The Super Bowl is in the books, but that doesn’t mean the NFL will be resting with the Scouting Combine and free agency just around the corner. FOX Sports Senior NFL Writer Alex Marvez ranks the NFL’s top 16 offseason storylines as the league heads toward the start of its 2015 calendar year on March 10.
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1. Will quarterback Peyton Manning return in 2015?
Manning said Friday that he still hadn’t decided whether he wants to play an 18th NFL season for Denver. Manning says two determining factors are how he feels physically and fits in new head coach Gary Kubiak’s offense.
2. What will Chicago do with quarterback Jay Cutler?
The Bears braintrust must decide whether Cutler is in their plans and how to handle cap ramifications otherwise. Cutler’s 2015 base salary of $16.5 million is already guaranteed. Another $16 million for 2016 becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster March 12.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsBrad Rempel
3. Will ex-Baltimore running back Ray Rice find a new team?
Rice was reinstated in December after successfully winning an appeal of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s indefinite suspension. Rice, though, remained unsigned in the aftermath of his domestic violence incident with his now-wife Janay.
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4. What will Minnesota decide about running back Adrian Peterson?
Peterson is eligible for NFL reinstatement April 15 after being suspended in the aftermath of a child-abuse incident. Peterson is due to earn a $12.5 million base salary in 2015, which could be considered too pricey for the Vikings.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBruce Kluckhohn
5. Where will defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh sign?
Detroit wants to keep Suh from leaving as a free agent, but it will be costly without a long-term contract extension. Using the franchise tag would cost $26.7 million in base salary for 2015 along with an additional $9.4 million cap charge.
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6. The resolution to Deflategate
The NFL plans to begin interviewing New England players this week as it tries to determine why 11 footballs were under-inflated for the AFC championship game against Indianapolis. The Patriots have proclaimed innocence.
John David Mercer-USA TODAY SporJohn David Mercer
7. How will quarterback Johnny Manziel spend his offseason?
Rather than generate TMZ headlines through his nightlife exploits, the Browns hope Manziel dedicates himself to studying the playbook and trying to improve after a brutal rookie season. Him checking into rehab last week should help with that.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsTommy Gilligan
8. Does quarterback Sam Bradford return to St. Louis?
The Rams want Bradford back but probably not at a $13 million base salary for 2015 considering he’s missed the past 1 1/2 seasons with knee injuries. Even if he remains in the fold, Bradford will have to compete for a starting job.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
9. What will Philadelphia do at quarterback?
It’s understandable if Eagles head coach Chip Kelly wants to move up in the draft to pick his former college quarterback -- Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Incumbent starter Nick Foles struggled before missing the final half of last season with a clavicle injury.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
10. What will be the legal fate of Aaron Hernandez?
The former Patriots tight end is currently on trial in Massachusetts for murder. A trial for a double-homicide also looms for Hernandez, whose NFL fame has helped generate huge mainstream interest for his legal cases.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
11. Will Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy have his domestic violence conviction overturned?
One of the NFL’s top pass-rushers, Hardy didn’t play after Week One as he awaits his appeal of a guilty verdict from earlier in 2014. If cleared, Hardy could become a highly sought free-agent signing.
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12. How will San Francisco handle the post-Jim Harbaugh era?
We can’t know whether the transition from Harbaugh to Jim Tomsula will be successful until the regular season begins. But the 49ers’ new head coach will be facing heavy scrutiny from the start as he tries to fill Harbaugh’s big shoes as head coach.
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13. What rules changes are in store for the 2015 season?
Expanded use of replay, narrower goal-posts and how the NFL handles the pre-game inflation of footballs are expected among the topics that will be discussed by the league’s competition committee before the March owners meetings in Phoenix.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
14. Who will be the first quarterback drafted?
Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston are the clear frontrunners. Both will draw strong consideration with the No. 1 overall pick from Tampa Bay, which is seeking a franchise passer after finishing 2-14 in 2014.
Jeff Gross & Ezra Shaw/Getty Ima
15. How will Chicago handle the NFL draft?
Because of venue problems with Radio City Music Hall, the draft will be held outside New York City for the first time since 1964. Chicago was chosen ahead of Los Angeles for the event, which will be held April 30-May 2.
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16. Can Dallas keep the 'triplets' together?
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones already has said Dallas will use the franchise tag on wide receiver Dez Bryant if unable to reach a long-term contract extension. The Cowboys, though, also risk losing running back DeMarco Murray in free agency.