After 267 games were played in the 2011 NFL season, and with the New York Giants being crowned Super Bowl XLVI champions, the 2012 NFL offseason can now officially begin.
Every NFL team can now start turning their attention to signing their own free agents, or determining who they will be giving a franchise tag.
Before you know it, the NFL combines will begin in Indianapolis (February 22-28) and then teams can continue to work their draft boards according to what they discovered in Indianapolis.
Within two weeks of the combines, free agency starts (March 13 at 4:00).
There will be some teams that have more room than other NFL teams to be aggressive in their free-agent bids due to having more room against the salary cap. Some free agents will be dragged out for months, while a healthy percentage will be signed to a new deal by the end of March.
One thing to note for teams with new head coaches and new coordinators across the board—due to the new CBA deal that was struck prior to the 2011 season starting—is OTAs are now reduced from 15 days to just 10 days.
That isn't much time to work in all the new schemes, communication changes and philosophies to teams prior to training camp opening up. But that is life in the NFL now.
There are quite a few things that can happen during all of the above events that could be construed as either a good or bad development for every NFL team.
What we have been asked to present today is to determine the worst offseason scenario for every NFL team.
For some teams, the answer will be more obvious than others, but we will try to come up with something plausible for every team.
The Arizona Cardinals are still searching to identify their franchise quarterback.
It has been mentioned regularly that the Cardinals would be interested in Peyton Manning, once he becomes a free agent.
Since Manning will be in demand as a free agent (if he is actually healthy), you would have to wonder what this level of interest does to the psyche of Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
What if the Cardinals wind up being one of the finalists for Manning and wind up not getting him signed? Imagine what that does for the image of Kolb and Skelton and their perceived self-worth.
Another scenario worth mentioning is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' attempts to snatch coach John McNulty away from the Cardinals, as new Bucs head coach Greg Schiano wants to hire his friend McNulty to be his offensive coordinator.
The Cardinals have denied Schiano permission to interview McNulty, but the Bucs are hoping an appeal to team owner Bill Bidwell will result in McNulty being allowed to interview. But since head coach Ken Whisenhunt denied the original request, it is doubtful that Bidwell would go against the wishes of his head coach.
Thanks to this article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we have a solid list of the many pending free-agent decisions that the Atlanta Falcons will need to make during the 2012 offseason.
C Todd McClure, QB Chris Redman, WR Eric Weems, WR Harry Douglas, TE Michael Palmer (exclusive rights), RB Jason Snelling, RB Antone Smith (Exclusive Rights), TE Reggie Kelly, OL Kirk Chambers, C Brett Romberg and LS Joe Zelenka.
LB Curtis Lofton, DE John Abraham, CB Brent Grimes, S Thomas DeCoud, DE Kroy Biermann, CB Kelvin Hayden, S James Sanders, DT Vance Walker (Restricted), and LB Mike Peterson.
As things stand now, the Constitution article figures that the Falcons will lose Harry Douglas to free agency and that the top seven priorities of the current free agents from top to bottom are: Curtis Lofton, Harry Douglas, Jason Snelling, John Abraham, Thomas DeCoud, Eric Weems and James Sanders.
The worst case scenario is that the Falcons lost two of these top four priorities in free agency. In addition, the Falcons were only ranked No. 19 in sacks, so I'm not really sure they can afford to lose the pass rush that Abraham offers.
The other worst case scenario with the Falcons is what is the state of the team from a psychological factor?
To have the offense shut out in the first playoff game by the New York Giants, especially after the Falcons went to such great lengths to improve the firepower on offense, has to be very disheartening.
If the Falcons take any sort of step backwards in 2012, it can be attributed to the playoff loss against the Giants.
I will spell out five scenarios that would not be good news for the Baltimore Ravens, then will attempt to figure out which one is the worst case scenario.
Ray Lewis has a change of heart over the offseason and decides he is not coming back for the 2012 season.
The Ravens aren't able to sign Ray Rice to a long-term contract and have to settle for a one-year franchise tag deal.
Also of interest is that Ricky Williams announced his retirement from the NFL, so until the Ravens bring in another running back, the running game depends on Ray Rice.
During OTAs, Ed Reed hurts the same leg that he hurt in the playoffs and won't be 100 percent for the regular season.
Ravens have been discussing extending the contract of Joe Flacco, but for whatever reason, they aren't able to come to terms, leaving Flacco to wonder aloud how much is he valued by the Ravens franchise.
The Ravens fail to upgrade their receiver corps and return the same trio of Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Lee Evans.
Of the five potential scenarios we laid out, the worst one would be if Ray Lewis decided to retire.
Will go ahead and lay out three scenarios that could all be bad news for the Buffalo Bills this offseason.
The Bills are unable to land a top-tier pass rusher in free agency. They go after a few guys, but nobody winds up signing on the dotted line.
Without anything firm in hand, the Bills are more of less forced to disregard the rest of the draft class, turning their attention to the best remaining pass rushers.
The Bills are not able to come to terms with free agent Steve Johnson and wind up losing him in free agency to another team.
The Bills then attempt to sign Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and DeSean Jackson, but only wind up getting DeSean Jackson. Then the Bills ultimately find out what a bad teammate Jackson is, something the Eagles were all too well aware of.
The Bills are all set to draft Courtney Upshaw from Alabama with the No. 10 overall draft pick.
The move is a solid pick, as Upshaw upgrades the Bills front seven and also reunites him with Alabama teammate Marcell Dareus, which will keep both players motivated and inspired.
Lo and behold, the Miami Dolphins, who happen to hold the No. 9 slot, draft Upshaw ahead of the Bills.
The Bills then have to settle for Quinton Coples and learn that these players are very far apart.
Out of the above scenarios, failing to sign Steve Johnson to a contract is the worst case scenario for the Bills.
Also, since this is the third year for Buddy Nix/Chan Gailey to complete their rebuilding effort, the Bills might wind up trading to get back into the first round and will mortgage some of their future in an attempt to get one more player to help them win now.
Cam Newton had a banner rookie year, acted with class throughout the rookie season and seems to be headed for a fine, long career in the NFL.
Hopefully, his success as a rookie will not get to his head. The other concern is that more outsiders will be trying to tell him what he should be doing on and off the field.
His advisers and staff did a solid job all year, but if Newton started to revert back to the icon Newton we witnessed at the combines, that would be an issue for the Panthers organization.
The Panthers are hoping to land a defensive stud in the first round of the draft, somebody that can have an impact on a defense unit that is in need of some talent.
In his post-Super Bowl mock draft edition, Bleacher Report lead writer Matt Miller had the Panthers drafting Michael Brockers, the defensive tackle from LSU.
The addition of a player like Brockers is needed, because according to Pro Football Talk, the Panthers will probably cut LB Thomas Davis due his injuries and a whopping $8 million roster bonus that is due on March 15.
Although it seems unlikely now, the prospect of Cam Newton having a sophomore slump would probably be the worst case scenario for the Panthers.
As well as Newton performed as a rookie, the NFL must have seemed much easier to him than he had previously imagined.
To my way of thinking, the worst case scenario for the Chicago Bears is that they don't do enough in the offseason to fix their problems on offense. It is the main priority for the team and the thing that has held them back from advancing any further.
They could use an upgrade or two at wide receiver and not landing anybody of significance would be a terrible sign to Jay Cutler that it is going to be more of the same.
There is one other thing I want to address, and that involves Matt Forte.
As a very key member of the Bears offense, I only hope that the Bears do the right thing and sign him to a long-term deal.
If they fail to come to terms with Forte and wind up slapping a franchise tag on him to avoid the problem and get ready for 2012, it will serve to get Forte angry and allow his feelings for the organization to waver. Not the kind of thing you want to do to your main weapon.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a young, hungry team that is on the rise in the AFC North.
With solid play from rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green, and a tenacious defense, the Bengals surprised many experts by qualifying for the playoffs.
While there is some doubt about how good the Bengals truly are, based on the lack of beating any high quality teams in the regular season, the Bengals are looking to continue to build off of the momentum that they started in 2011 and carry that into the new season.
They have a number of key free agents that they have to decide on, ranging from Cedric Benson, Jerome Simpson, Manny Lawson, Reggie Nelson and Pacman Jones.
Considering that Dalton and Green will have the benefit of attending their first OTAs and mini camps—since those were not part of the 2011 NFL landscape—it should help them in fighting the proverbial "sophomore slump."
If either of these two young key players regresses in 2012, that would create a huge problem for the Bengals chances to advance further than they did in 2011.
Some people around the NFL found it rather curious that the Cleveland Browns would turn to Brad Childress to try to turn around the Browns offense, which was ranked in the bottom five of all NFL offenses in 2011.
Childress didn't seem to be very inspirational to the Vikings offense in his final year there, so to the extent that he will be more successful in Cleveland is up in the air, especially when you consider he had Brett Favre to work with, as opposed to Colt McCoy.
The biggest level of excitement for the Browns fans should be about the potential deal(s) they can strike at the NFL draft, especially when it comes to the prospect of trading down in the first round from their current slot of the fourth overall draft pick.
To think that the Browns might be able to score multiple first-round picks again in 2013, like they pulled off in the 2011 trade with Atlanta, is something that has to have all Browns fans getting psyched for the draft.
One can never be sure of what will happen in the draft, however.
All it takes is the St. Louis Rams getting a good enough offer to trade down from the No. 2 draft slot.
If Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are off of the board by the first two picks, all of a sudden the Browns pick at No. 4 isn't as valuable to other teams.
That to me would be the worst case offseason scenario for the Browns.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was saying all of the right things so far in the offseason, but you have to wonder what he is saying behind closed doors.
We are referring to what Jones thinks about the job that head coach Jason Garrett is doing for the Cowboys, as there were moments in the 2011 season that Jones was questioning what his head coach was doing.
The best thing that happened to the Cowboys in 2011 was the emergence of rookie running back DeMarco Murray. He sparked the Cowboys offense and the team coincidentally went on a winning streak as Murray began to carve up NFL defenses.
As soon as Murray got hurt, the Cowboys went back into a funk, so if Murray gets hurt during the offseason workouts, that could very well be the worst case scenario for the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones has witnessed only one playoff win in the past 15 years.
Why the owner insists on acting as general manager with such an abysmal track record is beyond me.
You know full well that if Jones had hired outside general managers and they produced one win in 15 years, he would have fired five or six of them in that time span. But since he is the general manager, it is just business as usual.
Sure, it's his team and he can run it any way that he wants to, but for some reason, Jones thinks he is actually a good general manager.
We will conclude that Jones insisting on running the show in Dallas is the worst case offseason scenario for the Cowboys.
The Tim Tebow story will continue to evolve in 2012 when the Denver Broncos have an opportunity to see how much higher the ceiling can be for Tebow to develop as a passer and become a more traditional NFL starting quarterback.
Perhaps we are talking about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Tebow may never be a traditional starting NFL quarterback because his skill set is anything but traditional.
At some point during OTAs, through mini-camp and then into summer camp, John Elway will either fully endorse Tebow as his starting quarterback or he will have to pull the plug and state that after careful examination and consideration, they are going in a different direction.
Part of the dilemma with this entire situation has to do with the timing of when Elway knows for sure what his quarterback situation is with respect to the 2012 season.
Let's break it down into two parts:
Plan A is that Elway says Tebow is the starter and we are building our team around Tebow and his unique skills.
Plan B is that Elway determines that Tebow can only take the Broncos so far with his passing skills and that the Broncos will have to find somebody else to play quarterback.
The Broncos won't know which plan they are endorsing when they enter the 2012 draft. They also won't know that answer when free agency begins.
They can hedge their bets and take some course of action to endorse Plan A, along with a few draft picks and free agency moves that cater to Plan B.
On the surface, you obviously want to have a contingency plan to turn to if your quarterback goes down (ask the Indianapolis Colts about that topic), but this is much more than simply having a backup QB in place.
To conclude, the worst case scenario for the Broncos this offseason would be that Elway declares that Tebow isn't able to develop into the passer he needs and the Broncos hastily start up Plan B too late in the process.
Now that Matthew Stafford has been able to demonstrate that he has the ability to stay healthy for an entire season, it is gratifying for Lions fans to know that the faith the team placed in Stafford was rewarded by their first playoff game in over a decade.
Assuming that Stafford's injury history is all behind him now, the Lions should be able to look forward to a decent run of prosperity. They are an emotional team that feeds off the fiery demeanor of their head coach, Jim Schwartz.
Ndamukong Suh has been out of the headlines for the past few months, and that is probably a good thing as far as the Lions are concerned. The team would prefer their star lineman to keep a lower profile and save his energy for terrorizing quarterbacks.
I don't know the answer to this, but I would have to think it is has been quite some time since an NFL team made the playoffs with the leading rusher not generating at least 400 yards in a season, but that is the reality of the Lions running game.
Of course, the team was hit with injuries which caused the statistical oddity, but it also means that the Lions have to be concerned about what they have coming back for 2012.
How does Jahvid Best recover from his concussion history and will this be an ongoing issue?
Is Mikel Leshoure going to be able to retain his former speed and running ability or will he be limited due to the Achilles injury?
If the answers to those questions come back as a negative, that would be the worst case scenario for the Lions' 2012 offseason.
On the surface, the Green Bay Packers' worst case scenarios aren't nearly as bad as what most teams have to contend with.
For a team that had a combined stretch run of 21-1 over 2010-2011, the Packers are well-positioned to be a contender again in 2012.
