It's time to say goodbye to the 2011 season and to start looking forward. The beginning of the 2012 season is a ways off, but the months in between are critical. What will happen to your favorite teams and players?
As the NFL apparel licensing with Reebok comes to a close, one is left to wonder how the new uniforms with Nike will look. Will Nike chairman Phil Knight and his gang spice up the gear with Oregon-like flat-colored helmets, or will the stitching of the logo on the chest be the only change?
NFL to LA?
How much progress, if any, will be made toward bringing the nation’s No. 1 sport back to Los Angeles? The Jaguars’ new owner, Shahid Khan, has said that "time will tell" whether football remains in Jacksonville for the long haul, but he could just be putting up a smokescreen for the community and for former majority owner Wayne Weaver. Other candidates involved in speculation include the Rams, Chargers and Vikings.
Rams at No. 2
St. Louis holds the second pick in the draft. So now what? The Rams, with new head coach Jeff Fisher, could move down and accumulate extra picks, but they could also take WR Justin Blackmon, who would be a perfect fit alongside stud QB Sam Bradford. Let's see what they do.
What's going to happen? Is Peyton done with the Colts? With football in general? Will another team pick him up? The possibilities are endless as the NFL's signature star faces months of uncertainty after missing all of the 2011 season.
The Vikings superstar went down for the count on Dec. 24, when he suffered a major knee injury that eventually required surgery. It's unclear whether he'll actually be ready to play in 2012 or, if he is ready, how effective he'll be. Either way, Minnesota has reason for concern.
It’s crazy what one year of mediocre football can do to a team’s nucleus of players. During the lockout, Mark Sanchez was organizing Jets West training in Southern California, but after a tumultuous season, these next few months could require some patching of relationships inside the locker room. Jets receiver and captain Santonio Holmes reportedly didn’t get along with Sanchez, and that’s just scratching the surface of the team’s turmoil.
Last offseason, Larry Fitzgerald’s eight-year deal with Arizona made him the highest-paid wide receiver in the game, but Calvin Johnson’s likely extension could surpass that. Drew Brees also will be in negotiations with the Saints. After a record-breaking year, a record-breaking contract could follow.
Hyperbole aside, the young Broncos star must improve his skills as a passer. Denver vice president of operations and Hall of Fame QB John Elway has made it his mission to improve Tebow, and the latter shouldn't take this lightly. This offseason will put Tebow's legendary work ethic to the test.
QBs on the market
There are a lot of names out there for the taking, but Kyle Orton, Matt Flynn and perhaps Donovan McNabb will draw some interest. Alex Smith and Drew Brees are potential unrestricted free agents, but both are likely to re-sign with their teams. And don't forget: Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill are first-round draft prospects.
Top free agents
Alex Smith and Drew Brees top the list, but their teams are unlikely to part with their franchise quarterbacks. However, talents like Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and DeSean Jackson could realistically hit the market and put their services up for bid.