As Lovie Smith gets acquainted to life in Tampa Bay, other coaches and players will need to get familiar with their new surroundings. Ken Whisenhunt in Tennessee. Mike Pettine in Cleveland. Mike Zimmer in Minnesota. Jay Gruden in Washington. Where will Mike Vick be playing? How about Anquan Boldin and Jeremy Maclin? Plenty of questions to be answered.
Getty ImagesAl Messerschmidt
Several teams — including the Jaguars — are in need of a quarterback. While the draft class has some big, splashy names, these teams will need to find solutions for the most important position on the field.
Getty ImagesStacy Revere
Running backs looking for redemption
It’s no secret that some players didn’t live up to their expectations this past season. While Texans running back Arian Foster is rehabbing from back surgery, which sidelined him since October, he still lacked a little burst early on. Ravens running back Ray Rice tried to play through a hip injury last season, and the results were less than gratifying. Rice ended up averaging 3.1 yards a carry among other career-low totals. And Colts running back Trent Richardson never adapted to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s offense. Expect these guys to prepare like no other offseason while they aim for the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2014-15.
The new defending champs
Get used to it, the Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl champions. Trips to the White House and offseason publicity events are sure to occur. Hey, quarterback Russell Wilson was already caught mingling with A-list celebrities Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles at a Nets game recently.
It’s unfortunate but nearly a certainty that the NFL offseason will see its fair share of arrests. More than 30 players from 19 different teams were arrested for wide-ranging offenses last year, including former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. While pretrial hearings in the Hernandez case continue to proceed, this trial could begin in the summer of 2014.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
In a performance-based business, in which teams are allotted a certain amount of dollars to operate, some players are deemed expendable. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on his throwing arm, has a $13.1 salary-cap figure for 2014 and the Jets would save $8.3 million against the cap if they parted ways with him. Quarterback Matt Schaub is in a similar situation in Houston. Schaub, who was benched by former head coach Gary Kubiak, has a salary-cap number of $14.1 million but the Texans are still on the hook for more than $10 million of that. In Tennessee, new head coach Ken Whisenhunt certainly didn’t give running back Chris Johnson a sign of goodwill in his introductory news conference. Johnson is owed $10 million if the Titans retain him in 2014.
Time is now for Raiders
After several seasons of crippling cap issues, the Raiders enter the offseason with roughly $65 million to play with. With question marks at the quarterback position and several players entering free agency, the next few months in Oakland will either make or break the future for the Silver and Black.
Getty ImagesJustin Sullivan
Superstars rehabbing severe injuries
Football is a violently natured game that causes injuries. But no season in recent history was as catastrophic to superstar players as 2013. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman and Broncos linebacker Von Miller each sustained gruesome knee injuries. The list goes on and on.
Getty ImagesJim Rogash
Free agency frenzy
Which players will have a chance to test the open market? Giants defensive end Justin Tuck has already said that he plans to do so. Other notable players, who participated in Super Bowl XLVIII, have a chance to cash in big on seasons in which they reached football's biggest stage. Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker will receive plenty of interest. Meanwhile, could the franchise tag be a possibility for Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and Browns safety TJ Ward?
Johnny Manziel madness
Now that the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has declared for the NFL Draft, the big question is where will he land. While some team scouts are enamored by his ability to create plays out of nothing, some will take him off their draft boards merely for the way he carries himself off the field. Wherever he lands, expect the Johnny Manziel mania to captivate the city.