Losing offensive coordinator Joe Philbin could be a problem. Since the Packers filled the job internally by promoting Tom Clements, they shouldn't really miss a beat.
The Packers do have some free-agent decisions to make.
Due to hit free agency are tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant.
There is also the matter of what to do with tackle Chad Clifton, since the Packers can save $5.7 million in salary cap space by releasing him.
The other thing to consider is the depth at quarterback, because it is certain that Matt Flynn will leave Green Bay to become a starter for another team.
If Aaron Rodgers ever gets injured, the Packers' only other QB is Graham Harrell.
What did the playoff loss to the New York Giants do the spirit of the Packers team?
Will the desire to fight still be as intense as it was for the Packers, or did a little bit of the team spirit die in that playoff loss?
The Houston Texans finally made the jump from pretender to contender in 2011.
Can they take it up another level in 2012?
It sure seems like they have the stars on both sides of the ball to continue making more progress.
Of the various issues that face the Texans in 2012, a couple involve key free agents.
Mario Williams is as talented a pass-rusher as there is, and if the Texans aren't convinced that they can afford him, they might let him walk. If that happens, Williams will be very much in demand around the league.
The other key free agent is Arian Foster, who is a restricted free agent.
The only problem with a restricted free agent is that any other NFL team can sign him to a contract and put in enough clauses (or otherwise known as "poison pills") that make it very difficult for the original team to match the offer.
Obviously the Texans would get draft picks as compensation for losing Foster, but if you ask them what they would rather have, Foster or draft picks, the answer would be Foster.
Finally, we come to Matt Schaub.
Schaub is the key to the Texans' chances in 2012.
He needs to turn in a healthy, solid season. If his foot injury is still lingering or bothering him as the team comes in to training camp, I might have to downgrade the Texans' chances for 2012.
While we mentioned there were very few worst case scenarios facing the Green Bay Packers, now we come to the other end of the spectrum.
The Indianapolis Colts could have a plethora of worst case scenarios in the 2012 offseason.
If you were keeping score at home, the dealings between Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay have ranged from pleasant to scornful to respectful to downright nasty.
Sometime between now and the combines, you expect that Irsay and Manning will have their important sit-down meeting to discuss what the Colts intend to do with Manning and his huge $28 million roster bonus.
Most NFL analysts expect to see Manning released by the Colts and be made available to sign with whatever team he wants to play for.
What if the release is done in such a way that it is a slight to Manning or perceived to be done in a way that infuriates Colts fans and causes an uproar in the stadium that Manning built?
What if at the NFL combines, Robert Griffin III outperforms Andrew Luck (since Griffin claims he is the best QB in the draft) and there becomes a split in the Colts organization as to who is the best player to draft first overall?
Then we come to the whole issue of which free agents want to stay in Indianapolis to go through with a rebuilding effort and which ones the Colts decide to let walk away.
The end result might be very difficult for Colts fans to live with based on the number of veterans that have followed the likes of Bill Polian and Peyton Manning and are now simply known as ex-Colts.
The list of key Colts free agents includes: Jeff Saturday, Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Ryan Diem.
If most of them aren't part of the 2012 Colts team, then you know the rebuilding effort is in full operational mode.
Mike Mularkey is now the new head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mularkey is an offensive-minded coach and he will need to put in some extra work to try to correct some noticeable issues with rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert survived his rookie year but according to sources used in this ESPN article, "Gabbert sees ghosts in the pocket. I'm not sure you can teach courage."
This sounds very similar to what happened to Trent Edwards.
Edwards was starting his third year with the Buffalo Bills but it was clear he was nervous in the pocket and preferred to throw check-down passes instead.
Chan Gailey released him after two games in 2010, and in 2011 Edwards remained a free agent throughout the season, as nobody wanted to employ him.
Either Gabbert will take to Mularkey and whatever veteran tutor the team brings in to work with him, or he will also go the same route as Edwards did. If the latter happens, that would be the worst case scenario for the Jaguars.
The Kansas City Chiefs are hoping that 2011 was a nightmare and that the team will rebound to turn in a solid 2012.
While the Chiefs were hit hard with injuries to key players in 2011, new head coach Romeo Crennel can only hope that the momentum he saw at the end of the year can continue when the Chiefs hit the field in 2012.
Some things Crennel can control, but there are other things that he can't. One area he can't control are the issues going on behind the scenes at the Kansas City Chiefs headquarters facility.
