The NFL season has been over for about, what, 36 hours maybe? Not quite two days yet? Cool, let the NFL offseason intrigue begin.
The fact of the matter is America’s sport is so popular because part of its allure is that the drama simply never stops.
Even when nothing’s happening … rumors are flying as if stuff is happening.
Even when the season has ended, the offseason takes over and keeps us more interested than regular-season basketball or spring training baseball (whenever that eventually starts) ever could.
We’re officially in the NFL offseason, but teams can begin designating franchise and transition tags on their best and hardest-to-sign players starting Feb. 22. That’s next week, people.
This is the offseason, but the Indianapolis Combine begins March 1 and runs through March 7, so all 32 teams will gather to inspect the best and brightest college prospects throughout that week.
The 2021 season officially ended Feb. 14, but on March 14 all NFL clubs are permitted to begin contacting and entering into contract negotiations with the agents of
players who will become unrestricted free agents this spring.
And although the 2022 regular season is seven months away, we are one month away from the start of the new league year on March 16.
On that date, trades can begin, teams must be at or below the $208.2 million salary cap, and free agency signings can become official — all at precisely 4 p.m.
But you don’t have to wait a month for intrigue.
That’s kind of already begun because the NFL is nothing if not a swirling vortex of rumors.
And the rumors that will dominate this offseason as it dominated past offseasons is the quarterback carousel.
Now, as fair warning, you should understand most of these coming rumors may eventually fall flat.
Remember last year’s offseason rumors about Aaron Rodgers leaving Green Bay and Russell Wilson leaving Seattle?
Amazing but those will persist this offseason, even though Rodgers is more likely to retire or stay with the Packers than be traded. Those will persist, even though the Seahawks have no intention of trading Wilson unless something unforeseen and fantastic manifests and Wilson agrees to go to a team that is trying to acquire him.
Already, a couple of rumors that began last week blossomed and practically withered in the span of a few days.
The most fanciful of those rumors sprung up among league people at the Super Bowl and suggested Tom Brady intends to return to play in 2022, just not with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The rumor was Brady was unhappy with the game plans in Tampa getting changed by coach Bruce Arians after they were already mostly prepared, and Brady decided working under those conditions left him so frustrated that retiring was the best way to overcome them.
Except he wanted to use retirement to explore playing elsewhere, although no one can say where because his family ties don’t allow him to go just anywhere.
Well, that rumor seemingly died a quick death on Monday when, according to quotes distributed by SiriusXM of Brady’s Let’s Go podcast, the quarterback said, “I’m super content and happy with how I feel in my decision.”
Another rumor that sprouted last week was Kyler Murray’s dissatisfaction in Arizona.
You know the story. He scrubbed his social media platforms of Cardinals mentions and photos, supposedly showing his frustration with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2019.
There were whispers during Super Bowl week that Murray is unhappy because the Cardinals didn’t surround him with enough receiver weapons and that led to Arizona’s late-season collapse when DeAndre Hopkins was battling injury.
ESPN then reported there was “an odd vibe” between Murray and the team and took the QB to task.
Well, Murray tried to extinguish the smoldering embers of controversy (which he started, by the way) when on Monday he posted on social media, of course, a vague statement explaining his state of mind.
“I play this game for the love of it, my teammates, everyone who has helped me get to this position that believed in me & to win championships. All of this nonsense is not what I’m about, never has been, never will be. Anyone who has ever stepped between those lines with me knows how hard I go.
“Love me or hate me but I’m going to continue to grow and get better.”
Make no mistake, this offseason will see quarterbacks changing teams. The carousel is indeed real, and we saw that last year when the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams exchanged quarterbacks, much to one team’s benefit.
So this offseason:
Deshaun Watson is expected to be traded by the Texans.
Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be traded by the 49ers.
Carson Wentz’s future in Indianapolis is uncertain, as is Baker Mayfield’s in Cleveland.
The Panthers, Broncos, Steelers, Texans, Saints and Buccaneers will all be searching for a starting quarterback.
It’s going to be fantastic following this stuff. Welcome to the drama of the NFL offseason.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero