Although many perceive the NFL offseason to be a quiet period with little football news, the truth is that it’s one of the most exciting times of the year.
The deadline for when teams must use the franchise tag is fast approaching. Many big names are due big bonuses—but not all teams want to pay. Some players are likely bound for new homes in the upcoming season.
What are this week’s biggest storylines? Who from the NFL has made a big splash in the news?
Keep clicking to see the 10 most buzz-worthy players in the NFL right now.
Not all buzz surrounding NFL players is positive or speculative. Sometimes a player’s off-field activities can generate plenty of waves, too.
Dez Bryant, star young wide receiver of the Dallas Cowboys, has been all over the news in February thanks to behavioral problems that have received media attention.
There’s still media buzz about the incident where Bryant got into a verbal altercation at a Miami nightclub, whereupon he was asked to leave.
A month later, Bryant publicly stated that he’s “fittin’ to get stupid" right before attempting to dunk a basketball over a media cameraman.
Incidents like this in and of themselves aren’t necessarily majorly noteworthy, but Bryant has shown a history of off-field behavioral problems that the Cowboys front office were hopping he could put behind him this offseason.
Given that he’s made the news twice in a month, both times in a negative light, it seems that those hopes of good behavior will be short-lived.
Laurent Robinson and his upcoming foray into free agency is another relatively big news story coming out of Dallas this offseason.
Given that the Cowboys have star receivers Miles Austin and Dez Bryant already locked up for the next two and four years, respectively, is there money available to keep a third receiver as talented as Robinson and give him the payday he truly does deserve?
The Cowboys front office has made it clear that they would love to retain Bryant’s services if at all possible, especially in light of injury concerns surrounding both Austin and Bryant.
One factor that may aid the Cowboys in their desire to keep Robinson is a strong wide receiver market prior to the 2012 season, which may devalue Robinson’s services to the point that he becomes affordable.
Due to the “minimum salary benefit” contract that Robinson signed prior to the 2011 season, the Cowboys can’t start work on a contract with him until the official start of free agency. This will be a definite wait-and-see deal.
Will the Packers slap the franchise tag on Matt Flynn in the hope of getting something for him when he departs from Green Bay?
Will they simply part ways with him and accept the four years of reliable backup play as their only payment for his services?
There’s no doubt that Flynn will wear a different team’s colors in the 2012 season, but the details of his journey are still up in the air.
The Packers still have several days before the March 5 deadline when they must franchise Flynn or let him go in free agency. With Jermichael Finley wrapped up in a two-year contract, the Packers have no other free agents on whom the franchise tag will be better used.
On the other hand, though, the tag is a risk. There are plenty of suitors for Flynn’s services, but the Packers might greatly overvalue his worth in the open market.
If the Packers franchise Flynn and cannot trade him during the offseason, they will be saddled with two multi-million dollar contracts. In fact, Flynn will be slated to earn more than starting quarterback and reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers if a prospective trade falls through.
For months, speculation has run rampant about the Peyton Manning problem.
Will he be healthy enough to play in the 2012 season?
Can Manning overcome the gap between himself and owner Jim Irsay?
Will he ever suit up as an Indianapolis Colt again?
Answers to these questions and more will start to roll in as the March 8 deadline for Peyton’s big bonus creeps ever closer. It’s clear that the Colts aren’t willing to pay him that bonus, so if they can’t work out a restructured contract deal with Manning before that time, they’ll be forced to cut him.
One thing is certain: There will be plenty of teams clamoring for Manning’s services if the Colts decide to part ways with him.
Peyton Manning isn’t the only high-profile player with whom the Colts will likely part ways during the offseason. Reggie Wayne’s days in Indianapolis are probably over as well.
Wayne, who is entering the twilight of his long, productive career, is a big liability for a Colts team that is in the midst of restructuring and rebuilding from the ground-up.
Speculation has begun to flit around the media that if Manning takes his services to another team in the NFL, Wayne may become part of a package deal.
Going along for the ride with Peyton Manning would be an attractive offer for Wayne, who has made a career of bringing in Manning’s passes.
It’s a potentially good deal for the team who will be receiving the services these two have to offer, too, as Manning will have the productivity benefit resulting from having his longtime favorite receiver in his new home.
With the deadline approaching for teams to use the franchise tag, many teams will be forced to move—or not move—on a player very soon.
DeSean Jackson is one of those players whose future team hangs in the balance.
Although Jackson is widely expected to be franchised, it may be for the same reasons that the Packers could franchise Matt Flynn: They want to get something for him instead of letting him go to another team for nothing.
Jackson has a much better chance of remaining in Philly than Flynn does regarding Green Bay, though. If the Eagles do franchise him, it could be because they actually want him to play for their side in 2012. Only time will tell on that one.
First we have to see if they’ll even take the step of slapping the franchise tag on him.
Although there is probably little substance to the rumors that Peyton Manning or Matt Flynn might find their way to the desert, there is still a quarterback controversy in Arizona.
From a statistical standpoint, there was no question that starter Kevin Kolb was better than backup John Skelton when he was healthy and able to play.
From a win/loss perspective, however, Skelton stole the show. And at the end of the day in the NFL, wins and losses are all that really count.
The saddest part of this particular story is that the Cardinals may not figure things out in time to avoid paying out Kolb’s $7 million roster bonus on March.
It’s one thing to make statements about both quarterbacks competing for the job, but if Skelton were to win the starting job come August, then the Cardinals will have put themselves in a position where they are stuck with a highly overpaid bench warmer.
The Saints are one of many teams with more impending free agents than salary cap space, but it is almost certain that starting quarterback Drew Brees won’t be one of the casualties.
Well, it’s a stretch to assume that the Saints’ lack of communication with Brees about hashing out a long-term deal is because they plan to let him go.
Somewhat more likely is the possibility that the Saints may use the non-exclusive franchise tag on Brees, but that would still be less than optimal for both sides since it will only cover the 2012-2013 season. It will also pin Brees into a salary range of about $14.5 million, which is on the low side for a quarterback who spent the previous season shattering NFL records.
It seems like the best logical solution is that a longer-term deal with the big payday that Brees deserves gets hashed out.
By the end of negotiations, Brees will certainly be one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in NFL history. It’s just a matter of when the negotiations might get started.
Tim Tebow may have taken the starting job away from Kyle Orton in Denver during the 2011 season, but there isn’t any real indication that it’s his to keep for the long term.
Despite the loyal fan and media following that Tebow has garnered, the truth is that he’s not a very good quarterback. Even John Elway is on that bandwagon.
A lot of Denver’s success last season came from running an offense that was based as much on trickery as on actual skill. It worked out pretty well for them, but it’s not sustainable. Tebow is going to have to get better at acting like a real quarterback or risk losing his position.
Speculation has begun to leak out that the Broncos may be interested in a quarterback from the 2012 draft. It’s just media fodder right now, but once in a while these rumors are actually started based on real facts.
Even though the Baltimore Ravens spent much of the later part of the 2011 season pretending to be a pass-first team with quarterback Joe Flacco, it’s clear that Ray Rice is the heart and soul of their offense.
Not only is he near the top in terms of running backs around the league, but he is also one of the team’s best receivers. Rice defines putting the team on his back.
The problem is that Ray Rice is good, but there’s a perception that he’s not good enough to make the type of money that Adrian Peterson brings in.
And that’s exactly what Rice seems to think he deserves.
It’s not the long-term deal with the big payday that Rice wants, and perhaps does deserve. It is, however, at least an acknowledgement from the Ravens that Rice is too valuable to their team to let him go.