To read the detailed description of all of the cloak-and-dagger activity going on within the confines of the Chiefs facility, you would think that the Chiefs played in the same division as the CIA and homeland security. The story comes from Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star, and if you have not yet read it, check it out.
The Chiefs have hired Brian Daboll to run their offense, but he will need more weapons, specifically at wide receiver, in order for this offense to become more competitive.
The other question mark is to determine if the Chiefs are going to bring back Kyle Orton to compete with Matt Cassel for the starting quarterback job. Usually competition between two viable candidates should create a spirited battle.
But there is also the issue of not letting Dwayne Bowe leave the Chiefs due to free agency.
If the Chiefs can't bring Bowe back, the offense is basically reduced to Jamaal Charles. That would make the Chiefs offense very predictable.
Losing Bowe would be the worst case scenario.
Let's begin by tossing out four potential quarterbacks that could possibly be the starter for the Miami Dolphins in 2012.
In no particular order, we have Matt Moore, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III and Matt Flynn.
Of the five, only Moore is under contract to the Dolphins.
Brandon Marshall is stirring up stuff in this story from the Chicago Sun Times that he wouldn't mind being reunited with Jay Cutler or how nice it was to catch passes from elite quarterbacks for a change at the Pro Bowl game.
Marshall seems to be going out of his way to make sure that the Dolphins know he can produce more with an upgrade at quarterback.
Going back to the quarterback options, there is still no medical guarantee on Peyton Manning's ability to return to his previous form. Manning is thought to view the Dolphins as an attractive option, but it is not a done deal.
Then there is the prospect of the Dolphins trading up to get Robert Griffin III.
The Rams hold the second pick and are open to trading down in the first round.
While it is possible the Dolphins could sacrifice their future to move up to the No. 2 spot, it would cost teams like Cleveland and Washington less to swap spots with the Rams and still give St. Louis the chance to draft the guy they really want to have.
Then we come to Matt Flynn, who has been preparing to become a starter for years under new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, when they worked together at Green Bay.
When free agency starts, Flynn will be in play and will be getting offers from multiple teams, one of which is probably Seattle.
The Dolphins won't commit to Flynn while Manning is a possible option.
The worst case scenario is that the Dolphins watch Flynn sign with another team while they are waiting for the Manning nerve to regenerate, but it never does.
Then the Dolphins are left holding the Matt Moore bag, which is par for the course when you consider the were Dolphins shooting for the moon to grab head coach Jim Harbaugh or Jeff Fisher.
Where's Chad Henne when you need him?
Sitting there with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings have probably been thinking that the St. Louis Rams will trade down in the first round and somebody will vault over them to draft Robert Griffin III.
Not that the Vikings intend to draft Griffin, as they have their quarterback of the future in Christian Ponder.
But for some strange reason, what if the Rams don't get an offer they like and decide to draft a player with their pick instead?
Then the Vikings have to determine how low would they be willing to go in the first round and still have a shot at the guy that they have been linked to via the majority of mock drafts that I have witnessed so far, USC tackle Matt Kalil.
While that whole scenario poses an interesting question as to what the Vikings would do, it is not my worst case scenario for Minnesota.
I'm afraid that one involves running back Adrian Peterson and if he can return to the form we are used to after major reconstructive knee surgery.
He might have lost a step in the process, but we won't know that for sure until he starts playing in preseason games.
Any perceived drop in Peterson's performance would be the worst case scenario for Minnesota.
Will this be the final image of Wes Welker in a New England Patriots uniform?
The talented wide receiver has played the final game of his contract with the Patriots and is now a free agent.
Due to the key dropped pass in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLVI, will Welker catch a reprieve from Patriots fans due to his years of excellent play, or will the remarks from Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady's wife, just be the start of a nasty and emotionally draining offseason for Welker?
It is hard to imagine the Patriots offense without Welker being in the middle of it.
He has been targeted so often by Brady that you think they are automatically on the same page for almost every play that is called.
Will Welker hear enough negative reactions from New England fans that he makes up his mind that he has had enough?
The Patriots offense should still be fine, especially with Josh McDaniels returning to serve as the Patriots offensive coordinator. I do expect to see some changes in the 2012 Patriots team, however.
I would not be surprised to see Chad Ochocinco gone, in addition to Kevin Faulk, Dan Koppen and Mike Wright.
There is also the possibility that Deion Branch may not be back in 2012 as well due to his mediocre season and getting up there in years.
Bill Belichick will continue to tinker with making some personnel adjustments to upgrade the defense because they still need to improve if they want to reach another Super Bowl.
I expect that Belichick will look to improve the pass rush and the secondary in the draft.
