In all North American team sports, money gets thrown around like no tomorrow once you get to the offseason. Owners and GM's try to outsmart all of their peers while putting their teams together for the next season. In the NHL, there is a salary cap currently at $75 Million dollars per team. Teams in the NBA can spend up to $99M with a luxury tax threshold of $119M and while MLB doesn't have a cap, they have their own form of a tax system that penalizes teams over $195M. All these leagues make humongous amounts of money.
The NFL actually drives in more revenue than all of these leagues. Go figure they only play a 16 game season with 8 home dates and they still make significantly more than leagues that play 82 and 162 games in a season. Due to its popularity, the TV deal they have is far and above the rest - even though all 3 of these other leagues have monstrous deals themselves. The NFL will have a salary cap of roughly $180M per team, which all things considered with the other sports is completely insane. Cap? What Cap? While some moves have already been agreed to so far like the 3 trades Cleveland made in one day, the Richard Sherman release from Seattle followed by a quick agreement to go to their arch-rival 49ers, plus other small moves via trades, signings and releases. Let's now look at a few of the intriguing story lines heading into this NFL off season as teams prepare for the fall:
1. Kirk Cousins chooses Minnesota!
The Jets and Vikings seemed to be the finalists, but now he's decided on Minnesota. While Cousins is a good starting QB, saying that he is a "franchise changer" could be a little overblown, particularly since his numbers on Washington went up the last few years with a lot more pass attempts due to the lack of a consistent running game. But 4000 yards is still 4000 yards, and the Vikings getting Cousins puts him in a better system, with a better defence, and will surely make the Redskins look like they (once again) badly handled a situation with a starting quarterback.
2. What will happen with all of the other Starting Quarterbacks available?
There are also 7 of them as well, but it does not mean they will fill the holes on those same 7 teams listed above as a few of them will no doubt take one high in the 2018 NFL Draft. After Cousins, the list drops off dramatically but are all guys that were proven in the past and may have something left to offer a team. I am not listing Drew Brees here, who would be the best of the bunch but there was never a Saints chance of him leaving New Orleans. They are:
Foles is an interesting one as we need to find out if he wants to take another shot at starting for another team, or stay as the backup with the Eagles. Before the Super Bowl it was foregone conclusion he would go on the playoff run (which nobody expected them to win it all) and then just go back to being the backup to Carson Wentz. Now after winning both the Lombardi Trophy and awarded Super Bowl 52 MVP, the thought process now probably needs to be re-evaluated. Only problem with leaving Philadelphia is that the injury to Wentz is probably going to cut into as much as the first month of the season, they probably need to keep him as insurance to allow their young franchise quarterback to heal properly. This situation could get very interesting.
As for the rest, 3 of them are from the Minnesota Vikings who's futures are now all in doubt now that Cousins is in town.. All 3 of Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater look like they will be given a chance to play in the NFL, but probably not as a starter to begin the season although Bradford looks like he's being given the big coin by Arizona. Ditto for Cutler, who had just retired and came out of the broadcast booth to play for the Miami Dolphins and will probably go back to it if he is not given any other opportunity than a backup. Osweiler, like all listed above him could be good as an insurance policy but will only get a starting job to begin the season if a team is desperate and have no alternative plan.
3. Who else gets released? (Especially from the Dallas Cowboys)
There is speculation about many big-name players hitting the market unexpectedly and if so will be very unceremoniously. One name we keep hearing is Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant, who if released would save the team $8.5 Million worth of cap space as he is not targeted as the go-to guy anymore in the teams offence or as much anymore under QB Dak Prescott. Also Cowboys longtime CB Orlando Scandrick, who lost playing time last year with rookie CB Chidobe Awuzie and and Jourdan Lewis as well as safety Xavier Woods emerged while Scandrick was out with a back injury. Owner and GM Jerry Jones has created cap space several times before by convincing longtime QB Tony Romo to restructure his deal on an annual basis, as that is not an option anymore with his retirement. Former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray will be released by Tennessee, as will others like the Dolphins Ndamukong Suh, Raiders veteran CB Sean Smith, longtime Chiefs LB Tamba Hali and maybe the most intriguing name is Packers WR Jordy Nelson.
All 32 teams are going to try and find any way they can to outsmart and beat the other 31. Money will be thrown around, draft picks will be taken and trades will be made in order to fill the holes each team has to win as many games possible in the 2018 season. There are a lot of intriguing free agents, trade chips and prospects to be taken in the draft. We also will see some veteran players get cut loose before teams are on the hook for their entire cap hit on the coming season in order to free up cap space to be able to sign free agents and their own draft picks, like we do every year as general managers look to execute game plans they have drawn up over the past several weeks to get ready for the official opening of next season. The carousel of moves will be like a merry-go-round leading up to the draft in April followed by the Organized Team Activities and Mini-Camps in May.