The 2022 season ended Sunday with a thrilling showdown between two great teams, exceptional performances from two top-tier quarterbacks and a controversial game-changing holding penalty that led to Kansas City’s Super Bowl-winning field goal over the Philadelphia Eagles. Simply put, this year’s finale encapsulated what makes the NFL great and frustrating.
But the league rarely stops. And though a campaign just concluded, it won’t be long until an offseason full of trades, signings and shakeups dominate the headlines. Here’s a look at the five biggest storylines to watch, in no particular order:
Commanders sale: Nothing matters more locally than what happens with the Washington Commanders. Will Dan Snyder give way and sell the team? The embattled billionaire appears willing, but a deal has yet to be finalized. Late March remains a pivotal stretch to watch as the league’s owners meetings take place from March 26 through March 29. That’s when a sale would be voted on by the league’s owners if Snyder has an agreement to sell the team by then.
Lamar Jackson’s future: The Baltimore Ravens have repeatedly signaled that Lamar Jackson will be back with Baltimore next season as the team plans to use the franchise tag to keep the pending free agent under contract for at least one more year. But an intriguing report emerged over the weekend that indicated that the Ravens may be “tempted” to trade Jackson on the tag if they receive a “windfall” of draft picks.
The former NFL MVP and the Ravens have been unable to reach a long-term contract extension thus far as Jackson reportedly seeks a deal that compares to the five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract that Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson signed in 2022. Baltimore has balked at that, but reportedly has offered Jackson deals that would still make him one of the league’s highest-paid quarterbacks. Factoring in Jackson’s mysterious knee injury that sidelined him for the last six games (including playoffs) and the controversy that came with it, the situation bears monitoring.
No. 1 pick mystery: The NFL Draft could be more fun than usual as the Chicago Bears hold the first overall pick — and necessarily aren’t interested in drafting a quarterback. With signal-caller Justin Fields already on the roster, Chicago could become the first team to trade the No. 1 overall pick since 2016, when the Rams moved up to take quarterback Jared Goff. To do so, the Rams sent picks 15, 43, 45, 76, a 2017 first and a 2017 third to the Titans for picks 1, 113 and 176.
But no matter who selects No. 1, there’s also a question of who the pick will be. Alabama’s Bryce Young has started to emerge as the consensus top quarterback in this year’s draft, but the Heisman winner faces concerns over his size (6-foot, 194 pounds). Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. also figure to round out the top four in some order.
Aaron Rodgers emerges from the dark to do …?: Speculation over Rodgers’ future may not have reached Brett Favre-ian heights, but it’s getting there. After a will-he-or-won’t-he offseason last year, Rodgers is posed to go through a similar song-and-dance this year — a number that includes the quarterback taking a four-day darkness retreat he says he’ll use to contemplate his playing future.
This time, however, there appears to be a key difference: It sounds like the Green Bay Packers are open to trading him, according to multiple reports. If Rodgers is dealt, the New York Jets have been heavily linked as a suitor for the 39-year-old — and not just because Green Bay once traded Favre there. The Jets hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for the same role.
Rodgers could headline a fascinating quarterback carousel that includes names such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. But he also may retire.
Defensive tackles poised to break the bank: In 2022, the wide receiver market underwent a massive overhaul as nearly a dozen wideouts signed new contracts to earn at least $20 million per year. This year, defensive tackle could be the position in line for a shake-up.
As of now, there are only five interior defensive linemen that make at least $18 million per year — but that number could soon change depending on how the offseason transpires. Philadelphia’s Javon Hargrave and Washington’s Daron Payne are two top free agents poised to cash in after monster seasons. Beyond that duo, the Giants’ Dexter Lawrence, the Jets’ Quinnen Williams and the Titans’ Jeffrey Simmons could receive big-time extensions as they’re set to enter the last year of their rookie contracts in 2023. “I hope those guys blow the market out,” Kansas City’s Chris Jones, the fourth highest-paid defensive tackle, told reporters last week.