But to me, the worst offseason scenario would be for another team to swoop in and outbid the Patriots on Wes Welker, or that Welker decides that he wants a new challenge in 2012.
Drew Brees is vital to the New Orleans Saints' ability to be annual contenders in the NFL.
Brees wants a long-term deal, and the Saints might just decide it is in their best interest to sign him to a one-year deal via the franchise tag and then they can address all of their other free agents.
The only problem with this scenario is that Brees might take issue with that type of approach and refuse to sign a franchise tag contract.
The Saints have some real issues and decisions to make with multiple free agents such as Carl Nicks, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem and Aubrayo Franklin, but why wouldn't signing Brees be the top priority?.
Why on earth would you want to make the face of your franchise even wonder or question what your commitment level is?
To me, the longer the Saints drag out reaching a deal for Brees, the worse the public relations will become. Pay the man.
The New York Giants are Super Bowl XLVI Champions. What in the world could they possibly be worried about now?
They are on top of the world and will be hitting the banquet-circuit and being toasted all over New York City for months on end.
When it comes time to focus on 2012, the Giants want to defend their title. But looking at recent Super Bowl winners, defending a title is getting harder and harder to do.
In the past 20 years, there have only been three teams that have been able to repeat as champions: Dallas Cowboys (1993-1994), Denver Broncos (1998-1999) and New England Patriots (2004-2005).
That means 17 times out of the last 20 Super Bowls, the champions failed to defend their title.
Every team will be gunning for the Giants this year.
There is also the news coming out of the Super Bowl that the Giants now have two tight ends with torn ACLs—Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum—so due to when the injuries occurred, both players may need to go on the PUP list to begin the 2012 season.
From a player perspective, the Giants hope to bring back Mario Manningham, but if he gets competitive offers, the Giants might let him walk in free agency.
Osi Umenyiora will either become a happy camper on his own or will continue to voice displeasure.
The Giants will attempt to trade him again, hoping that his trade value went up due to what he did in the playoffs. There are plenty of teams in need of pass rushing help.
Of some concern to the Giants organization has to be the way that the running game became so bad for long stretches in 2011, as the Giants had the worst running attack in the league. That does need to be fixed in 2012 if the Giants are to have any chance at repeating.
Finally, we wonder aloud how much longer Tom Coughlin wants to continue coaching.
Now that he has two rings, it wouldn't surprise me if he came out with some sort of statement that he has decided that he only wants to coach another year or two.
That would be the worst case scenario for the Giants.
Unfortunately for the New York Jets, the worst case scenario for the offseason is the one that is already unfolding.
It is the scenario where the team starts to air all of their dirty laundry to the media and the players talk about all of the problems in the locker room.
Then there is the issue of the problems between Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes. And those are two of the Jets that are coming back in 2012.
This team could have a number of psychological scars that are going to very difficult to overcome in one offseason.
So much of team sports is about trust and to know that each player has the back of the guy next to him. That is not what is going on with the New York Jets.
It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the Jets have when they try to sign free agents to come and join this fiasco. Don't be surprised if they keep finding their first choice at a position declining to come play for them.
Darren McFadden was off to a great start in 2011 until he got injured. Ditto with Jason Campbell.
Now that we have started the 2012 offseason, look at all of the changes going on in Oakland.
New general manager in Reggie McKenzie—who fires head coach Hue Jackson—then hires a defensive-minded head coach in Dennis Allen.
The Raiders hire two new coordinators in Greg Knapp to head up the offense and Jason Tarver to run the defense.
By the way, the Raiders only have 10 days in OTAs to start implementing the new offense and defense philosophies according to the new CBA rules.
If that isn't bad enough, the Raiders will have a limited upcoming draft.
Sure, they do have Terrelle Pryor and Carson Palmer to show for the draft picks they lost, but it still doesn't help Dennis Allen very much in finding new starters to fix the defense.
The realization of the limitations and conditions that are detailed above would be the worst case scenario for the Raiders.
Hopefully, they will have better luck in free agency and finding some salary cap room to bring in some veterans to shore up the defense.
With all of the the talent that the Philadelphia Eagles amassed in the 2011 frenzy that was also known as free agency, they will finally have an opportunity to take a full offseason to figure out how they can best capitalize on the talent they have.
Head coach Andy Reid has decided to give Juan Castillo another year as defensive coordinator and see what he can do with a full year to prepare.
From a player perspective, the Eagles are still trying to figure out what they want to do with DeSean Jackson.
There is no doubt that Jackson has talent as a receiver and on special teams, but he is also a head case.
