What team do you live for? The Browns? The Panthers? The Colts? The Redskins? The Dolphins? No matter what team you call your own, it's a brand new world—and 2012 could be your year.
The offseason is a magical time for football fans. Between the draft, the free agency pool and the simple beauty of having a fresh start, your team has a golden opportunity to improve or completely reinvent themselves and make a run for the Lombardi trophy.
Here are 10 reasons why 2012 will be the most exciting NFL offseason ever.
For three years now, Rex Ryan has done nothing but spin a verbal stew of outlandish hysteria that finally trickled down to his players and all but incinerated the Jets last year.
What could've simply been a disappointing 2011 season ended up being a total meltdown that nearly rivaled the embarrassment endured by last year's Red Sox.
The total breakdown of the Jets in 2011 was bad enough, but the fact that Ryan's two least favorite teams made it to the Super Bowl was the cherry on top of his potential grave. Two teams that he has openly mocked, taunted and trash-talked went all the way to Indianapolis while the Jets were home on wild card weekend ordering pizza and watching Nick at Nite.
Now Ryan is on the eve of destruction. Next season is his final opportunity to keep his job.
That potentially makes this Ryan's final offseason.
Considering that Ryan has been one of the most polarizing and controversial figures in the NFL over the last three years, it's a little sad to think that this could be our final offseason with the man.
Whether you love the Jets or hate the Jets, this is do-or-die time for Gang Green—and we have a front row seat.
If Ryan intends to stay in our lives, he'll have to clean up his act, stop trash-talking and make wise offseason moves. He already started the process when he recently commented on the mistakes he's made with all of his guarantees and how it added pressure on his team.
We're witnessing the birth of a wild man who knows his days are numbered and desperately wants to save his job. The only way to do that is to embrace a new and subdued identity of humility.
This offseason, we're about to meet a whole new Rex Ryan. Get your popcorn ready, because this will be fun to watch.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are about to alter the course of the NFL and give us two more teams to be excited about.
By most accounts, Luck and Griffin III are both once-in-a-generation quarterbacks. That means this offseason could be the birth of a historic football season ahead. As far as offseasons go, this one is potentially the nexus of the universe where destiny crosses paths with even more destiny.
And the best part? There's no guarantees about where these two guys will land.
Will Luck go to the Colts? Possibly, but it's not definite. We just don't know.
Griffin III gave an outstanding performance at the combine, which sparked even more curiosity and hysteria over the upcoming draft.
The Rams will trade their No. 2 pick, which essentially shakes up everything even more. Who's the lucky team who grabs one of these quarterbacks? The Redskins? The Browns? The Dolphins?
We just don't know anything for sure. That's what makes this offseason so incredibly exciting. Everything we know is about to change.
Last season felt like the last hurrah for Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, didn't it?
It felt like both of them were hanging on by their fingernails for one last shot at the crown. That's what made Sterling Moore's strip on Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff's missed field goal so devastating for Ravens fans.
After that heartbreaking series of events, it's difficult to expect Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to return for another trek up the mountain. They've both commented about the likelihood of their return in 2012, but do you believe them?
If you're a fan of another AFC team (and you hate the Ravens), this offseason could be your dream come true. You could be on the verge of ridding yourself of your greatest enemy.
Lewis was drafted in 1996 and Reed in 2002. Lewis is now a 36-year-old linebacker and Reed is a 33-year-old free safety. Time is cruel to athletes who play those positions. If they don't return for the 2012 season, the Ravens will have a gigantic doughnut hole in their identity and the entire landscape of their conference will change forever.
That makes the offseason decisions of Lewis and Reed so incredibly important and exciting.
One of the NFL's most respected (and non-respected) coaches is finally on the hot seat. We could be witnessing the beginning of the end for Andy Reid.
Like Rex Ryan, Reid will have to make perfectly-calculated decisions during this offseason to put the pieces in place for his Eagles to have a successful season in 2012.
The Eagles have approximately $114 million tied up in assets. Assuming the cap ends up being roughly $124 million, the Eagles would be wise to trim a little weight to stay fit. Also, they have a severe chemistry crisis, which could be another reason to move some players.
Chances are, the Eagles will be looking to deal one or a few of their elite players to stay under the cap and balance their rocky chemistry.
This should make you very excited.
If you're a fan of the Bengals, Titans, Redskins, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Patriots, Bears, 49ers or Browns, you should be paying close attention to the situation in Philadelphia. There's a chance that some elite talent could be up for grabs this offseason. Make sure your team is ready to pounce.
