. 

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

    9. How much will the 2020 quarterback class make with extensions?

    Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Jalen Hurts are all due for lucrative extensions this coming 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, meaning his extension from the Eagles may come sooner rather than later. 

    Aaron Rodgers earns the highest average annual salary for a quarterback at $50,271,667, which is certain to be broken after Russell Wilson received $49 million and Kyler Murray $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 be in the mix for an extension too, with a fifth-year option incoming. 

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

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

    There are plenty of talented running backs set 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 a lot of good players available for teams, but will these franchises go into a bidding war for some of these players? Will teams low ball some of these backs and let the market play out until the draft — or after the draft? 

    Teams are going to seek the running back they want, but running backs are proving to be a better value on a rookie deal instead of paying a player big money on his second contract. 

    Will the same hold true this offseason? There are a lot of good players available. 

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