All 32 teams have arrived in the offseason and for some the decisive course will already be set in the coming weeks. SPOX looks at the most important storylines of the coming offseason.
The NFL is heading into the offseason, but there will be plenty to do there, too. Even before the start of free agency, it is particularly important for two of the biggest stars among quarterbacks to set the course for the future.
And then there’s the question of how the draft will go. The Chicago Bears’ first pick is likely to be the most slammed in the last few years. These are the key storylines of the 2023 offseason.
Lamar Jackson – Deal, Tag or Trade?
Free agency usually offers little action on the quarterback front, but this time the first big decisions could come as early as March. Not only does this mean that a surprising number of quarterbacks – Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, Geno Smith, Derek Carr, etc. – could become free agents, but also that signed QBs could see movement via trade.
Lamar Jackson is the largest and perhaps the first domino. We’ve written extensively about his situation here before, and not much has happened since then. The Ravens will franchise tag the star QB unless a long-term deal is finalized by the March 7 deadline, though there are two tags that qualify:
- With the exclusive variant, the Ravens stand would now have to make $ 45.2 million loose. But Lamar Jackson would have no right to negotiate a contract with other teams. The salary is based on the top 5 salaries for his position in the coming season, but will not be determined until April. And until then, the amount mentioned could still be reduced if the top earners allow restructuring or new deals with a low basic salary are added at the beginning.
- The non-exclusive variant would be 32.4 million due, but here Lamar could sign draft contracts with other teams that the Ravens would have a right to take over. But if they let him go, they would get two first-round picks as compensation.
Jackson has the option of not signing the tag. He can do this for the whole year and lose all of his salary, like Le’Veon Bell did in 2018, or just part of the year. After week 10, tagged players can’t return to the season, or maybe he just wants to show the team at training camp that he’s serious by missing out and then sign for week 1. In the case of a trade, Jackson’s signature is also a form of veto power. Even with the non-exclusive tag, the trade can only happen if Jackson signs.
Should he sign, the Ravens have all their options:
- You can let him play with the tag and start the same game over next year.
- They can give him a long-term contract that comes close to the guarantees of Deshaun Watson’s contract. In the case of a franchise tag, however, this would only be possible until July 15th. After that, long-term deals are only possible in the offseason of the following year.
- You can trade him.
Of course, this last option makes the league lively and for some teams Lamar would certainly be a very good fit. The bookmakers currently still see the Falcons and Jets as the most likely destinations if he leaves Baltimore.
Aaron Rodgers and the Darkness
In Green Bay, the next domino is currently up a four-day darkness cureto find out if and where he wants to play in 2023. Aaron Rodgers, in a similar limbo last year, announced on March 8 that he wanted to come back and quickly get a contract extension. For the Packers, this personnel is the basis for their further planning, so nothing should stand in the way of an early decision.
Should Rodgers want to go elsewhere, there is a logical escape point with the Jets and the Hackett Connection. It’s unclear if the Packers have responded to the Jets’ query regarding Rodgers’ availability. But another team has also been traded very highly since the beginning of February: the Las Vegas Raiders.
Speculation picked up speed here after wideout Davante Adams tweetedthat Rodgers will be moving to his area.
What are the Bears doing on the top pick?
The free agency will probably clarify many quarterback questions. Derek Carr, Geno Smith, Jimmy Garoppolo and Daniel Jones – along with Lamar and Rodgers – will likely have certainty about their new – or old – teams. The remaining open questions will then be answered in the draft in April and everything will revolve around what the Bears intend to do with the top pick.
It is currently clear that every conceivable rumor is currently being welcomed by the Bears, as they naturally want to retain the greatest possible leverage for every eventuality. In this respect, in the coming weeks you will hear everything of “fairly convincing” signsthat the Bears would trade Justin Fields, up to Jim Irishsay tweets about his 60-year relationship with the Bears.