And in the mean time, have fun witnessing the end of an era.
Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.
Randy Moss wants to play football again, which is as infuriating as it is exciting. Part of me wants to be done with this guy, but another part of me remembers what an explosive receiver he was. Not too long ago, Moss was a dominant force in the NFL.
His potential return in 2012 makes this offseason positively electric with curiosity and controversy. After all, he's not the most well-behaved guy in the world. Then again, it's tough to argue with seven Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections.
There's a list of teams that would roll the dice on Moss in a New York minute. Yes, I purposely used that term, considering the Jets are definitely a team that would consider making a move. However, we all know that Moss still has a soft spot for the Patriots.
As long as the Randy Moss saga continues, this offseason will be incredibly exciting and unpredictable.
Be prepared for fireworks.
The Giants are in a dilemma. Big Blue is already smashed against the cap and they'll be looking to shed some serious weight during this offseason.
The Giants see Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks as long-term investments. By default, their third-option receiver (the guy who won Super Bowl XLVI for them) will most likely be the sacrificial lamb.
Mario Manningham is an unrestricted free agent, and he could very well be up for grabs this offseason. This should excite every football fan on the planet.
Get your checkbooks ready.
Last year was pitiful for DeSean Jackson.
Despite being one of the most skilled players the Eagles have, his frustration over his contract situation bled out into his game and essentially caused him to mentally check-out of the 2011 season.
His stock is incredibly low right now. Public opinion on Jackson is miserable. By many accounts, he isn't worth the trouble of a second chance.
But to others, Jackson is a game-changer who's primed for a radical comeback. Considering he's only 25 years old, that's a pretty solid bet.
No matter what your feelings on Jackson might be, his skill on the football field is undeniable. With the perception of him so abysmal right now, it's not so crazy to think that Jackson would totally commit himself to the 2012 season and give us a show to earn back our love.
The question is: Where is this show going to take place?
The Eagles might not be willing to take the risk. With so much riding on next season, Andy Reid may elect to avoid another ride on the Jackson merry-go-round. Chemistry is the biggest problem in Philadelphia, which means Jackson could be traded after he gets tagged.
The unknown status of DeSean Jackson makes this offseason extremely exciting. Prepare yourselves for this young man to have a career year in 2012.
Where he lands this offseason, nobody knows.
This year's list of free agents is truly unbelievable.
Here's just a taste of the names up for grabs: Cliff Avril, Cortland Finnegan, Mario Williams, Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Wes Welker, Brent Grimes, Robert Meachem, Mike Wallace, Mario Manningham, Brandon Lloyd, Stevie Johnson and DeSean Jackson.
These are some of the best players in the NFL, and they could be coming to a team near you. Gillette Stadium could potentially be packed with Reggie Wayne or Brandon Lloyd jerseys. Just think about it. It's enough to shake the fabric of the entire football universe.
Without a doubt, these free agents will make this the most exciting offseason of all time.
Matt Flynn is one of the most mysterious figures in sports today.
He's a backup quarterback, but he could be a football genius. Or maybe he's not that good. We simply don't know the scope of his true talent, but he's shown us brief glimpses that make him extremely intriguing.
Against the Patriots in 2010, Flynn threw 251 yards and three touchdowns. Against the Lions in 2011, he threw 480 yards and six touchdowns. Were those outstanding performances just aberrations? Was it all a fluke? Was it all a dream? Or is this 25-year-old kid the next great American quarterback?
We just don't know.
One thing is for sure: Matt Flynn will be a starting quarterback somewhere in 2012, and the truth will be revealed to us.
Which team will get him? How will this story end? Or is the story just beginning? Will Flynn outshine Luck and Griffin III? Will he crash and burn? Will he set the league ablaze with theatrics? Will he be the best young quarterback in the NFL? Will he be mediocre at best?
Flynn's situation makes this offseason remarkably tense and thrilling.
Who are the five best quarterbacks of all time? My list goes something like this: Tom Brady, Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Peyton Manning and Terry Bradshaw. Feel free to swap Johnny Unitas for Bradshaw or Starr, if the mood pleases you.
Either way, one of these guys is up for grabs this offseason. That guy is Peyton Manning, and he's coming back with a vengeance. That alone should get your football juices flowing.
What team will Manning be playing for in 2012? We still don't know. The Colts? The Jets? The Dolphins? The Cardinals?
What jersey will Manning be wearing next season? That's one of the strangest and greatest questions ever asked in the history of professional football, and we'll find out the answer in the coming weeks.
That's the biggest reason why this will be the most exciting NFL offseason ever.