Whether it is an immaturity issue or an attitude that suggests his own self-worth value is much higher than what the Eagles perceive him to be, there is still the chance that the Eagles might be willing to bring Jackson back for another year, this time via a franchise tag.
I have to wonder why the Eagles would risk all of that potential aggravation when they do have the ability to invest a second-round or third-round pick and draft a good receiver and/or return man to replace Jackson.
Maybe the team believes that somebody on the team will be able to take Jackson under their wing and work with him, but I think bringing him back for another year is the worst case scenario for the Eagles.
We don't have to imagine any other nightmare offseason scenarios that could happen with the Pittsburgh Steelers, as they already have a humdinger of an issue going on right now.
It all started when the Steelers removed George Arians as offensive coordinator after the 2011 season ended.
Arians left for the Indianapolis Colts, and after a fairly long search, the Steelers wound up hiring ex-Chiefs head coach Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator.
This in effect removes Ben Roethlisberger from working with somebody that he was very comfortable with, to somebody that will no doubt be challenging him at every turn.
If you recall the heated exchange between Tom Brady and Bill O'Brien, that was just a brief exchange that happened in one game. That could be a warmup for what could be happening on the Steelers sidelines for the entire season.
For some reason, Haley only seems to know how to coach when he is angry.
It is just his way of communicating with people, as if playing in the NFL isn't already challenging enough.
The old Steelers offense under Roethlisberger of throwing the ball 40 or 50 times a game seems to now be over, and the Steelers will no doubt be running the ball more.
This nightmare should at least make for some memorable moments for the cameras.
All San Diego Chargers fans are hopeful that the funk that seemed to turn Philip Rivers into a totally different quarterback, is a thing of the past.
Clearly, Rivers had a very bad stretch, and if he falters again for any reason in 2012, the Chargers would be hard-pressed to have a successful campaign.
But, what if Rivers no longer has Vincent Jackson to throw the ball to?
Sure, he still would have Antonio Gates to throw to, as well as Vincent Brown, but Jackson would be a hard guy to replace.
On the NFL Network Tuesday evening, Jason La Canfora stated during the show All Access, that he believes that the Chargers will not use the franchise tag on Jackson and that there are a number of teams that will be bidding on him that need an upgrade at wide receiver.
I suspect that the Chargers will do what they can to make a competitive bid to keep Jackson in the fold, but if they lose him, it would be a blow to the team.
The Seattle Seahawks have to upgrade their offense across the board in hopes that it can match the level of play demonstrated by their defense.
Even though the offense is hopeful to land a new quarterback to come in and challenge Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job, there are still a few issues that need to be worked with other key members of the offense.
What do the Seahawks do with free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch?
Do they attempt to secure him with a long-term contract (he is only 25 years old), or do they just put a franchise tag on him?
If they opt for the latter, the figure for running backs appears to come in at $7.7 million for 2012.
When you calculate that with the amount of money that the Seahawks are paying Sidney Rice ($8.2 million against the cap) according to this article from the Tacoma News Tribune, the amount of available space starts drying up.
By the way, that figure of $8.2 million for Sidney Rice is fully guaranteed for 2012, as is the $6 million salary the Seahawks are paying tight end Zach Miller.
The base salary for lineman Robert Gallery for 2012? That is another $5 million.
The NFL hasn't announced yet the salary cap figure for 2012, but it will be interesting to see how much room the Seahawks have left to find a quarterback that can challenge Jackson.
By the time the offseason ends, the Seahawks hope that some quality veteran—or a guy likes Matt Flynn—is able to land in Seattle to offer the team some competition at summer camp.
If they have to settle for a third- or fourth-round draft pick, I would consider that to be the worst case scenario for the Seahawks.
There is no doubt that the San Francisco 49ers clicked on many levels in 2011.
It is amazing that the 49ers went as far as they did in 2011 without a dynamic offense, as it seems most teams in this year's playoffs relied heavily on that.
In the NFC championship game, only one pass was completed to a wide receiver.
It is not like Alex Smith doesn't have the arm to get the ball out to his wide receivers, but he just doesn't have as much talent to throw to outside besides tight end Vernon Davis.
There are a slew of talented wide receivers set to hit free agency, and the 49ers need to grab at least one.
An offseason that results in the signing of a couple of possession type receivers would not get the job done in my mind, and that would also equate to the worst case offseason scenario for the 49ers.
The St. Louis Rams have a number of holes to fill.
They have a nice solid young core of players to build around, but they need help in bringing in some people that can play to add depth to the team.
One way to do that is to take advantage of their lofty draft status and trade down in the first round of the NFL draft in exchange for multiple high-round draft picks.
