MIAMI, Fla. (AP) — The NFL’s centennial season concluded with a championship a half-century in the making.
Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have ended that 50-year drought and own their second NFL championship, the focus will turn mostly elsewhere in what could be a very busy offseason.
The NFL really never goes away, so even as their fans will chant and do the Tomahawk Chop when the Chiefs have their celebratory parade, questions will arise on all fronts.
Here are some things to contemplate:
It starts — some might say it ends — with Tom Brady. For the first time in his six-ring career, the 42-year-old Brady is on the market. Maybe the fact the Patriots went 4-4 in the second half of the schedule, blew a bye in the AFC playoffs with a last-week loss at home to the lowly Dolphins and then went out, also at home, to Tennessee in a wild-card game made New England think twice about spending multimillions on a middle-aged man whose skills just might be declining.
While it still seems likely Patriots owner Robert Kraft will pony up the bucks — say a two-year deal in which the second season can be voided without too much cost to the team — it’s fun to think of other landing spots for pro football’s most successful quarterback.
Try the Chargers if they are looking to make, uh, a charge into the new stadium they will share with the Rams. Brady would be an intriguing addition down the road from Hollywood, particularly if Philip Rivers is done with the Bolts.
Or the Raiders to make a splash in Sin City, though Derek Carr isn’t exactly headed out the door.
Though wouldn’t Brady want to go to a potential contender seeking a winning QB to push it to the top? Perhaps Tennessee, where former teammate Mike Vrabel is the coach? Or Chicago with its strong defense?
Brady and Rivers hardly are the only passers likely available. Cam Newton, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, Marcus Mariota, Andy Dalton, Ryan Tannehill and perhaps Jameis Winston could be out there.
The adjustment to the pass interference rules that allowed video reviews was a flop. Coaches who were so adamant about needing a change after the egregiously botched call in the NFC title game a year ago got little to no traction with their challenges. Interference became an even murkier proposition.
Will the powerful competition committee recommend more alterations? Or drop the modification altogether?
LABOR AND 17 GAMES
Commissioner Roger Goodell has been encouraged by negotiations toward a new collective bargaining agreement. The current 10-year deal expires in March 2021, but the league in particular is eager to get a contract finalized well before that. Indeed, well before next season.
Union officials are being coy, but simply the fact both sides have been meeting semi-regularly and reaching accords on a variety of issues is good news.
The public expects the main sticking point to be expanding the regular season by one game, which would include reducing the preseason, probably adding another bye week and pushing the Super Bowl back into mid-February. Player safety concerns need to be paramount in any such discussions.
But 17 games could be a done deal if the union gets, say, three or four more roster spots per franchise. That’s anywhere from 96 to 128 additional jobs.
Cincinnati doesn’t need to wait until April 23 to announce LSU All-America quarterback Joe Burrow as the top overall draft choice. That’s a no-brainer, even for the Bengals.
And the second pick, barring injury, is not mystery either: Ohio State defensive beast Chase Young to Washington, which already has its QB in Young’s former teammate, Dwayne Haskins.
So where does Tua Tagovailoa wind up? Does the projected No. 1 guy just a few months ago fall in the first round? The Alabama left-hander was sidelined in the ninth game with a major hip injury that could slow his debut, perhaps until 2021.
So does Detroit decide Tagovailoa can be the heir to Matthew Stafford? Does Miami get Tua at No. 5 or need to move up for what could be its franchise quarterback — or is that too much of a gamble because Tagovailoa could be an injury-prone player with an uncertain medical future?
See what we mean about plenty of questions in NFL 101?