The Rams can then invest those picks in some talent that will help them fill many holes.
However, the key to getting a strong package in return has to do with supply and demand laws.
As things stand now, there are only two blue-chip-type starting quarterbacks in the draft class—Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
What if that number suddenly shrunk to just one quarterback, or for some reason went in the other direction and rose to three or four?
That is the crazy part of the offseason is that things are subject to change.
Who was predicting that Jake Locker and Christian Ponder were going to be off of the draft board by the 10th pick last year?
What happens if either Luck or Griffin is injured at the combines and winds up falling out of the first round?
What happens to the trade plans of the Rams draft pick then?
What is quarterbacks like Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden turn out to have a great combines and start to zoom up the draft boards?
Why surrender more picks to the Rams when you can give up less to Cleveland or Tampa Bay and still get a guy you are happy with?
Anything that changes the laws of supply and demand between now and the draft would be the worst case scenario for the Rams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new head coach in Greg Schiano.
As of now, he has yet to identify an offensive or defensive coordinator, mostly because the coaches that he is requesting to interview are being blocked by their current NFL teams.
Maybe Schiano will have to start considering out-of-work coaches who used to hold down coordinator roles.
Many coaches are already settled in for their 2012 jobs, but clearly an NFL coordinator job would have to be considered a tempting offer.
What Schiano needs to install in Tampa Bay is a new attitude, no-nonsense approach and some needed discipline, as this Bucs team was out of control over the final two months of the 2011 season.
Whether or not Schiano can pull off anything close to resembling what Jim Harbaugh did for the San Francisco 49ers coming over from Stanford would be amazing, but the odds are against Schiano pulling it off.
The major difference is the talent level of the two teams in question.
Harbaugh inherited much more talent, while Schiano has to do some roster building with the young Bucs team.
The Bucs took the NFL by surprise in 2010, narrowly missing the playoffs. The surprise was on them in 2011, as they fell flat and tanked the rest of the way.
The Bucs are already behind the eight-ball in finding coordinators to hire.
The NFL combines are quickly coming around the corner, and if Schiano doesn't have his hires in place by then, the Bucs will be at a further disadvantage since they won't be on board to help conduct player interviews at the combines.
They only have 10 OTAs to work in new coordinators and philosophies, so Schiano's work is cut out for him.
It seems like the situation that Schiano inherited is already the worst case scenario for the Bucs.
The Tennessee Titans are coming into the 2012 offseason with roughly $35 million under the salary cap.
That means that they can afford to keep some of the free agents that they want to keep.
They can also look to improve the front seven on defense and the run blocking on the offensive line.
From a free agent standpoint, the Titans have to decide who to sign between Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin, Jason Jones, Dave Ball, William Hayes and Barrett Ruud.
The player that I wonder about the most is running back Chris Johnson.
While Johnson had his moments in 2011, the prevailing thought is that Johnson might have actually lost a step and that we have already seen him at his peak.
But in this article from the Nashville Tennessean, the Titans are stating that Chris Johnson will be part of the team for the long haul.
Another article from the same source stated that head coach Mike Munchak was of the opinion that Johnson is now at least a step slower than what he ran at the combines.
If the wear and tear on Johnson is in fact starting to take a toll on his legs and he is getting slower, the Titans would be wise to secure a backup plan.
If there is evidence that Johnson is in decline, that would be the Titans' worst case offseason scenario.
Mike Shanahan had the entire 2011 season to see what the combination of Rex Grossman and John Beck could do.
It would not be a major surprise if Shanahan made a bold move to bring in a quarterback that was capable of beating both of them out for the starting job.
Exactly who is it that Shanahan will be able to acquire?
From the upcoming draft, it is highly unlikely that either Andrew Luck and/or Robert Griffin III will still be there on the draft board when the Redskins draft at No. 6.
Therefore, they either decide that they are going to mortgage the farm by trading up with St. Louis at No. 2, or they opt instead to go the free agency route and bring in one of the veteran quarterbacks on the market.
Is it at all conceivable to consider bringing back Jason Campbell for another stop with the Redskins?
As things stand now, the key free-agent decisions facing the Redskins are London Fletcher, Fred Davis, LaRon Landry and Rex Grossman.
Bringing back Davis and Fletcher appear to be the biggest priorities, while the decision on Grossman would be impacted by what other guys the Redskins are able to pull off.
If the Redskins wind up going into the 2012 season with the same combination of Grossman and Beck competing for the starting quarterback job, that to me would be the Redskins' worst case offseason scenario.